Monday, September 13, 2010

Tools are meant to be broken... again and again

Yesterday found me drilling 1/2" holes through 14 inches of oak. Of course this is definitely not your average drilling application, granted. But I've never seen such copious amounts of smoke emerge so quickly from a power tool without actual visible flames. Quite impressive, really.

First, let me say that if you're in the market to drill such holes, the first thing you need is a really loooong drill bitt. Harbor Freight has set of three of them really cheap, in 1/2", 5/8" and 3/4". Yes that's three-quarters of an inch in diameter and about 20 inches long. Yikes! And all that for about $20 bucks.

Next, DO NOT attempt to use your regular Ryobi corded hand drill. It'll bite through two or three holes, bogging down the whole way - but that third one will do you in and quite quickly too! Easy ways to tell your tools are bogging down and should be given a break, yet are frequently ignored: excessive slowing for prolonged periods of time, frequent stalls (where saw blades are in use), hacked up product lacking accuracy of any kind and excessive burn marks on your work. When the bitt comes out steaming like a done lobster, it is time to either slow down considerably or find a different tool.

So, having completely destroyed my first drill (and only corded drill in the shop, I might add) I set out to find a replacement. Harbor Freight is a fun place, as I've outlined in previous posts, and their tools are dirt cheap - and usually you get what you pay for. But I needed something considerable to knock out those holes, and besides, I decided to put their warranty to the test.

I purchased their heavy duty geared drill for less than $40 bucks, and when I got to the register, the cashier looked astounded that I accepted the "extended warranty". After making specifically sure it would apply if I broke the tool today, I left satisfied. Three more holes and that drill burned up too. I resolved to start wearing welding gloves while drilling. Back to the store I went, plopped the still smoking drill on the service counter, and went to claim another victim off the shelf. Same extended warranty applies.

Repeat that process in more or less the same way, and by the third time I went back for a replacement I was not only done - and given a new drill PLUS a $50 gift card to Harbor Freight for my trouble - but well satisfied that I had given the "extended warranty" a run for its money.

Never offer to replace anything without questions, retailers - at least not to someone like me.

Instead of the customary burned tool, broken part, builder's plate or license plate on the wall of shame, I drew three tombstones for the dead drills - so we don't lose them in our year-end damage assessment.

The Super Secret Project is coming along. Wednesday we will meet back at the wood shop to make a few last minute pieces. Thursday we will meet to assemble the whole mess, break it down and pack it for shipment. Monday you will have pictures, and some back story of the process.


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