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Forum topic by pierce85 posted 08-04-2011 10:36 PM 1619 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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508 posts in 3166 days

08-04-2011 10:36 PM

It took me a long time (far too long) to learn this lesson and it doesn’t always pan out that way. Nevertheless, I’ve been far more content with my purchasing choices over the past several years because I wasn’t always chasing after the lowest price. I’m still very conscious of pricing. I don’t have much disposable income and never have, but the aggravation associated with being a slave to bargain basement pricing and the CS headaches that came with it was no longer worth it. I’ve learned that most things can wait or I can do without them and still sleep at night. The “hurry up, limited time offer, buy this damn thing now” sales pitch no longer grabs me as it once did.

The current Grizzly-advertising thread is what brought this to mind for me. Companies like Grizzly, Home Depot, Lowes, Rockler, et al are fiercely competing for our dollars and the carrot they almost always use is lower pricing. It’s the Walmartification of our economy and they’ve trained us very well to jump when that “blue light” starts blinking.

Such pricing competition of course isn’t free and must be paid for somewhere by someone. The sacred cow of ever-increasing corporate profits is sacrosanct and out of bounds even in thought. So what we see as a result are fewer and fewer employees ready to check us out and/or automated checkouts, lower quality everything produced for dirt cheap somewhere in East Asia, customer service headaches on all sides, lower wages, lost jobs, and the list goes on. We ultimately pay for this so-called bargain pricing as we all know.

What I’ve found myself doing recently is returning to the local hardware store, buying more things from independent businesses (brick & mortar and online), staying away from the big chains whenever possible, becoming very conscious of tool quality and not buying crap because it’s cheap, and being less stressed out over what I spend my money on. I do slip back into my old patterns more often than I like but it’s a work in progress. And my reasons for doing this have nothing to do with some larger moral or philosophical principle. I’m doing it for completely selfish reasons – better quality of life.

14 replies so far

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2387 posts in 4151 days

#1 posted 08-05-2011 05:41 AM

I agree completely. I am still learning the buy quality and avoid cheap crap lesson in life. Personally i am concerned about the person, whomever he or she or they may be that had to pay that sacrificial price in order for us to have our cheap products and the companies could keep their large profit margins. I try to consider where the product may have been manufactured and under what condition and wage the person manufacturing was given.

-- .

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508 posts in 3166 days

#2 posted 08-05-2011 06:05 AM

Thanks, Jerry. We’re on the same page. I lied a little. My reasons are not completely selfish as I’m also concerned about the person who manufactured the product that I’m using, whether he or she resides on this continent or half way around the globe. I’ve literally been there.

It’s almost impossible to not participate in the exploitation on some level but at least we can try to minimize it as much as we reasonably can. Shop locally!

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Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3890 days

#3 posted 08-05-2011 11:41 PM

Thank you for the post. I own one of those locally owned small tool stores trying to offer better products
with a bit of knowledge thrown in. That is difficult to say the least.

It is nice to hear your viewpoint. There is often a time when cheap is a good option for that particular purchase, but each individual has to weigh both sides carefully. Obviously, I’m not a big fan of the box stores, but they can be a good source too.


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3263 posts in 3279 days

#4 posted 08-06-2011 01:01 AM

In my town of 23,000 people we have a privately owned grocery store, a small chain store and WalMart. Lots of folks trade at WalMart becaue they think the produce is fresher and the prices are cheaper. I have seen WalMart come to a town and remove the competition by cutting prices then when they have a monopoly they charge pretty much what they want. I don’t want that so I go to the small chain store ( used to shop at the privately owned but I moved across town and it is a longer drive). I shop for hardware from a hardware store. This doesn’t mean I don’t go to WalMart but some things you have to look hard to find so you go where you find them. I want to pay a fair price and I would like to buy American but it is more difficult with NAFTA and all that mess. We need to think about what we are doing to ourselves. We can gripe and gripe and gripe all the way to a WalMart super center.

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Jim Jakosh

23740 posts in 3709 days

#5 posted 08-09-2011 05:04 AM

You get what you pay for but nowadays, the name brands that we thought were great American made tools are made in the same factories in China as Harbor Freight stuff. I look at Delta, Stanley etc and they are Chinese made and they bring down the prices that way so where do you go if you only have so much to spend??
I have been satisfied with Grizzly products. They are pretty nice toosl and they work well for me. I even have some Harbor Freight tools but you can see they are lower quality just in the paint job. If you don’t use them for production, you can get by with them. I have found that some of them just need some re-engineering in critical areas to make them good for the long haul. I did that with one of their dovetail fixtures. I changed a number of things to make it slick to use and accurate and I can cut dovetails all day long with it..and accurately. The basics were there, the details were cheap!

What you don’t want to buy cheap are drill bits, router bits, sandpaper, driver bits(phillips and square),saw blades, glues or finishes. You need good stuff to get the job done right without a lot of rework and cheap supplies can ruin a job or take you twice as long to finish it. I would never buy that stuff at harbor Freight!!

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

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94 posts in 3446 days

#6 posted 08-10-2011 08:12 PM

I totally agree but unfortunately many families cannot afford the better quality (tools, produce, and everyday items) My wife and I work full time and we have good jobs ( not dream jobs but we are happy with them) we don’t have kids yet and I’m able to save a little bit of money each month ( like $50 a month ) so I can buy tools but they are not the best ( my new lathe is from HF ) also we are able to afford to buy natural raised meats and other organic products from our local growers but once we have kids I am not sure if we are going to be able to afford it. We don’t go to Winco, walmart or other big chain store because we want better quality AND we want to support our local growers but it is getting harder to afford better quality. I have made a couple of tools myself, my drum sander using an old craftsman lathe and my oland tools. Need drives invention lol :-) we are thinking about growing our own herbs and some produce to save money.

-- "Does this lathe makes my butt look big?"

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5777 posts in 3836 days

#7 posted 08-10-2011 09:20 PM

No, you don’t get what you pay for. The same sampan factories that made my cheapo HF tools, out of the same dies, and machining processes, made everything from Powermatic to Delta as well…

Manufacturing isn’t what it once was when I was younger. A Delta band saw for example was uniquely Delta. But back Then a Chevrolet was distinctly different from a Buick, and that had very little resemblance to a Pontiac you know what I mean?

Without a doubt, there are some nicer features, etc… that can be had if you double or triple what you pay for a tool, but with very few exceptions these days, if you shop around and compare similar tools to each other brand not withstanding, in a large segment of what I see on the market, everyone is selling pretty much the same stuff, just with their paint, a few more or less features, and their name stuck on with a sticker…

This is NOT an endorsement of Harbor Freight in the slightest, but rather, and indictment of the rest of the industry. Yes Harbor Freight HAS improved the quality of their tools over the years to where they for the most part are reasonable entry level machines, that will serve the home hobbyist for decades no problem. No these don’t compare to say 1940s / 1950s vintage American iron. But new so called “American Iron” doesn’t compare either…

I totally agree, buy locally when and where you can. The problem is the mega corporations have taken production of those great American brands, and for the most part moved production out of the United States. We don’t make stuff any more, and we are paying the price. While they are not selling exactly the same thing as the lower priced brands, they are using enough common parts, and are configured common enough to be nothing more than mere “Badge Engineering” between brands. So you end up paying more or less for effectively the same item, but with perhaps a different base, or blade guard, or perhaps dust port… Really nothing meaningful. Maybe some better or worse fit and finish, but nothing functional…

So unless you are willing to pay the extra bucks, and time it takes to hunt down and verify that a particular machine is made in the U.S., you might as well look at the reputation of the seller’s customer service, the features on the specific machine you are looking at, and the price tag… And this brings me back to the no, you don’t get what you pay for. From all the rant threads I read about Powermatic, Laguna, Grizzly, Delta etc… for customer service, it seems they are all duds at one point or another. So do you want to pay more, or less for lousy customer service and similar quality…?

So to sum it up. IF I have a choice to buy American, and I can afford to, I will certainly do it. In woodoworking machinery in this modern age, that is rarely an option. So since I am for the most part stuck buying Asian imports, or restoring old Iron, my first choice is to try to buy old iron where I can. Where I live that is slim. Since I honestly don’t like the executive types that farmed out jobs out to Asian sweat shops in the first place, I see no point what so ever in lining their fat cat pockets while they deliver to me no additional value.

If they want my business, they either have to offer something compelling enough to make me part with my hard earned cash. And if the option from a competitor means I can buy machines made by Americans, on American soil, and the cost difference is absorbable, then I will go with that option every single time.

I would much rather support the factory / line level guys than the nitwits with MBAs that are trashing the global economy.

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

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13569 posts in 3297 days

#8 posted 08-10-2011 09:23 PM

I’ve learned this lesson from hobbies outside of woodworking and I’m still translating it to the shop. I’m not Festool yet, but I’m not Skil either. Audio equipment was a lesson. Home appliances were another. Still yet, home renovation materials. Auto’s seem to obey the reverse principle, as I’ve had very expensive lemons (Jaguar) and very cheap reliables (Ford Taurus ex-fleet car, go figure). For hand tools, I either pony up or go vintage.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

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726 posts in 3562 days

#9 posted 08-10-2011 10:13 PM

I used to spend an awful lot of money at Sears as I was always happy with their stuff… til the last time. I bought a “Maytag” dish washer from them, and spent quite a bit more than their cheepo brands cost to get that “Maytag” name and, hopefully, quality. Well. Year and a half later it quit working, so the repair fella came over and fixed it; said them re-badged Amana dishwashers always failed like that! It lasted 2 years, now I wash them by hand until I go get me a good one from the Maytag dealer. The cultivator they sold me came with a manual for one with a different engine, and they had no info for the one I got… even the display one had the wrong engine. Even Craftsman tools are not necessarilly made in the USA anymore. You don’t always get what you pay for with the big stores. I use the little guys now when I can.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

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770 posts in 3461 days

#10 posted 08-11-2011 04:19 AM

I have a number of Craftsman tools in my shop and for the most part they work fine for me and what I do. I do find that nearly all the larger tools need some “tuning” to get them running well. I use link belts whenever possible. My Jet tools are a little better quality but are still made overseas. My vintage craftsman tools are big heavy solid and still run great, however they don’t have some of the nice features of the new tools.

If I had to do it over again, I would take the advise of many other LJ’s and buy vintage stuff. Hand tools and power tools, spend some time fixing them up. Now that I am getting interested in hand tools, quality means everything!

-- Mike.... West Virginia. "Man is a tool using animal. Without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.". T Carlyle

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14358 posts in 4701 days

#11 posted 08-11-2011 04:22 AM

If your thinking along these lines, I cannot recommend reading the Anarchist’s Tool Chest strongly enough. Very much about getting the right tools and building things to last…

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

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395 posts in 3201 days

#12 posted 08-11-2011 04:46 AM

Got confused..this post needs to be deleted

-- Chris ~~Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past."

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3113 posts in 3538 days

#13 posted 08-11-2011 07:30 AM

I bought a lot of tools from HF. All the electrical ones broke after few uses.
I am almost HF free. Few things are left: F-clamps, hammer, pliers etc…
Never again.

I am on my third table saw within 3 years (inexperience). I bought a craftsman “jobsite” table saw that I gave away after 4 months. My second one was a bosch 4100. The third, sawstop cabinet table saw, was a gift from my wife. definitely save and get the better stuff, I still regret the junk.

On the subject of corporate shipping jobs overseas, I think Congress (ultimately us the voters) should bear the blame. They passed tax laws and ratified trade agreement that allow corporation to setup shop in China (now vietnam an cambodia) shift expense to the US based entity and profit overseas. That’s roughly how they get away with $0 in taxes.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

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8354 posts in 3980 days

#14 posted 08-11-2011 02:16 PM

I think you CAN get you pay for if you’re selective. Spending more usually improves your odds of buying quality, but it’s no guarantee….sometimes you end up just spending more, but not getting more. It seems that the big brand names change ownership every time we turn around, so there’s far more to a purchase these days than just sticking with a formerly reputable brand.

Over the years I’ve found that many items come up on sale unexpectedly when you’re not actively in the market for them….sometimes it just makes sense to make the purchase now, rather than later if it’s an inevitable expected purchase…works great if the funds are available! My smarter purchases lately have been first quality items that were on clearance (off season specials or discontinued items), good quality refurbished items, online promotions that include free s/h and/or percent off a regular or sales item, or combining a known purchase with some cashback incentives which are usually in addition to the best sale price you can find. This is not the same as taking a gamble on cheap off-name items…it’s simply paying less for the same planned purchases of “alleged” quality merchandise.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

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