Factors to Consider when Comparing Power Tools

It’s almost Father’s Day and many Dads have a power tool wish list. With the market being saturated with various brands of power tools, it can be a really tough decision to choose the right ones.


‘Doc’ Glock: “Growing up, working with my father, who owned and operated a plumbing & heating business in Northeast Iowa. I still have many of my tools from the 1960’s and 70's that I still use. This is one reason I suggest, that if the tool is something you need for work, buy the best you can afford, and upgrade as soon as you can. You’ll never go wrong and it will never fail you. Along those same lines, be sure to know your skills, know the level of what you intend to use the tools for, such as livelihood/contractor/professional-grade, versus consumer-grade, since there is a huge difference!”


Here are some basic areas of comparison that you need to take into consideration. These tips will also help you get the best deals on the power tools you do decide to purchase.


Of course, the purchase price is something we are all going to look at.


It doesn’t matter how great of a power tool is, if it is too much for the budget then it can’t even be considered. Most power tools are reasonably priced but you are going to run across some heavy duty, top-of-the line power tools that have a price tag to reflect it. Don’t spend a fortune on a tool you’re only going to use once or twice, just get what you need to get the job done…safely. You can rent many expensive, ‘single-use’ tools such as a tile saw, table saw, floor sander, etcetera, from your local Lowes, Home Depot, or similar store.


If you are going to purchase, keep in mind that the total cost is more than just the purchase price. You have to include the ‘expendables’ or appurtenances needed to make the tool do what it has to do. Take the cost of these essentials into consideration as well. Depending on the type of power tool, these essentials can be sandpaper, belts, blades, bits, or any number of other items. Optional accessories are also something to consider, which may make the tool even more useful or versatile.


What features are you looking for in a particular power tool?


Don’t get caught up in all the ‘special’ or added features that some have to offer. You may end up paying a great deal more for a power tool that has features you won’t or don’t intend to ever use. Take a good look at those features however, because you may find a few that you could really use. that you didn’t think of, such as a laser guide on a miter saw, or a drill that has a hammer-drill setting. That will definitely make a particular model more appealing to you. Note: when it comes to circular saws, some are ‘left-hand’ blades and some are ‘right-hand’ blades. Which works best for you, something we sometimes forget!


Consider Replacement Parts and Customer Support...especially Batteries!

Since most power tools are designed to last a very long time, you want to find out about the availability of replacement parts. You also want to find out about customer support. It can be over the phone, by mail, or on the internet. It is important that customer support is available to you in the event you have questions, comments, or complaints about your power tool purchase. Manufacturers who have been in business for a very long time are likely to still be there down the road when you need a replacement part for your power tool. READ REVIEWS!


Here’s a great example. For cordless tools, I prefer DeWalt. They are available everywhere. Batteries are available and are common or shared, and are compatible among many different tools. Many times, you can find them in sets, all using the same batteries and charger. Keep in mind, that less common replacement batteries can be quite expensive. DeWalt tools are used by professionals and do-it-yourselfers alike, are of good quality, and they last!


I also like Stanley, Milwaukee, Ridgid (Rigid) Tool Company, Dremel, Crescent Tool, Channel-Lok, Klein, Wiss tools, Snap-On, Craftsman, Black & Decker, Estwing, Lenox, and Leatherman, to name a few of my favorites. I even have some (perish the thought) Harbor Freight tools (12” compound miter saw-with laser, vibrating multi-tool, etc.) that have worked just fine…at a brutal, professional-level of use. These are generally all brand names that have been around a while, so replacement parts and customer service are generally good and available.


The quality of a power tool is very important.


A good way to compare the quality of a particular type of power tool is to check reviews online from other consumers.and professionals. These reviews are free to look at and usually unbiased. You can also check with magazines or websites that do comparisons such as Consumer Reports. However, you will probably have to pay for a subscription to get this information. Their monthly magazine has features for a variety of products. You can search their archives online to find articles and reviews about power tools as well.


It is a good idea to purchase a particular model and brand of power tool only after you have physically looked at it and touched it. Is it too heavy? Does it seem too flimsy for the job you plan to do with it? How noisy is it? Does it fit properly in your hands? These things are all very important and will affect how compatible the power tool is for you.


Safety should be a top priority on your list when it comes to selecting power tools.




What is their safety rating? How many accidents have occurred with a particular model of hand tool? What safety features does the power tool offer you? All power tools on the market have basic safety mechanisms in place, but keep in mind that some only offer the bare minimum as regulated while others go the extra mile to ensure their customers are safe while operating them. NEVER remove a safety guard, it is there for a reason!


Sometimes walking into a store of power tools with a man (sorry ladies if you’re a fan) is like taking a child into a candy store. (Guilty as charged!) However, to get the most from the power tools you purchase, follow these guidelines: Don’t be blind-sided by the brand name or the design of a particular power tool. Take the time to find out exactly what it has to offer you.


Now, you know I have to throw this in there. . . if plumbing issues are the reason for the tools, keep in mind that sometimes, doing it yourself, can end up a little like “Tim the Toolman” Taylor, and end up costing you more! That’s where we come in. If you need help with plumbing or HVAC, give us a call and we’ll be there, “quick as a Hare” and we’ll bring some great power tools!


With input from Jan ‘Doc’ Glock