The other day, we asked you to tell us about the tools you love using – the ones that seamless blend into your work.
Jeff enjoyed that post – and all of the commenters’ posts – and had a great suggestion. He asked if we could talk about some of the tools that sit around and collect dust from disuse.
Have you thought about a thread at the other end of the spectrum? Maybe, “what tool have you bought that mostly collects dust?” or “what tool did you buy expecting to use frequently but in fact rarely use” or “what tool do you keep in your toolbox even though you have never used it or have not used it in years?”
So, how about it?
Which of your tools just sit around and collect dust because, for one reason or another, you just don’t use them?
I’ll need to give this question some thought, but I do know of 1 tool I own that doesn’t see much use. If given the chance, I would go back and not buy this tool.
I don’t have much love for my Vise-Grip locking wrench pliers, like this one on Amazon, but with cushion grips. I bought this tool over 9 years ago, and I don’t think I’ve used them even once a year since then.
mike aka Fazzman
As a tool junky/collector I dont really regret buying any,But since nowadays i work from home more often than not doing programming and such i dont use my micrometers and other machinist tools as often at least my larger sizes. Micrometers of 2″ and under are useful for so many things I use them often enough.
sometimes i have a pretty rare occassion where i need to pickup a tool for a certain project because im still slowly building up woodworking items like various clamps and such.
Andy from Workshopshed
I’ve two on my regrets list. Firstly a sheet metal shear which does not cut very well, the second a plane which I’ve also never got to work correctly.
In the latter case I’ve still not worked out if it’s my fault bit am tempted to get a more expensive plane to compare.
What kind of hand plane is it? They are really tricky to get right if you aren’t used them. Sharpening, setup, alignment, and how you use them on the wood all make a huge difference. I almost gave up hand planes because everything I touched them with turned to garbage. Is it a harbor freight plane, or just something old?
Even a HF plane can be made to work reasonably well. The one I keep in my truck was from HF (“#33”) and I got it for $8 with the coupon. It works very well. The most common problems are that the blade is too dull and/or you are taking too deep a cut. Paper-thin (even tissue-paper-thin) cuts only for most planes.
We’d hear about a new tool that promised increased productivity, enhanced safety etc. and we’d often buy one to try it out. Some then got bought in multiples – others got shoved in a corner of the tool room along with all the other duds.
A recent buy for me was a Proint Teck PHGFT luggage scale. I should have read the reviews more carefully – as I find that it gets you in the ballpark – but isn’t accurate enough (said I was Ok but a Delta scale at RSW said otherwise) if your luggage is close (within a few pounds) to the weight limit.
I’ll try it again soon – and see how it compares to the KLM, Air France and Lufthansa scales.
At garage sales and estate auctions, the tools I often see unused, some still sealed in the box, are dovetail jigs.
Its not a tool you use very often – unless you’re building a lot of drawers – and if your really building a lot then you need something like a Omec, Powermatic, Laguna, or some other dovetailer – depending on your volume.
I have a PC 4210 that I paid under $100 for in 2006 and got my money’s worth doing kitchen cabinets – vanities and the like for my house and the kids houses. It now sits in a chest – waiting on the next job – or more likely a garage sale that the kids will have when I’ve shuffled off this mortal coil.
I made a small box last year for my wife – and cut and chopped the dovetails by hand.
Delta brand 8″ dual grinder wheel. After truing the wheels down to almost 7.5″, took the wheels off and realized the extreme vibration was inside, not the wheel balance.
B&D corded hammer drill. Have to hold the reverser lever in position to keep it spinning.
B&D laser level. Vertical is off by about 7 degrees from the bubble level.
B&D jigsaw. Blade held rotated, slanted left, slanted back, no adjustments to correct.
Anything B&D I’ve bought, really.
I have to agree with you on the laser level. I have a craftsman one that was a gift that I could never get to show true level. If I could it took too damn long to get it there and would never stay level for long or the batteries would die right after you got it perfect. After giving it a few tries I just get out the old box level and save myself some time.
Every once in awhile I’ll come to a project where I think a laser line would be useful hear so I’ll give it a try again and quickly remember why it’s on the top shelf gathering dust.
Don’t know if regret is fair but bought craftsman oscillating tool worked great for 2 years on off use and died when I finished a basement remodel. It lights up takes power but is not a miniflahlight Since motor clogged with drywall dust regardless of how many times I cleaned it. Went out bought a $14 hf one so only out $15 instead of 100 if it dies
my guys used ours like a sawzall, died in less than a year. howd ya treat the thing?
I bought an old Radial Arm saw with intentions of setting it up for crosscutting. Turns out my Compound Miter saw does the job just fine. If I need really high quality cuts, I rely on a crosscut sled on the table saw.
My ancient Craftsman RAS sits in the corner of the basement – probably awaiting the estate sale my kids will have (hopefully still some years off). Back in the 70’s the RAS was the big seller at Sears and it was touted as the “master” of many jobs – with its available add-ons and gizmos. I found that it soon became the master of nothing – as slop started to creep in. It’s long been gathering dust. I guess if it had been built to the tolerance of my old Walker Turner Radial Arm Drill Press or the big old Dewalt RAS we had in the corner of one shop – it might have held up – but it might also have cost as much as my first car.
By about the mid- to late-1970s the quality on all of them dropped tremendously. But the earlier ones are gems. I have a Craftsman from the late 1960s or early 1970s that works great, but only because I took the time to seriously study up on the subject and spent half a day (a year ago) tuning it up. They are capable of gorgeous, fine joinery. I watched a video a while back showing a man who uses his for ALL of his woodworking. It’s his only power tool (well, along with a router that he mounts in the router attachment on the RAS). That guy REALLY knew what he was doing. I wish I could remember his name. Video got pulled off of YouTube a while back for copyright violation.
Anyway, the RAS is far more versatile than any other tool I’ve used. But only if you know how to use it. And only if you have one with a cast iron arm. If yours is sheet metal then forget it. Just cash in on the perpetual recall. $100 value for sending the motor back to Craftsman.
Yes! Well done!
HF drill bit set.
Used those for a project with other college students so they didn’t break my good bits. I figured that a 144 bulk pack would last awhile but I tried using them a couple times and to my surprise I found I was breaking the bits too; they are terribly brittle.
Ive learned not to buy any consumables that cut or sand from HF. Better to buy 1 name brand blade for the same price as 12 HF blades.
I was a little leary of HF’s SDS+ bits since the open box I looked into had actual holes/gaps in the brazing, but they’ve actually been punching really clean, sharp holes. Which is REALLY good since the first thing I used them on was a marble cashwrap . . ..
Not too many, but all in a few categories.
The latest high tech WhizBang(TM) hammer. Never delivers the promised XX% reduction in effort. I keep going back to my ancient zero frills Plumb hammers and now have several fancy hammers that never see use. But for some reason I still try a new design every so often.
Demolition screwdrivers. They are suposed to pull triple duty as screwdrivers, punches, and chisels. They make lousy chisels, barely adequate punches, and become mangled enough to be lousy scrscrewdrivers. I have Klein, Stanley, Dewalt, and Milwaukee demolition drivers sitting in a drawer and have gone back to carrying small individual tools.
A 50-something piece Craftsman mechanic’s tool set I bought on sale for $25. I wanted to see if the Chinese tools were as bad as people claimed. They are. I won’t be repeating that experiment.
Ryobi belt/disc sander. Vibrates, and the tiny drive belt breaks regularly. There many brands with their label on this model.
Interesting. I bought one about 18 months ago because I needed one RIGHT THEN for a job I had to finish in a hurry. It was the only model I could find (along with the Skil version of the exact same for $10-20 more at Lowe’s) to pick up immediately. I knew it would pay for itself that weekend and any other use beyond that would be a bonus.
It’s still running as well as it ever did, and I use it regularly. I’ve been quite pleased with it. I got the green one, but I think it’s identical to the older ones. No broken drive belts. Some vibration, but no more than any other budget tool I’ve ever used. Certainly more than on $2000-5000 floor-standing models I’ve used in the past. And the miter gauge is an absolute joke, but that’s to be expected with a thin, aluminum miter table and plastic miter gauge. I’ve actually been thinking about making a better table (using plate steel) to get even more use out of this thing.
Milwaukee M12 Sawzall. It is a spineless wimp of a saw that couldn’t cut it’s way out of a wet paper bag. It doesn’t seem to matter what type of blade or what size battery pack I use.
I’ll agree with this… It’s good for cutting sheet metal (18-28 gauge…) and EMT. Using it on Unistrut produces very mixed results. I’ve found that it’s best with 4″, 24 TPI blades… And you really need to hold the guard tight to whatever you’re working on. If you don’t, the blade gets caught on the material and shakes the tool body, along with your arm, like crazy.
Our plumbing crews loved it (M12 Hackzall) – but they were using it to cutout small drain lines (plastic or brass) and thin-walled tubing (aka water pipe) under sinks and toilets. I think they liked it more for its small size than its power (which it does not have)
If you mean the regular one I can’t compare but my M12 Fuel Hackzall is crazy powerful and I’ve used the heck outta it. I think the consensus is the “Fuel” version is way better. All too often I’ve seen people not properly place the foot at the material so they get it stuck obove that pivot point on the blade and its effectively just “shaking” the material. But I just this weekend had loads of random corian pieces in a shed and I spent all day cutting over 2 inch thick segments to small manageable pieces to take to the dump. I was sure there was no way it would cut it but it sure did and it stood up to the abuse and like butter. Very impressed.
I have the brushed M12 hackzall and I find it to be pretty good for my needs.
We do HVAC so it doesn’t get hard use. The majority of its use is to cut old pair coil, pvc pipe, cut back shubbery on site and also for cutting up some parts of dead units to recycle.
We also have an M18 hackzall which is obviously more powerful but within the scope of our work the M12 is well up to the job and they both see equal use.
I have the original m12 and the m18 (both brushed)
Loves the m12 until my father tried to use it to cut a bowling lane in half… Got about 2/3 of the way through and never worked again.
Needless to say he bought me the m18 for xmas shortly after.
Cut a bowling lane in half?? Sounds like a story.
I hate it when people use cordless tools where corded tools are far more appropriate. There’s just no sense putting that much strain on the tool and battery.
Expecting a 12V one-handed reciprocating saw to out cut or even approach a two-handed 18V (or corded) model is like complaining that a handgun doesn’t have the range, accuracy or muzzle velocity of a rifle.
A 12V one-hander (Dewalt, Milwaukee, Makita, Bosch are all good) is meant for light work and close quarters cutting.
THANK YOU. I was just going to comment to the same effect. My example was going to be using a hobby MIG welder for production use. It’s just not made to be pushed that hard for that long. It is a different tool.
The worst tool I’ve ever had in my hand was something someone left at a work site (on Cell system projects, guys leave stuff all over cities, site after site), a pair of dikes:
At home, there was a wire fence overgrown by vines & embedded in a tree stump. I figured these 7″ dikes would be able to cut that wire. Nothing about those dikes looked suspicious. Stuck it in the vines, found the wire and squeezed. Pulled out a wide open jaw with touching handles.
It went into the recycle bin – glad it wasn’t my money that was spent.
I’ve provided good tools to my guys before, who’ve lost them and replaced them with dollar store junk, like rounded off screwdrivers to replace Klein. When I find them I chuck ’em, tell them to replace tools with what they lost. Doesn’t always happen.
Craftsman MaxAccess locking wrench. I got it as a gift several years ago and have tried to find a use for it but either a socks or wrench us always better. I tried to give it away with little luck.
Two for me.:
One. My craftsman weed blower. Not really “tool” related but the worst POJ I have ever owned.
Second. My craftsman pneumatic grease gun. Sears does not even sell the grease cartridges for the dang thing.
Dewalt 28V tool set! I was told it was going to be the next big thing, then they discontinued it and I can find batteries! Makita had a trade in program so I went thought route!
One of my biggest gripes is when a manufacturer puts together a half-measure and ultimately aborted attempt at a battery system.
Many manufacturers are guilty of it, with some famous cancelled (or nearly dead) systems including:
-Dewalt 36V nano
-Porter Cable 18V
I regret the Kobalt self-adjusting pliers set. It has this awkward lock mechanism that I found frustrating. Tried both sizes with the same results.
I also regret buying B&D 18V tools. I think the series was called Firestorm. I originally bought a rotating brush tool which worked well for cleaning a boat deck. But when I bought some more of the tools I was very disappointed. I kept the brush but gifted the rest to a friend who only owned one old drill with a frayed cord. Should be fine for his once in a blue moon minor repair work.
I bought a used table saw. I have used it to date. Fortunately the price was inexpensive, but the saw takes up a lot of room….
I bought a set of craftsman pry bars that I assumed would come in handy. I think I used one of them once.
I also bought a toro electric leaf blower that works fairly well; however, I should have invested in a gas powered version.
Ryobi 18V chainsaw. Impulse purchase when I needed to do some minor limbing. I thought this would do the trick, but I was wrong. If is exceptionally slow, the chain oil chamber cap broke, and any limbs it might handle well you could cut with a decent set of loopers. It also kills batteries.
I would have returned it if it didn’t get so dirty from the leaking oil.
Well, I’ll attest to the Ryobi 36V (“40V”) one. I mean, it’s not a REAL chainsaw by any stretch, but it is pretty impressive for what you expect.
I just use my cordless sawzall for that kind of stuff. Too big for loppers and too small for a real chainsaw? Sawzall it is.
I completely agree, I the M12 Fuel Sawzall with pruning blades (9 in. & 12″ 4/5 TPI Pruning SAWZALL) for commercial arbor work all the time,
For the stuff a little larger and but not worth getting a ladder out, I use one of the universal attachment for gas/cordless string trimmers with a 10″ bar and a 30″ pole extension attached to 40V cordless – handles 95% of what I need.
I’v got an awesome little Echo that had a 14″ bar and chain that I swapped out with a 12″ GB ARBOR TECH Bar/Chain Combo, I use that primarily in the back of bed of pickup so I can haul more limbs and branches to the local compost/yard debris dump site, easily fit a whole 10-12″ trunk sized tree (15-20′ tall) in the back of an 8′ bed.
Belt/disc sander. Just never sees use when a couple planes and random orbital are nearby.
He who has the most tools wins. I don’t regret anything.
Rotozip. That is all.
RotoZips were once the big thing – the original model (RM1 Type1) was corded – did only 1 job and cost something like $50. The original company (before being acquired by Bosch) probably sold a heap of them to rockers and electricians. Once their patent expired – there were lots of copycats – still quite a few around. Once the Fein Multimaster went off-patent and oscillating tools started proliferating – I think folks realized that they might be better off carrying an oscillating tool.
I guess if you are doing lots of drywall cutouts – the RotoZip or a Drywall cutout tool might still be relevant.
Funny. I love my Rotozip, mostly because it made rewiring my lath and plaster house so easy and really cut down the amount of wall repair needed. The blades are also way cheaper – which really matters cause plaster just chews any kind of blade up. However if you don’t do a lot of this kind of work they are pretty useless.
I use my original RotoZip for dry wall, and that is all. Certainly not the worst purchase I ever made, especially because I got it cheap on closeout, but far less versatile than marketed.
I’ve been waiting for this question to appear for a long time, because I hate looking at my Rotozip saw so much (and never use it). It was an impulse buy, after I saw a (very misleading) video showing the (supposedly) precision cuts it made. I’ve found almost no uses for the Rotozip — and I don’t even own an oscillating multi-tool (can’t afford a good one), which seems to have made spiral saws obsolete.
A) A cheap oscillating saw is WAY better than no oscillating saw. They are one of the greatest tool innovations of the last half century… for certain tasks.
B) The RotoZip is frankly in the running for the same title, with the same caveat. I use them regularly for drywall. Nothing like doing a couple dozen canned light cutouts in a ceiling and looking back and how every one of them is cut absolutely perfectly, and you did the whole job with a single bit that was less than $2, in a fraction of the time that it would have taken with any other tool. They’re great.
Then Bosch decided that they are appropriate for every kind of cutting task and sold them as the Only Tool You’ll Ever Need! Nope. Excellent tool for making precision holes with guided bits or quick holes in sheet metal and other things with non-guided bits (and far less precise). But otherwise they aren’t worth much. And I’ve never found the circle guides to be worth the effort. Too fiddly and they don’t hold their position well.
Milwaukee M12 Vacuum. It sucks and not in the good way.
I agree It is underwhelming power wise. I would rather they went for more power over run time. I would be happy with half the run time if it were just 20-30% more powerful.
Run time doesn’t bother me, I have plenty of batteries.
We bought 2 of these for work and they are adequate for our purposes (vacuuming up Gyprock dust, drywall to you guys). For nearly everything other than dust we drag out the M18 vac.
The filters also block very quickly and I have to blow them out literally after every use to keep the vac anything near effective. Perhaps a gauze pre-filter like the Ryobi one has might improve things.
Should have read “barely adequate for our purposes”
Luckily i tried one out when a milwaukee rep was at my home depot. It was terrible. But then again i had the same experience with a m12 3/8″ drive ratchet, it was terrible. Wouldnt loosen bolts, would stall out, i took it back i was so disappointed. I bought another one a year later and the second one is awesome, it actually has power!
Maybe try another one in store and see if it still sucks…
John Blair. I have one of those vacuums too. I own a ton of Milwaukee tools, and that vacuum is the worst of all. Garbage!!!
I got one to use around the house and it works great for that. The filters are pretty expensive and HD doesn’t carry them. It also goes in car for road trips for mid trip cleanups.
My main gripe is that it is loud.
Dewalt 20v oscillating tool haha not for short coming of the tool at all, I just picked it up bare tool one day because I just received a safety bonus for the same amount it cost that morning. I had thought I’d find great success in using the flush cut titanium blades to step up my installations through sheet metal. Used it once with acceptable if unimpressive success, and then received an angle grinder as a gift shorty after. Haven’t used the thing since. Still looking into creative applications I might be able to use it for at work.
Mine would be my Porter Cable 18v lithium tools. When I decided to switch from the crappy nicad system I was using before, I decided to go with the Porter Cable 18v they had at Lowes. I started with the oscillating too which I liked, and then added a few others as they came on sale. Once had a few tools (drill, impact, recip saw etc) I noticed that Lowes switched to 20v porter cable LI tools and the batteries for my system suddenly were scarce and pricier. So now I am on a platform and will have to pay through the nose to get additional batteries going forward. Thanks Porter Cable/Lowes or whoever is to blame. I like the tools actually, but I regret getting orphaned on their change from 18v to 20 v which as far as I can tell is not backward compatible.
You can always send your current battery packs out for rebuilds. My neighbor did it, the price was reasonable and he was happy with the performance.
Ditto to MT_Noob’s comment. Ok to good 18v drill has lost alot of luster with it’s poor battery which quickly became obsolete.
Ridgid 12v JobMax oscillating system. seemed like a good idea at the time, use it to cut tile with one head, right angle drill with another, jig saw with another. Batteries were terrible and to buy the heads were more than I was willing to pay. Used it half a dozen times in 5 years.
Solar powered flashlight and SO screwdrivers. Neither lived up to expectations.
Awesome topic, Stuart! Like a lot of readers I find it easy to place value–or potential value–to any and every tool I purchase. But the truth is that I have bought tools that I will never use, and that money would have been better spent on something else, saved for a rainy day, or donated to a worthy cause.
Generic cast iron holdfasts. Would rarely hold, ended up breaking one of them trying to seat it, tossed the other one.
Craftsman Router & Table. The table was okay, the router only took 1/4″ bits. The bit limitation was too much for me, I ended up taking the whole package back.
First Mity-Vac brake bleed kit. I only regret it because I lost it before I ever used it.
DeWalt Jigsaw – it’s a very good jigsaw, but the blade change is a bit of a pain. Knowing what I do now, I think I’d have been better served with the Bosch 1587.
Several vintage hand planes.
Bought a Gerber mutitool once, it’s gotta be good right I mean it’s a Gerber?… Tossed it in my junk drawer and put a Leatherman back on my hip.
Harbor Freight’s gallon vacuum. Still works but the hose crapped out right away and they don’t sell replacements.
Open end wrenches that are notched so you can use them like “ratchets”. I bought a cheap set about 35 years ago. They are in a box marked “Do not use”. 🙂
Biggest tool disappointment: my Milwaukee M18 right angle drill. All it really needs is a speed selector (like DeWalt has), and it would probably be fine, but it doesn’t have it, and tops out at 125 in-lbs (that’s not a typo). I’ve since replaced it with the M18 right angle impact driver, that I use with Bosch Daredevil spade bits; this setup works great.
The anticipated use never materialized enough to justify the purchase: Hilti DX35 powder-actuated tool. I’ve used it twice in 10 years, and only because I already had it. Without it I would have just used tapcons, and not once would I have wished I had this tool instead. It works great, but the need just isn’t there.
Anything that was cheap. Then I got to spend more money on a GOOD one later.
Me too. sometimes not spending the difference(between good vs not so good) makes you spend twice.
So true, ALMOST every time I’ve bought the cheaper of tool option I later regretting it. Even in seemingly basic “how could that tool be double the price for such a simple hand tool?” situations I so often regret not buying the more expensive.
Buy quality–buy once, cry once. Buy junk–cry everytime you use it.
I’ve found (for me anyway) it only makes sense to pay the extra dollar for quality unless it’s a tool that’ll get a lot of use. It’s no help spending a heap of cash on the good stuff when a middle-of-the-road purchase is all you need for your purposes. If you’re a millionaire, feel free to disregard this advice.
I regret purchasing a Bosch EC brushless drill. Don’t get me wrong it is a fantastic drill but as I soon found out Bosch 18v platform is a little underwhelming compared to other companies. Other companies also make similarly priced brushless drills with metal chucks and more features. It was a bit of a disappointment to say the least. Just goes to show do your research.
I also find my straight cut snips are rarely used. As a roofer snips are used frequently but I always reach for reds, greens, or scissor style. Yellows are always last resort.
I regret buying the Festool PDC 18, I should have purchased the cordless 55 instead. I’ve sent that drill back two times now after doing light hammerdrilling. Their supposed IP isn’t that great my 4 speed switch still sticks really bad when I go to shift it. Not really seeing a leap and bound ahead of Milwaukee and Makita at all.
I bought the “max access socket set” from Harbor Freight for $20. While it has all the common sockets-metric and SAE, along with a extension. I havent really found a use that requires “max access”! There’s those few times in my life where i needed it but havent come across it yet when i have the tool i need. Or i will need it in the field and it will be in my tool chest still lol. Thats really all i can think of.
All of these thru bolt ratchet and socket set things were a waste.
I had a top notch gearwrench one that I gave away and still have a couple small husky and kobalt ones that were given to me as gifts.
None of them have ever been used more than once. Most never at all.
I asked myself, just how much allthread do I use, that I need a tool to run nuts down?
Then I left it on the shelf.
Two that really irk me. A Dremel Saw-Max and Rockwell VersaCut.
I absolutely hate the Dremel Saw-Max, its a death trap and its horrible cutter. The wood cut “blades” are essentially cutoff wheels with grit welded on so the cuts were always horrible and not anything close to being straight. Plastic shoe has a slop and flex that made it really unsatisfying to use and not accurate. But the worst was the safety mechanism on the paddle switch. You naturally grab the thing with your hand coming towards it. But if you do, you’ll find your hand will immediately unlock the safety and when you subsequently squeeze, the thing goes off in your hand. The safety switch is pointed towards the base meaning an upward motion unlocks it and its sure not hard to do. A simple brush of your hand is enough to defeat that. I had it happen so many times and scared the bejesus outta me and made me so angry of the overall tool I packed it up and threw it way back in a closet to never see the light of day.
The Versa while not as horrible, is still another failure to me. The plunge cut ability is so rarely needed and because of it, it really prevents you from doing straight cuts otherwise. If it would lock to a depth it would solve it, but every cut requires a push down and push forward motion. This means the shoe is going to skew to one side or the other and your cuts not going to be straight. I suppose for just plunge cutting its okay so its not terrible, but I rarely if ever need to do that. I wanted a small stand alone saw and this isn’t a good choice.
Thru bolt/pass through sockets were the biggest waste of time, money and storage space in history to me.
They’re pretty much all proprietary in nature and don’t share sockets/handles and have never been more useful to me than a ratcheting wrench… Which I have pretty much all of.
Other than that milwaukee’s m12 palm nailer… It worked well for what it was designed for but seized up shortly after purchasing it and I had lost my paperwork to return it so now it sits on top of my cabinet at work waiting for the day I get sufficiently motivated to find parts for it. Which theyll probably stop making by then and I’ll have to throw it away.
Also pretty much anything that says Kobalt on it (other than one torque wrench) has been gifted away since they all seem to suck in comparison to another company’s products. Its a horrible thing on their part to try to make top quality pro level sockets and ratchets and wrenches for which they charge more than competitive box store brands and gearwrench and then make horrible gimmick tools that suck under the same brand.
Does nothing for their image at all.
Milwaukee service centers consistently service Milwaukee tools without a receipt, because the date of manufacture is coded into the serial number (human-readable, if I recall). I had an impact driver quit on me after a few months, but I bought it (new, in package, shortly after Black Friday) from a guy on the local classifieds, so no receipt for me. Absolutely zero hassle getting it fixed. Done in a week. Best warranty service I’ve ever experienced.
For me, it’s all the small things that add up. The big tools always seem to find a use, but the small specialty bits, blades, jigs, novelty gadgets and doodads … man, they just sit unused. They’re not much money individually, so they’re common impulse buys. I think “Hey that’s clever, that’ll come in handy,” but that miracle scenario never comes up.
Like was said earlier anything cheap. Exceptions to that were:
Festool track saw accessory kit that came in a systainer reinforced that not everything Festool is worth the cost. The angle guide was just not good enough for long sheet good cuts. The guide rail end attachment designed to not let the hose catch is only somewhat helpful and less so than just wrapping the hose around your arm as you cut. Just buy the track clamps and rails to join tracks together separately and put them in your track saw systainer which already has storage for them. You’ll save space and well over $100.
The DeWalt Toughsystem. It pains me to say it but I find that most job sites for me as a finish carpenter/cabinetmaker just have too many situations where a wide based dolly won’t fit. I find that the fully loaded tool cart is just too heavy to roll up stairs and the box dimensions are awkward to carry from the short top handle. Also at 6’2″ I have to hunch to pull the dolly around. In hindsight I just might not have bought it for reasons mentioned. It still has tons of good features though and it might still be the best tool storage package overall, so no big regret I just think there’s room for improvement in this category. Side note: don’t buy the box with drawers. It’s just not engineered well and the bins make the drawer bind if they are slightly shifted (pretty sure they are taking it off the market).
Lastly my worm drive skill saw, standard (7-1/2″?) blade size. Its just more suited for framers than finish guys. Quality circular saws with motor mounted to the side are sufficient for most lighter duty framing that doesn’t require a big beam saw while still being capable of doing very technical cuts in finish work. The heavy worm drive saws with the rear mounted motor are just too unwieldy for some finish applications. Worm drives are still the best for day in day out heavy duty cutting though in my opinion.
You’re absolutely right about the saw. Worm drive are a major PITA to use for precise cuts. But typical sidewinders are a pain if you’re right-handed because the blade is mounted on the right. I LOVE my Porter-Cable, magnesium-bodied, left-side-blade, tool-less blade changing sidewinder. But unfortunately they’ve been discontinued for years. I was thrilled to find mine at a Pawn Shop and then even more thrilled when I managed to offer $50 with a straight face and they took it. They are hard to find and tend to sell for more than the original retail price. But keep your eyes open, because they are absolutely excellent.
Oddly… I have these two “Impulse Buy” mini-socket sets from Lee Valley that I bought myself years ago. I think I’ve used them twice, and then I bought a proper set of full dedicated ratchets and sockets from Stanley. In the mean time, my mini-ratchets are sitting at the bottom of a tool box, never being used.
There is a close second place here, and that’s this Electrician’s Pouch from Tommyco. I bought it, along with their Drill Holster, in the hopes I could use it to carry what I needed with my Drill, but I’ve only used it once for that. It now sits unused in favour of pretty much anything else, including deep pockets in cargo pants/shorts. Meanwhile, the Drill Holster keeps my DeWalt Premium Drill together and handy in case I need it. Though, THAT may change soon, as I may buy some Leather to make my own holsters for my Drills and Gyro Screwdriver.
I learned from these tools that I genuinely can’t afford to get it wrong. That Impulse Buys are a big no-no. Now, if I don’t need it, I don’t buy it. And if it’s tangentially related to what I do with my other tools, it’s better to own at least a cheap version, and never need it, than to need it and not have one. That’s why I own a set of 11 Pry Bars, and have only used 1. And why I own a set of 5 Adjustable Wrenches, and only ever used 1. Better to have it, and not need it, than need it and not have it.
Bosch PS-11, right angle drill. the electronic clutch is annoyingly glitchy and the multi-positionable head isn’t as useful as it seemed when i allowed myself to be lured by it. certainly at $130.00 for the kit it was not worth the price. all in all i am big bosch booster but this one was a bad call. it sits in a corner gathering dust.
3/8″ ratchet set from ace hardware. an impulse buy when i was out of town and away from my tools. i needed a socket set and this seemed reasonably priced. the ratchet head has too few teeth and provides too much turning friction. therefore the bolt must be fairly tight already. its just annoying. nice shiny chrome but a tool that is irksome to use.
an inexpensive ODBII reader online from amazon. i don’t remember the name of the company that made it. it never worked and it was impossible to obtain the software that was supposed to have been shipped with it. it was designed to plug into your laptop. the whole process of ordering it, writing to the manufacturer, getting an rma and then returning it was a complete nuisance. you get what you paid for and i paid triple in nuisance value.
I regret buying accessories for various tools because I want all the capabilities, and then I never use them. Examples are the dremel press and extension snake, all sorts of drill attachments I’ve never used, getting one of freakin every recip saw blade (I’ve used like three only). Just a lot of money sitting around collecting dust. When you need it, buy it. When you don’t, don’t. Seems obvious in hindsight.
Sell the accessories on eBay, someone who deeply regrets not buying them before they were discontinued will snap them up.
eBay is the great buying mistake eraser.
Ryobi 4-cycle trimmer power head. Half-crank, plastic cam design. It started leaking oil after a year or so.
I got an old craftsman jointer off craigslist. It was wired for 220 and the guy told me it could be switched. I did that and it ran for a few minutes and then the motor never worked again. 8 years later the damn thing is still taking up space in my 1 car garage.
A PC drywall screwgun I got off CL. I tried it but felt more comfortable with my M12 impact driver and one of those depth stop bits.
I love my M12 impact with a dimpler bit for small work, especially repairs, and even tacking up a sheet before doing the bulk of the work with my (Hilti) drywall gun. That thing is SO fast and even with the motor locked on at full speed the sound is far less irritating than the impact for a big job. But there’s no sense getting it out for small work.
They’re both excellent, for different tasks.
My Dad was a tool and die guy with little interest in tools that would need replacing — or that would destroy a job mid-job. We never had a lot of money, but I learned a lot about tools and how to use them.
In contrast (and demonstrating the value of education of any sort in one’s life), his father never met a tool in the K-Mart bargain bin that was not destined for his workbench. I grew up learning that if you needed a functional screwdriver for one of his inevitable “hey, that damn thing broke again, could you fix it” jobs, you better hope you brought a functional one with you. I can honestly say I never used a screwdriver of his that hadn’t been used to stir paint or to pry two very jammed pieces of steel apart. The biggest bargain he got from his K-Mart tools was that they deformed quickly and then he would get me to repair his junk.
I still have a lot of my Dad’s tools — and there is great satisfaction in using them. Some of them even have the initials –P.W. — of the guy he apprenticed with stamped on them. And some of those are probably turning 100 years old this year. Always makes me smile.
Sometimes P.W, stamped on WW II vintage machinist’s tools – stood for Pratt & Whitney. Although it was also not uncommon for mechanics/machinists as well as retailers (like Hammacher Schlemmer – yes they were once a hardware store ) and manufacturers (like PSW – Peck Stow & Wilcox) to stamp their tools.
There are two fascinating schools of thought here. Many machinists think that engraving or stamping your name on your tools is tacky or otherwise objectionable, some arguing that your work should be clearly yours simply by the quality and style of the work you’ve done. Others believe in putting their name on their tools they are proud to have made. I don’t understand the former camp, and find tools with the maker’s signature to be priceless.
I had a pretty big family on my mom’s side and most of the uncles were in some sort of trade. Two worked as precision machinists during WWII – one on instruments and one on aircraft. Another one worked as a watchmaker. I recall that his tools shined as if they were polished repeatedly until they sparkled. I was told by one of them – don’t recall which – that they had to initial their work before the QC inspector gave it a going over – and he/she similarly applied an inspection tag – sort of like “Kilroy was Here” – but not a joke – since lives may have depended on the quality of the instruments. I inherited quite a number of the tools – many taps and dies with thread sizes that are now rather odd (not typical UNC, UNF, or UNEF ), some weird-configuration wrenches, many different Truarc snap ring pliers, lathe turned punches, shop made extension drills, a tungsten bucking bar etc.
My grandfather, while not as expertly trained or disciplined as that, had good machines and tools, and used them to make a number of unique inventions (one of which I am going to pitch to FastCap, because decades later and there’s still nothing like it on the market), but most of it went to my father’s half-brother after their father died. Big family feud there, as he had never been around as much, never learned how to use any of it, etc. We suspect he sold most everything. It makes me feel sick, to be honest.
My father ended up buying other machines (a couple lathes and a round column mill in particular) but never got the tooling his father had. Now I have one lathe and I’m working on the tooling, and I find myself lusting after the oldschool, expert machinist-made stuff that comes up on eBay, but there are too many others who also appreciate it and have deeper pockets than I do. Eventually my kids will be grown and I’ll be in a better position for that. Someday…
Meanwhile I’m working on making my own as I can figure out how and find/make time. Hopefully some will be of heirloom quality. So far, not so much. 🙂
Neat piece of info re Pratt and Whitney…. I’m sure about this particular P.W. though, as he always put them on a bit out of alignment — and is the same on his nameplate on the hand made toolbox that he passed to my Dad also.
Just to take it full circle — Percy Wharmby — great machinist name, eh?
And friends don’t let friends buy anything that trumpets the miracle of the laser for less than $30.
The cynic in me regrets buying and owning any tools at all. It seems those of us with tools are always the ones to fix anything and everything for people who choose not to have any. Must be nice to be so helpless all the time that someone else is obligated to solve your problems for you.
My biggest individual tool purchase regret remains an angle grinder I bought on ebay many years ago. It overheated and started smoking only a few minutes after first using it, and while it did indeed grind the metal I needed to grind, after the short job was done, I knew it would be unsafe to keep using it. I threw it away. I bought a Craftsman angle grinder shortly after and it works flawlessly to this day.
I suppose the lesson learned from the experience was more than worth what I paid for the grinder.
Agree on that one. Between having a pickup and all the tools you’re the guy that people go to first to save them some money, on rentals, on delivery fees, etc.
I learned to say no and they learned to stop being so cheap 🙂 And since I’m single and hate cooking I get a lot of free meals so hey it works out sometimes.
Make sure your pickup always has enough cargo in it that there isn’t enough space to use it to haul furniture or appliances – or get a tonneau cover that’s easy to remove or roll back but don’t reveal how easy it is to anyone else.
Saying no to polite requests is one thing, sometimes people know how to pin you down so you are pretty much forced into working to get them out of the mess they caused.
Lets be honest can any of us with a Festool not feel a little guilty for buying it? But, I have no regrets and no remorse, wonderful tools.
Craftsman 7.5″ chopsaw that’s only good for 2×4’s. Got at a garage sale for $25 and sits on a shelf. My bosch glide 12″ that I have since gotten is amazing.
Dewalt pliers – the black gloss on them is sharp but really interferes with the teeth getting a good grip and the teeth are weak and are wearing out fast.
I have no regrets for having bought either of the 2 Festool tools that I did: the TS55REQ track Saw and the DF700 Domino XL loose tenon joiner. Some of the add-ons that I got hoodwinked into buying that’s another story but there wasn’t anyone twisting my arm. Below is my “shame on me list” for the track saw. I was more judicious with the Domino machine and like everything about it and the add-ons from Festool and Seneca woodworking that I purchased.
$95 for the 466357 guide rail bag – nothing special about it
$17 each for the 482107 track connector – so finicky to use on site/sawhorses as to be useless IMO
$18 for the 489022 – a piece of plastic they tout as hose and cord support/deflector – not!
$50 for 489571 – a pair of track clamps that should have cost have as much
$48 for 489790 – the pair of clamps I use to replace the pair above
$42 for the 490649 – for a power cord to replace one that went missing
$12 for an extra 491582 limit stop – in reality just a plastic knob
$88 for the 491588 protractor attachment – that only sort of works
$90 for the 493507 Gecko suction cup hold down – was OK on a bunch of melamine but nothing else
$320 for the 491937 2700mm guide rail – because the track connectors were not useful for site work
AEG 150mm oscilating sander – simply piece of S… (for home use) broken twice within half a year (maybe 5h total use), lack of efficiency, lack of ergonomic… imagine I saved 100USD to buy this crap instead of Festool.
Brice A Moss
Bloody Chinese made locking pliers, including everything sold under the ‘vice grip’ name sine the early 90’s
On the flip side of that, any recomendations for a 6″ combination jaw locking plier with a good tough and well aligned wire cutter 5o replace the old vice grips I left in my truck on a trailhead one day.
The best locking pliers in the world are Grip-On. They were originally all made in Spain AFAIK, I don’t know if they still are, but the price was fair for the quality, and the quality is really second to none. NAPA sold them under their own name for a while.
I will right away take hold of your rss feed as I can’t in finding your email subscription link or e-newsletter service. Do you have any? Kindly let me understand so that I could subscribe. Thanks.
I’ve made no small number of bad tool buying decisions. The newest memory is trying to use my Mityvac hand vacuum pump to bleed my brakes without another person to pump the pedal. This is the third or fourth time I’ve broken out this kit and it never works. Holds vacuum up to about 30 in/Hg but nothing comes out. I’ve gotten infinitely more use out of the catch cup than the pump, which, while perfectly nice, has ‘China’ cast into it. At work we have a Mityvac bleeder that hooks up to shop air an, while irritatingly harsh to have to listen to even with the muffler, it works great.
The other tool I regret buying, and this isn’t a big regret, is my Harbor Freight 3/8″-drive impact gun. This is not the wonderful Thunder gun series, those are tits, I think they’re SO knockoffs and worth the $80 you spend on them any day of the month, but this is the compact butterfly-switch one. It couldn’t turn a nut if you attached another impact gun to it. I probably have 95% of the air tools Harbor Freight sells, and just about every one of them is a good deal and works. The sanders, drills, grinders, I only bought the good impact guns though but they’re all great.