How many times have you said: "Dang, I wish I would have bought the cheap tool instead!"
Only the rich can afford cheap tools.
We stand at a unique point in time and history. American manufacturing is grinding to a halt and almost everything these days is made in China. Old and respected brand names are now used as marketing leverage to sell mediocre (or miserable) products manufactured "offshore" (i.e. in China).
Black and Decker fell hard many years ago. I wouldn't buy any Black and Decker products these days, but with care and luck, you can find fine tools they made in the good old days at yard sales. The frightening thing is that Black and Decker now owns fine brands like Delta, Porter-Cable, Dewalt, and others!
Bosch was once German quality, but now seems to have fallen in a few areas. Most new Bosch products are great, but some get bad reviews. Their good stuff is fantastic, and I watch some of their hammer drills get used hard day after day and hang in there.
Makita has a very good reputation, especially older Makita tools from the 80's and 90's. But the new stuff is not bad either. Consider:
I always confuse Ryobi and Makita for some reason. Ryobi is nothing special (to be kind). Makita can be quite good.
At least you know right up front you are buying cheap Chinese tools (or you should). To push this game up a notch, take a look at Grizzly tool. They sell some pretty good stuff, made in Taiwan, which can be excellent quite frankly, and better than most of what comes from mainland China.
This week I was 3 for 3 on weedeaters (string trimmers).
First I pulled out my old Toro electric, only to find that someone else had put it away broken. For the money, it was a great trimmer, and only the bump mechanism has worn out from lots of use. It can be replaced or fixed, but it wasn't there when I needed it, so off I went to buy:
The second trimmer. A corded Black and Decker. Yes, I knew better, but I took the chance. It had two cords that tangled with each other and wrapped around the trim head stalling the motor. And it burned through line (with its automatic feed mechanism) like there was no tomorrow. I returned it the same day. A product I am proud not to own.
The third trimmer. This one was a gas fed (2-cycle) by Troy-Bilt. When it ran, it was amazing and tore through weeds like there was no tomorrow. But after turning it off, there was no getting it started again. And many reviews I read said that it was just not durable. Mine was getting very hot near the trim-head as described by others. Back it went (I am not one to be returning things, really I am not, but I bought it used, and they emphasized their 30 day return.) A tool like this needs to be there when I have a job to do, and two of us taking turns could not get it to start, even taking a break for lunch to give it a rest.
So, I had had enough -- and I was totally spoiled by a gas trimmer, so after reading reviews I shelled out the money for a commercial grade Echo SRM-225 gas trimmer for just over $200. I use this tool to clear weeds, not trim a manicured lawn. With proper care, I am expecting it to serve me well and last for the rest of my life. It is clearly a quality tool, and has a way to reload line that is pure genius. I was tempted by a well reviewed Hitachi trimmer, but decided to push one notch further and get the Echo. Husquavarna was a candidate, but a fellow who worked on a county road crew said that the year Husq got the bid, their machines did not stand up to daily use like the Echo and Stihl machines.
A friend I talked to about this told me his story of chain saws. After 3 or 4 cheap ones that let him down, he purchased a Stihl, and now it starts every time on the first or second pull and runs like a champ. The cost of those 3 or 4 cheap units would have bought the quality tool that would do a better job easier, and last longer than all of them put together.
Tom's Welding pages / email@example.com