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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is a question that is basic and will generate many opinions, but can anyone give me a hierarchy of brands of woodworking equipment? I have a pretty good grasp on what is good and what is not for the tools found at Lowes (Bosch, Makita, DeWalt, Porter Cable, etc.) What I am not acquainted with at all are the bigger and more specialized woodworking names---Baleigh, Powermatic, Jet, Delta, Festool, Fein, Grizzly, etc.

Please add other names to that group....I'm basically looking for an evaluation of all the names you would NOT find at Lowes or Home Depot.

What brand(s) are king or top of the line? I generally like to buy quality equipment and often like getting commercial models for durability.

In addition to giving the "classification" of each brand, any pros and cons would be appreciated (durability, quality, commercial built or not, price, etc.)

I am just now starting the research phase into many of these items but as I look to outfit my shop with things such as a bandsaw, jointer, shaper, drill press, planer, joiner, etc. I'm getting into many names that I've never bought before.

What are the names that woodworkers would die to have in their shop and what are the names you want to steer clear of?

Thanks for your help!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I agree Ryan! But, what I am looking for is general classification. Ford Chevy and dodge may be tit for tat but they aren't Land Rover, BMW, or Masseratti! I am looking for what is low grade, mid grade, and luxury. Or, are all those I listed in the same class, each with strong and weak points?
 

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+1 with Ryan.

It is not practical to attempt to "rate" the brands.

A company may have a terrific product in one tool design and a less than terrific product in another tool design.

As the tool brands are sold, they may not produce the same quality products of old. Delta may be the most recent example.

Do your own review of the features and opinions of a given tool and then decide what you want to purchase.

I expect most people have a shop with a mix of brands. I have tools with the following brands :
Black and Decker
Bosch
Craftsman (Sears)
Delta
DeWalt
Fein
Grizzly
Hilti
Jet
Makita
Milwaukee
Performax
Porter Cable
Powermatic
Ryobi
Stanley
StockRoomSupply
Teknatool
Veritas

Some of these were inexpensive when I was starting out.

Some I would consider top-of-the-line.

Some I would purchase again.

Some I would not purchase again.
 

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(clever wood pun here)
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Hmmm,
I feel like this question is of little value. You're asking for blanket opinion about entire brands. If that is what your're looking for, it will generally correlate to their price point. If you want to get specific opinions about specific tools, then it is best to simply search the forum for existing threads about the tool in question. If you don't find what you need, feel free to ask--but again, be specific. Even when discussing specific tools, describing your intended use can help to really figure out what is "best".
 

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A good example of this. The porter cable low profile ro sander ( and it's dewalt clone) is considered to be one of the best sanders under 250....however porter cable cordless drills are pretty much cheap junk today (just my opinion).


Another example....dewalt has cordless drills from 79 dollars to 499. Hard to say...dewalt is good or bad.
 

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Well I got a Shopsmith, inherited from my dad http://www.shopsmith.com/markvsite/ and he had all the attachments, pretty much does it all. Only difference is my dads old machine has a band saw attachment not the router, hence why I got a separate router table. He had it 20+ years and I have had it for 10+ it's still very accurate and going like a champ. I had added a Dewalt slider chop miter saw and a Router table to the mix with a Bosch router. There is not much I can't make with just these three machines, right down to turning legs with the lathe for a table..lol.. If you need to do things fast, Shopsmith's not a good choice because it take a few minutes to reconfigure. I'm retired so I would rather have it all in one machine takes up less space.

edit: Might want to be sitting down when you get to the price page..lol...but packs a lot of punch for a small shop
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I knew this question would probably draw criticism! I hear what you guys are saying and fully understand. Every company has some good and bad lines of tools. But, if you are less literal and specific, surely there are some generalizations for people like myself that can be used as a starting point for research. The "for the money" question always draws debate, but there are some "Cadillac" brands. Does anyone disagree that Festool is top of the line? True, maybe dewalt makes. Product that is as good as that of Festool but in general you can say Festool is in an elite class. Or, maybe a brand is great but exclusively for huge shops. I am looking for generalizations that are a startin point for research, not someone to tell me that all powermatic is superior to dewalt, but there are some generalizations. Similar to how if you are buying drills, ryobi may have a few good products (especially "for the money") but makita is generally superior. Or, for exaMple while there are many great angle grinders out there, most would agree Fein and Metabo are the elite class leaders. Perhaps the one poster above is correct and all you have to do is look at price, but I don't think that is always correct. Sometimes you be up paying surely for name (while I love them, John Deere comes to mind) thanks for the input...I have found much valuable!
 

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(clever wood pun here)
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I will say it again, but this time more poignantly: You are asking a question that doesn't have an answer and I can't understand the reason for it. What do you hope to do with this information? Is there a point to your request for over generalized information or is this just a, "What is your favorite color?" kind of situation? Clearly you aren't asking this question for the members of the forum to help you making a decision--so what are you doing? What is your motive for this conversation? Questions like, "What model of band saw under $800 have good dust collection with 14 inch or greater reach?" have a very practical purpose and are likely yo help a person who is choosing said tool. Your question has none of the useful qualities for you to gather information, but instead seems lime it was designed to "stir the pot" for your entertainment.

I don't like to point fingers in this way, but a few of your recent posts have a troll-ish flavor. Beware that this forum is closely monitored by moderators and that behavior is not tolerated.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troll_(Internet)

If I am off base and this comes off as rude, then I apologize; however, we have had our share of trolls drift through here and their posts have a feel that begins distinctly similar to this and others of yours.

Sent from my DROID RAZR MAXX using Woodworking Talk
 

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I don't understand what the OP is looking for with this post either. It has already been pointed out that no one brand is all good or bad. Sure Festool makes some good stuff but they also make some overpriced items that aren't any better than some other brands. The only way you can decide on what to buy is to compare the individual item you are looking for, table saw, router, or whatever.


Earl
 

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I understand what he's asking......but the answer is pretty difficult.

We can probably all agree that central machinery from harbor freight isn't as good as dewalt....i'm willing to go out on a limb and say all dewalt is better than all central machinery.

Now the difficult part is to rank dewalt, makita, delta, and the others in the middle. Its really all opinion here.


From the middle part....we can all probably agree that festool is better than dewalt, makita and porter cable.


Your just not going to get a full listing in order of all brands.....
 

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where's my table saw?
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follow the money

If you shop by price you an generally expect high cost to be equated with high quality. Unfortunately not always the case, however.

If you sort tables saws by price, Powermatic, Saw Stop, General Industries will be at the top. Of course there are commercial table saws, by Oliver, Felder, Martin and others like SCMI Minmax.
(I have a 12" Powermatic and General Inds. dual drum sander, Minmax 13" jointer planer and 18" bandsaw)

Lower end saws like Dewalt, Rigid, Craftsman, Steel City are similar in power and price, when comparing like models. (I have several Craftsman table saws)

Delta/Rockwell used to have an outstanding reputation, but because of parts availablity issues, they have lost it ...literally.

Laguna is in the same boat.


Baileigh is a "new kid on the block" as far as woodworking and is trying to establish a reputation.

Grizzly is a paradox in that they cover the entire range of prices from $800 to $10,000 and up. Their low end machines are a great buy for the dollar. (I have 5 Grizzlys and haven't got "bit" yet.)
http://www.grizzly.com/products/category/530020|530002|530000

Some machines have a reputation for being better at certain tasks.

Festools are portable hand held tools not stationary machines, and they are at the top of the food chain, well made and famous for excellent dust collection for on the job or in the shop use.
(I have a Festool 75 track saw and lot of tracks)

Panel saws have come a long way and can be had from $1500 to $22,000 and completely digital. ( I made my own)

A lot of folks have chosen to get "old iron" and restore the machines to like new condition. They usually are huge and heavy, require 3 phase supply, BUT can be had for a song. Factories and school shops are closing all over the country, so the machines come up on EBay or local auctions.

Used equipment aside, the question is answerable, just Google the type of machine and "shop" the features and prices. You must differentiate between portable and stationary machines for comparisons.
http://www.consumersearch.com/table-saw-reviews/reviews
 

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What part about your question can't be answered don't you get? You can keep asking it every different way you can think of and the answer is still going to be the same - it's a fool's game. Scott says it best "love the tool, not the brand". Not sure how many times we can tell you every brand makes both clunkers and great ones. And it's not just a matter of "what" they make, but "when" they made it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thank you guys! I was starting to think that I was crazy and the only person who understood my question. I fully realize the question is tough. I fully realize there are exceptions. But, as pointed out in excellent detail by the last post, there are some stereotypes and generalizations that can be made. There will be much gray area and much overlap but there is a general curve of quality. I'm not asking anyone to rank DeWalt vs. Makita vs. Porter Cable...I would say all of those are approximately in the same "class." I'm just trying to figure out what is near the top on most lists and what is scraping the bottom.

If you go to an appliance store and ask for the "elite" class they will show you Viking, Thermador, and Wolff. Does anyone really think there is no difference between Festool and Black and Decker? Sure, B&D make some decent products and especially so when you consider the value "for the money." But, I'm pretty certain most everyone here who isn't in denial would gladly take any given tool with Festool written on it as opposed to the same tool with B&D on it. Thus, you can conclude that in general, Festool is a little superior to B&D. I'm just trying to get a starting point of what names generally scream "quality" and what generally says "steer clear!"

Correct me if I'm wrong, but based on my research and what I've read here I'd say:

Delta has been good, but may have lost an edge
Powermatic is a good brand that can compete with most any
Baleigh is developing a reputation but so far so good
Grizzly makes a wide variety of quality so look at the specific tool more closely
Festool definitely belongs in the elite class for it's forte products

I'll ask specific questions as I start to buy certain items, but those are great starting points for my research. Thanks to those who attempted to answer a tough question.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
At the risk of starting a forum war, I must say that I really don't understand the bitterness towards my post. If I might be defensive for a second, you are accusing me of "trolling." Let me say clearly that I'm a successful surgeon and make $500/hr so I have much better things to do then try to stir a theoretical pot on a chatroom with people I never have and likely never will meet. The reasons my posts sound that way to you is that I am ignorant (extremely intelligent, but lacking knowledge at this point). I am a guy that makes a lot of money who loves wood working and is trying to learn about things before I buy them so I don't waste my money and have no regrets or need to upgrade as my wood working skills catch up to my shop equipment.

There are some very respected and experienced opinions on here that do NOT think my question is stupid or impossible to answer and as a matter of fact, did a great job in doing so, for which I am indebted.

If you still don't understand my question or believe there is no answer I have an offer for you:

I'll buy a tool of your choosing that says Black and Decker, Ryobi, etc. on it and I'll trade you every day of the week and twice on Sunday for the same tool with Festool, SawStop, or Fein written on it. Any takers? Didn't think so.

Now, if my posts bother you and you think I'm burning away time posting stupid questions then how about ignoring them...I'm certain you have something better to do than spend you time responding to supposedly "trolling".....don't you?
 

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I think the point a lot of us were trying to make....is ask the question....I'm thinking of buying a planer....I have 110v power for it....what should I buy.


The answer would likely be....buy a dewalt 735x. Top of its class....nothing compares.


Or ask...I don't yet have a table saw....what do I need vs want. The answer will include a discussion of new vs used.... 110 vs 220.... Sawstop technology.... Cast iron vs granite.....ect...



No offense, but there are quite a few of us on here with advanced degrees...yet we all learn stuff every day from each other.


Were all glad to provide advise....but the question needs clarification.
 

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Of the home model equipment I have, I have few complaints with Craftsman. I bought a table saw, radial arm saw and jointer in the early 1970's and have only worn out the table saw. Both the radial arm saw and jointer are still going. When working for other shops they were mostly equipped with Powermatic and Delta equipment which I always felt like Powermatic was a little better. In recent years I bought a Delta unisaw to replace the sears table saw that wore out and was very displeased with the quality. It didn't near live up to the ones I had worked with working for someone else. Then I bought a Delta portable planer which at first I spent nearly as much time re-assembling it as running it. It wasn't till I started using threadlock I could get some relief from the repairs. It turns out some of the lost parts are not replaceable because Delta has pretty much quit selling replacement parts for their tools. Another brand not listed is Northfield. Their equipment is expensive but is built much the same as the old equipment was made in the early 1900's. It's still built very solid with cast iron construction. I bought a Northfield shaper in 1987 because I liked the way they an old one was built at a shop I worked at. Except for the magnetic switch on my shaper it is exactly the same machine as the old one built before WWII. Recently I found a bargain on another shaper which I felt like a second machine would be handy so I bought a Grizzly shaper. It turns out it is a very cheaply made machine which is more in line with harbor freight than an industrial machine company. Despite adjusting and tightening on the spindle it still moves laterally and the drive belt is just a single 3/8" belt. I have a bigger belt on the smog pump on my truck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I appreciate those thoughts, Steve. Very useful and informative.

Ryan-I do understand where you are coming from but my question was specficially intended to be vague. The more specific questions will come later as I grow more serious about specific purchases based upon what I have learned through this thread. Woodnthings provided precisely the answer I was looking for so clearly my question was not ridiculous and does as a matter of absolute fact have an answer. The problem is likely that I have very little knowledge at this point and I'm looking for starting points to do my research and learn. My fund of information will grow and my questions will be more precise as that occurs. I wasn't attacking anyone else's advanced degree (or lack thereof) but some of our fellow forum members were a little on the bitter and rude side and felt the need to accuse me of doing this for entertainment--I felt compelled to point out the fact that their notions were ludicrious and absurd to say the least.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
To clarify one more thought....a lot of what I am seeking right now is the knowledge to ask future questions. Right now everything is flexible to me...I can buy whatever equipment I want, I have the money to buy nice equipment. I haven't run the power to my shop yet so can run 110 or 220 if necessary, I have a garage the size of a small warehouse that I can fully or partially devote to wood working. It's hard to ask specific questions when my options are wide open. Likewise, I understand it is hard to provide specific answers without specific questions, which is why I was seeking generalizations that would serve as a starting point for further research.
 
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