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Buy the best and only cry once?

Post in 'The Gear' started by Hills Hoard, Mar 25, 2013.

  1. Hills Hoard

    Hills Hoard Minister of Fire

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    I replied to "the wine guys" thread on cheap chainsaws but thought i'd start another topic for discussion.

    Has anyone else had luck/success or a positive experience with cheaper gear...

    I only have a McCulloch chainsaw (M3616 i think...36 cc, 40 cm bar) and compared to a higher end chainsaw it feels like a cheap plastic toy......compared to the Stihl i used the other day it actually feels dangerous!!!.....but i keep it clean, sharp, lubed and its been faultless for 3 years...i only spent $200 on it....... in winter it gets very heavy regular domestic use, both dropping trees, chopping up trees, trimming trees, camping, clearing bushes.. My brother has also had a cheap McCulloch for close to 8 years..similar use to mine, and still going strong...

    As the saying goes" buy the best and only cry once".....but I would suggest that for domestic use there might be a happy medium where you don't have to spend top dollar on all equipment...

    Axes on the other hand....I've never had a cheap axe last more than one winter...:oops:
    Backwoods Savage likes this.

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  2. fabsroman

    fabsroman Minister of Fire

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    You can buy a cheaper Stihl too that might be better than the McCulloch. I truly believe in buying the best gear you can afford. I plan on using the saws I have until I am 60+, along with a lot of other gear I have. Using good gear just makes the work so much more fun. My dad has had 2 McCullochs and a Craftsman saw. He used mine in 2011 when I first got them and he has been looking at them at the dealer every time we go in there. Went int there with him the other day and he has decided on the Stihl MS251 for $380 I believe. Not a pro level saw, but a really good medium use saw. It will do everything he needs done at his place when I am not around.

    As he was leaving my house tonight after the party for my daughter's baptism, he replied "I'll talk to you during the week. Pretty sure you will have some free wood somewhere that we need to get." I almost burst out laughing.
    Hills Hoard, smokinj and n6crv like this.
  3. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    Plenty of folks on here cutting a ton of wood with mid-grade Stihls and Husqvarnas. You don't have to buy a $1000 saw to cut firewood for sure but some of us have a sickness.....

    The theory that a homeowner can get away with sub-par tools is bunk. You should purchase quality tools. Do you need the absolute best performing tool on the market? Probably not. But you should look to purchase quality tools and in the case of machines, from a supplier that will also be able to provide parts and service. That's really the key, being able to maintain a tool so it will last many years rather than toss it after the first failure.
    OldLumberKid, Hills Hoard and smokinj like this.
  4. Beer Belly

    Beer Belly Minister of Fire

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    I have a Craftsman saw that I've used for years before buying my Stihl for over twice the money.....still use the craftsman often, it's been a good saw to me and has never let me down
    smokinj likes this.
  5. gzecc

    gzecc Minister of Fire

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    Its impossible to buy the best of everything. Its too expensive. As a contractor, I buy the best I need for the task at hand. If I use it a lot, its a very heavy duty item. If its used infrequently, a lesser quality (price) gets considered.
    I personally would rather buy high quality used than average quality new.
    Flatbedford, gmule, n6crv and 5 others like this.
  6. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

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    I agree with gzecc...you shouldn't buy more tool than you need if you are not making a living on it, it doesn't have to be dependable, and you use it infrequently.

    I have lots of high quality tools that I use all the time (DeWalt compound miter saw, DeWalt impact driver and drill, Stihl pro grade saw, I consider my Honda ATV a tool, commercial ZTR mower, etc, etc). If one of these goes down it will seriously cramp my style....so I spent the extra $ on them.

    I have lots of lower quality tools that I rarely use (floor jack, hammer drill, angle grinder, etc, etc,) that I use maybe three times a year, at most. If one of these goes down...no big deal. I'd rather be inconvenienced if they break than have $100+ tied up in each of them. If I used them regularly, needed them for my income, or life would really suck if it went down (like a generator)...I'd pony up some more $ for them.
    n6crv, Boog, Jack Fate and 1 other person like this.
  7. fabsroman

    fabsroman Minister of Fire

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    Yeah, it all comes down to what you can afford. If you can afford the highest quality item out there even if you only use it infrequently, then that is a different matter. I plan on buying a John Deere 3720 not because I "need" it or I will make a living with it, but because I want it. Think I already mentioned this, but I spent $200 on a brake line flaring tool recently. Could I have gotten the job done with the $40 set I have? Most definitely. Would it have been as easy and clean as the $200 tool? Nope. Will I use the tool again? Most likely since my dad's truck is 18 years old and mine is 10 years old. Might even use it on some fuel lines too.

    Did I buy the cheaper $100 set of Craftsman (Made in China) flare nut wrenches in lieu of the $250 set of Matco (Made in America) flare nut wrenches? Yep. Just could not justify the additional cost for what I considered not much more in the quality department other than feeling good about buying Made in the USA. We all have our breaking point on tools and hobby items where the additional cost is not worth it to us. Thing is, this breaking point is different for all of us.

    When my dad first started his home remodeling business, he bought a lot of Craftsman power tools because money was tight and quickly learned that they do not hold up long to frequent use. So, he started buying Rockwell tools and has since switched to Milwaukee and DeWalt. End of the day, the question is 1) can you afford the tool, 2) does the additional features/longevity warrant the additional cost? Just one more balancing act in life.
  8. I bought one of the cheap flaring tools years ago. Figured I wouldn't use it much so why spend more? Every time I use it I hate it. Hard to use without putting it in vise to hold tight while I struggle far too long to make a crappy looking double flare. Usually ends with bloody knuckles and swearing. Forget trying to make a flare on an existing line under a vehicle. I should just order the mastercool brake set today and be done with it. But every time I need to replace a line the cheap tool works. Just not as easily as it should.

    I think with chainsaws if you have the right size saw for the job at hand you'll be safer. Sure you can cut through a 36" tree with a 42cc saw and 18" bar. But I think you're experience will not be enjoyable. And you'll tire yourself out faster and that's when mistakes happen -- and the consequence will be worse than a few bloody knuckles.

    Watch CL long enough and you'll find some deals on good brand name saws -- just be ready to move fast. And keep your saw for limbing and backup duty, no need to trim limbs with a big saw either.
    OldLumberKid likes this.
  9. fabsroman

    fabsroman Minister of Fire

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    I bought the cheap one 9 years ago when I had to replace the front driver side line on my dad's F-150. Figured I would never use it again. Then last year one of the rear lines failed on my 98 Taurus. Got lucky on that one because it was only leaking a tiny bit. I was just under the impression that the pads had worn out and that was the reason for the longer stopping distances. Then noticed the pedal was really spongy. Took a look at it about this time last year and noticed there was no brake fluid in the reservoir. Filled it up, stomped on the pedal as hard as I could, and it went to the floor, leaving a huge puddle of brake fluid on the floor of my garage. I had to use the emergency brake to move the car out of the garage. Took a look under it, and was horrified. The lines weren't metal, they were rust. Both lines hugging the frame rail were toast and the one going from the proportioning block in the rear to the passenger side rear wheel looked like it was going next. So, I ended up replace a ton of lines. Guessing 7 different lines with 14 flares total, because I had to 2 I had to replace coming from the master to the anti-lock system, the 4 going from the anti-lock system throughout the car, and then the one going from the proportioning valve in the rear of the vehicle to the rear passenger side wheel. Took about 6 hours to get the job done, but at least I didn't have a single bad flare, and these were ISO bubble flares.

    I'm young enough that I will use tools way more than one time in my lifetime. The longer they hang around and I live, the more they will get used.

    Missed a deal on a new MS362 on CL for $550 last month. I wanted to kick myself. Luckily, I don't need that saw.

  10. There is a year old ms362 here on CL for 350. Guy said it has a cracked top cover and clutch cover. I offered him 200. Might have offended him since he won't respond again :(
  11. Scols

    Scols Member

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    Confucious say "Only a rich man can afford cheap tools".
  12. Mass. Wine Guy

    Mass. Wine Guy Feeling the Heat

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    With most anything there is the lowest and the very highest quality. Usually, there is also somewhere in the middle. That's often where I can afford to buy. I like to cook, so I bought three All-Clad pans that give me most of the versatility I need. They're not cheap, but I don't think I'll ever need to replace any of them. So which is less expensive: Buying T-Fal junk every few months or spending more upfront on All-Clad and never needing to replace them?
  13. fabsroman

    fabsroman Minister of Fire

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    Yeah, we have a set of Calphalon and after 10 years they look like crap. My wife is thinking about going a different route with the next set of pots and pans. Now the Henckel knives, those should last forever. 10 years and they are still going strong.
  14. Hills Hoard

    Hills Hoard Minister of Fire

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    Deep down I know I should have invested more money on a better quality product. before I upgrade though, I need to invest in a hydraulic splitter!!! ::-) Just need to get that one by the wife :(

    Scols, that saying is hilarious...."Only a rich man can afford cheap tools"...i love it...
  15. fabsroman

    fabsroman Minister of Fire

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    Yeah, I already had access to a hydraulic splitter before I bought my saws. I think the hydraulic splitter would be the most important part of all this since an entry level one is much more expensive than an entry level chainsaw. I cannot imagine splitting all this wood by hand.
    Hills Hoard likes this.
  16. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Have you ever heard the old saw? Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without. If you already have the tools that will do the job there is no reason to be looking to buy new, economically speaking. Yes, buying good gear makes sense but not until it is needed.
    Scols, Thistle and Hills Hoard like this.
  17. jlightning

    jlightning Member

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    I also believe in buying the best tools that I can afford. Some of my hobbies started out w/ average tools then were replaced w/ more expensive tools. I almost always regret buying cheap tools these days and if the cheaper tools are replaced w/ high end tools then I wasted money on the cheap ones. Once in a while I am tempted to purchase something w/ questionable quality if the online reviews are good. PS...All-Clad pans are AWESOME! The only pans I won't ever have to replace and will be handed down to my kids some day!
  18. Adkjake

    Adkjake Member

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    Kind of a roll of the dice type thing I guess. I have a Poulan Pro, bought at Lowe's 4 years ago for $125. Starts on first or second pull every time, runs well, cuts well. I also have a Husqvarna of similar cc and same bar length, $220 at TSP 3 years ago, doesn't start quite as easily, but starts OK, cuts a bit better, a little more power. They both get about the same amount of time cutting, so the real test will be, how are they doing 5 years from now
  19. 343amc

    343amc Feeling the Heat

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    For limbing and small stuff I have a el cheapo Poulan Wood Shark with a 14" bar. I bought that about 8 years back when Menards had a 18% off whatever you can cram in a plastic bin sale after Christmas. After the discount it was somewhere around $80. For that price I couldn't pass it up. That saw has never let me down. All I've done to it is clean the air filter and replace the chain.

    My main "go-to saw" is a Stihl MS-290. No complaints about that either, and I know that saw will probably last as long as I feel like cutting, which is the reason I bought it. It was a bit to heavy (and overkill) to use for smaller stuff, which is why I picked up the cheap Poulan.

    For me it depends on what the application is. For impact sockets that I use once or twice a year, the Harbor Freight ones do just fine. For ratchets, screwdrivers, or anything else that could result in a skinned knuckle or what not, then its something quality.
  20. OldLumberKid

    OldLumberKid Feeling the Heat

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    Love the fact that I have a Stihl dealer 5 minutes away and that they take care of warranty issues, and odd things that came up, so far, no charge. I'm an OK bike mechanic for an editor, but saws are still new territory for me. my bike doesn't have a carburettor ... but wait...

    [​IMG] 2013-01-13_stihlbike.jpg
  21. Thistle

    Thistle Minister of Fire

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    Bought my Poulan Super 380 new in March 2000 from local saw/OPE dealer. 3.8 cubic inch,62cc,13500RPMs. 12.5lbs dry weight.Was built in mid-late '90's,the last of their true 'farm/ranch' saws with chrome plated cylinder,dual thin piston rings for more RPM's/power & all magnesium crankcase for durability.Will pull a 24" B/C with authority,but I wanted it with a 20" cause that fits inside the case much better.Poulan no longer makes any saws bigger than 50cc or with all mag cases.

    $355 out the door,comparable saw today would be around $600+

    After 100+ cords,all kinds of abuse in all weather conditions it still starts 2-3 pulls cold,1 pull warm.Have NEVER adjusted the carb either,whatever they did at the dealer when assembling it obviously worked.All I've done to it besides regular maintenance & cleaning after use over the years is replaced the spark plug once,3 new air filters,new clutch/8tooth rim sprocket May 2011 & finally replaced original bar last September.

    Main saw that does 80% of my cutting.Still going strong.I have no complaints.
  22. OldLumberKid

    OldLumberKid Feeling the Heat

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    I guess I kinda like my saw cos I keep on trying find wood to feed it ;) and jobs for it to do.

    As for the size of saw. Yes, you're right 40+cc and 18" bar is a bit of a slog in a big piece of wood, but as this saw beds in, I'm more amazed at it's thirst for cutting. It must be fun to use or I wouldn't keep bringing it logs to have it's way with. I don't cut bigger than I can carry, so 18" is about as big is I'll scrounge.

    In retrospect I might have gone with a MS 290 for just a little more dough, then I could have had an excuse to get a small saw too ;) but the good thing about a 45cc is it's light enough for most anything, and if it's in the van it's big enough to be a 1-saw do-all for a h/o scrounger. But let's face it who "wants" just one saw? [Needs is a completely different story ... I read someplace everybody needs a backup saw, so that's just for starters, I guess heh heh. ]

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  23. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    My Wife found mine in the garage about a week after I bought it :)

    She said "When did we get a splitter?"

    I said "We've had that for awhile"

    She said "We didn't buy a splitter. You bought a splitter and didn't tell me!!" :(

    It's a purchase I have never regretted. Certain tools demand more money. Some not so much. But something I use often, I will buy quality. (In the case of chainsaws, it's quality and QUANTITY! ;))
    gmule, Hills Hoard and OldLumberKid like this.
  24. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    Yeah I went the "beg for forgiveness route" too Dex. I took my P/T job "play" pney and bought the splitter. Brought it home, sat through the storm of verbal thunder. First time I fired it up, she was right there wanting to run it. After about 5 minutes I think I was forgiven. ==c
  25. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    No surprise that there are six MS290 owners in this thread. ;) ;lol

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