Should I Buy Expensive/Quality Tools?
Ok, so I get this question quite a bit from friends and family. Usually, it starts when they call me over to help them with one of their projects. I always bring my own tools because I never know what I will run in to. More times than I can count, I have had people say, “You don’t need to bring anything, I have everything we need”. A lot of times, that means I show up and they have a 12 volt black and decker drill with no torque or some other consumer based tool.
First of all I want to say that there is a place for these lower end tools. If you’re someone who just wants to hang a picture every once and a while, or wants to assemble something you bought in a box (think IKEA furniture), then these lower quality tools would probably work out ok. But, if you may ever need to do some larger projects like building a deck, repairing a fence, or something more “professional”, I would highly recommend against buying a walmart special.
I know I used the example of a drill, but this really does go for any tool that you’re going to buy. Including saws, socket sets, screwdrivers or anything else. How many of you have purchased the cheap set of screwdrivers for $3 from Big Lots or some other discount store? They work great for taking the back off of your TV remote to put in some batteries. Have you ever tried to drive a screw that needs a lot of torque? I have, and usually it means that the screw driver is going to be stripped making a nice little point at the end of the philips head, or in the case of a flathead driver, the tip will be twisted.
These cheap screwdrivers aren’t made for professional use. They are usually made of softer metals that will not hold up to the abuse that the professional or advanced DIYer will put it through. Go to your local home store (I prefer Lowe’s.. Read here why) and buy a quality set of tools. You will likely spend more for them than other tools, initially, but they can last a lifetime and save you money in the long run.
Now that I’ve said all of that, I’m going to lay out the exception to the rule. There may be times when you have a project that requires a specialized tool. I have purchased some cheap tools in order to do a project that I knew I would probably never need again. I just couldn’t justify spending $50 for something I would use one time. Another case would be when I needed to finish a project and would have to buy a cheap tool locally and have it today or order a quality tool online but have to wait in order to finish the job. I will give you an example of one that I ran into recently. I was repairing a steering column on my lawn tractor. In order to put a new gear on the end of the drive shaft, I needed to remove and replace a snap ring. I was able to get the snap ring off with a pair of needle nose pliers, but there was just no way I could get the snap ring back on. In order to finish the job, I went down to my local Harbor Freight and purchase a $4.99 snap ring tool. It barely did the job, but it was only $4.99 and I probably won’t have a need for it anytime soon.
The moral of the story is, always take into account what you may ultimately need for some other project. 9 times out of 10, it is better to spend the money on higher quality tools than to buy the cheap ones that won’t last long, or won’t adequately do the job.