View Full Version : Tool Store Ripoff?

11-21-2004, 08:24 AM
Theres a local tool store that sells tools for incredible prices, not machinery but vises and stuff. They selling a 40 peice tap and die set for 12.99 brand new, where as canadian tire is like 59.99 for 20 peice
Also a vice for 10 bucks it opens to 6 inch.

Whats up with this? are the products ultra low quality like the allen keys you can get for under a buck at the dolar store? I'm going to check them out today, but maybe some of you have had past expereiences with something like this. I can post the location for those of you that live in Ontario Canada,

11-21-2004, 09:38 AM
There's the old saying, "You only get what you pay for." Sometimes you don't get what you pay for, you get less. But when buying retail you never get more than you pay for.

That said, I have found one or two items at Harbor Freight at very low but fair prices that I've bought and been pleased with.

Buyer beware!

11-21-2004, 09:56 AM
I remember the first time my eyes were opened to the fact that a pair of "Vise Grip" style pliers could bend like plastic when I tried to close them......they were off brand (no name at all) and cheap to buy.

I have a cheapo tap and die set.....when you look at them with an eye loupe, the cutting edges are all rounded and mal-formed.....basically unusable.

Now I get it.....it took a couple of poor purchases to find the answer, but now I get it.


11-21-2004, 11:03 AM
I work in at a place that not only is a machineshop but also sells tools both import and domestic.I can say that what Zinom says is true in both directions.Not everything off-brand is bad and not everything namebrand is good.
Its up to you the consumer to tell a squirrel from a rat.
Maybe ask the owner what the return policy is.

11-21-2004, 11:30 AM
You've really got to be able to trust your judgement when shopping at those discount tool bins. There's a lot of chinese stuff that is made of really doubtful alloy that will give you more grief than service when you really need to depend on it. On the other hand, chinese stuff is getting much better every year. Remember the sixties when Japanese stuff was pretty universally junk?
Another good thing about those import shops (most of the stuff on the shelves is imported) is that it's often the very same product that is merely repagaged with slick graphics in "upscale" stores like walmart and candian tire. But you've got to develop your eye for quality. Some tool that get occasional use, a heavy duty bottle/scissors jack in my case, are better purchased at the discount store for twenty bucks. I'll never wear it out. The very same jack at canadian tire will be 59.95. A professional made in USA jack of the same rating will cost 395.95.
If you run a professinal shop, you absolutely need to spend the four hundred dollars.
One more nice thing about the discount tool shops is that you can often find closeouts, unclaimed freight and out of business buyouts. I've got some damn good Lisle sockets and automotive tools for garage sale prices from these stores. I've picked up lots of drill bits and such. Last month I got about a dozen various sizes of long bosch carbide percussion bits for about two bucks apiece. But like I said, if you can't trust your judgement, you can waste a lot of money on crap at these places and, over time, realize that the money you wasted could have gone to the purchase of better tools elsewhere. It's like that joke about the sartorially challenged gent who "dresses like a blind man in a Goodwill".

11-21-2004, 11:39 AM
The bitterness of poor qualiy lingers LONG after the sweetness of low price has been forgotten.

Elninio, you have got to get it in you head that this is not an inexpensive hobby. One can have lots of fun economically BUT... there is a cost for everything.

As I and many others have told you, forget the cheap stuff, and buy quality (and quality doesn't have to be really expensive)
Frustration with inadequate tools and materials will have a very big impact on your long term success.

With regard to the taps and dies, I have a set of Craftsman taps and dies that I bought second hand 25 years ago, when Sears still sold Quality tools. ( I believe that they were made by Hanson) I have replaced them as I Have broken pieces (stupidity usually) A similar set today is still available from Hanson, it costs about $400.00.
I expect that I will be able to hand them down to my son eventually.

Now, consider the cost of the cheapo stuff. $12.99 or $59.99, is a long way from $400.00, but so is the quality. The cheapo stuff is mystry steel of dubious quality, that probably will break at a very inopertune time, if it even cut a correct thread at all. Something has got to be different for the big difference in price, and it not all "paying for the big name"

There are no free rides in this world! You either pay fair price up front, or you will continue to pay, and pay, and pay...


11-21-2004, 12:19 PM
I would agree that one only gets what you pay for...and often much less.

In my shop, I tend to have older American iron for machines and newer quality tooling to use with those machines. My logic...time...my time...is far too valuable to spend countless hours looking through surplus bins, go to numerous auctions and driving to endless garage sales to find an older tap and die set that is in GOOD shape. If during my travels I find a good set then I will buy it but I will not hold my breath waiting to find this treasure. To rely on tooling up your shop by searching out old used tooling is a false economy. An old wornout tap and die set is just as bad as a new POS imported set. Spend the time you have to find the machines that you need for your shop. While imported machines ARE getting better, the older machines are still a much better value. If one buys good quality tooling on a regular basis, the financial pain is minimal and the return is impressive. When it comes to tools like a tap and die set, one needs GOOD quality to have an acceptable outcome. You only need to break off a junk tap once or run a bad thread with a misshapened die to learn the true cost of cutting the wrong economic corner.

Cheap tap and die sets do have their place though...they are what I would lend out to those who should know better than to ask me to loan my tools out to them. ;< )

Good luck with your decision, let us know what you end up doing and how it turns out.

11-21-2004, 12:24 PM
I still remember the Revelation that came when, after fighting with hardware-store pipe taps, in desperation I paid what seemed like an astounding amount of money for a single 1/4-27 pipe tap. Could it REALLY be that much better? Yes! I've given up fooling around with cheap junk.

11-21-2004, 01:53 PM
Elninio, are you talking about Princess Auto? If so then be very careful about what you buy there. Like others have said, you have to have an eye for quality. I've gotten some great deals from them, but there's other stuff I wouldn't even touch. Same goes for Busy Bee.

I know your excited about getting into this hobby, and sometimes it's very difficult to tell what's good and what's not when you're starting out. I think we were all in the same position once. If you rush into buying things you will be dissapointed later. It's hard to pace yourself, but it will pay off in the end.


11-21-2004, 02:38 PM
"Princess auto" Why does that remind me of a coed in a white Honda Accord? http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

11-21-2004, 04:27 PM
Yea man, what's up up there? You guys have "Busy Bee" and "Princess Auto". I guess "Speedway" makes up for it though...

Hoffman in Warner Robins Ga

Doc Nickel
11-21-2004, 05:00 PM
There's a local "flea market" type store, that has all the usual garage-sale-leftovers type junk, and the guy has recently started bulking up his inventory with cheap knockoff tools.

There's a whole binful of assorted tiny needle files. If you look close, the "teeth" are just knurling, just as if the thing had been rolled under a lathe knurling wheel. They're also soft- you can bend the thing in the middle.

The ball-peen hammers are so soft the face gets grooved just trying to tap a bent nail straight.

The sockets don't fit, and break with surprisingly little pressure. The knives don't even hold an edge as well as mild steel. The ratchet handles don't.

Save yourself the hassle and the time, and buy good, known, name-brand stuff. I have a drawerful of import and no-name tools I've in many cases used once. I have stacks of name-brand tools I've been using regularly for 25 years.

The low price doesn't help when you have to buy the tool again.


11-21-2004, 05:28 PM
Pk Elninio, let us know who this is so we can avoid them, or at least be warned.
Jim http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

Al Flipo
11-21-2004, 07:54 PM
Princess Auto has 6“ dial calipers on for $19.99. They end up in the bottom of the lathe a lot, so I bought 4.

I think that our young friend Elninio lives in Markham Ont. and there are no Princess Auto outlets in his vicinity, but there are a couple of Indian gentleman in a place called the Stouffville Sales Barn, selling tools imported directly from India.

11-21-2004, 09:36 PM
From what I have heard from talking to our importers(Chinese to the core)there are older Government run factories and newer private factories.The Government factories make the bottom end junk because they have no incentive to do better,plus its a "make work" situation,everybody has a job and everybody gets paid the same.Many of the factories have positions like sign painter,chair wiper,basically anything for the local party boss to keep little Hung Lo out out of his uncles hair(apparently they have brother in law jobs to)
The private factories are completely different,they have wage scales and they have incentives,so the workers have reason to improve.
They tell me the more reform minded politicians want to do away with the government factories.Apparently they don't support themselves and are a drain on resources(big suprise).

Like the files mentioned,we get some that are made by a small family company outside the big industrial centers.They make a good product,even the wooden handles are good quaility.They even cut almost as good as the Nicholson brand,they also cost $8.00 for a four piece set of needle files.
The point of this is,they are not dumb people and they are learning fast.The next 50 or so years should be interesting.

[This message has been edited by wierdscience (edited 11-21-2004).]

11-21-2004, 09:52 PM
I too have (maybe) learned my lesson about cheap tools. I bought a set of taps and dies for 11.99, none of the pieces have ever been useable, no exaggeration. Not once has any piece of it been useable at all. I saw a set of vice grip look-alikes at a dollar store- I tested them by squeezing with one hand, and bent them right away. I got a really good laugh with a set of masonry drill bits that were cheap- they twisted up like a pretzel when I tried to actually drill a hole in concrete. This was one of the few bargains in that I got a good laugh out of it, and then I was able to use one to drill a hole in a bandsaw blade where other bits wouldn't cut. That one hole was worth the dollar I spent on the five bit set, but wouldn't have been worth the cost of a single decent carbide bit. I'm getting better at knowing which cheap tool is the cost effective one to buy vs the better tool that I know won't get enough use to pay for itself. Many times when you play this game, though, you'll lose.
I have been looking in pawn shops, garage sales, and second hand stores for tools that I can recognize as being quality. That's a far better way to go if your finances don't allow for good new stuff. I've found many real bargains like that, including some fine german, swiss, austrian, etc tools.

11-22-2004, 08:55 AM
There is wide range in tap and die quality. At the low end, dollar store up thru Craftsman, you get everything from soft steel, with twisted flutes and ass backward cutting angles to carbon steel, US made but still so-so.

Large Craftsman sets are upwards of $150 or so. They are carbon steel, US made, don't cut very well and are really intended for repair work, not volume production or even higher quality HSM work. They may be Vermont American, Hanson or other. Hanson can be had blister packed at many hardware stores (at least down in the US). They are also so-so and do not stack up well against a good HSS tap. The difference in cutting forces are like night and day.

HSS sets will set you back many $$hundreds. If you ever head in this direction, stick with top brands with good reputations.

So what do you do when you want top notch taps and dies and don't want to go broke? What I've been doing is buying the individual size)s) that I need in good quality HSS whenever I place orders for other materials or tools. I've also picked up a nice GT&D metric HSS set on ebay for about 40% of the going rate. The problem on ebay is that popular sets will disappear fast at premium prices (beyond retail in some cases as we're seeing on other stuff).

Bottom line: A few quality HSS taps in the sizes you use most will keep you smiling every time you use them http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif You may even find that 3 or 4 taps are all you ever need.


11-22-2004, 07:31 PM
...just a quick additional note. Since reading this whole thread, I got to thinking about the real possibility of "gray market" stuff finding its way into these discount stores. South East Asian companies are getting even bolder lately
when it comes to brand rip-offs. If these counterfeits can find their way into the kiosks off of Times Square, they surely can end up in your neighborhood tool store!

11-22-2004, 07:46 PM
the 40 piece 4$ tap and die set I got at harbor frieght does work for me. Thread holes, screws screw in. Now the threads dont look all that sharp but they work. On really important projects, I will go out and buy a high quality tap or die.
The tap wrenches crumbled btw...

11-22-2004, 08:28 PM
Bah forget what ive posted, ive went to the markham fair were they sell it and you hafta buy a ticket to get in (20$) So i guess i would just buy from any regular tool store

11-22-2004, 08:59 PM
I keep a big set of metric imports for general shop use,thread cleaning and the occasional thread.
Other than that all I can say is OSG RULES!!! http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

(No intrest in the company) Other than a sexual level fetish for thier razor sharp,highly polished,top quality product http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

11-22-2004, 09:16 PM
Interesting, think my next tap or die will be OSG.