I am very curious to know where you guys buy your equipment. All I have around me are big box stores. No specialty shops. I am looking for a good dust collector and a bigger table saw. I have built my own dust collection system but need another for the extension of my shop.
My local area is what I use to describe a woodworkers desert. There are plenty of woodworkers here but we have no meaningful access to tool manufacturers of large equipment and the hand tool selections are pretty much lower end in every way. A very challenging situation when you need things such as 15 or 20" planers or a sanding machine. I do have some access to tool companies on-line but the overall quality is just not worth investing my hard earned shop money into them in a few cases and bringing a higher end machine in is cost prohibitive. LOL poor Colin just had to endure my venting of frustrations on this topic about a sanding machine just yesterday.
As far as hand tools are concerned, I purchase 99% of them online. Lee Valley, Busy Bee Tools, Stock Room Supply, Elite Tools, Jessom Tools and Incra Tools are just some of them that come to mind. I am very selective on where I decide to purchase items balanced between Quality, price and what will get the job done in the end. I will never own a set of $400.00 chisels. A $100.00 set with three or four more important sizes of chisels, made from the same steel with the same RC hardness standard and features such as through tang and hard wood handles, still
slice through the hardest wood like butter. All of that to say look around and spend the time to research several sources to get the blend of the best quality you need for the right price. I will take the $300.00 I saved on chisels and buy more wood that I want.
Do not forget to go to yard sales, tool swaps and online resources such as Kijiji and this bit of effort will pay off. I recently paid $5.00 a chisel for eighteen Lee Valley chisels saving me hundreds of dollars. Many were doubles of what I already own but they were gratefully received by a young man just starting out in woodworking. That alone was worth every penny.
Another thing that works well too, at least for finding used tools, is to enter, for example "used table saw" ... in quotes, into Google and watch what comes back. Then try entering the same info ... "used table saw" "what ever your town or closes city is" also in quotes.
There is a veritable TON of used equipment on the market, yes, some is not so good, but lots of is in great shape and cheap. The trick is you need to be patient, and use the advanced search features of Google.
Some people don't like to purchased used equipment but sometimes purchasing new equipment can be equally risky. No matter what you are buying, new or used, make sure you know what you are buying, and what price range it should fit into.
Knowledge is power, and if you have to negotiate a price, you will have the knowledge to do that.
Woodworkers desert is a great way to describe my area too. I am in southwest Virginia and as far as I know there are only box stores within 100 miles. What are some of the mid range brands that are quality products in you guys opinion?