Buy Nice or Buy Twice: Why Buying High Quality Tools Matters
We all know the saying “buy nice or buy twice” applies to tools as much as it does to anything else, so it’s kind of surprising that a lot of people cheap out on tools. Often it’s because the tool may be needed for just one job and so one just goes down to Harbor Freight for some of their low priced, cheap quality tools. Or maybe it’s off to Home Depot for a Husky or whatever cheap tool at the local Wal-Mart or hardware store. After all, if you only need it for one job, who cares if it breaks or not? There’s even stories of people heading down to Harbor Freight to buy 10 or 20 of a certain tool to replace them as they break on the job. For the average home tool user, this may make sense, but if you’re going to be using tools for work, or regularly at home, it really does pay to invest a little bit of money into buying something that will last longer than the current job you’re on.
That’s not to mean a more expensive tool is necessarily better than a cheaper one, or that a tool made in Germany or the USA is going to beat a Taiwanese or Chinese made tool by a high quality brand. However, doing a little homework to get the best balance on price and quality is definitely worth your time. A great example would be comparing what you’re going to get for the price. Is this set of insulated drivers from Harbor Freight for $10 something you would trust with your life? Yes, they’re insulated up to 1,000 volts, but given the importance of safety this tool should provide, why not instead spend an extra $30 and get a Wiha set? Wiha tests all of their insulated tools up to 10,000 volts in a water bath to ensure the maximum safety, as does Wera. No mention of the testing or safety standard is mentioned with the $10 set, it probably is safe, but do you want to take that chance?
In addition to considering tool safety, this blog provides some guidelines for when to invest in a tool and when buying a throwaway is OK. The author first recommends considering will the more expensive tool give better results? Will it save you time? In the case of a ratchet, the Wera Zyklopp ratchet gives you a ton more options with its swivelhead, making it much better choice than not only a cheap version, but even other higher end tools. We’ve extolled the virtues of the Wera Zyklopp here, it basically can do the job of five tools, is one of the easiest tools to use and has great features no other ratchet can lay claim too. So yeah, it can do a better job, making you less frustrated and it can save a ton of time.
The other points, besides safety, that the author raises are whether or not a tool will help save money, and will it give you a better user experience? In terms of saving money, that can be debatable, but consider this. If you have to buy 10 of a certain tool every time you go out because you know it will break, eventually you’ll hit a point where you’ve spent more money on throwaways than you would have spent on a nice quality tool. Compare this $2, 4-in-1 screwdriver (read the 1-star reviews) from Harbor Freight to this Klein multi-bit driver or to a Wera Kompakt set which stores bits inside the handle and has loads of extra features. Or maybe compare it to this Felo 11-in-1 or this Wiha 13 piece driver, both of which are insulated and under $30 and $40 respectively. If you have to buy 10 of the cheap one to replace breakages, you’re already at $20 and you might as well have bought a better one from the start. Not to mention for a little extra money you can get some really cool features or storage options in a better tool. So with these brands you would save money long-term, you would save time in trips to the hardware store to replace junk and in the end, the features and the quality make a better user experience. Not to mention if a Wiha or other brand breaks in normal use, they’ll often replace it under a lifetime warranty. Harbor Freight does offer some warranty as well, but is it really worth the time to have them replace a $2 tool?
All things considered, buying a cheap tool to use on just one job may seem like a cheap and easy answer, but if that tool breaks, and often it will, it’s somewhat wasteful not only in the sense that something was mass produced to be of easy-breaking quality, but also in the sense of downtime on the job to get new parts. If you need a new tool, even if it’s initially for a short term job, it might still be worth investing in something of higher quality. The higher price is often justified by more features in a higher end product in addition to quality that will last for years so if you have to tackle a similar job in the future, you’ll have a nice tool to do it with. When getting a new tool, give a better quality tool a few moments of consideration. The time saved in using a tool that won’t break and the quality of the job it does might just be worth that price tag.
We’d love to hear from you, especially if you have some horror stories about using cheap tools and if you think that using a better tool from the start would have been a better idea. Make sure to leave us product reviews for some of our tools here and tell us about your story on Facebook or Instagram!