Monday, November 22, 2010

Tools and your $

I bought a new router Saturday.  A Porter Cable 9690.  Nice, kind of the industry standard router.  No bells and whistles, just a good solid tool.

All it's for is to mount on my jasper jig.  Pretty much permanently. I seem to cut lots of circles, especially now with the new 18 and 15 flat pack kits.

The first place I stopped was Harbor Freight.  Now, one thing you have to understand, this is 60 miles from my hometown, biggest mall/shopping area within about 100 miles.  I pay a price to get to tool shop.  So Harbor Freight was AFTER my eyes were pretty much glazed like a piece of pottery at Old Navy and TJMaxx.   I walk into Harbor Freight and start looking at their tools.  My eyes feel alive again, after a few minutes btw.  I tell myself this is a just a router for my Jasper Jig, I really don't need anything spectacular, a cheap one will do.  I pick up their various models, feel them in my hand.  Feel is very important, at least to me.  If a tool doesn't just kind of fall into place, I don't want it.  So none of them feel really good, but one is okay.  It's $60.  Stupid cheap.  I look at it for a while. It's a plunge, 2hp, pretty much what I intended to buy.  But it's Harbor Freight.  Made for a bowl of rice by some poor bastard overseas.  And there's a reason it's cheap, usually hidden inside.  I put it back, wander the store for a bit, buy a couple of mixing boards for bondo and leave.

I just can't buy cheap tools.  It's just not worth it.  My time in the shop is too valuable to screw around with something that just isn't right, harder to use, you have to baby, worry about breaking, whatever.  So I end up at the big box store debating between a Hitachi and the Porter.  I buy the Porter.  One, it's at least a US company even if it's still built overseas, 2, it feels right in my hand, and 3, Porter Cable's rep is impeccable for routers.  I considered the Hitachi because they are coming on very strong in all the tool markets.  Their nailers are very popular.  I find it hard to get past the green/stripe anime look. It's a tool for god's sake, it's supposed to be black,chrome, steel, gray, not some comic book science fiction weapon.  

So I spent $130 for a router for really a simple single purpose job.  But I believe it will work, flawlessly, every time I pick it up, and is capable of doing more than 1 job if I need it.  And it feels right.  Oh yeah, I'm a dealer for Porter Cable, and bought it at the big box store for $20 less than dealer cost.  Really pisses me off. 

To translate this to the audio world I totally get it now, the guys who refuse to buy Behringer.  It's the same deal, same feeling.  It just doesn't feel right, or they need to believe they have bullet proof reliability.  Not that Behringer doesn't have some stuff that is every bit the equal of some the high end.  Namely the DEQ2496, the DCX2496, the ADA8000 and possibly a few others.  But a lot of it's crap.  Kind of like in Harbor Freight.  There are probably some golden bargains in there for power tools.  But for me, in the shop, it's just not worth it.  I need it to work, and work now.  I know tools, been using, selling and renting tools my entire life.  And now I know what the Pros who make their living with audio tools are saying.  Entirely valid for them.

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