Woodworking Tool Reviews

Woodworking Tool Reviews: My Review of the Reviews


I recently purchased a new drill press as an upgrade in my woodworking shop.  To make this purchase, I consulted a number of online product reviews.  I found it interesting that different makes and models rated so differently across the reviews I read.  How then does one use the reviews and recommendations?  This is important as the question of “which woodworking tool(s) is best for my shop” is one of the most often asked questions by beginning woodworkers.

Power tools are the basis of any woodworking project and shop.  Every woodworker wants to get the best tool for their situation and bucks.  We all value the opinions of others, especially those that have actually used the product we’re thinking of buying.  So, are these reviews relevant?  How do I use them to winnow out the good from the chaff?

Bandsaw Test Review

Bandsaw Test Review

You should know that when you search for reviews, there are different types.  You will find reviews that are called “tool guides”, others that are specific tool reviews, some that compare different makes and models of a tool (often with comparative tests of machines), and those that are found in forums done by actual woodworkers that have used the tools.   So, let’s take a look at some of these different types of reviews and see what information we can glean from them to help in our tool selection.

Tool Guide Type Review

Tool Guide Type Review

Nowadays, just about every major company selling woodworking tools and machines have product reviews.  Amazon, HomeDepot, Lowes and the other big box stores all do for your buying experience.  I like these as a starting point.  Especially if I have somewhat of an idea in my head of what I’m looking for.  Most of these are from customers who actually bought the tool.  Amazon puts those reviews of customers who purchased through them at the top.  I have noticed though, many reviewers are biased towards their personal preferences and small picky things that clouded their experience with the product.

You need to take reviews with a grain of salt and where the reviewer is coming from.  Remember, the angriest buyers are the loudest and so you need to see through their anger to come up with your best opinions…  For instance, I saw a bandsaw review on Amazon where the reviewer was clouded by the fact that the color of the machine didn’t look right in his shop.  And another upset because the shipping company dented a panel on his new thickness planer.  Had nothing to do with the tool and how it operates, just a shipping problem that had him bad mouthing the machine.

Amazon Review

Amazon Tool Review

Amazon does a comparison chart for many high dollar items.  When you select a specific tool, they will put a compare section in the product page.  The comparison is price and similarity, not necessarily quality.  On lower priced items these are usually missing and you have the familiar Others that Viewed this Item also Viewed:   These at least give you and idea of similar products.

All of this can aid you in making your specific selection.  But, in the end, it’s your situation and pocketbook that will determine your purchase.  Like I said, take these with a grain of salt.  Many can

Amazon Tablesaw Comparison of Brands

Amazon Tablesaw Comparison of Brands

Customers Who Viewed Item also Viewed:

Customers Who Viewed Item also Viewed:

be found that the only problem was that the user tried the product out of the box without following the tune-up procedure and then can’t figure out why it doesn’t work optimally as it should.

Woodworking industry magazines and online authoritative sites  are recognized as places to find solid reviews of the best and newest tools.  Many regard these as the end-all and final word to the tools you should have in your shop.  I was amazed when a friend of mine, who had purchased a nice bandsaw for his shop that seemed to work out just fine, told me that he had made a mistake with his purchase.  A new review in a respected magazine had pooh-poohed his new tool in favor of a different (and more expensive) brand. What was working just fine for him, now had to go in favor of the new brand and the fact that this magazine only recommended “the best”.   Fine Woodworking, Popular Woodworking and Wood are magazines that often have not only reviews, but will to comparison test reviews on products and tools.

In my opinion,  woodworking forums are some of the best places to find pertinent product reviews and recommendations on specific items.  Some of these will describe problems with the tool or things that just aren’t liked about the product.  These also discuss what can be done to fix, solve or make the tool work better or be used in a better fashion.  And, these folks use the tools – daily.

Tool Reviews in Woodworking Forums

Tool Reviews in Woodworking Forums

There is one other type of tool review you see online.  This is what I call the specific product review.  I find that these are common to woodworkers’ websites where they review tools they have personally used or found in the pages of review websites.  Although specific in the product that is being reviewed, there is a difference with where they’re found.

I usually don’t put much faith in those review websites.  If you read the reviews, you’ll find that most are more product descriptions than actual reviews.  It’s the kind of stuff you find on the manufacturer’s website.  Plus, a “Best Buy” or “Industry’s Recommended” or whatever to say that this is the purchase you want to make… These review sites are intended for you to be impressed by this brand or that one so you will click through their link and buy.  Doing this, gives the site owner a commission for your purchase.   These sites don’t offer that much in opinions and thoughts on the product and you will find, the most recommended is usually the most expensive as the site owner makes more money.

Woodworkers websites often contain specific product reviews.  These are generally personal reviews where the tool in question has been used by the reviewer and is currently in use in their woodshop.  I value these the most.  I’ve even seen recommendations on making the tool actually work better for a given purpose or how to tune that specific tool to work better out of the box.   So, there are many places to find tool and product reviews.  The question still remains: “How valuable and reliable are they for your tool buying choices?”  I guess that the answer depends on you and what you think of the source.  For me, they’re just guides… Each person has their own preferences and one tool may feed into those more than another.  Thus, all reviews are biased to a certain degree

I like to know the honest opinions of someone who has used the tool, not just tried it.  This kind of opinion I find best found on woodworkers’ sites that I have a high opinion of.  I will be offering some tool reviews on this site.  Believe me, you will only find tools that are used by me and in my shop.  My choice for tool purchases stems much from the size of my tiny shop and the best precision I can get from a machine for its price.

Specific Woodworking Tool Review

Specific Woodworking Tool Review

. So, there are many places to find tool and product reviews.  The question still remains: “How valuable and reliable are they for your tool buying choices?”  I guess that the answer depends on you and what you think of the source.  For me, they’re just guides… Each person has their own preferences and one tool may feed into those more than another.  Thus, all reviews are biased to a certain degree I like to know the honest opinions of someone who has used the tool, not just tried it.  This kind of opinion I find best found on woodworkers’ sites that I have a high opinion of.  I will be offering some tool reviews on this site.  Believe me, you will only find tools that are used by me and in my shop.  My choice for tool purchases stems much from the size of my tiny shop and the best precision I can get from a machine for its p

I like to know the honest opinions of someone who has used the tool, not just tried it.  This kind of opinion I find best found on woodworkers’ sites that I have a high opinion of.  I will be offering some tool reviews on this site.  Believe me, you will only find tools that are used by me and in my shop.  My choice for tool purchases stems much from the size of my tiny shop and the best precision I can get from a machine for its price.

As to using tool reviews to guide your purchases, look to the motive behind the review.  Is it to help you and guide you in your decision, or is the review put online simply to make money for the author.

So do you use tool reviews to help make up your mind when buying your woodworking tools?  Let me know… are they useful?

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