Let me state that I’m not just a lifelong tool junkie; I also sold power tools for seven years. In those years I’ve trained with a lot of manufacturers and learned what makes a good tool, and what to avoid.
Rule #1: Buy the best tool you can afford. If you buy a cheap tool, odds are you’ll have to replace it faster than if you had bought a quality tool. That said; if it is something you will use once a year, you don’t need to get top of the line, just know what you getting into.
Rule #2: Make sure you compare apples to apples. A store brand 18v drill isn’t the same as one from a manufacturer like Makita or the like. Some manufacturers even make two grades of tools that look identical. They do this by exchanging bearings with nylon sleeves, and steel gears with aluminum or plastic. While the models make look the same, they will have a slightly different model number, and usually a significant price difference.
Rule #3 (and this is a personal one): Don’t buy store brand tools from big box stores. They tend to be less durable, less powerful, and harder to repair. Too many times I’ve met people who said “but they have a life time warranty” only to find out that the parts are not available, or they have to jump through hoops to get any satisfaction.
Rule #4: Do your research. Talk to contractors, go to a specialty tool store, or read woodworking magazines. Any good contractor will share their thoughts with you, and rarely will you find one of these stores that won’t help a weekend warrior. I’m a fan of books and magazines from The Taunton Press, who always have quality material.
Rule #5: Don’t get hung up on one manufacturer. Some people will only by DeWalt or Milwaukee, etc. There is a problem with this theory; every manufacturer has some great products, and some dogs (with the possible exception of Bosch). I believe that in the long run buying the best tool available is better than having a color coded tool chest.
OK, these may be the rantings of a tool junky, but I think if you use this information on your next tool purchase, you’ll end up with a tool that will last you a long time.