Buying Quality Tools

When I moved into my house some 12 years ago, I was just a pen pusher. But my passion for musky and pike fishing had always had me dream of making my own fishing lures. Then, I bought a lathe. No one had warned me that a lathe should be the last tool one buys, as all other tools contribute to it. Then came the bandsaw, the grinder, the drill press etc.

I always prefer to buy quality tools rather than cheap ones as I have made the mistake of going cheap once or twice. General soon became my confidence brand, and most of my tools were made by that company. However, recently, I had to replace a few parts on my lathe and was told that it was next to impossible to get them. From the reliable Canadian brand that General used to be, it became increasingly international in make and in management, and then it disappeared almost completely from America.

I was lucky enough to have a good retailer who had the connections to order parts from China. $300 worth of parts for a $600 midi lathe. When the parts arrived, I realized that the main board I had ordered did not correspond to mine. Company’s answer? No longer available. I will have to live with some makeshift repair work with a speed control outside of the main board, along with not having speed indicated. And the tweaking and adaptation will boost the bill to $400.

My lathe being the perfect size for my workshop, I guess I will keep it for a few more years. But this experience has me wonder. Can we trust in a good company’s service for years? Now that General is no longer keen on customer support, and now that most of my large power tools are General, am I stuck with equipment that cannot be repaired? Where do I go next?

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