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Tools that don’t last

 
steward & bricolagier
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Ban Dinh wrote:Like Dan Boone, I frequent sales, with estate auctions being preferred. I usually buy "vintage" yard equipment that was manufactured years ago to different standards and is still good for many years. Maybe the previous owners also bought junk, but got rid of it when it failed so it doesn't show up at the estate auction.


That's my theory too, buy it old enough, and if it was going to break, it would have already :)
I'm often fascinated by old tools that have been welded and obviously used hard after that, were they repairing it, or modifying it? Sometimes I can tell, sometimes I can't. Some of the modifications are interesting, especially as I tend to modify tools too, I learn from them.
 
gardener
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A lot of times I see, but refuse to purchase, rakes and shovels and hoes and such originally having wooden handles, that have been modified by welding the tool to a piece of steel water pipe after the handle broke.  This makes them indestructible but punishingly heavy and inflexible -- basically the sort of tool you might issue to a prisoner on a chain gang, but nothing you'd ever choose to use yourself.  Maybe it just reflects the kind of screwed-up family I grew up in, but I always imagine there was some teenager grumpy about chores who broke one too many wooden handles and started getting issued steel punishment tools instead.
 
pollinator
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Dan Boone wrote:A lot of times I see, but refuse to purchase, rakes and shovels and hoes and such originally having wooden handles, that have been modified by welding the tool to a piece of steel water pipe after the handle broke.  This makes them indestructible but punishingly heavy and inflexible -- basically the sort of tool you might issue to a prisoner on a chain gang, but nothing you'd ever choose to use yourself.  Maybe it just reflects the kind of screwed-up family I grew up in, but I always imagine there was some teenager grumpy about chores who broke one too many wooden handles and started getting issued steel punishment tools instead.



Come on Dan...you cannot tell me with a straight face that when your Dad gave you lopping shears and told you to cut back the hedges you did not break them on purpose so you could get a few days reprieve while dad got a new one. Or am I the only one that did that and got coal in my Christmas Stocking? (LOL)
 
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Artie, I would contact Corona. I have used their pruners for years and never had a problem. Obviously, you got one with some bad metal...If they won't help ya, Fiskars is a really good brand
 
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I'll just add a couple of cents here...

stuff like spanners (wrenches to you in the US) , cutting tools buying the cheap ones is never good policy, they always manage to let you down.  That said, such as Snap-on which have lifetime guarantee and are awesome are horribly expensive if you don't use 'em all the time.

What you do find is that such ranges as Draper, Kamasa and the like have several quality levels.  For example, regular Draper stuff is cheap and low quality, but then there's Draper Expert stuff which is quite usable albeit at a higher price.  Same goes for Kamasa, which I think hjave at least 3 quality levels.  The best Kamasa stuff is good.  The cheap wrenches at 5 bucks a set are worth what you pay for them, very little.

and a final comment about battery powered stuff.  Recently, (like the last 10 years) there have been amazing advances in battery tech, mostly driven by mobile device development, which means we can now get some seriously good li-ion powered tools.  Having had a variety of air-powered rattle guns, I bought a second-hand Snap-on one from someone who was upgrading.  It's a beast and very effective.  Air ones, if you buy the best quality and maintain it carefully, are great but it takes very little for the air motor to lose power and it's next-to-impossible to restore that power once lost.  Most of the pros I know are going over to battery ones.
 
gardener
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Austin,

I agree with you about the quality hand tools.  For years, Craftsman was my automatic go-to brand for hand tools, largely because of their no-quibbles lifetime-of-the-tool warranty.  Simply bring in your old, broken tool and exchange it for a brand new model if it ever breaks.  I never had to use that return policy.  I was especially fond of their ratchet wrenches as I have used other brands that broke—terribly frustrating.

Eventually that automatic exchange policy was abandoned, Sears would still honor the original warranty as long as you had the receipt.  I thought this was reneging on the original deal.

Fortunately, Craftsman got sold to Lowe’s and the brand lives on.  We will see how the quality holds up.

On a second note, I now only use forged, solid steel hammers as it is virtually impossible to break one.  I have broken my share of wooden handles and that is frustrating as well.

In the end, you get what you pay for

Eric
 
Dan Boone
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Travis Johnson wrote:
Come on Dan...you cannot tell me with a straight face that when your Dad gave you lopping shears and told you to cut back the hedges you did not break them on purpose so you could get a few days reprieve while dad got a new one. Or am I the only one that did that and got coal in my Christmas Stocking? (LOL)



If by "coal" you mean a woodshed spanking with a stob of well-aged barkless black spruce, then, no, I cannot say I never did that.   Only the details differ: in our family, living as we did in a log cabin on the Yukon, most child-labor disputes were about firewood.  With us, it was splitting maul handles and splitting wedges.  My sister Cindy pioneered the technique of throwing splitting wedges down the outhouse, and that only stopped when Mom's threats to start dangling children down the hole with ropes on their ankles started sounding, shall we say, less than purely rhetorical.  To this day there's a dispute (or as much as a dispute as can be maintained when some of the disputants have passed beyond the reach of rhetoric) about what happened to the final set of splitting wedges before Dad gave up and started cutting smaller logs.  Let's just say they vanished and were never found, and nobody now living will admit to having done the deed, despite all possibility of sanction in this world being past.  

But really it was the splitting maul handles that I remember with bitterness.  We were worse than most rural children about resisting "slave labor" (as we conceptualized it) because it was a choice (the whole back to the land thing) that we never made nor agreed to, and we "knew" that proper children in the civilized world didn't have to endure endless painful toil.  Also we were a bookish bunch and were impossibly bored by firewood preparation and organic gardening chores.  So, yes, like any other forced-labor population, we were goldbrickers and creative foot-draggers, and not above a bit of tool sabotage when it looked like it would help.  But the risks were extreme; my folks didn't resort to corporal punishment often, but when they did, they went all the way over the line into memorable brutality, relying on (newly credible) threats to carry them for a few months at a time in between episodes.  

At which point the game-theoretical problem of the boy who cried wolf rears its ugly head.  If you've been busted for tool-sabotage in the past, your shit is incredibly weak when a tool legitimately breaks.  If you're splitting frozen birch logs by hand at twenty below when everything including your temper is very brittle, legitimate breakage will happen.  (Well, we'd have argued, to a child, that there's nothing legitimate about working outside at that temperature under non-emergency conditions, but that's another argument that could end very badly.)  So there you are, in utter dismay, having been -- for a change -- actually trying to do your chores, but now you're looking at another broken splitting maul handle and completely convinced you're gonna get beat for nothing more than the unfortunate consequences of bad depth perception.  Nothing about that situation is made better by knowing that past misbehavior limits your credibility in this instance.  

So yeah, you might say I've been there and came away with a few teeshirts.
 
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Unfortunately we are in a throw-away society.  Tools included.

I have 10's of thousands of dollars worth of tools.  Why?  They are good, mostly, USA made tools.  I was in the construction business for many years and needed quality.

Many times I would need a tool ASAP.  If I sent someone to get it they would buy cheap.  It usually did not last the day.

Many of my hand tools came from my grandfather.  I still use them today, hand drill, planes, etc.

A few weeks ago one of my sons while helping me build my new home, broke his nail punch.  It was only a couple weeks off the shelf.  I "loaned" him mine, it was from my grandfather, so at this point over 100 years old and working great!  Sure, just a piece of steel, but it is made of the right steel.

If one of my tools fail I always try to find parts and/or get it fixed.  Not always time for that tho

The other day my nail gun started acting up.  I got it used around 20 years ago, have fixed it a few times, but it is getting tired.  It will get fixed again.  (There has been a few million nails ran through it)  
I had to rush to town and buy another one.  Did not top of the line, but not low either.  I won't have much need of it after home is done.  Gift to one of my son's I guess.
 
pollinator
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When it comes to non motorized hand tools, I shop the junk stores first.  For battery operated stuff I have a set of DeWalt and a set of Black and Decker.  I use the B &D when I am on a ladder or any place they might be dropped.
 
Posts: 114
Location: Canadian Prairies - Zone 3b
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Eric Hanson wrote:What I don’t know is if it is possible to repack lithium ion batteries.  As of yet, none of my lithium ion batteries have failed or even show any signs of decay.  I am in the Ridgid platform and I have a whopping 5 4-ah lithium ion battery packs.  This is enough for me to use 3 tools without switching batteries and still have 2 charging.  But some day these battery packs will go bad, and if possible I would love to repack them.

Any thoughts?

Eric



I think a repack is possible, since the packs contain individual cells. But there might be nasty pitfalls.

By "repack" do you mean mixing and matching good cells from several old battery packs, or buying all new cells already matched and ganged together at the factory?

As I understand it, LiON battery packs are a bit tricky. If the cells aren't properly matched, there can be overheating and fire hazard concerns. At least, that used to be the case.
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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RE Pruners and Loppers:

The Coronas have a reputation for blades breaking.

+1 on Fiskars. I have a number of them, loppers and pruning shears, and use them pretty hard. (My loppers were purchased at Canadian Tire, which exchanges them on the spot if they break. But you need the receipt. I photocopied them and tacked them to the wall in my garden shed.)

For sharpening: A purist or professional would insist on taking the loppers apart and putting on a polished edge with a buffing wheel that's loaded with polishing compound. But I've never found that necessary. I use skinny diamond paddles (EZ-Lap or DMT) that can reach right in and quickly sharpen the blade. I always check for bulges on the side of the blade that mates with the anvil, and carefully flatten them out; otherwise you get a ragged tear instead of a clean cut.

BTW, I find loppers cut easier and are less likely to break if you cut the wood at a 45 degree angle whenever possible. Especially for big stuff.
 
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