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Tools: A Matter of Quality Versus Cost

by Linden on February 9, 2013

Broken-HammerWhen I was younger, I’d borrow my Dad’s tools to work on my car. Usually, something would get lost along the way, and more than a few of his tools have made their way into my personal box over the years. And for a long time, that was good enough for me. Sure, I stripped the occasional bolt head because of a poorly-fitting wrench, or I used a screwdriver as a pry bar, but it did the job, even if it took a long time.

Since then, I’ve been working on sorting out my tools and trying to get things organized and setup correctly, making sure I have all of the sockets and wrenches I need. In the process, I discovered that I was missing large amounts of tools, so I decided to spend the extra cash and get some tools off the tool truck.

For me, the tool truck is the best way to get a quality hand tool that will do what I need it to do, without fail. A good example is my set of Mac Edge sockets and reversible ratcheting wrenches. I’m able to remove stripped and worn out bolts with those tools that I couldn’t do with my Craftsman set even if I had tried. They genuinely work better, and were worth the spendy price tag. For ratchets, I went with Snap-On models in various sizes. I’m not a fan of the Mac ratchets, and the Snap-On models have really surpassed all of my expectations.

As for my collection of power tools, I’ll buy those from Sears or Home Depot, depending on my needs. I don’t use my impact wrench enough to justify a $700 tool, so buying a model from the local hardware store works just fine for me. Now, if it’s a specialty tool that I either can’t find at the store or is specific enough to warrant a tool-truck purchase, then I get the pricier item, just for piece of mind.

To me, it comes down to quality versus cost. If I buy a tool for $50 today and I have to replace it again in a year for another $50, then I’ve spent $100 on the tool overall. But if I spend $200 on a tool just one time and it works fine for 5 years, then I’m saving money. No longer do I have that $50 a year purchase, but instead, I have a solid tool that will last. I know that not everyone agrees with my methods, but I learned something a long time ago, which I’ve followed every day since: “The fastest and cheapest way to do something is to do it right the first time.”


The Case for the Side Lot

by Kevin on December 1, 2009

Neon Parking Sign

Neon Parking Sign

When my wife and I were looking at houses a few years ago, we had a few different choices: two car, three car, carport with a side lot, etc. Then, I came across a listing for a house that had four pictures, and three of them were of the garage. I was so excited that we ended up driving to the house at midnight on a Saturday, and checking out the garage from the safety of our car. The next day, my wife and I took a tour.  The house was a bit small, the kitchen was a weird configuration, and I wasn’t sure about the price. So I turned to my wife and said, “Do you think this would work?” She said, “Kevin, if that garage works for you, then the rest I can do myself.”

There’s a reason I married my wife.

So what’s so special about the garage? It measures 20X30, and is deep enough to hold a crew-cab, long bed truck, meaning that it’s got enough room for everything I need and more. But more importantly, a u-shaped concrete patch extending 15-feet out on either direction surrounds the garage, giving me plenty of room to park anything I want. At one point, I had a car in the garage on jack stands, two on one side, one in the back and three on the other side. I was at maximum capacity for my little compound, but I hadn’t even started parking in the street.

There are a lot of advantages to having a side lot. For me, the garage is meant to be a place of work, so I only park things there that need to be worked on, and therefore are immobile. By having space for extra cars, I can park my daily driver on the side of the garage, or use to space for future projects. In fact, that side lot gave me the ability to buy vehicles that I always had dreamed of but never figured I’d have the room to store, like my ’51 Chevrolet pickup that needed a full restoration. But it didn’t matter if it sat on the side of the house for 10 years, as long as I had the space, it wasn’t hurting anybody.

There’s also another advantage: room for large tools that I wouldn’t usually be able to own. My tubing bender sits outdoors – under a cover, granted – but the extra space gives me room to bend a 20-foot tube with no problems. A friend of mine has his lift mounted to the concrete on his side lot, giving him extra space to work on cars outdoors and even power wash the underside of his vehicles before he goes to work on them.

Not everyone has the space for a side lot, but if you do, take it from someone who knows it’s definitely worth the extra cost for pouring the cement.


Tool Box on a Budget

November 25, 2009

For years, I’ve had a 40-inch Craftsman box in black, just sitting in the corner of my garage. I bought it after my 26-inch model literally broke from the strain of holding all of my tools, plus I got a smokin’ deal that just made it all worthwhile. Sure, I wanted a Snap-On box, but […]

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Turning Your Garage Into an Inviting and Productive Man Cave

November 19, 2009

So, you have a garage. It may be empty with a concrete slab floor and unfinished walls. Or, it could be laden with boxes and stored items, bicycles, car parts, and barely enough room for you to maneuver through on your way somewhere else. Whatever the current state of your garage, it can be resurrected […]

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Radiant Heat – The Ultimate Solution?

November 7, 2007

I think it is fair to state that we all dream of radiant heat.  If you are reading this article, you probably have a solid understanding of radiant in-floor heating.  If not check out wikipedia’s definition. Radiant heating basically involves running tubing (pex or copper) throughout your floor (you lay it out before you pour […]

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The Wood Stove… Not for the Lazy!

November 2, 2007

Heating a shop (or house) with a wood stove is great for some and terrible for others.  Let’s take a look at some of things that should be considered before purchasing a wood stove. First thing first, we should discuss the cons of a wood burring stove.  There is one major con – it’s a […]

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Propane Heaters

November 1, 2007

Propane as a heat source is very similar to natural gas.  It’s a liquefied gas after all. It’s application is generally the same – forced air furnaces or infrared furnaces.    Propane can also be used with portable heaters (forced air and infrared) Many heaters, bbq’s appliance can be converted to take propane instead of natural […]

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Natural Gas Heaters – It’s Getting Hot in Here

October 31, 2007

Generally, when heating a garage Natural Gas is the most economical choice. Most large shops are heated via natural gas (or propane where running gas is not feasible). There are two types of natural gas heaters to consider – forced air and infrared. A forced-air heater is very similar to a conventional furnace – it […]

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It’s Electrifying – Heating the Garage with Electricity

October 30, 2007

With the increasing cost of electricity, the use of 220/240 construction heaters is decreasing. They still have their place for some.  I’m actually heating my garage with a basic construction heater. I typical construction heater is going to run about 5000 watts and throw about 18000-20000 BTUs. In my case, I am not completely finished […]

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Heating The Garage

October 25, 2007

Fall is in the air and old man winter is following closely.  Over the next couple of weeks the Garage Forums is going to take an in-depth look at heating options for the garage. The series will start by looking at using natural gas as a heat source and will continue discussing other options such […]

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