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Power Tools – A Buyer’s Guide to Making the Best Purchase

By on November 23, 2009

If you find yourself doing similar tasks repeatedly by hand, you may want to consider investing in a power tool that can get the job done quicker and with less effort.  With the huge assortment of power tools offered, the chore of making a new purchase can become a bit daunting.  Let’s see, there’s DeWalt, Makita, Black & Decker, Ryobi, Craftsman, Bosch, Delta, Rigid, Hitachi, Milwaukee, Porter-Cable… and the list goes on.  So, here are a few tips for you to consider that can make your choice a little easier and help you get the most for your money.

Where Should I Start?

Price is probably the best place to start in determining if a brand or model suites your needs.  If it’s not in your budget there is no sense in considering it.  There can be a 50 percent, even a 500 percent fluctuation in price between different brands.  The higher end, top of the line models are usually built for the commercial market, which requires daily use.  These models may be priced out of your budget but also offer more than you’ll ever need.  There are plenty of moderately priced products that will perform to the standards you will require.

When accessing a product’s cost and your budget, you should also consider it’s “life cost.”  The other essentials necessary to operate some power tools will add to the cost of a unit over its lifetime.  These necessities include such items as sandpaper, blades, and bits.

Cool Features and Gimme Support

A power tool’s features should be reviewed carefully.  There is no sense in paying extra for features that you will never use.  On the flip side, you may find that a certain model has a beneficial feature you never considered thus making it more appealing.  Here’s a telltale feature for you… the product’s warranty.  Be sure to check how long and how inclusive it is.

Customer support can be a critical element when choosing among different brands.  Is their support 24 hrs a day, 365 days a year, or is it only during business hours Monday through Friday? (I find most of us DIYers are using power tools after work and on weekends.)  Does the company have a toll free number with a live person answering the phone, or do you have to email them your concern or complaint and wait 24 hours for a response?  Also in question is the age of the company.  Is it a start-up company that may not be around in five or ten years when the machine needs parts or service?  And what about replacement parts?  Are they available locally or do you have to send away for them and wait a week or two?

What Others Are Saying

The easiest way to determine the quality of a power tool is through online reviews.  Look for reviews that include comments from current owners who provide their unbiased opinions.  I also highly recommend a subscription to Consumer Reports magazine.  In addition to power tools, this periodical critiques almost any other household item you would ever find yourself in need of.  The last page of each issue has an index listing of every product they’ve reviewed over the prior twelve months, and which issue contains said review.

Be sure to physically touch and if possible, operate the power tool before making a purchase.  You may find it too heavy or too big to hold in your hand.  Or, you may feel it’s a little too flimsy for the job you want it to perform. Something you may want to consider is checking with your neighbors to see if they own the particular power tool you’re interested in.  See if they wouldn’t mind letting you giving it a test run.

Holding Onto Body Parts

The final issue to consider is the product’s safety features.  Is there a safety rating listed?  There are regulated standards for safety features that manufacturers have to incorporate into their machine.  You should be looking to purchase the brand and model that includes safety features above and beyond those regulated standards.  No sense in switching from a hand tool if your new power tool costs you a finger or two.

Take your time evaluating the power tools you are interested in.  Follow this guideline and you will have a much better chance of becoming the satisfied owner of a power tool that gives you years of good performance.

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