Cheap Power Tools Are Expensive

in #diy4 years ago (edited)


My wife and I purchased our own home about two years ago now, and we have started doing some DIY projects in that time. I am not much of a do-it-yourselfer, so the quality hasn't been exactly professional by any standard.

My first instinct when buying a power tool for a home DIY job is to go for the cheapest tools available. In my mind, I will only need to use them once or twice, so it won't matter if it only works for a couple of jobs.

I realise this is the wrong attitude to have, and buying quality power tools can not only have a better result in your DIY jobs, but you end up saving money in the long run.

Let me explain...

You have two drills, one is $50 and the other $250. Unless you're a tradesperson already, your value on the price of a tool might be different to that of a professional who can see the true worth of a tool. In your mind the $50 drill should be more than enough, you're just a DIYer.

Both tools accept the same drill bits, they both have a keyless chuck, they both have an 18v Lithium Ion rechargeable battery and charger. The expensive one comes in a nice plastic hard case and the cheap one does not. You don't need a case, you're still thinking of that $200 cost saving.

You might not notice the quality different drilling a piece of soft wood or plastic, but once you start doing jobs outside of the norm (hardwood, cement, steel) you will most likely start to see variations in the power and feel of the drill.

If you were to open both drills up and look inside, you would probably see better windings on the motor in the expensive drill and better quality components connecting everything to the trigger. The cheap drill would have a motor with poorer winding, the magnets are also probably not as good and the soldering job not as clean.

The thing with both drills is the first thing you see in the store is the price, followed by the packaging. You don't see the real work and value that has been put into the more expensive product usually made by a company with a reputation to protect.

Over time the cheap drill will start to become less reliable, the bearings in the chuck might start to wear out, the charger stops working and the battery (besides taking a lot longer to charge) is losing it storage capacity and the store doesn't seem to sell replacement batteries for your cheap ACME drill, so you buy another.

There is also the cost of your time. If you have to keep going back to the store to get cheap tools replaced because they aren't lasting, how much are you losing in time and fuel driving to the store, waiting to get it replaced and then going back and doing it all over again?

My experience with cheap power tools

I have been in this exact same situation with a Ryobi jigsaw that I purchased to do some DIY jobs (including some flooring). It was $89 from Bunnings (a large hardware store in Australia) and it came with a couple of blades. The blades it came with went blunt pretty quickly, so I had to go out and buy some more blades, some good quality ones at the cost of $40.

Then it lasted a while longer, then the little twist plastic part that holds the blades came off. I was left with an exposed spring and inability to use my jigsaw, I tried putting it back on and almost took it back. Then I got it back on.

I used the jigsaw for a job around some corners and the blade flung off at me, the twisted plastic had come loose again and I couldn't get it back on. Fortunately, Australia has good consumer protections and I was able to take it back, they offered a replacement or a refund.

So what I did was I asked for a replacement and I went for a much more expensive jigsaw, a Makita jigsaw at the cost of $339. This was quite a leap for me, I went from the cheap $89 Ryobi to a professional grade jigsaw at $339.

My wife was sceptical at first that a more expensive jigsaw would be better, but plugging it in and use it for the first time, I felt like I had made the right choice. The jigsaw caused no problems, was much easier to use and as a result, my corner cuts were of higher quality.

Before this, I did the same thing with a circular saw that I bought to build a bookshelf in an old door frame, I almost cut my hand off because the blade guard on the cheap $49 circular saw that I had actually fallen off when I was cutting one day, got caught in the blade and threw the circular saw out of my hands.

I got lucky that I was never hurt in the instance of the circular saw being thrown from my hand, but it could have gone the other way. And I am not a hospital accountant, but I know that it would have been more than $49 in medical bills to get the treatment I would have required.


In my experience, the costs of using cheap power tools usually exceed that of expensive power tools in the end, whether it be unreliable tools or losing a finger or hand because the cheaper tool didn't take safety into account as much as Makita or DeWalt did.

If you just so happen to keep your limbs, you still run the risk of doing a poor job because the tool you had was underpowered or the blade wasn't sharp enough.

Cheap tools are cheap for a reason.


I agree - quality tools make the difference. It can be a tough choice when you have so many cheap options - but getting better equipment will give you better results for a longer time. I've had it with cheap tools and avoid them - like you say - it is more expensive in the long run

p.s. if you cant afford quality brand tools many times you can find them for sale at yard sales or swap meets for pennies on the dollar

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