I want to start with woodworking, and am looking at power tools. I've looked at a lot of comparisons and reviews on Youtube, and most of them recommend that you shouldn't buy expert tools as a DIY.

But I've noticed that the cheaper expert tools are about the same price as the expensive DIY tools. A few examples of what I mean:

  • Bosch PEX400 AE (green) is about the same price as Bosch GEX 125-2 AE (blue)
  • Ryobi RCS 1600K is just a bit cheaper than the Milwaukee CS 55

I chose the companies above since they are DIY and pro variants of tools from the same manufacturer. That way I hope that I don't create confusion and discussions about different brands.

My question is what I should think about when deciding if I should buy cheap pro tools or expensive DIY tools.

The main worry for me is that I buy a lot of tools, and have to buy new tools in a year or two. I don't like the idea of buying new tools because I didn't do my research and bought good enough tools to start with.

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    "Pro" grade tools is marketing speak. I personally go by reviews and advice regarding specific features. Jul 30 '19 at 19:41
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    I suspect this is question is just too broad to be sufficiently answered here. Not only are these terms and brands moving targets, it really depends on all sorts of things we can't know, like under what circumstances you intend to use these tools.
    – jdv
    Jul 30 '19 at 21:15
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    You may be better off building a shortlist and then doing some specific research for specific tooling. The general advice is, really, don't buy tools. Or at least, don't be in a hurry to buy any. Build up slowly while you figure out what you want to do, and a lot of woodworking can be done just fine with decent hand tools from your local hardware store. You'll find that you'll end up accruing used tools as you go, which is an excellent way to figure out what you need. Don't forget to check out your local makerspace or shared shop, as well.
    – jdv
    Jul 30 '19 at 21:17
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    @SaSSafraS1232, substitute "lesser" for "inferior" and what you said there becomes less loaded. If you think it through haven't you just undermined the entire existence of Dremel or Proxxon mini drills, since everyone should be getting a Foredom instead? Tools made for light or occasional use are just that, they can be perfectly adequate otherwise. Duty cycle and overall lifespan may not be important to the average homeowner user. Typically those are only significant points for the full-time pro.
    – Graphus
    Jul 31 '19 at 6:59
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    @Graphus My comment was really aimed at the difference between "normal" and "cheap" tools. Comparing "normal" and "premium" tools is a totally different conversation. I'd agree that a typical homeowner isn't going to see any difference in stepping up to Foredom, Festool, Mafell, etc. But they very well may be disappointed with Harbor Freight, Ryobi, etc. Jul 31 '19 at 14:47

The differences in price between any two similar appliances is driven by a complicated matrix of global market capitalism, most of which will be opaque to you, or out of your control.

The prices at your local store will be driven by a variety of things, from a choice to use sintered or plastic gears during manufacture, to how badly your local store needs to move some stock because of the shelving deals they have made with a large transnational corporation.

As pointed out in comments, there is no such thing as a "pro" or "expert" tools. That is, no tool is intrinsically for experts. Rather, such brands position themselves thusly via marketing. The distinguishing characteristics will be held up as examples of their suitability for the pro, but those characteristics may not be useful to you, and certainly will not necessarily match from brand to brand or model to model.

Instead, make your tool investments based on how you expect to use them. We are slowly building a wiki-like collection of first-time buyers info (there is one for circular saws, for example) that talks about useful features from a woodworking perspective. It's more important to know, for example, what sort of sole a saw has and how the different soles are useful for different sorts of work, than the colour of the body or the words on a sticker. (This is where a local makerspace or shared woodworking shop can really help. You get the advantage of talking to people about how tools work for them, and get to try things out for yourself. This is an excellent way to build up your skill. Never underestimate the value of what the radio folks refer to as "Elmers".)

As I mention in my comment, start slowly, and only once you have an idea of what you want to use a tool for. Compare based on features within your price range. And always ask yourself the questions, "Do I really need this? Do I really need this now?"

  • +1 for the Makerspace mention, plus the bit about tool features rather than price, marketing hype or color-scheme. Jul 30 '19 at 23:52
  • Another great Answer jdv. But I am voting to close the Q as being too broad.
    – Graphus
    Jul 31 '19 at 7:02
  • @Graphus I figured it would be closed, but I thought I'd get on my hobby horse. We really ought to work on wiki-style not-buying-guides we can refer people to...
    – jdv
    Jul 31 '19 at 13:50
  • Accepting for pointing out that it's more important with features depending on how the tools will be used, than it is with colours and stickers.
    – Polygorial
    Jul 31 '19 at 21:05
  • But, @Polygorial, everyone knows that stickers add 5HP!!!
    – FreeMan
    Aug 2 '19 at 13:55

Here we have a large retailer of import tools "Quality Tools Lowest Prices" there products range from dumpster fill to extremely good buys. Some are so inexpensive that if you use it once or twice it's payed for. I have some of there tools that broke halfway into there first use and some I have used hundreds of times. One of the high use tools was less than half of the price next one up.

Random orbit sanders are a high use tool for me I have used of the very top of the line (very expensive) can not justify the price and some cheap ones vibrated to much, so some where in the middle. The same with circular saws some where in the middle, but buy a very high quality saw blade.

In short look at and handle the tool, it should be comfortable to use. I have large hands a tool that fits my hands may not be good for you.

Some times good used tools can be had at reasonable prices.

  • Thank you for pointing out that it's not only about the power tool itself, that the accessories can be equally or even more important. Also for pointing out that I should try the tool out before deciding what to buy.
    – Polygorial
    Jul 31 '19 at 21:09

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