To invest or not to invest: Are quality tools worth the price tag?

To invest or not to invest: Are quality tools worth the price tag?

Tools can be expensive. And buying them weirdly addictive. So when you’re looking for a new screwdriver but, instead, end up with 17 toolboxes, 146 attachments, 4 mechanical pencils and 11 sets of wrenches, it’s normal for remortgaging your home to become the natural next step.

Now, whilst remortgaging your home to fund your tool investment might not be the best option, the act of investing in better tools might be, especially with the right tool investment strategy.

So, building on Shakespeare's infamous unwritten question, "To invest or not to invest", let's look at the answer.

£10 here. £10,000 there…

First, let’s address the elephant in the room - and the most common obstacle to tool investment: the hefty price tags that accompany them. Because we’ve all been there. We’ve all awkwardly rubbed our eyes and hoped that comma is actually a decimal point... only to find it’s not.

Generally speaking, price and quality do correlate. But not always. Manufacturing, material compositions, and tolerances have come a long way (especially since Shakespeare), so the cost (and hence price) of quality tools don't have to break the bank anymore. With the right tool investment strategy – which we’ll look at soon - you can gradually increase your investment and boost your returns in a way that suits you.

Take. Take. Take. Give.

Time and time again tools take your money – seemingly always with a cheeky smirk on their face. So what do they give back? Or, in more financial-friendly terms, how might you see a return on your investment? That’s a great question.

Because whilst the resale value of your tools can increase, generally speaking, they won’t. At least, not if you’re using them all hammer and tongs.

Instead, the returns are in yourself and your ability to do your job or hobby because having a durable tool selection is worth its weight in gold. In fact, there are nine reasons we think you might consider investing in your tools. Let's see what they are, shall we?

(Note: For you tool collectors, keep reading. We've got something for you later on.)


9 reasons you should consider investing in quality tools

Reason 1: You become more efficient

Quality tools are designed to make tasks easier and more efficient. Obvious, right? You don’t want to be cranking your arm round and relentlessly tiring out your hand when you’re assembling IKEA furniture. No. You want to pick a more suitable screwdriver so you can build it efficiently.

Such tools are also meant to be more durable, which minimises breakages (and sometimes long repair times) which can slow you down. So, investing in quality, long-lasting tools saves you time and effort and streamlines your workflows. Who knows, building Christmas furniture might become a present in itself.


Reason 2: You minimise tool requirements

On a similar note, investing in quality tools can actually reduce the requirement for other tools. For example, you might be able to swap out a combination square and a marking knife for a quality marking gauge. When you don’t have to wrestle multiple bits of kit, you can use one with greater comfort and accuracy. So no more go-go gadget arm. Just straight-human-armed precision.


Reason 3: You produce better work

*Runs down the road with tool-like figures chasing*… You set the pace. And your tools should be able to keep up. They shouldn’t limit your abilities. So higher quality tools can translate into higher quality work because you can now meet those tighter tolerances and deliver on those more demanding drawings. And, if you’re using your tools professionally (as in getting paid to), your end product is what builds your reputation.


Reason 4: You expand your production

With quality tools, you’re also able to produce more. Not in the sense of volume (which still applies) but more so in the breadth of work. You can now create work you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to. This brings an ROI in and of itself. Because the “Oh, I can do that”s become true… rather than your ambitious hopes and dreams guiding you to a Google search to hire someone who actually can. *Looks around sheepishly*


Reason 5: You gain peace of mind

Depending on the application, quality tools can bring you some much-needed peace of mind, because quality tools, are reliable tools. For example, if you’re torquing up something safety-critical and others need to do their bits after, you know (and in some cases can prove*) you torqued up correctly.

Another example could be a quality screwdriver that reassures you that you can reverse out that rusted screw and you won’t be parting ways with some nasty words as you catch your knuckles when the handle cracks.

*Some high-end torque wrenches can now track and store torque readings.


Reason 6: You see a financial return on investment (ROI)

High-quality, long-lasting tools can retain their value, especially if they’re well-maintained. (*MetMo Driver and Grip 3-day spa retreats coming soon…*). But, as we mentioned earlier, seeing a resale ROI from the tool is unlikely. So, usually, the return on investment doesn’t come from the tool but from what you produce with it. And from a business POV, this could mean higher output and/or higher quality output. Both generate more revenue. Cha-ching!


Reason 7: You save money in the long run

As we were researching for this article, we came across a line that sums this reason up nicely, “He [grandfather] told me when I was young that only rich people can afford cheap tools”. So, whilst quality tools may have a higher upfront cost, they often last longer, meaning you don’t have to replace them as much. And these incremental wins build your ROI. So it makes a lot of sense to choose tools with longevity.

Or think of it this way, the quality of your tool should be remembered long after you've forgotten the price. And when you buy so many tools you can’t remember what you bought, that’s particularly useful too.


Reason 8: You have less maintenance to do

So, yes, you’ll likely need to replace quality tools less frequently. You’ll also need to do less maintenance too. Or, if you do need to complete regular maintenance, often that maintenance is easier to complete. That way, your tool won't schedule its maintenance for you.



Reason 9: You enjoy using them more

Most of us have used low-quality tools at some point, and we know what that feels like. 

But when you get your hands on a quality piece of kit... well... the hand-tool connection, the warm fuzzy feelings, the blood rush, the way your hairs slightly bend as they stand on end, the shivers... speak for themselves... right?... because high-quality tools just fit your hand better and weigh less. And that's totally what we mean. 

But let’s also not forget the genuine satisfaction of passing your tools on to your children or grandchildren. The stories of “Dad’s toolbox” are cherished by many - and live on for generations on end. Whilst enjoyment can’t be measured, it certainly matters. And it's worth every penny in our eyes.

How to invest in quality tools

Okay, so you know why you might consider investing in quality, long-lasting tools. Now, let’s look at how. Here are some tool investment strategies.

Start with the tools you use most

If you’re using some tools more than others, naturally, you’re more likely to “use them up” first. So, to save disruption, repeat purchases and a pain in the backside, you might consider investing in long-lasting versions. Or, if you’re starting out, go for the “fundamentals” (e.g. quality hammers, tape measures, rulers, screwdrivers, micrometres, compasses, or even mechanical pencils) because they'll cover you well – and not in bruises either.

Buy for the job

Tough jobs demand tough tools. If you know some applications will test your tools, it would make sense to invest here. That way, you have peace of mind that you can actually complete the job and you won’t be picking up broken bits of plastic and metal when you assemble your IKEA furniture with your Christmas cracker screwdrivers - for example.

Look for adaptations

Some quality tools can be adapted to cater for wider applications, so you might be able to combine multiple tools into one. You'll then absorb any repairs and repeat purchases if they break. For example, some combination squares come with interchangeable rules (vs multiple different-sized ones). Or, as we mentioned earlier, you could replace a combination square and marking knife with a marking gauge. Looking a little closer to home, the MetMo Grip combines some 21st-century essentials into one tool too.

One brand or many?

There’s a regular discussion about using one brand vs multiple, especially when some brands are inconsistent across their range. And to be frank, there are arguments for both.

Generally, if you need to use multiple tools together, using the same brand will be easier than mixing brands. Many design in features that make co-use smoother. Of course, this will depend on your area of tooling, though. Consistently buying from one brand could open the door for future savings through loyalty schemes too.

Besides, we all know if you look up “Sunday Morning Bliss” in the dictionary, you’ll just find glowing images of perfectly complete sets of tools.

On the other hand, buying tools from different brands means you can use the genuine best tool for the job rather than compromising for the sake of “integration” and fuzzy feelings. 

Invest as you progress

As we mentioned earlier, your tools shouldn’t hamper your abilities. They should let you flourish and produce work you’re proud to put your name to. But as your skills develop, your eyes attune to finer imperfections and inaccuracies - the inaccuracies only quality tools can help you fix.


The criteria for quality tool selection

Price and quality are not always aligned. As tool manufacturing improves and the market grows, you can get quality tools without having to sacrifice a kidney. Granted, it’ll vary from application to application, but what do quality tools generally look like?

Material evaluation

First up, material evaluation. Materials drastically influence tool performance. For example, the hardness of a blade will change its edge retention and stability. Or, carbon steel’s lack of toughness means such screwdriver shafts can warp/break under less torque. Hopefully, you already know how you’ll use your tools and what kind of requirements it needs to meet. So, when you look at the material spec, you’ll be able to gauge whether it’s sufficient – and not just look like a load of gibberish… But if you’re not sure, you can compare it to other specs to see which is better.


Construction critique

Sloppy craftsmanship and manufacturing can leave visible defects. Look for smooth edges, precise machining and sturdy construction. Any imperfections might cause you to fight with the tool when you use it. For example, a combination square with a stamped rule could have a rough, ragged edge that the head will routinely ‘bump along’. It’d be like running your hand over a textured wall and trying to draw a straight line. Not really ideal, is it? Inspire Woodcraft looks at rough edged stamped rules in the video below.


Mo’ moving parts, mo’ problems. Do those parts move like they should? Are they smooth? Does it feel like a quality tool to you? And are you going to enjoy using it? You can also consider any (optional) variable controls or optional ‘enhancements’ that could improve its use.


Repairs and maintenance

Many long-lasting tools will naturally show some signs of degradation as you use them. But some parts of tools degrade faster than others. And in the parts that do, are those consumables easy to replace? Are they easy to get hold of?

Read reviews

Check what others say. If they’ve battle-tested high-quality tools and shared their findings, use their results to gauge whether the tool will exceed your needs. Our CubeClub forum is a great place to discuss tool testing.

Consider the brand’s reputation

Another form of assurance might come from the brand’s reputation. Are they commonly known for their quality tools? Do they offer warranties to back them up? Do they put their money where their mouth is? The act of comparing brands for their quality will pay dividends in the end.


Assessing tool performance

To ensure you maintain your durable tool selection and your quality tools stay high quality, you might occasionally need to check their performance. 

But you can put your stethoscope away for this because some markers are easy to spot (e.g. they don’t work like they used to) - and then some markers are not. And a stethoscope won’t help you with either. So when you go out of your way to check your tool's performance, ask yourself…

  • Does the tool look OK?
  • Is it performing like it used to?
  • Are you still demanding the same of it? (i.e. are you working it harder? Or is it getting weaker?)
  • Do parts wobble that didn’t before?
  • Can you test it? E.g. are power outputs what they were? Are the cuts as accurate as before? Is the cutting speed the same? The vibration levels? Noise? (etc, etc)

If the tool needs repairing, catching it early usually makes life easier - and more cost-effective. So, even just for the sake of ROI, you’ll be better off.


Additional tool investment considerations

#1: Lifetime warranty tools

Often, quality tool manufacturers put their money where their mouth is. If they have complete trust in their tool, they’ll prove it to you with a long warranty.

#2: Look for second-hand/visually defected

Some people change tools like they change shoes. And their ‘misery’ is your fortune. So keep an eye out for the opportunity to pick up quality tools on second-hand sites like eBay and Gumtree.

Additionally, some manufacturers sell tools with defects for less money. Sometimes, they’re purely visual. Sometimes, they might require a bit of work. Of course, the price you pay should reflect the work/risk you take. And always keep in mind that this may change guarantees and warranties.

#3: How do you plan to use your tool?

Are you investing to use your tools or to collect them? Because if you don’t plan to use them intensely, you can invest in tools that hold on to old technologies - and help keep them alive.

That’s part of the reason why we created the MetMo Driver and Pocket Driver - to recreate the Baumann-Weltrekord ratchet screwdriver and ‘hybridise’ the old hand braces and modern ratchet screwdrivers. It’s also why we gave the humble adjustable wrench a 21st-century facelift.

 The MetMo Driver

A compact, high-torque driver that couples as a hand brace, ratchet screwdriver and fidget toy. Get up to (and over) 70Nm of torque and stimulate your senses with every passing click.

Learn more about the MetMo Driver.


The MetMo Pocket Driver

A smaller, more compact version of the MetMo Driver that bridges the gap between hex keys, T-drivers, microdrivers and the humble screwdriver. It’s perfect for your everyday tasks. It builds well and puts a smile on your fingertips’ face. 

Learn more about the MetMo Pocket Driver.


The MetMo Grip 

We engineered in a mix of useful 21st-century features. From a standard 1/4 inch bit holder to a handy box opener, the MetMo Grip is ready to tackle your daily tasks with ease - and stay fun to use.

Learn more about the MetMo Grip.


Some tips for selecting and collecting the right tools

Now, most of this article has been about investing in tools to use. But let’s give a little helping hand to those looking to pick the right tool - and collect them.

A small disclaimer: of course, we can’t predict what’s going to become collectable in the future. We’d already be millionaires if we did. So, this is far from bullet-list financial advice. Just some food for thought.

Value, meet Scarcity

Inherently, tools become valuable when they’re hard to find. And we don’t just mean in your shed or under the sink. Scarcity is a big driver in value. So consider keeping your eyes out for new variations of (or completely different) tool technology. Because, by trade, there’s less of it (at least, now anyway). Keep an ear out for any limited manufacturing runs, too.

Change, meet Resistance

We, humans, don’t like change. New, different things scare us - even if they’re objectively better. So, whenever anything new meets a market, it’s usually met with resistance. And if that resistance is too strong, great technologies don’t stay about for long. This keeps some tools and technologies scarce.

Handmade, meet Unique

Whilst handmade tools often come in smaller batches, they’re also technically unique. And unique (literally) means there are none the same. This is scarcity to the highest degree. Handmade tools historically make for better collectables. So keep your eyes peeled.


Not all quality comes to an end

But unfortunately, this article does. So, are quality tools worth the investment? Generally, yes. They’re more efficient, allow for better work, require less maintenance and provide greater peace of mind in demanding applications. And you should now be familiar with some approaches to a tool investment strategy.

Sure, you can get by with lower-quality tools - and for some jobs that’s more than fine. But as you develop and attune to finer inaccuracies, you might feel like your work is suffering. And investing in quality tools can help you. They won’t make you better. But they won’t get in the way either.

And ultimately, if they let you create work you’re proud to put your name to, then that’s all that matters.

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