A good set of tools can save you time and money by doing your own repairs but good tools can be expensive. What are your tips for saving money on tools?
As a female who is only using her tools around the house for small home improvement projects I don't need the best tools, but I do need to have the basics, so this is where I shop for deals:
My local Dollar Store has a whole back wall with JUST tools on it. As I said before, they are of a low to mid quality, but at least when I need a drill bit, a wrench, a pair of wire cutters, a level, hammer, sand paper, needle nose pliers, a hack saw or some screws I have them!
My all time favorite place for quality tools is the store "BIG LOTS." I live on the West Coast, so If you don't have this store in your area, you are missing out! I recently bought an angle grinder for $12 and to go in the grinder: two, 4 1/2" diamond saw blades for cutting masonry for only $6 each (I priced them at $27 each at Sears!) I will not go into all of the great deals they have for tools and garden supplies, but I will say that you DO need to go into the store often, because they only get a few of each item and they are gone quickly. They often have Black & Decker saw blades as a regular item. They had a variable speed jigsaw and a high quality 2 temp heat gun each for only $12 that I wish I would have bought during Christmas, but alas, they are gone now!
Big Lots will take anything back for 90 days. My daughter washed a pair of 250 thread count sheets that I bought her for Christmas at Big Lots, when they fell apart, they took them back, no questions asked! They stand behind their products.
Liquidation Stores are another great place to shop for tools! At Liquidation Stores you can get High Quality tools at low prices. These stores vary in quality and customer service. Always make sure you can bring an item back if it fails to meet your satisfaction.
You never know... I found an older Black & Decker Circular Saw at a Thrift Store last week! Make sure to test ANY & ALL things before you buy them at Thrift Stores! Plug them in and see if they work or if they heat up or whatever. These stores always have an electrical strip for testing somewhere in the store, just ask.
A WARNING: DO NOT test a tool that you do not know how to operate, ask someone to help you. It's not worth hurting yourself! Keep your kids away while you test tools (or anything else) at Second Hand Stores!
Need I say more? Except to get up early on Saturday mornings if you want a truly great deal. Remember: It's the early bird that gets the wormdrive.
You will usually get no warrantees at the above stores, so if you need a warranty, shopping for tools at these stores is not for you! But if you're like me, and you are willing to sacrifice a 1 year warranty for a tool that cost less than one-fourth of the regular price. It's WELL worth it!
I now have a nearly fully stocked tool box and am trilled to now have the tool for the job!
Here is a list of the main and tools you need to stock your workshop:
Often you can rent the tools you may need only a few times. Tools can be very expensive and if there is something you will not be using often there is no reason to purchase them. If it is something heavy, (like a big saw) they will also deliver it. It is also a way to see if you can use a certain tool before you purchase one. I rented a circular saw and discovered that it was too heavy for me to handle. If I had bought one before I would have just been out the money. When I called the rental place, the man told me to just bring it back and they wouldn't charge me for the rental.
Pawn Shops are a GREAT place with cheap prices. We go in and tool browse from time to time and it is where we get them most of the time. Of course we compare stopping at Home Depot and WalMart and usually 98% of the time the Pawn Shop is cheapest. Good luck.
Around here, pawn shops are the worst place to buy power tools. They are only 10% off retail, and you're getting a tool that someone else used and abused and you don't know how bad it is.
I buy a lot of stuff from BIG LOTS and HARBOR FREIGHT TOOLS. The exception to this is do not buy off brand cordless tools with batteries. The batteries are often cheapies that will die in 12 months. (Personal experience.) And replacement batteries often cost as much as the tool itself (about $30us). Discount stores are great places to buy hand tools (screw drivers, pliers, etc.) and corded tools (grinders, drills, belt sanders) and even bench top tools (like drill press). I also favor buying usable supplies from discount stores, like sanding belts. They are often cheaper than other brands.
One thing about screwdrivers. Buy a ratcheting screwdriver with a big handle. The bigger handle will give you more turning power (called "torque") on stuck screws. Ratcheting is easier to use. If you can get a screwdriver where you can store the bits in the handle, that way you will always have the bits you want. When using a screwdriver, use the correct sized bit or you will just get frustrated with the bit slipping out. I only had 1 bad screwdriver. The screwdriver was very cheap. The shaft only went 1 inch into the handle, and the handle was made of a cheap clear plastic. It was winter and I was working on a tough screw, and the handle shattered. I think the combination of the cold and the type of plastic in the handle caused it to shatter. Luckily I was not hurt. I also had bad luck with the cordless batteries from a discount store (Harbor Freight). They only lasted 1 year. So I tossed it and got a quality cordless drill (Ryobi) for xmas.
Garage sales are a good place to get tools, but you have to know what you are looking for and you have to know the retail price for an item. Don't pay more than 50% of the retail price for a tool at a garage sale (general rule of thumb). For example, if a certain pair of channel locks cost $10 new, don't pay more than $5 at a garage sale.
Surface rust (discoloration) is ok, and a little bit of flaky rust is ok as long as you don't mind taking the time to remove it with a wire brush (this is real fast and easy on a power bench grinder with a wire brush attachment...takes about 10 seconds).
As for power corded tools, be aware you might have to change the brushes: small pieces of pure carbon in the motor housing. They usually come in pairs and are cheap, about $1-2 per pair. But if you have to pay shipping they cost more. You usually just unscrew a large plastic screw, pop out the old "brush" (each includes a spring) and put in the new brush (carbon first, then spring). Corded kitchen tools are the same way, like old mixers. If you see sparking in the motor, you just need new brushes/carbons (brushes is too confusing, they are not brush-like, they should be called "carbons" IMO).
My favorite all-time long lasting tool just died. A Black and Decker cordless driver I got in 1993 died in 2006. It was 13 years old using the same rechargeable battery. If you know anything about batteries, that is nothing short of a miracle. I shy away from sealed cordless drills so I got a cordless driver where I can replace the batteries with 2 AA batteries. I think that's also B&D. The driver should last forever and I just replace the batteries when needed.
One of my handiest items is my cordless drill, now a Ryobi 14v. When doing projects I always have one drill to drill a hole, and one to drive the screw. Projects go much faster this way. And I always have a corded drill around, just in case all my batteries run out of juice, which has happened on some long projects.
My second handiest tool is my bench grinder. I use it to sharpen mower blades, remove rust from tools I find in the woods (using wire brush attachment), regrind standard screwdrivers, sharpen chisels, and take apart super magnets from hard drives. (They were riveted together.)
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Saving money is great but be cautious. Something that needs a sharp edge, such as a drill bit, you are better buying a better grade as bargain tools usually aren't sharp or become dull very quickly and a dull tool is a hazardous tool. Also, many bargain tools break easily or the handles twist off the first time you use them. You can buy a decent screwdriver at Menards or Home Depot for $1.50 and it will last a lifetime, not just one use.
I use a lot of tools being a househandy female and some of the cheaper ones such as drill bits break. Breaking a saw blade can be very dangerous. Some of my tools I try to get the best, but like you I have found a lot of good tools cheap. Big Lots is a good place to shop and to save even more join their buzzclub. I just got an extra 20% off coupon in my email. Went shopping right away.
Re: Harbor Freight and "no name" battery packs...you can get the extended warranty and they will replace those batteries for free for the life of the tool. My husband had one go dead and they replaced it with a new one in another state. They may be cheap, but if you live near one, it is much easier to use their great customer service than to be without when cost is an issue!
I have to agree with zoodad - While I am keen to keep costs down, I am careful what I buy cheaply when it comes to tools. I don't know about the US, but here in Europe you get lots of Chinese cheap crap. A hammer and chisel, say for removing old tiles, might cost a few bucks, saving say, 20 or 30 when compared to the likes of Stanley tools, and so on. But usually the quality is awful. I have bought cheap tools in the past, expecting them to last one or two jobs, but I needed them quickly. In the case of the circular hole cutter for my electric drill, it lasted about 30 seconds, before sharp metal flew everywhere. Good job I had thick work gloves and safety goggles!
I would suggest if you only use tools occasionally, and lightly, then cheaper ones will probably server you well. But for heavy regular use, you should use a trusted brand. If you cannot afford to buy them, then it is probably better to borrow something from a friend.
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