Buy Mediocre Tools

30 Apr

A good piece of advice for any aspiring mechanic would be, "Buy the best tools you can afford." Quality tools will last a lifetime, and pay for themselves with jobs well done.

If the aspiring mechanic happens to work on boats, I dare say this strategy should be revised.  I'm careful with my tools, but looking over my tool bag there are very few that were there four years ago. Some, like my hammer, have been with me forever. You're always hanging onto a hammer, and it's not likely to go flying. With screwdrivers, wrenches, pliers, and the like you're always shifting your grip, and it only takes one slip for splash splash glug glug. Many trusty tools will find themselves on the bottoms of bilges and bays, and in other people's tool boxes.

If you try to replace said lost tool, like an end wrench, you get a quick lesson in perverse economics: To replace one end wrench will cost you $9 when you can buy a set of ten end wrenches for $12.

There is a sweet spot on price for tools good enough to last a few years and not fall apart, yet not so expensive that it really hurts when they go to the bottom. Sure, you can invest in Snap-On, Mac, or even good old Craftsman tools…and just try to cash in on that lifetime warranty when said tool is under forty feet of water.

My old heat gun snagged its cord on my tool bag as I lifted it, and splash spash glug glug. If you want to read about my great luck with my Makita buffer (one time when I really paid up for top-of-the-line) you can click here. My new heat gun from Ace Hardware is in the sweet spot at $31. I'm a marine electrician and I use a heat gun every day. I could have bought a Makita for $80, or a Bosch for $100, or even a Milwaukee variable temperature digital heat gun with LED display for $152, but I know, one way or another, I won't be celebrating 2015 with this heat gun at my side.

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