I have been crunching through a couple of mag articles (which have been painfully distracting me from writing on my own site), and was thinking about costs of tools, and potentially how to minimise them, particularly when purchasing a tool that comes as part of a kit, or rather, where the same tool is included in one of 3 or 4 different kits.

Each kit comes with different selections of accessories, and as much as it is convenient to get 1001 consumables, which means you would hopefully always have the accessory or consumable for the job at hand, you have still paid for every one that you will never need or use.  A kit that includes the 5 most popular accessories can save you money, and you add to that as you need to.  One that provides 100s of accessories with questionable benefit to the customer is nothing more than a marketing ploy.

The other thing to check, is whether the consumables included in a kit are of the same quality as the ones you can buy separately.  Has the kit included the best version from their product range, or the cheapest?  Is the cheapest the one you’d buy if choosing it for yourself, or are you better off getting the tool without and separately purchasing the specific accessories you really need, and at the quality point you require? A number of companies would be prepared to negotiate a price if you put the base tool on the counter, along with the accessories you actually want rather than just grabbing the “TV Shopping” option: “but wait, there’s more! not only do you get this, but you get 1001 accessories, and this set of steak knives”)

Even a storage box has to be a consideration – how do you store your tools?  Do you keep them in their original container and is one which works with you, or do you throw the box away after a time, being more hassle than it was worth?  A good storage container is one where it is easy to put the tool away at the end of a job and keeps all the accessories and consumables together. A poor container results in a Tetris game every time, frustratingly complex as you try to remember just the right orientation of each and every part to be able to close the lid. If you don’t want to use the original storage container for whatever reason, consider not spending the money on it if there is an option.

I typically find myself throwing out any vacuum formed / blow moulded box as being more trouble, and space demanding than they are worth.  Whereas, any tool that comes in (or that can be fitted into) a Systainer tends to result in me being prepared to pay the extra. They are a uniform shape, can interconnect and stack to make for a decent storage solution.  I even have a few extra that I use for other tools and consumables, such as ROS paper, and my Kreg Pockethole paraphernalia.

You get what you pay for, just make sure you are paying for what you need!

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