Proper trade quality tools are an essential part of the job for any serious tradesperson. Yet with an increasing number of brands on the market and the heavy advertising some large brands use, it can be challenging to sort ‘wannabe’ industrial tools from the real tools – the toys from the tools if you like.
Quality tools are not always as expensive as they seem however some people choose to buy cheap DIY oriented tools for only slightly less upfront costs. The initial saving offered by many DIY tools is quickly lost when you factor in the additional costs associated with the down time of a failed tool on site.
When a tool designed for light work or DIY fails, which they frequently do when used in trade applications, packing up on site, battling the traffic to drive to a big box or hardware store, arguing with a sales rep and the drive back to site can easily take an hour or more at best, and at even $60 – $80 an hour charge out rate, the costs of down time when you’re not earning money quickly adds up. Quality tools are often only a little more to buy, but they will do the job easier and safer and will almost always save you money in the long run.
So how do you ensure that you start off on the right track and begin to fill your tool kit with quality tools that are fit for the purpose you are going to use them for, will last you as long as possible, and save you time and money, all while allowing you to do a better job? Here are four key steps to take when buying tools to ensure you will get quality tools that are fit for use in your trade.
1. The first step is to determine the type of work you will be doing. To do this, you should ask yourself a number of questions. Some of which are as follows.
It may seem obvious, but what exactly are you planning on doing with the tool? A drill for drilling into concrete only, a proper rotary hammer, is very different to a drill that you want for a variety of things on site. How often will you be using the tool? A tool used every day is going to be under considerably more strain than a tool that will be used even once or twice a week. Where is the tool going to be used? In most cases this will be the general job site or workshop, but certain environments necessitate tools that are designed for specific applications. Anti-spark tools are a requirement in some situations – a single spark from a spanner in a refinery would be disastrous.
2. Do your research
There are often a number of brands and alternative tools that will do largely the same job. Consider the staple tools for chippies, sparkies, plumbers and many other trades – cordless drills and impact drivers. All the major power tool brands make several models that can range from basic DIY models to full spec, state of the art heavy duty models, some of which are so powerful nowadays they are easily capable of breaking a wrist.
The most powerful models are generally larger, heavier and come with high capacity battery packs making them ideal for heavy job site use running larger whole saws, heavy drilling and so on. But these features can actually become a hindrance for auto electricians and cabinet makers who work in tighter confined spaces where large high capacity batteries inhibit maneuverability and access.
Warranty periods and the availability of service agents and warranty dealers is also worthwhile researching. Given the environment and the type of work, tools inevitable break down and components like chucks, batteries and blades wear out or get lost.
When your tools are out of action, they are not making you money, so take the time to look at how well you will be supported in the event that your tools need to be serviced and maintained. Shipping them interstate for example often means additional costs for freight and longer delays in getting the tools back to you. Access to local repair and service centers will most likely offer you faster turnaround times. And never underestimate the importance of face to face customer service.
3. Speak to someone who really knows the tools
The guys and girls on site and in the workshop are a great source of information when it comes to real world reviews on tools and you probably will and indeed should talk to a trusted mate when weighing up which brand of new tools to buy.
But seeking the knowledge and advice from a tool specialist’s is also a critical step to take before making the final decision. The same way a tradie know all about servicing and repairing cars, wiring up a house or maintaining mining equipment, a tool specialist knows all about the tools a trade’s person relies on every day.
A proper tool specialist has been trained and educated on the tools and in many cases, has used them in a number of trade applications. A tool specialist will know all the features, the details and the specifications of the tools you are looking for. They will know how the tools have been designed to work and more importantly, they know how these features and benefits are relative in the real world. Your real world.
Consider the example of the cordless drills and impact drivers from earlier in the article. There are 7 impact drivers and impact wrenches in Makita’s range alone, and they are all designed to do essentially the same job – drive screws and bolts. Speaking with someone who knows the tools inside out and backwards allows you to get an un-biased insight into ALL the tools available. What’s more, they will guide you to the bet tool for the job, and it may not the most expensive one in the shop.
4.Consider your budget – and be prepared to adjust it
This probably goes against all the advice you have heard about budgets before, however when it comes to tools, any serious tradesperson will tell you that good tools aren’t expensive, they’re priceless. If the right tool is a few dollars more, you will almost certainly be better off extending your budget slightly.
The payoff in buying quality tools
Quality tools that are designed and engineered for the rigors of trade use are essential for trade’s people. Taking a little more time to assess what you really need in a tool, undertaking some initial research and importantly, speaking with a tool specialist like the guys and girls at TradeTools will significantly increase the chances of getting the right, quality tools you need in the trade.
The right tools will last longer, cost you less in expensive down time, can be safer to work with and allow for a better quality job. All of which will help you to enhance your reputation as an apprentice, tradie and business which inevitably leads to more business, less expenses on tools in the long run and more cash in your pocket for the fun things in life.