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Mike Armstrong

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 17, 2006
Messages
206
Location
near San Diego
I'm soon coming to the point that I need to buy power tools (drill press capable of 250rpm or slower,variable speed 6" bench grinder so Scotch Brite wheels will fit,disc sander that has a wide flat belt,band saw with a wide throat,ect.ect) for my new shop. I've got plenty of information on 'which' tools to buy but little info on 'the best' manufacturers. From browsing the internet it seems that brands like Sears (oiled, belt driven air compressor with high capacity and good cfm@psi ratings) and Delta (everything else) are often mentioned as very good brands. I've read several times to stay away from Chinese made Harbor Freight tools. It would be nice to stick to one brand for ease of purchase/repair and either Google up the best buys (E-bay or Tool only stores) or go down to my local Lowes and buy all Delta stuff but I would like to hear what Name Brands you guys recommend first. Thanks


Mike
 

cgwendling

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 30, 2004
Messages
86
Location
Grenora, ND
I am going to assume you're looking for the lower end of the price spectrum.
For a bench grinder, go with a name brand with the most H.P that you can afford and buy a $20 router speed controller to make it variable. I've got a Jet grinder and a Grizzly speed controller.
For a drill press, you will want one with a quality chuck that will produce little or no run-out when a quality bit is inserted. As far as running that slow, the electronic variable speed ones will do it but you pay a price. At slow speeds you make less power (at least the ones that I have tried). I have three belt driven drill presses (cheap bench top, a $300 floor, and a $1500 production floor). Only the production press will go that slow. If you change the pullys on the cheap ones you could get the rpm you desire (if there is enough room in the case for the larger pully.) The cheap ones I've got are Chinese and the prduction press is a Sears.
For the compressor, you need to size the cfm to your most hungry tool. (i.e. inline sanders, hvlp sprayers, etc eat air at a tremenous rate). Make sure the motor and pump are rated for continous duty and have a good number on the amount of hours that it is expected to run. I've got the least expensive 80 gallon two stage Ingersoll/Rand.
Disc/belt sander, pick a brand name that has the sizes you need. I have a 6"x48" belt and 12" disk, Jet.
As far as the band saw, make sure the guides are all bearings and not blocks and the throat is large enough for your work. I've got an 18" Jet.
Personally I have had little joy with the newer Delta stuff, (only my personal experience) but if you find used old stuff (back when all they made were industrial tools) grab it. They can be refurbished to new and will last several life times. I have a planer, radial arm saw, and jointer from that era. I paid very little for them, put several hundred in new parts and I wouldn't trade them for anything.
 

Mike Armstrong

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 17, 2006
Messages
206
Location
near San Diego
Thanks CG. Actually, when it comes to cost, I've always spent the extra money on 'quality' tools. I think it's much better in the long run. Not only is it good to have the right tool for the job at hand, you must have a good tool to get the job done right. Crappy tools are a waste of money. They will not only do a crappy job, they'll drive you crazy and you'll end up replacing them with something better (that you should have purchased in the first place) that will do the job right at a total cost of a good tool in the first place.

So, I'm actually looking for the 'best' tools even if they do cost more. I did'nt know Delta took a turn for the worse, good info. The power tools I need to purchase are big ticket items so I want to buy quality. With that in mind, are their better brands I should be looking at? Even if they do cost more.
 
Last edited:

cgwendling

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 30, 2004
Messages
86
Location
Grenora, ND
Here is a list of manufactures that I have had good luck with. Keep in mind that I am a Contractor and my tools see abuse that yours probably won't.

Portable power tools (DeWalt, Milwaukee,Makita,Hitachi,Bosch,Porter Cable)

Stationary tools (Jet, Powermatic,Sears,Delta (X series tools and Unisaw))

Compressors (Ingersoll/Rand, DeWalt/Emglo,Industrial Air)

Air tools (Chicago Pneumatic, Ingersoll rand, Craftsman)

Hand tools (Sears/Craftsman) Yes there are better hand tools but the no hassle exchange for broken tools can't be beat plus they are good tools.

Carbide bits and blades (Freud,Forrest, CMT)

For specialty tools for your aircraft, you will have to ask some other builders in that medium for what works for them.
 

orion

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2003
Messages
5,800
Location
Western Washington
Good tools will make the build process that much more enjoyable since you wont be spending as much time correcting flaws introduced by poor, sloppy equipment. In our work, which is mostly composite based, my shop has gone through quite a learning curve and surprisingly enough, it's not always a clear cut choice as to which is the best tool. For instance, Craftsman tools have had a good reputation but in my experience their reliability has been somewhat spotty at best, especially the tools made in recent years. The same holds true for Delta and Porter Cable.

The only exception in the Craftsman line is an older 5" circular saw that I use with a diamond blade for cutting glass and graphite composite parts. Despite years of high load use and highly abrasive dust (which in graphite is also conductive), it just keeps on chugging along with seemingly good accuracy. Other saws I used for this job have died within just a few weeks of use.

One surprise I ran across some time back was the "Professional" line of Black & Decker - I have a 3/8" drill that I've had for well over twenty years and it still is a solid and accurate as anything I could buy new today.

We've also had good luck with the Grizzly tools - we have one of their larger band saws and a 2hp bench top mill. The latter is great as a drill press however off the top of my head I'm not sure it goes as low in rpm as you're looking for. But with the electric feed and digital readout, its accuracy and ease of use is quite nice for one-off stuff. For the price, I think it is a pretty good deal.

Most of our battery powered tools are DeWalt. I also like the Hitachi line - I've gone through quite a few jig saws but the Hitachi is going strong despite being used in the same way as the small circular saw (cutting composite parts).

You might also want to look at the Rigid line of tools. Rigid used to build all the Craftsman tools but the non-competitive clause of the contract expired a few years back and now Rigid manufactures their own brand. I don't own any at this point but I have heard from others that this is a very reliable tool line, about as good or better than Craftsman used to be.
 

cbock

Member
Joined
Feb 6, 2007
Messages
22
Location
Syracuse, NY
I have heard a lot of good and bad about the Jet tools it seems that people either love 'em or hate 'em. A while back I found a great deal on a lathe, planer, drum sander, and table saw that were going as a set at auction, they seemed to go really cheap. After that I asked arround about them and got a lot of mixed reactions, from pros and amatures alike. I have no personal experience so I can't comment.

Hitachi makes a heck of a tool. Lowes has a battery combo pack that I drool over whenever I go. Some, of my friends are builders their crew has 3 of the the compound mitre saws and refuse to use anthing else since they got the first.

I'll second Orion's opinion on craftsman power tools, I don't like 'em they seem to get sloppy somewhat quickly. I have less than 2 hours on my table saw and I already wouldn't trust it to make aircraft quality cuts, shed quality absolutely.

As far as hand tools cgwendling says it perfectly, there are better out there but you can't beat the Sears convienence and no questions asked replacement. (not that I've ever done it but if yu cant fit that wrech someplace just cut a bit here and weld a bit there and tada you got a clawfoot socket, sorry Sears it just happened...)

I always thought that Rigid was just the Home Depot store brand. Never knew they used to do craftsman.

I've been really loving my Bosch saws-most lately, it outperformed my firends Porter Cable and DeWalt when cutting the floor out of what was left of his parents house after the fire.

I would think that just about any compressor that can keep up with the volume would be fine. The best thing you can get there is a hose reel mounted on a swivel above your workspace. You can't imagine how much more convenient that is until you've done it both ways.

As for air tools, everything I've used is so old I can't even tell you what kind they are. Good well oiled and maintained air tools will go forever it seems.
 

Mike Armstrong

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 17, 2006
Messages
206
Location
near San Diego
Thanks guys. It's a shame to hear that some brands once considered good quality are now joining the rest of material workmanship nowadays and are now considered cheap. A few years ago when I when I was researching hand power tools I found that each manufacturer at the time made at least one tool better than the other guys. I ended up with a DeWalt drill, Milwaukee Sawzall, Bosch saber saw, Porter Cable circular saw and a Makita compound miter saw. I'm sure if I did the same search now I would end up with a different list of 'best' tools.

Now it's time for the bigger and more expensive 'shop' tools. I hate poor quality so I've got to be picky. Thanks for your suggestions.


Mike
 
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