View Full Version : How to find tools of a certain diameter on ebay / amazon / etc?

06-02-2013, 07:29 AM
How do you find cutting tools of a certain diameter, e.g. 1" drill or 1/2" end mill? When I do a search for the 1", it comes up with just about any diameter because they all contain a "1" somewhere in the title. Same if I want to find a 1/2" end mill. It will come up with 1/4" endmills that have a 1/2" length of cut, or 7/32, etc. Yet I can't necessarily add exclusion terms in the search because the length of cut might be something like 1-1/8".

Jaakko Fagerlund
06-02-2013, 08:51 AM
Use decimals?

Paul Alciatore
06-02-2013, 10:40 AM
This is a common problem on the internet. By "common", I mean both often encountered and shared by most, if not all, the various search facilities. It is comparatively easy to write code to search for a given string of characters. But how do you then exclude the unwanted places where that string occurs. For instance, if you are looking for "ad" how do you exclude "pad" or "sad" or "add". It is not easy or cheap to find ways to write code that looks at a search request in an intelligent manner.

Most of the programmers are working for companies that make their money by selling advertising (no relationship to my example above) or sales. This includes people like Google and Yahoo and virtually all the other search sites on the internet. And of course, all of the sites that are actively selling things like Amazon and even the companies that sell tooling. These companies have little incentive to exclude any items from the search results as that may represent lost sales. Many of them actually place items that are only loosely related to the stated search criteria at the TOP of the list because someone has paid for that preference in the searches. Google is famous for this but they all do it. More advertising income for them. So accurate, precisely targeted searches, are NOT part of their universe. They are selling what they are PAID to sell, not what you want.

The shorter that your search string is, the more results you are going to get. Lets face it, virtually every page on the internet will contain at least one "e". That would be a useless search. On the other hand, if you are searching for "one inch" you would miss "1"" and "1 inch" and "1.0" and a whole lot more. So you can quickly limit your search by more than you really want.

Smart advertisers know the ins and outs of this search process and take the time to format their descriptions to allow their products to show up in as many searches as possible. The theory here is not to better serve the customer, but the belief that most sellers hold that the more people who see their product, the more sales they will have. And their object is SALES, not serving the needs of the customer. This objective is not modified by any "claims" that they may have to the contrary. Believe me, I have worked in the advertising industry (informercials) and I know how they think. Sales are everything. Period.

And for many low value items there is simply little time available for either accuracy or a lot of sales tactics. A system is set up with a web page template that can be filled out for new items. Then low level, clerical type workers will be employed to fill in the details. This leads to a lack of accuracy and even of consistency. One item may be described as one inch while a nearly identical one as 1" and a third as 1.000 inches. No one at the selling company will even be aware of this problem and even if they were, they would not have any time or motive to correct it.

You, as a customer, must navigate this maze as best as you can. Many search facilities allow you to use terms like OR and AND to construct your searches. Quotation marks were somewhat useful to find an exact combination of words in the past but most search engines today simply ignore them and a search for ""one inch milling cutter"" will also turn up things like a cloth CUTTER and a pizza CUTTER and a bONE knife. These false results may be higher in the list then your desired milling cutter. It is frustrating.

Some sales sites are a lot better than others. One I like to use is McMaster Carr. They have one of the best sites for finding what you want (in hardware) on the internet. Another good one is DigiKey. They have excellent search facilities for the electronic parts that they sell. But even those sites have their problems. For instance a spec for Voltage could contain choices like 3-5 Volts, 4.5 to 5.5 Volts, 5 V, 5v, etc. many variations that would include a basic 5 Volt working Voltage. So which one do you pick?

Often you must make several searches using different search terms to find just one example of the item you want. I am currently trying to find a switching Voltage regulator IC for a design I am working on. There are hundreds, probably thousands of them available and even with a knowledge of the specs I want (and I am not even firm on that yet) I must search through dozens of data sheets to try and find a suitable part. It is not easy. But it is easier than in the days of searching through stacks of books of data sheets and descriptions. Or is it?????

I share your pain.

06-02-2013, 10:50 AM
Ok, here is where Ebay has helped their search some. Please read this page it will help quite a bit. http://ebay.com/help/search/advanced-search.html .
As for doing this kind of search, quotation marks will help. and you can have part of the sear in quotes and part not in quotes. Everything in the quotes has to be exact.
so if I am going to search for a 1/2" end mill. I will use the following end mill "1/2" When I do this search. I do get some extraneous ones, but every link does have 1/2 in it. I got a 1/4" end mill that was 2 1/2" long, but, every title had 1/2 in it. This not the end all, but it will help you to limit your searches quite a bit.

Stu Miller
06-02-2013, 01:06 PM

I had tried your recommended technique once before with poor results, but tried it again just to be sure. My search was for micrometer "1/2". What I got was mostly 1-2 inch micrometers. I think the problem is that the search program ignores anything but letters and numbers.

Mike Amick
06-02-2013, 02:04 PM
As for the "ad" example ... if you put a space after the d like this "ad " it works pretty good.
Just did a search for.... "ad " poster ... and it worked good .. did get 40,000 hits but there are a lot
of ad posters.

Also note that you can narrow it down with the minus sign .. like this "ad " poster -movie -paper

Paul Alciatore
06-02-2013, 10:14 PM

Yes, adding leading or trailing spaces inside of quotes can help.

I was just trying to illustrate part of the problem. The quotes are useful for that. But if there are multiple words inside the quotes, most present day search routines seem to look at each word separately.

Mike Amick
06-03-2013, 01:20 AM
yea your right ..

Ebay used to be pretty good .. but .. something changed

I would love to be able to do the whole bolean thang ... this .and. this .or. that for amount => this

06-03-2013, 06:18 AM
yea your right ..

Ebay used to be pretty good .. but .. something changed

I would love to be able to do the whole bolean thang ... this .and. this .or. that for amount => this

Shame on you. You should know that if bolean searches were possible, that would mean that Ebay is a customer oriented company and tries to help!

06-03-2013, 08:22 AM
Ebay have been buggering up their search system for some time. At one point typing in the exact title of an item wouldn't find it!

They've removed the ability to use the '*' wildcard symbol, but - and + still work (last time I checked)

They supposedly have a new search engine coming out.

Norman Bain
06-03-2013, 04:58 PM
In addition to the - there is also the bracketed technique for OR searches.

end mill ("1/2","0.5",half,"half inch")

Should find you:
end mill 1/2
end mill 0.5
half inch end mill 1/2

Mike Amick
06-03-2013, 11:43 PM
Holy crap Norman ... I didn't know about that .. that is hot

Thanks !!!!!!