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need advice about tools

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  • need advice about tools

    hello everyone. I have been lurking on this forum for a while & really enjoy the posts. I'm in my early twenties and am in the process of learning more about all the trades & getting "handyer" in the process. My questions is about tools of all varieties and hope you all might shed some light on them.

    I'm on a budget, but slowly adding more tools to my set & trying to buy tools that, unless i lose them or they get stolen, are very durable and maybe better than the average, if not the best. Some of my friends by the cheapest tools they can get & are forever having problems with them. I want to build a set that will last a lifetime & if it takes a little bit more time & money to do so...then so be it.

    I would like your opinions on tool manufacturers, online places to buy good tools or stores that might be around where i live--which is northwestern ohio. most of plumbing tools are from ridgid (buy local when i can).

    I know this is a very general question, but your help is greatly appreciated thanks.

  • #2
    Welcome to the site

    You should also check out woodnet forums - will get great info and not so biased to one brand < ridgid >

    I'm in your boat - started about a year ago and got a pretty nice shop started. Need to get jointer / planer / and some kinda DC unit and I should be good to go

    Routers - can't go wrong with PC - Hitachi has a really nice value on 3 1/4 HP Plunge router if you want to get a dedicated table router.

    Tablesaws - Jet / Powermatic / Delta are pretty much lifetime tools.

    Hand Planes - Lee Valley are top of the line and much cheaper than a comparable tool such as Lie Nielsen.

    Wrenches - Harbor Freight is great for non precision tools - they're cheap and unless you're an auto mechanic won't wear out on ya.

    If you visit places like woodnet forums - you'll hear of good prices from time to time - but you have to act quick. I missed a Ridgid drill press by 3 days - They were going for 114 bucks near me - regular price 300.

    Got all these savings from keeping ear to floor at woodnet
    Examples of money savers - I picked up a PC690 for 70 bucks new on Sears Clearance- Saved money on amazon from getting coupon codes from fellow members. Heard about clamp sales at Home Depot and got 1/2 priced besseys loaded up in basement.

    Good luck



    • #3
      I think it is great that you are looking to build a decent "chest" of tool. My advice would be to take it slow, buy what you need (or want) gradually as you go along and don't rush to impulse buy. Money comes hard enough for many of us and the best thing to do is look, research, and check things out leisurely. Cheap tools are not always as bad as you might think and similarly, expensive tools are not always the best either. And salesmen... well, they don't always know what's best either.

      I am of an age when Craftsman was a good name and yet so much of "Craftsman" was really Ryobi or Emerson (Ridgid) or somebody else. Today their reputation seems a bit tarnished, yet everything they make isn't as bad as some might make you think. Today, I own Craftsman, Ryobi, and Ridgid power tools. I am not sure that some of the more expensive brands are worth that extra price; at least for my purposes. However, I am looking to buy a Porter-Cable router... from my experience one of the best.

      I have a Milwauki Drill, but also Ryobi and Craftsman (Ryobi). Personally, I like the Ryobi drill best, but it isn't really for commercial type use. Yet, it is lightweight, well designed and featured/ and powerful enough for my woodworking and household needs. So, the point is buy what fits your needs.

      I would stay away from cordless anything! That's personal of course, but batteries are an ongoing expense and the forums are full of "troubled" owners. I've been using a drill for 45 years and I have yet to imagine at any time that I want that extra weight or expense that comes with batteries. They are never universal, are always shortlived, and always too expensive.

      I think I would probably go after good hand tools first. Quality wrenches, pliers, screwdrivers, chisels, planes, hammers, and saws. None of that is a great fortune, but again, don't buy things you don't need and don't buy things that are "good because they're expensive." Read the reviews, the forums, and visit the library. Buy reputable brands and find out about tempering, forging, etc.

      Next I'd go after portable power tools and the same "shopping" talents apply. How's the company's reputation, what are the reviews, will it do the job you want it to do. Again, expensive doesn't necessarily mean better and a lifetime warranty from an unknown company means nothing if the company doesn't exist five years from now.

      With a router, the really big issue is the quality of the collet (in my opinion), and of course, motor and housing material quality, variable speed, 1/2 inch collet capability, motor HP, etc. Porter-Cable is reputed to be one of the best.

      With shop equipment, that is a subject worth more than a few books. All depends on what you want, your skill of course, and how deep your pockets are. Again, the best you can do for yourself is read, research, ask around. amd just look at the tools first hand... and never hesitate to form your own opinions based on the experience of others. But don't let them spend your money for you either. If you are not sure of a tool and how much you will like using it, it may be better to start off with a less expensive tool and then move up. You'll make some mistakes for sure, and you will outgrow some tools as your skills increase. But better to do that than to spend hundreds or thousands on something that you may never realize the full potential of.



      • #4
        I agree with all that CW says, except I do have and use a cordless drill and find it very handy for repair work and around the shop. It is nice not to have to drag out and run a power cord every time you want to use the drill. I also have a couple of corded drills and they are the only choice if you can for now only fit one drill motor in your budget. I prefer the Milwaukee drills, I have a Magnum Hole Shooter model 0234-1 (1/2" VSR) that I bought over 15 years ago that it still running like new and I use it all the time. It was $139 back then and they still go for about the same price now.

        It's tough to make a decision based solely on viewing catalog pages and web sites, as CW says hands on is best. Find a friend who has a tool you are considering and ask about it or better yet give it a try and see how it works for you. If you are a lefty like me then consider how well the tools' controls, etc. are laid out for left-handed users.


        • #5
          I'll second the recommendation to take it slow. Make a list of tools you need or would like to have, and do heavy research on the most critical machines. Decide what circumstances are important to you. It may be more important to pick the right type of tool and right situation than the perfect brand. (ie. good 8" jointer vs best 6" jointer, cabinet saw vs contractor saw, stationary vs benchtop, etc.) The work triangle of most woodshops consists of the TS, jointer and planer. These tools allow you to begin each project with flat and square stock. Depending on what you want to do, a good router and router table, and bandsaw are nearly as valuable. A good workbench is also an important asset. Buy good blades and bits...usually get what you pay for if you're thinking long term. Allow a budget for clamps, jigs, and accessories too. Spend your time and money on the right essentials first.

          There's no substitue for a relationship with a good dealer. That's not usually the least expensive route, but it usually has lots of advantages and often has hidden values (ie: multiple tool discounts, free delivery and setup, free mobile bases, etc.) Good names like PM, General, Jet, and Delta are found at most wwing stores. Elite names like Felder, Martin, Minimax, require more research. These machines are built to a better standard, but are typically more expensive to get started and bring other issues (ie: parts, finding the right resale market, etc)

          If every dollar counts there are some good direct importers like Grizzly, Sunhill, and Bridgewood. They offer some very good machines that represent real value, but come with more obstacles for support and warranty concerns. Ridgid and Craftsman do have some good values that are easy to see and buy, but have a more limited selection of models compared to some of the main wwing names.

          I'll also second the suggestion to seek opinions for a neutral site. However, I'll warn to put all reviews and opinions of others behind your own. These will be your tools and have to meet your needs. Many times the functional differences between different brands of the same type tool are subtle....learn those differences and buy what make sense to you. Good luck and keep us posted.


          • #6
            When you say all trades, I'm assuming that you may get involved in more then just wood working including general around the house repairs. I agree with all the post so far with the exception of cheap hand tools, wrenches, socket sets, tin snips ect. Buy good quality "Made in USA" stamped products whenever possible. I've been a parttime handyman / automechanic for 25 years and the steel mixtures / forging processes used in the US are hands down the best. Can't tell you how many times early on I busted my knuckles from a tool slipping / stripping / breaking in my hand. Now only Craftsman, SK, ChannelLock, Mac, Snap-On to name a few are worthy of a home in my toolbox. Bonus... Craftsman made in the US tools are lifetime warrantied and open on Sunday, in case of the rare occasion you should need a replacement on the weekend.

            Good Luck


            • #7
              I agree with somewhat with reviewers who advise caution on cordless tools - batteries can be a concern. They do have their advantages though, and I think the medium quality kits, such as the 18V Ryobi for under $200, are a good value for the hobbiest or part-timer. Professional quality cordless tools clearly offer higher performance. But cordless tools have limited life and you need to use them up to get your money's worth.

              For good performance with NiCd batteries, they need to be used fairly frequently and discharged to the point the tool starts to lose power. That's where a kit helps. With all the extra tools, you'll have more opportunity to use the batteries enough to maintain their conditioning. One big advantage of cordless drills is the clutch and brake. These are very important for driving screws. It's not easy to set screws with an over-powered, corded, VSR drill.

              Another handy use of cordless tools is cutting material up at the store. If you only have a car, you can buy long material (10' PVC, 8' melamine shelving, etc.), cut it to size, and fit it in your trunk. Sure you could bring a hand saw but it might take a while. Just be aware that cordless cutting tools (circular, reciprocating) are power hogs so don't expect to be able to build a whole deck with them. More than 20' of rip with a CS and a dozen 2x4s with a RS and you better get a cord.


              • #8
                thanks everyone, i really appreciate your responses. i might have some specific ones in the near future to gather your opinions on specfic tools...thansk again.


                • #9
                  Also welcome-----You've got some good advice. I'd just supplement it by saying most tools, with the exception of Craftsman (which isn't cheap) are pretty much priced reflective of their quality----the old adage--you get what you pay for.

                  As to the actual tools----on a budget, I'd forget any stationary tools for the moment. Get a good set of portable power tools---good quality, that you will always use---even someday after you have a shop full of tools. The basic list I started with:

                  corded 3/8" drill
                  circular saw
                  jig saw
                  random orbital sander (palm size)
                  cordless 12-14v drill/driver

                  and later, a router