Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Is there cheap / high productivity way to measure quality of hand tools?

  1. Apr 8, 2012 #1
    is there "cheap" / high productivity way to measure quality of hand tools?

    I see online a common complaint that widely available tools have become low quality due to offshore outsourcing, cost cutting, corrupt/lying mislabeling of alloys used etc. Conversely, tools of "proven" brands that have not compromised quality have high price tags since people are afraid of buying cheap "lemon" and so are willing to overpay because they don't have access to any proof of quality other than brand.

    Anyway, so could the question "how good is particular tool" be answered using a standard, inexpensive laboratory measurement process? E.g. suppose I come out with a new brands of saw blades that (allegedly) are comparable to existing brands but I sell them 20% cheaper. Up front, the customers would have no good reason to believe that this "cave_cat" brand is not a shoddy good. So, it would be nice if an independent laboratory (probably ran by the distributor, let's say Home Depot or a dedicated online retailer) could routinely measure some percentage of items of this brand and publicize the quality certification for various batches that they buy from OEM and resell to the customer.

    What procedures now exist for quality verification of finished tool products (as opposed to quality controls in the factory)? How complex/expensive are they?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 8, 2012 #2
    Re: is there "cheap" / high productivity way to measure quality of hand tools?

    I think the best testing comes from continuous use over an extended period of time.Ask the professionals who use the tools and I guess that most of them will recommend the proven brands.
    For new and cheaper brands that come onto the market simulated long term wear testing can be carried out.The design and building of the test rigs can be expensive.
     
  4. Apr 8, 2012 #3
    Re: is there "cheap" / high productivity way to measure quality of hand tools?

    are these simulated test rigs hypothetical (hence a potential new product to be built) or do they actually exist, are used, and are available for purchase / study / building new and improved ones?

    If we don't have any dedicated high quality test rig, can some sort of conclusions be drawn about a tool via procedures executed using regular equipment in a mechanical workshop? E.g. would something along the lines of "photograph the knife, hold it against a sharpener for 10 minutes then photograph it again and compare the diff to what happens for trusted brand items" provide meaningful comparison data?
     
  5. Apr 8, 2012 #4
    Re: is there "cheap" / high productivity way to measure quality of hand tools?

    I have no idea if any such rigs exist but I guess that established tool makers may have them or at least have some testing procedures.I see no reason why such rigs can't be designed and built.
    I think that different tools need to go through different testing procedures.Your sharpening test looks good.Another good test would be to subject the tool/blade to continual flexing.
     
  6. Apr 8, 2012 #5
    Re: is there "cheap" / high productivity way to measure quality of hand tools?

    First the materials: There are relatively cheap methods to test the metallurgy. Optically, you can test the grain structure. And there are some chemical methods as well.

    Then the mechanics: This would have to be a jig for testing each tool against itself. Measure the force it takes to destroy to pliers for example. Or the force to crack the wood off a hammer. You could do this cheaply with a jig and a bottle jack.
     
  7. Apr 8, 2012 #6
    Re: is there "cheap" / high productivity way to measure quality of hand tools?

    I think the biggest difficulty would be in testing how the tools stand up to the wear and tear they would be subjected to when in normal use.
     
  8. Apr 8, 2012 #7
    Re: is there "cheap" / high productivity way to measure quality of hand tools?

    I am a plumbing, heating and cooling contractor and the two tests that we use are simple.

    The first is looking for the country of origin. If it is made anywhere but Europe or the US it is a no go. Asian tools are a universal standard for cheap outsourcing.

    The second is the weight test. If I pickup two pair of channellocks for instance and one pair feels heavier than the other, I go with the heavier pair.

    Also, we try to stick with standard name brands. Rigid, Channellock, Crescent, S&K, Klein, etc....

    Good Luck
     
  9. Apr 9, 2012 #8
    Re: is there "cheap" / high productivity way to measure quality of hand tools?

    huntoon, what is the mechanics of applying the metallurgy tests that you mention, whether optical or chemical? Do you analyze filings from the object's surface, then file away a few milimeters and analyze filings from deep inside? Or is the optical test working with the entire "macro" object as opposed to small pieces/filings of it?
     
  10. Apr 9, 2012 #9
    Re: is there "cheap" / high productivity way to measure quality of hand tools?

    How to test is fairly easy...a torque wrench is enough for some tests, an electric or hydraulic force tester can be used in other tests. You just need a fixture. A lot of knives are sold just cutting cans in half; if you target the TV audiance. You could do the testing yourself, with properly calibrated equipment and jigs, or send it to a lab. I'm not sure what, if any, tool verification programs exist. I've never seen a hand tool sold that way. Even the power tools probably don't list what test method was used to achieve their numbers (motor horsepower, torque, etc. can be a bit objective instead of actual at times...they've been busted before). Unless you sell direct to consumers, you're going to have to sell the execs...who frequently have very little knowledge of tools. It needs to be a "really big show"...to borrow a phrase, to get them to buy. Verification after the factory is probably non-existant in most cases. You can put a wrench on a torque sensor and see where it slips off, but most sellers don't have anything more than that for the general public. And that's at the professional level, not the DIY or home owner level.

    It sounds like you're thinking of selling some tools, so here are some thoughts...audiance dependent info... "home owners" buy the cheapest tools they find because that's all they need. They use them infrequently and gently. "DIYers" are your target audiance and will compare tools. You'll have to match the 'lifetime warranty', and probably have to be exponentially better to pull them from their favorite brands. You'll need major advertising to break into this market, or a major distribution pipe...such as a big box store. Looks and feel really count here. A really strong wrench that hurts your hands isn't worth a darn. "Professional" users expect a lot from their tools and reputation is big here. If you're shooting for professionals that have a home-base, such as mechanics, you have to remember that they don't have the time or desire to chase tools. There is no money in that. A call to the roaming tool-truck brings the replacement to them. That's one reason they buy those high dollar tools. (I speak from experience here) And those high dollar tools are frequently well made, feel good, and have good grip on the fastener.

    Most DIY and professionals are aware that forgings are better than castings, but you may have to educate them that a black socket is not always an impact socket. If your tools are required to say "made in (any where but the u.s.a.)", you will lose a lot of market. It's a well deserved hand-tool reputation. Power tools are a different story there.

    Good luck with your quest! Hope that helps a bit. Look up Instron or MTS for some force equipmment.
     
  11. Apr 9, 2012 #10
    Re: is there "cheap" / high productivity way to measure quality of hand tools?

    Personally if you want to carry something simple round with you I would go for a hardness test with a portable intenter.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: Is there cheap / high productivity way to measure quality of hand tools?
  1. Finding the quality (Replies: 7)

Loading...