How old are your power tools?

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Blog entry by EarlS posted 08-12-2016 05:14 PM 967 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I was doing some cleaning up and general maintenance around the shop when I realized that most of my big power tools are a lot older than I realized. For example my 5 HP Delta table saw is 10 years old. My jointer is about 15 years old, so is the spindle sander, drill press, and band saw. Then I started looking at hand held power tools. Again, most, if not all of them are at least 10 years old. So are many of the router bits, saw blades, and other metal necessities. All of them still work well, hold an edge, or otherwise perform their function as well as when I first bought them.

When I look at many of the woodworking tools for sale today, they are made from plastic, or other less durable materials. Heavy gauge steel has been replaced with light weight sheet metal. Motors are smaller HP with reduced amps. I wonder how well these new tools will hold up and I’m glad to have the old, heavy duty tools and equipment.


-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

9 comments so far

View gargey's profile


1013 posts in 1851 days

#1 posted 08-12-2016 05:49 PM

Your tools aren’t old. There isn’t much difference between what they were putting out in 2005 vs 2016. If you want to compare to stuff people have from the 1980’s or earlier… yeah its different.

View dbhost's profile


5777 posts in 4307 days

#2 posted 08-12-2016 06:15 PM

From oldest to newest to my knowledge.
My Dremel 16” scroll saw, bought well used on Craigslist. Not sure, but a Google search on the model says it was made in the early to mid 80s.
My drill press, another Craigslist find, purchased from the original owner, said it was bought new in the early 90s. No clue how to accurately date it though. Don’t care to either.
My Skil circular saw I bought from a hardware store I worked at in 1996, it was a return that had a damaged cord. I replaced the cord and have used the snot out of it since.
My Craftsma 3/8” VSR keyless chuck drill I bought new in 1998, it replaced the old B&D my dad gave me that gave up with lots of smoke.
My Ryobi AP1301 13” planer was a Valentines gift from my wife in 2008. That same year on Fathers Day sale I got the Rigid oscillating spindle / belt sander.
My Ryobi BT3100 table saw I purchased used back in 2009. I believe it was built in 2003 or 2004.
The rest came to me between 2009 and 2013. The most recent addition was the Chicago Electric Variable Speed multi tool.

Much of my equipment came from Harbor Freight, although I do have some “high end” tools as well. For example the EB4424 (Rigid) while not industrial by any means, is far and away a better sander than anything Harbor Freight offers…

Even on many of the “cheaper” tools, parts are stout where they need to be, but yes, there is an abundance of plastics used. Plastic works as a good insulator etc… However there can be durability concerns.

I have worn tools flat out, and not the dramatic failures like you see in reviews online, but to give you an example.

#1. 1970s B&D keyed chuck 3/8” VSR drill. Literally gave up the smoke, field windings were melted through, so gone. #2. Remmington 16” electric chain saw. Chain tensioner assembly was plastic, it couldn’t take the abuse and the plastic split causing it to constantly loosen the chain. #3. Makita 1/4 sheet palm sander (mid 90s vintage). #4. While not a power tool, Stant Radiator pressure tester, gaskets utterly failed so it wouldn’t build pressure.

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View canadianchips's profile


2632 posts in 4073 days

#3 posted 08-12-2016 10:08 PM

If Noahs ark had electricity my tools would have been on board !

My Craftsman contractor saw I bought new in 1976
My craftsman 6 1/8 jointer, new in 1976
Drill press 1980.Bought at auction 2012
2 craftsman Shapers 1982 (I bought one 5 years ago from kijiji, second one I bought this year at auction.
Newest tool….Dewalt 20v impact tool….New in 2016 (left my 2012 model at jobsite3 weeks ago, wasnt there when I returned next day)
Dewalt 20 volt skilsaw, 1/2 drill 2014. Dewalt 20 volt recip saw 2015. Dewalt 20 volt grinder 2015.
Dewalt 18volt skil saw, drill, impact 2012.
Routers range from 1980 to 2012 (Have 23 of them) only 1 bought NEW !
Router bits Range from 1976-2016
Just a few of tools over the years I use daily.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View JimYoung's profile


407 posts in 2663 days

#4 posted 08-13-2016 12:32 AM

I inherited my grandfather’s craftsman 7 1/2” circular saw. Cast aluminum housing and powerful motor. My grand children will be using it!

@cc, I’m glad I wasn’t drinking something when I read your post! 8 ^0 Mission accomplished!

-- -Jim, "Nothing says poor craftsmanship more than wrinkles in your duck tape"

View EarlS's profile


4447 posts in 3424 days

#5 posted 08-13-2016 01:26 AM

Gargey – I agree that they “aren’t that old” but what lasts for 10-15 years these days? Computers and electronics are lucky to last 5 years.

My mantra has always been to buy the best quality I can afford or wait until I can but the best quality. You get what you pay for. I’m sure that if I spent some time thinking about it I could come up with plenty of examples of poor quality equipment purchased from a brand name that didn’t work out and was sold off. I tend to look at the stuff that is excellent quality and lasts through the years rather than the cheap junk I bought and got rid of.

Canadianchips – 23 routers??? I am impressed. You need to post a picture of all of them!!!

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View OggieOglethorpe's profile


1276 posts in 3186 days

#6 posted 08-13-2016 01:47 AM

Gargey – I agree that they “aren’t that old” but what lasts for 10-15 years these days? Computers and electronics are lucky to last 5 years

Apples and oranges… I have bass guitars and mechanic’s hand tools pushing 50, some could qualify for Social Security, but not that much changes with them. They were relatively perfected when they were made. Computing hardware and electronic devices are still evolving. Not just that, compare 15 year old cars, bicycles, home appliances, technical clothing, sporting goods, finishing products and paints, batteries, cameras, even beer… with what’s easily available today.

As for power tools, I have a 5 year old SawStop ICS, but I also have a 45 year old power drill and everything in between… Jointers and drill presses haven’t changed much, but SawStop sure changed table saws.

View EarlS's profile


4447 posts in 3424 days

#7 posted 08-14-2016 02:48 AM

Oggie – the approach to manufacturing has changed in the past 5 years. Decreased product longevity is intentional. After all, manufacturers want you to buy their product and in a few years buy another one when the first one fails. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the quality of the Leigh mortise jigs. One is half the cost of the other but it is made out of thin gauge steel and plastic while the one that is 2X the cost is made out of machined plate stock and will probably outlast the person that buys it.

We are starting to see that same approach in building manufacturing facilities. Why build something that will last for 50 years that is more expensive when you can build a plant for 1/2 the cost that lasts 20 years? In 20 years most of the plant equipment is obsolete and more costly to operate than new equipment. As an engineer that approach is something that only recently gained traction in my field. I don’t agree with it but that is a fact.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

12324 posts in 4504 days

#8 posted 08-14-2016 12:13 PM

Both my Shopsmiths and accessories were bought in the early 70s. Ditto the Craftsman 6” jointer and my old friend, a Skil 77 worm drive. With the exception of one, all my hand planes are well older than me and I’m 75+. There are several wooden hand screw clamps that have to be 40-50 y.o..
All my routers are less than 15 y.o..
All of those tools still function as well as when they were new. Can’t say the same for more recent tool acquisitions.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View Bundoman's profile


155 posts in 2665 days

#9 posted 08-20-2016 02:23 PM

Re-furb tools make up my entire shop so mine are older for sure.

1950’s Delta Unisaw, Delta scrollsaw,Craftsman belt sander, narrow belt sander,
1963 Powermatic 81 Bandsaw
1977 ish. Craftsman Drill Press
1980s. Powermatic PM90 lathe
1993 Delta Bandsaw

I like every one of them a lot and appreciate the quality of them!

-- Brent

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