June 29, 2008

Domestic Policy

Filed under: life,toys — mhoye @ 9:20 am

I’ve just spent an absurd amount of money on a vacuum, but with a little bit of luck it will be the last time I’ll need to do that for the next fifteen or twenty years. The crappy Dirt Devil thing we bought two years ago finally decided to die, at the end of a long road of sucking a bit more by sucking in a bit less every time we tried to use it. I suppose this cruel paradox finally filled its motor with fine particles irony, causing it to seize with angst, or something. Or, less anthropormorphically, it just wasn’t particularly well-designed. Which has convinced my wife that the practice I follow for buying tools should now be extended to most other areas of the house, I think, so good for that, I guess.

The idea is pretty straightforward, and seems to work well for me:

  1. Buy a tool only when you have a specific thing you need to do with that tool.
  2. When you do, buy the cheapest thing you can find that will finish the job.
  3. Run it into the ground. When you have to replace it, replace it with the best one you can afford.

There’s no way that this is an original idea, but my googles do nothing, so let’s pretend that I’ve stumbled across some previously unknown nugget of wisdom and magnanimously decided to share it with you. The idea of extending this practice from tools to “every device in the house” certainly appeals.

The only thing worth mentioning here are that the “will finish the job” caveat is important. I avoid “Jobmate” and “Workforce” crap made out of pig iron, sheet metal and cheap plastic whenever possible, and so should you; I’m just not confident that they won’t fall apart in my hands before I make it to done. (Names may vary regionally, but you know exactly what I’m talking about.) And after you’ve run a decent entry-level tool into the ground you’ll have a much better idea what your real needs are; what “best” means will be that much clearer.

Canadian Tire sees a lot of love from me in that second step. They’re not the best in the world, but their Mastercraft line are by far the best tools that entry-level-money can buy. At that price point (plus their long warranties, plus their odd habit of selling tools at a 75% discount as a loss leader now and then) nothing else on the market even comes close. Crappy Tire gets a lot of flack and rightly so – clean up your stores, Canadian Tire people! Grimy and claustrophobic is not a winning strategy! – but if you’re looking for that one thing to do that one thing they’re the place to start, no question.


  1. In defense of Crappy Tire, their new stores are definitely not grimy and claustrophobic. Huge, garishly lit, and nigh-on-impossible to find anything in, yes, but not claustrophobic by any stretch. (Their older stores, however, are exactly that, like they just kept adding shelves without asking their commercial guy to have a look at the plan.)

    Comment by Corey — June 29, 2008 @ 11:42 am

  2. Yeah, the situation in the older stores (which tend to be the ones with actual neighborhoods around them, instead of vast parking lots) is pretty grim.

    Comment by mhoye — June 29, 2008 @ 2:52 pm

  3. If you say that about Canadian Tire, then I don’t think you’ve been to an old Home Hardware lately.

    Comment by Quotation — June 29, 2008 @ 9:18 pm

  4. I have, and Jeebus, but it doesn’t change my core argument.

    Comment by mhoye — June 29, 2008 @ 11:00 pm

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