When is the best time to buy cordless power tools? I am asked this question a lot, and it can be quick and easy to answer, or very difficult, depending on what you’re looking to buy.
Here’s the quick general answer: November thru January.
The winter holiday shopping is usually the best time to buy cordless power tools, due to how competitive tool brands get for everyone’s attention and business.
This is the time when aggressively discounted cordless power tool kits, combo kits, battery packs, and bare tool bundles stand the best chance at pulling users into cordless brands’ ecosystems.
Pro-grade 18V and 20V Max cordless drill and basic impact driver kits can be found for $99, and sometimes less.
Retailers such as Home Depot and Lowe’s offer “buy this and get free tools or batteries” promos, which give users some choices outside of the usual cordless drill, impact, and combo kit selections.
If you’re looking for core tools, Black Friday and holiday season “gift center” deals give you the best “bang for your buck.”
Value-focused combo kits from pro cordless brands might offer 6pc tool kits for as low as $299, and 8pc kits for $399.
There are usually also occasional discounts on more specialized and industry-focused tools, such as cordless nailers, air compressors, grinders, impact wrenches, and others. These deals tend to be more unpredictable.
The reason I bring this up is because we’re heading into September soon, which is when the “when’s a good time to buy…” question comes up more than most other months.
Many people know about Black Friday and winter holiday shopping season promotions, and so it never comes as a shock that this is generally the best time to save on cordless power tools.
May-June is also a great time to save on cordless power tools, as there are often heavy promotions ahead of Father’s Day.
Now, about September. What I have found is that a lot of people ask about good times to buy cordless tools, in a “when will I save the most money” sense, but they should also be asking whether now is a good time to buy.
Is it a good idea to buy cordless power tools NOW?
Ordinarily, it’s a good idea to buy tools when you need them, even if huge savings can be had if you just waits a few weeks. That’s up to individual users’ and shoppers’ needs and wants.
What I want to remind everyone about is that some stores have generous return policies, as well as price match policies. Policies vary, but I generally prefer shopping at stores with at least a 30-day low price guarantee.
Sometimes Black Friday and seasonal pricing can’t be matched, in which cases stores are usually willing to allow a “return and rebuy,” which just takes a bit longer to process.
Now, although there are a lot of deals and promos during the holiday shopping season, many aren’t on everyday tool SKUs, they’re on “special buy” SKUs that are designed around low pricing.
If you’re unsure as to whether a particular tool you’re looking to buy might go on sale or not, it’s a good idea to research past sales events. While past promotions and discounts might not be repeated, they sometimes are, and I’d say more often than not.
And if you’re unsure, that’s where retailers’ return and price matching policies can help. It’s a terrible feeling, when something you bought goes on sale almost immediately after you buy it. With how much cordless power tools can cost, even a 10% difference in price can lead to buyer’s remorse.
So, for my own purchases, at least for cordless power tools that aren’t guaranteed to go on sale for the holidays, I don’t necessarily worry about the best time to buy, but about when to buy to minimize the chance of buyer’s remorse.
If there’s a chance of a tool going on sale during the holiday season, I ask myself if I can wait to see. For tools that aren’t urgently needed, this is a safe bet, but there’s a risk of not being able to get what you want in a timely manner should supplies dwindle. Are you okay with having to pay full price and wait for through an extended backorder period?
If your needs are timely, a 30-day low-price security period is better than nothing.
The last I checked, major home improvement retailers, namely Home Depot and Lowe’s, but perhaps others, have 90-day return periods on most products returned in new/unopened condition. They will also adjust pricing within 30 days, at least in my experience – “your miles might vary.”
Because of this, if I need something in September, I buy it in September. I tend to only hold off on purchasing tools I can wait for a good deal on, or tools I know are very likely to be heavily discounted for the holidays.
Holiday season promotions also tend to be unpredictable, and so I inevitably get drawn into an impulse deal or two every year.
To elaborate further about the November thru January promotional period:
November: Here is when we always see the broadest selection of cordless power tool deals, especially for Black Friday, Thanksgiving weekend, and Cyber Monday. Many “special buys” kick off at the start of the month.
December: There are always many “oh, I can use that too!” types of cordless power tool bundle deals and special buys. December is when we see a lot more tool-only deals, as opposed to kits and combo kits.
January: Season-long deals tend to sell out fast in November or December, and while restocks should take place gradually, sometimes they arrive late, to bargain-hunters’ delight. Brands also launch strategic deals and bundle offerings that might better appeal to regular tool users, as opposed to holiday shoppers and gift-givers, but such promotions are impossible to predictable.
Once we get into mid-September, that can be an uncomfortable time to buy tools at full price – except for tools that are unlikely to be discounted for the holidays.
It can be safe to wait just a few weeks, but Labor Day sales can also provide great discounts.
“Wait for Black Friday” isn’t bad advice, but it doesn’t perfectly apply to all cordless power tools.
If you’re up for doing some research, below are some of ToolGuyd’s holiday season deal archives, which should give you a good idea as to what might be on sale in a couple of months, and what might not be.
Home improvement retailers’ Black Friday sales flyers can also give you a good sense of year-to-year deal trends. I have focused on tool deals, of course, and many websites maintain a history of unabridged Black Friday sales flyers.
Nobody knows what will and won’t be on sale this year, but if you can’t plan around unknown discounts, at least you should be able to minimize the chance of buyer’s remorse. There are never any guarantees, but research can help you avoid complete uncertainty.
- 2021 Black Friday Tool Deals
- 2021 Holiday Tool Deals
- 2020 Black Friday Tool Deals
- 2020 Holiday Tool Deals
- 2019 Black Friday Tool Deals
- 2019 Holiday Tool Deals
- 2018 Black Friday Tool Deals
- 2018 Holiday Tool Deals
- 2017 Black Friday Tool Deals
- 2017 Holiday Tool Deals
Do you have any advice for other tool shoppers? Any questions I could potentially help you with? What are you looking to buy this year?
There’s a couple of tricks that should be noted (up to you if it’s worth/proper to attempt them):
1. If you live near a Menards you can buy stuff at HD and get a 11% rebate from them – https://www.homedepotrebates11percent.com/#/home – only when Menards has the 11% running but that’s basically all the time now. Can stack with other discounts apparently.
2. If HD offers a “free battery” with tool/combo kit purchase, you can buy the kit and return the battery and get a pro-rated refund (they may have stopped this one, not quite as legit).
3. Some tools apparently never go on sale (specialty, etc) and so you may want to wait for a blanket brand sale, something like the 10% discount from HD card, or similar. The smaller retailers are often good here, because they don’t necessarily exclude everything that should be excluded from brand discount days.
4. Keep an eye on the pieces included in kits, some stores/brands pull “fast ones” and bundle a brushless tool with two or three brushed tools in a kit. May or may not be an issue depending on what you’re going for.
5. If you buy any tools at all you’ll find yourself suddenly drowning in chargers.
Upvote on the Menards 11% rebate match at HD. I should add that it only works if your HD has a Menards within a certain distance. So you cannot do it at a HD in FL for example.
Complete list of applicable stores: https://www.homedepotrebates11percent.com/media/uploads/1553695713243.pdf
Whoever’s drowning in M18 chargers please let me know
How many do you need? I’d basically give them away for shipping (not the supercharger or the rapid charger or the 6 charger heh).
I bought so many combo kits on sales and clearances that I still have unopened chargers even after selling some off, and that doesn’t count the opened ones.
You can still return the extra ‘free’ batteries for a pro-rated rate. I just did this and got $90 back for a M18 5.0ah battery.
I don’t see this going away anytime soon everyone thinks it’s a hack or scamming but the value is printed on the receipt.
The 11% off is good information! Out of curiosity though, anyone here had success with this for tool purchases? The exclusion list is over 1300 pages, and while a lot of it seemed like building materials, a quick search for “Milwaukee” came back with 244 results (Dewalt was something similar). Seemed like a lot of bits, blades, etc but some tools as well.
The inclusive tools are printed on the merchandising material header of the displays. Usually only 4-7 tools are included in the sale. It is easiest to ascertain the scope of the gimmick by going to the store and reading the onhand materials printed in size 16 font (fine print on a fridge size display). I just really like saying this….You want the best deal? Buy the best tool you can afford when you need it.
I live near a Menards and I’ll tell you that I’ve only gotten the 11% one time. You don’t get it if it’s on the list if exclusions (which if you open list and then do control f you can search instead of scrolling through). You don’t get if you purchase online or an “online only” in store. Has to be in store purchase only. Must be full price, no discounts or reductions, or sales. Also note, it seems to be the pattern that if you actually do get the rebate which comes as a home Depot gift card, that item then seems to be added to the list of items you can’t get the discount on. I wish Menards just sold DeWalt because they legit give the 11% across the board, no questions asked, no exclusions (except gift cards). I love Home Depot but Menards gets my vote one hundred percent on this topic.
The businessman in me – says that the best time to buy power tools is when you need them. Buying on speculation – can leave you with more tools than you really need and conversely less money for a “rainy day”. But, I agree with Stuart that the run-up to the winter holidays – always has come with better pricing and good deals – so Like many, I’ll be looking for Black Friday deals to do my Christmas tool gift shopping.
Meanwhile – my ex-compatriots in the remodeling business tell me that they have seen a slowdown in new bookings – so the pandemic-inspired frenzy may be over in our neck of the woods. If this is starting to translate to slower tools sales and less revenue at places like Home Depot – we might see some decent promotions in the upcoming season.
Parts of the west coast are seeing this “slowdown” too. Something I personally think is a good thing. Maybe average quality will once again rise instead of the opposite.
Here in the Northeast “contractors” come in every sort. It ranges from scam artists and incompetent hacks to those who are truly artistes and take pride in their work. During times of ” building/remodeling frenzy” or in the aftermath of storms, the local news will be full of stories about some of the bottom-feeders. We probably never won a job based on low price – relying instead on recommendations from satisfied customers and lots of repeat work. We also probably lost jobs because of scheduling and manpower constraints (we tried to work normal hours, used long-standing salaried crews and never participated in the sorts of laborer shape-ups one sees at some HD parking lots.
Would love to know how to find the freds in the area, but if remodeling is actually beginning to cool off it might be time to start nosing around to get some work done. I’ll have to reach out to some I know in the trades.
Because of rising costs many tool manufacturers have increased prices or no longer offer the same discounts for sales. If inflationary pressures continue (and they are worse outside the USA) the best time to buy is to follow Stuart’s guidelines in 2022 and not wait until 2023 for tools you will really use.
I have a few bargains which look pretty new so not sure how much money I saved on them.
Because of rising costs many tool manufacturers have increased prices or no longer offer the same discounts for sales. If inflationary pressures continue (and they are worse outside the USA) the best time to buy is to follow Stuart’s guidelines in 2022 and not wait until 2023 for tools you will really use.
I have a few bargains which look pretty new so not sure how much money I saved on them.
Stuart, if I link together the implications of some of your words, you are saying in September, buy for need and you are protected from buyer’s remorse if you buy from a store with a 30 or 90 day return policy. What I don’t get is how that strategy works if with buy for need, because presumably then you need to use the tool. Won’t stores not honor the return if the tool shows visible signs of wear?
Naw, just keep the box/packaging. So long as everything is there, HD and Lowe’s will allow the return.
One time Lowe’s wouldn’t/couldn’t do a holiday season price adjustment for me, and I was advised to buy the same products, leave the store, and then return them on the older receipt.
That didn’t sound kosher to me, but it’s what they told me to do.
Since then, I’ve been able to get price adjustments with just my credit card and receipt, within the allowable period.
If within the return period, you can do a return-rebuy with the tool in packaging, or rebuy-return.
There’s then the question – is it better to return a used tool and buy another, under a satisfaction guarantee and to take advantage of lower pricing, or do a rebuy-return where a new and sellable tool is returned on the prior receipt?
I’ll get over the small price differences (e.g. $7), but sometimes promos can lead to substantial differences (e.g. $40).
I’ve been advised to do rebuy-returns by Amazon as well, as that’s easier for them than having to get one-time courtesy price adjustments approved.
Maybe 95% of the time I plan for low risk of price-change buyer’s remorse, the tool I buy never ends up on sale, I has less of a discount than I bought it for, or is sold out with months-long lead time.
Whenever I’m not sure about a purchase’s price stability, I keep the packaging and discard after a month. This is a good practice anyway, as you’ll need the same packaging in case of a defect, compatibility, or quality concern return.
You return the new unused tool with the old receipt. So if you buy a tool today for $179 and use the snot out of it, and a month later it is on sale for $99, you buy it return it with that $179 receipt.
Sometimes they will price match so you don’t have to go through that hassle, but often BF sales are exempt from price matches, so you have to do the buy-to-return method.
I keep thinking that in a year or so we will see some larger “fire sales” of stores getting rid of overstock due to stuff not moving off the shelves fast enough.
or the tool companies start making too much and the demand has dried up some. Or well perhaps I’m just hopeful.
Dark days brother. The companies will burn their stock before they offer you an advantage. Why? Because it inflates the rest of their stock disproportionately.
Always keep an eye out for flash sales from bulk sellers.
Subscribe to a few reputable deal newsletters via newsreaders.
Yesterday I was able to get rarely on sale pack out cases for 15-20% off on some 1 day discounted packages, so 30+% off on.
3 days ago, DeWalt larger flex batteries for 12\Ahr (usually around 15+) caught cordless brushless ½” impact wrench & grinderd for 30% off last week.
5 minutes in the can in the morning can get you tools on your list if not needed at the moment
A Milwaukee rep at my HD in Maine told me yesterday she saw info about upcoming promotion (around 9/8) for “buy 2 batteries (presumably 5Ah), get free tool”. She specifically mentioned 18v Fuel OMT, which is what I asked her about. She mentioned seeing a growing stockpile of Milwaukee batteries in the store.
I just handed down all my Dewalt tools to my daughters, and picked up 18v Fuel hammer drill /driver kit w/ basic circ saw.
Have immediate need for 18v Fuel OMT and 18v Fuel brad nailer, and am scouting around for deals.
Heh I’ve never actually bought a battery for any of my Milwaukee tools. They’ve all either come as part of combo kits, or free with tool, etc.
Buying two batteries to get a tool would feel so *wrong* for me.
(Yes I know I’ve never actually gotten a battery for free, it’s all part of the marketing, etc).
Sometime ago, I was a proponent of the Reconditioned market, until it was prevalent (you would find a melted R in most DeWalt tools, especially the kits). I had the first 18v Combo kit with 5 items (the flex neck light sucked DnkyBlz). When the two battery packs died, I replaced one battery and realized, for the cost of new batteries, I should just by a new set. I sold off the combo at a yard sale, and then got one drill/driver with 2 batteries. Then just added batt-not-included, cheaper deWalt tools as needed. I still rely on the 18v drill/driver as the workhorse, but I have so many chargers (like it was said by TomD) that its silly. Oh, and little deWalt tool pouches. If they were bigger, I’d use as shopping bags.. (Here that Dewalt???)
The question always is, “Do I need that? or is it that I just want that?” tool…
I buy way more tools than I need. Extra Dewalt chargers are really easy to sell. Depending in the model I sell them for between $10 and $20 each. I save up the Dewalt bags until I have 5 r more of them and then I sell those for $5 each. The stuff goes fast so I know there is a market and I’m priced right (maybe even a little low).
Every time I sell a charger I just give them the bag, don’t even ask if they want it. I too never have difficulty selling them when you price them good.
For personal use I use ridgid tools and at least up in Canada this summer they’ve had constant buy bare tool get battery and charger for free or buy starter battery kit get tool for free or buy tool and get other tool for free. I’ve added a cordless Brad nailer, jig saw, multi tool, drywall gun and 4 batteries for around $500 to my arsenal.
We’ve so many kinda normal duty power tools I only pay attention to specialty tools. And except for the occasional local pro vendors they are nearly never available at the big box or national mail order vendors “on sale”.
But optimist that I am…
The most reliable way I’ve found for discounts on specialty tools are
1. stacking HD coupons (10% on the card often)
2. Waiting for one of the other smaller online vendors to accidentally do a “all products” sale and forget to exclude the weird tools.
3. Wait until they update it and get the old one on clearance.
When is the best time to plant a tree? It’s not much different for power tools. If you get good stuff and properly take care of them it’s best to buy before you need it by taking advantage of sales. Yes power tools constantly advance but for me that’s not enough reason to wait on something usable within my realm of ability. Don’t buy an excavator if you live in an apartment in miami, keep everything in proportion. Get the tools you can use on the edge of your capabilities so you can continuously expand your capability. You never know when a chip shortage or aluminum shortage etc may limit being able to get what you need. Also having it in advance can mean less trips to a store and getting jobs done faster. Most people would benefit by putting more effort into streamlining processes in both their personal and professional lives. The more efficient and effective you can work the more profit you make and the less you care about accidentally buying a few hundreds or thousands worth of tools that don’t get used often. It’s an abundance mentality. I only regret the tools/equipment I don’t buy
Lowe’s ran a free battery promo.
Showed them the Home Depot sale price on the mobile app for oscillating multi-tool, same SKU. Showed in-stock down the street.
Got the $30 lower price, plus the free battery.
Cashier called a manager over to key in approval for price adjustment.
I know that October is a great time to pick up DeWalt gear. My local major DeWalt carrier (D&B Supply in Oregon) runs a pretty great sale each year, where a DeWalt area representative comes out and hands out coupons for $$ off to anyone with DeWalt gear in their cart. The prices are within a few dollars of the big guys and the extra 10-20% off from the rep makes it the best deal around.
I know we have a Dewalt rep because I see the truck around but never seen the human. Milwaukee and Hilti reps are EVERYWHERE around here, couldn’t go into our big Home Depot without seeing one.
I’m increasingly sceptical of tool deals. This last year the deals have been so good you feel foolish buying something without getting two free batteries and a free rear handle circular saw to go with it.
I’ve gotten deep into several tool lines this last year during deals, and been flabbergasted at the amount of tools not working correctly out of the box. Dewalt, Milwaukee and Makita. In makita’s defense, the 1800 dollars in tools ordered showed up with nearly every box having been a prior return, clearly opened and used, and probably returned because it was broken.
I’m beginning to suspect that deals are how they get rid of substandard products, though it really wouldn’t make a lot of sense to do that.
A lot of people buy tools and treat them as free rentals, which could be why you received a lot of used and returned tools. May I ask which retailer this happened with? (You can email or DM me if you don’t wish to say so publicly.) Returns should always be checked, but sometimes stores can be lax about this.
I’ve never heard about deals being a way to sell substandard products. Some hand tool brands will sell imperfect “seconds” under different branding, but I’ve never heard of power tool brands selling less-than-perfect tools, except maybe at outlet stores.
You know what, Stuart, I LIKE YOU. You’re not like the other
People, here, in the trailer park.
Oh, don’t go get me wrong. They’re fine people, they’re
Good Americans. But they’re content to sit back, maybe
Watch a little Mork and Mindy on channel 57, maybe kick
Back a cool, Coors 16-ouncer. They’re good, fine people,
Stuart. But they don’t know … what the companies are doing
To the soil!
Read my post. There’s been manipulation in the tool market between home-line and pro-line tools since as long as I’ve been buying tools, 25 years. Since the great fall of society via El Rona the companies don’t even try to maintain standards of any sort. Find actual customer service from a multitude of manufactures, I dare you.
I just had the displeasure of working at home depot while I healed from another back injury, and 1 in 10 big name tools; Milwaukee, Rigid, DeWalt… were coming back DOA. They know they’re manufacturing and selling garbage and they don’t care because people keep buying it. I normally live 90 miles from the closest hardware store, a DOA tool is a BFD, 1 in 10 is pretty decent odds on the dog track.
They actually manufacture up to 5 different serial numbers for the same tool, all with different grading of internals. But I wouldn’t doubt it if the “free rentals” are in there too. Don’t be a mark, just buy the one you can afford when you need it. Even one of our oldest tools, the axe, is on the firing line with this manufacturing/marketing technique.
They took our jobs.
I can only repeat myself so many times on this topic. The only time you should buy Power Tools, or really Any Consumer Item, are when they meet a single criteria.
That Criteria is a Venn Diagram, one circle says “Needed To Accomplish The Job” the other is “I Can Afford to Buy It.” Where they meet, and how much they overlap, depends on all the other aspects in your life dictating how much you need, versus how much you can afford. But the space where they overlap will always be the same, no matter how big. It will say “Buy It.”
Frankly, Sales, Times of Year, Clearance, Coupons, whatever other incentives are shoved in your face, they won’t matter if you either A) Don’t need it, or B) Can’t Afford It. If they have it at a lower price when you Both Need It, and Can Afford It, then that’s less money you had to pay, not a reason to buy it.
I have one of those Nite-Ize foot-shaped Keychain S-Biner holders, Stainless Steel edition in my case, not plastic… I bought it for $2 years ago, and I don’t feel any need for another one. They could be on clearance for $0.01 and I wouldn’t feel any need to buy them. I have a DeWALT DCL040 Flash/Worklight with a pivoting head… No matter how low they put the price on it, I don’t need another one. We vote with our Wallets, right? Well, I’m not one to let the Store vote for me. I don’t browse aisles at a supermarket, I don’t listen to sales pitches, and I don’t let others make decisions I prefer to make. I listen to experts, specs, and my wallet. At worst, sales people are there as in-store compases or tracking devices, for what I’m looking for. Sometimes (admittedly more frequent than I like.) they’re top-shelf grabbers or ladder operators to get what I came for. Otherwise… they’d be the ones in control over what I buy.
I hear the argument “But you would save more money if you shopped around!” and my reply is always the same. “Ebola is Free of Charge all together, it doesn’t mean it’s the one I want.” I don’t shop. I don’t browse. I get what worked the last time I needed it, or the best one I’ve found that fits within my ecosystem and budget. Sales and Marketing be Damned.
FYI… Stuart and fred, among many others here, are those I count among my “Experts” list. You are likely key to what I buy, if you are reading this sentence right now.
Thank you for saving me typing the same thing. If you are a pro or you need the tool to complete a project you buy it when you need it. Sales, promos, coupons etc do not justify to buy a tool and leave it in a box in case you need it. Period.
If money is no issue then you buy every tool you desire and also buy a ticket from Bezos or Musk for a space trip.
To be fair, Pete, if I had that kind of money, there would be a lot of me offering to renovate or expand my favourite tool store, so they can operate with larger stock, and ship with more efficiency… I’d probably buy them one of those advanced forklifts that can be controlled to drive sideways or use a 0 degree turning radius. Anything they needed too do everything they already do, just at a higher volume, justifying their expansion and incease their income.
There would also be some instances where I intend to upgrade my long-serving tools to their more modern, efficient lines, even their bigger siblings. Not because I desperately need it, but because I want to use the efficiency benefits immediately, and have my old, well-maintained originals as backups in case I moved a switch or setting wrong and blew something out. Plus, the bigger sibling tools would be for harder materials, expanding what I can do. I am, by no means, a “Pro” but I still hold the exact buying habit we’re both talking about. If you genuinely need it, and genuinely can afford it, regardless of whether it’s on sale, or there’s a promotion, get it. Sure, use that promotion/sale/coupon to save a little money on the total purchase, but either way… If you need it, and can afford it, Buy It. Don’t let anyone convince you to buy it when it’s convenient for Them to sell it off.
We’re the ones doing the work, to earn the money, on whatever project we’re doing, in order to afford the tools. So… We need to take total control over the cash flow conversation. The power should be centered around Our Needs, not Company Profits. Engineer the perfect version of a tool all you want, if no one can afford it, and no one needs it, you wasted a lot of money for no reason. We shouldn’t be punished for being Pragmatic when it comes to our passions and careers for building or making things.
It’s all from the same 3 manufactures and Home Depot is essentially the distribution arm of Stanley tools. Check serial numbers carefully and you’ll find that the same tool model and name has been manufactured differently for the big box stores than your local Ace/True Value/Do-it-best. The ones distributed through big box stores are of a radically different/lower quality than what’s sold by local people who directly deal with a brand distributor. So really, if you’re worried about a big box blowout or some gimmick you’re already on the losing end. Cordless tools are pokemon cards for grown men needing to feel manly, you will never get the satisfaction you want. I own a drill, a light impact and a recip saw in cordless. And I have corded versions for when I really need to perform like the skilled labor I am. If I “need” any more cordless tools a Yamaha/Honda generator becomes feasible real quick. So, yeah…you get what you pay for. The items in that 2 pack deal aren’t even the same quality as the regular stock of same 2 tools. The psychology of perceived value is weighed heavily when marketing these tools. Don’t be a sucker. But the best one you can when you need it.
…..Buy the best one you can afford when you need it…
ps Go to your locally owned hardware store. They sell better wood too.
The “they sell cheaper tools” claim has been repeated about a lot of brands for many years, but I have yet to see actual proof of it.
Brands do have manufacturing facilities in different countries, and what they ship to different retailers can be related to sales volume. If you have 20 of an item going to each of 5 online retailers, and then 20 of an item going to nearly 2000 Home Depot stores, that’s going to affect production planning.
With the volume of tools sold at Home Depot, do you really think that brands are able to produce fewer tools with better parts for other suppliers?
It’s possible, but I’ve never seen proof of this, and have only ever heard unsubstantiated rumors.
Just take apart the tools. Your a blog writer, go buy some tools from different types of distributors and the visual of internal components alone will tell you that they are not the same tool. I started doing this after buying an employee a new drill at home depot near a job site. He was struggling with a task so I got in there to help and I couldn’t reach my drill so I asked to barrow his. Mind you this was supposed to be the same fancy new Milwaukee I got from the Do-it-best a month earlier. The brand new drill from home depot was downright anemic. I did most of our tool repair in house because, I was the super superintendent and I love tinkery things. Low and behold, the rotor/winding the shaft and the wiring were all smaller in the home depot model and even the chip set was different and housed differently. Just out of curiosity I did that for a while with that construction company. And the results were consistently smaller, weaker more fragile cordless tools from big box. Corded tools don’t follow this model, it’s that Pokemon garbage with cordless that’s being taken advantage of, gotta have them all. The urgency in the allocation is in the psychology of the sale. It’s all there in fiscal reports if you need proof these companies spend millions on psychologists to market this stuff. What other purpose did Stanley tools have to spend $5.9M on psychological services in 2020? My latest tool dissection was the Porter Cable (Stanley) cordless hammer drill. Yup, you guessed it, everything was smaller, lighter duty in the big box model. Get manufacturers to give you manufacturer coupons for two of each on several different models, you’ll see real quick.
Sure, if you’re willing to finance it. For any given brand or tool, a fair sampling should at the minimum include (1) purchased at a retail store, (1) purchased from the same retailer online, (1) from a construction supply house or industrial supplier, and (1) from an independent online dealer.
And then you need to do this for several types of tools, including “special buy” and year-round product offerings.
And then you need to do this spaced apart, to eliminate the possibility of universal time-dependent variations.
I’ve heard “Brand X sells cheaper tools to home centers” argument, and then a shopper will try to say the cheapest special buy cordless drill possible is more cheaply made than a heavy duty model that costs 2.5X more. It’s not the same product.
If it’s not the same SKU, it’s not the same tool.
Are there variations in products? Sometimes. Many brands do make rolling changes.
Do brands supply home improvement retailers with cheaper tools? It’s possible. But again, where’s the proof?
If someone is comparing a brand’s model XYZ tool to their ABC model tool, and claims the ABC model found at home centers is cheapened compared to the XYZ drill sold elsewhere, that’s one thing.
But the way the rumors and allegations are almost always phrased, the claim is that the ABC model tool at home centers is more cheaply made than the ABC model tool sold elsewhere. This is what I’ve never seen proof of, ever.
You’re welcome to spend your own money trying to chase that down.
You say that your latest dissection of Porter Cable tools showed differences. What was the model number(s), year(s) purchased, and where were the compared tools purchased from?
A contractor complained to me that the Craftsman drill he was using failed quickly. Well yeah, that’s no surprise that Craftsman’s cheapest and most value-centric entry priced model couldn’t hold up to his needs and task demands.
Unspecified ground beef isn’t going to taste like prime rib just because they come from the same cow.
This entire post reads as sponsored content. If the manufacturers have an honest representation of their products they should be able to sponsor a blogger/journalist some manufacturers gift cards in agreement for return of their tools. That’s how a lot YouTube content is made. When two boxes advertise the same model with the same specs then one of them doesn’t measure up, regardless of SKU it’s fraud. So if two mustangs were sitting side by side advertising 225HP, 305 ft lbs (65 standard V8 specs) of torque then I popped the hood on one to find a inline 6, I should have decoded the VIN first? Nope that’s fraud. That’s all I’ve done, popped the hood on power tools. Because I fix them. If the construction industry in the US wasn’t just building out-of-square junk out of green wood with no grain, I’d probably still have a couple tools on my bench at the end of the day, and be happy to share.
I know what I’ve encountered. Thank you for allowing me to express it in this thread.
So, to summarize:
You claimed there are substantial differences when comparing tools sourced at home centers and other suppliers. I said I’ve never seen proof of this, and you encouraged me to spend money to try to find it.
You then claimed to have observed this firsthand with tool dissections.
I asked you for information that could possibly substantiate or add credibility to your claims.
You claim to have found firsthand evidence of this “fraud,” but cannot (or will not) provide a model number for the purpose of verification or further investigation?
In response, you suggest that my comment or post are somehow sponsored, and then you proceed to encourage me to seek sponsorship in the form of manufacturer gift cards of some kind.
I said “I’ve never seen proof of this, and have only ever heard unsubstantiated rumors,” and our entire interaction here has been a case in point.
Late to the party…
I take apart and repair a lot of tools for our teams. I know that’s a subjective quantization. I probably have to disassemble, order parts, and reassemble a tool at about six per month, and toss two of them and obtain a replacement. And of course order new tools every month. I would break it down by week but I am usually traveling at least a week a month.
I’ve seen no pattern to suggest tools purchased at HD, Lowes, Ace or Amazon are different from tools purchased from local suppliers or online specialists. Our main cordless and corded brands are SBD, Milwaukee, Makita and Bosch.
I have every tool serial numbered and associated with its invoice which tracks its purchase date, manufacture date, model, revision and serial number. So while this is a relatively small sample set in the big scheme of things (we only have 40-50 employees plus extra contract workers), a statistician could assign some likelihood to my experience. I am not a statistician so I’ll leave that to one.
WIth SBD tools, which I have the most knowledge and best experience, manufacturing revisions occur (the “Type” of each model), but I don’t see a pattern to those types being sold by different retailers, just that they seem to go with dates. The different types will have many identical parts but ostensibly some differ. As an unrelated side note, I often replace the housings on tools because SBD provides them fairly inexpensively and the self-tapping screws used to hold them together will usually remove too much material when tightened three times, so no longer hold securely. I can move the labels to the new housings without issue.
It occurs to me that while certain tools may look the same, inferior products will usually have a different model number and be marketed differently (as parts of kits, or from different retailers). But there’s nothing nefarious going on here, they are meeting certain price points. This is in contrast to major appliances that may have different model numbers for each retailer, but be identical.
Maybe the tool rumor is rooted in other products where it’s kind of true. For instance, Kohler Moen and Hansgrohe products you find at Costco or Walmart are different from those sold at home improvement centers, and those are different from those sold at plumbing centers. This happens with a lot of stuff. But the companies generally supply plainly different labeling and product names or models. And both Walmart and Home Depot will generally get manufacturers to lower prices and degrade quality, then often switch to their own branded items. One of the reasons I prefer buying products at Lowes over HD is that since their purchasing power isn’t so strong compared to HD, they don’t manipulate the manufacturers in the same way. So I find the perceived quality of items at Lowes to often be name brand and superior. One example is a lockset. If you need one right now, you can usually buy a high end residential quality Schlage lockset off the shelf at Lowes. At HD you’ll be limited to low grade Schlage, or stuff with Kwikset keyways. But one example doesn’t indicate a trend.
It’s all my experience and doesn’t really prove anything, but it seems to put a dent in the tool supply rumor at least in some cases.
Also, have you seen a production line in a Chinese factory town? There are no conveyers. There are supervisors with bus tubs full of parts setting them down within reach of workers. Approximately 1/12 of power tool sales in the US happen at the local stores, you know places where even the customer gets to know the different tool reps. How hard is it in that style of production line to manufacturer a line for 1 month then ship to assure it’s warehoused separately? Bill Ruger was designing a drill when he started manufacturing the Ruger Standard model, all kinds of odd things are done to the internals of power tools.
Tax-free week starts this Saturday September 4th at Northern Tool and Equipment stores throughout the nation.