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.”

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Garage Design Works April 16, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Amazon is also a great resource for deals on tools!

Shea May 23, 2013 at 12:11 pm

Fortunately for me, my father taught me the value of using good tools since I was a kid helping him wrench in our garage. As I got older I did learn however, that Craftsman wasn’t always the best tool to have in your box.

Sometimes cheap tools fit the bill nicely. When I used to do garage floor coatings I purchased a cheap 4 1/2″ grinder from Harbor Freight for only $15. I needed something smaller to fit in an area that the 7″ was too large for. I used that grinder maybe 6 times for various jobs and it was the best $15 spent on a cheap tool.

Ocala July 15, 2013 at 8:02 pm

Funny, I acquired the majority of my tools from “borrowing” from my dad. Feel kinda bad about it now. Nice article, brought back many memories…

Mark Jones May 14, 2014 at 8:46 pm

I can’t agree with you enough! I’ve wasted so much money over the years buying cheap tools, only to have them break sooner than expected, or not work to the standards that I need them too. In the tools market, you get what you pay for. That being said I have found some steals at garage sales and estate sails of great, 25+ year old tools with little use. Thanks for the post!

Leave a Comment

Previous post: