When is the best place for a maker to buy tools? RIGHT NOW. Black Friday means deals, discounts, coupons, “special buys,” and plenty of bargains.
I have spent the better part of a decade writing about tools on ToolGuyd, my tool news and reviews blog. I’ve reviewed tools for Make:, both here on the blog and in the magazine, and worked behind the scenes on the print magazine’s ToolBox section for nearly two years (V40 to V51).
Over at ToolGuyd, I put together a lot of deal lists, buying guides, and deal alerts, after spending more time than I’d like to admit scrutinizing over this season’s offerings.
Following are shortcuts to that coverage, with some tips and recommendations mixed in.
Black Friday Ads
Most sale pricing goes into effect starting Thanksgiving Day, online.
I picked the sales flyers clean:
These links (and some of the images are clickable, too) will take you back to long ToolGuyd holiday season buying guides. I’ve mixed in some advice I hope you find helpful.
If you’re looking for a new cordless drill, $100 is the magic number. If you can bump your budget to $100, you can choose between a 12V-class drill and impact driver combo or an 18V-class drill kit with 1 or 2 batteries.
If you can’t quite budget that much, you might want to look at Ryobi and Porter Cable, focusing on their $70-90 offerings. Lowes’ Kobalt brand will have a $119 drill and impact driver combo. It only comes with (1) battery, but you can buy another for as little as $10, which is crazy.
If you want more than just a drill, there are some great deals on 18V cordless combo kits. The Ridgid 18V brushless combo kit looks especially good, in regard to both form and function, and it’ll be $299 at Home Depot.
There will be cordless combo kits featured as “deals of the day” throughout the holiday season. With those kits, and some Black Friday specials, you get a lot of bang for the buck, but you have to look closely at what you get.
Some “special buys” come with entry-level drills, which is okay if have a good drill and don’t need another one, or you want greatest bang for the buck. In this roundup, I tried to focus on the least compromising combos.
There are 2 types of miter saw deals: regular models that are discounted, and “special buys” designed from the start to sell at “deal” prices. Both offer very good bang for the buck.
There are deals on 7-1/4″ miter saws, 10″ miter saws, 12″ miter saws, and even some cordless miter saws.
12″ saws give you the greatest cutting capacity. 10″ saws can be more manageable, and blades can be more economically priced. Smaller saws, such as 7-1/4″, are best when you need portability, a small footprint, or you simply don’t need much cutting capacity.
A non-sliding single bevel 10″ miter saw will be a good choice for many Makers. A sliding 12″ dual-bevel saw should be all you’ll ever need, but it will likely take up much more benchtop space.
Think about your needs and wants, make a list of your top 2 choices, and then look at the deals. Let yourself be dazzled about how good a deal is, and you might end up with a saw that doesn’t perfectly suit your needs.
Single-bevel vs. dual-bevel? That has to do with whether the saw can tilt in one direction, or two. A single-bevel saw can make all the same cuts (there could be some exceptions), but you’ll have to reposition your workpiece.
(Don’t confuse bevel with miter. Turn your head left and right. That’s the miter direction. Tilt your head left. That’s the bevel angle adjustment. Left and right? That’s dual-bevel.)
Some miter saws lack hold-down clamps.
Some years I’m asked more about miter saw deals, other years it’s table saws. This year, it’s table saws.
There are lots of things to look at when choosing a portable table saw. If you can head out to a store, try out the fence system, at the least. Loosen it, and move it back and forth before tightening it. Personally, I love Dewalt’s rack and pinion fences best of all.
Ridgid is usually a good power tool brand. Surprisingly, I haven’t used any of their table saws, but if I could advise my younger self on table saws, I’d say that Ridgid would be the least expensive option I should consider. They’ll have a $199 special at Home Depot this year, a new special buy that pairs a similar saw as previous years’ deals, with a new stand.
If you can budget $300, Hitachi’s saw gives you a lot, while several Dewalt offerings give you better quality and a better fence but less features. If you can budget higher, you probably already know which saw you want to buy.
There is so much variability when it comes to holiday season drill bit and screwdriver bit kits that I don’t even want to go near that discussion this year. But, let’s talk about hole saws for a moment.
Lowes has a Lenox hole saw deal on sale, and a couple of stores have good deals on Milwaukee and Diablo hole saw sets.
Why a hole saw? Drill bits don’t get this large, and even for the smaller sizes, a hole saw might give you an easier time than a large spade bit. Plus, hole saws can cut a range of materials, and not just wood. You can’t exactly use a spade bit on sheet metal.
If you don’t find the special combo kit deals or “special buy” deals appealing, you can build your own custom combo at Home Depot. Buy a small combo, and take your pick of 1 free tool. Buy a more premium or larger combo, take your pick of 2 free bonus tools.
Some of Home Depot’s Pro deals are over, but others can still be found in stores or online. This promo was aimed at more demanding tool users, but some of the offerings have near universal appeal.
You don’t have to be a pro user to take a peek or buy any of the deals.
KC Tool is holding a 20% coupon savings event, code KCT20. Free shipping on $50+ orders.
You can find deals and special buys on entry-level hand tools at any big box home improvement store. That’s not what you’ll find here. KC Tools specializes in German-made hand tools, carrying brand such as Wera, Felo, and Knipex.
You should do a quick price comparison search on some of your wishlist items, but some tools will have lower-than-anywhere-else prices.
PB Swiss Tools are exquisite hand tools that will cost you a pretty penny. Their ball end hex keys are amazing.
Bonus — Maker Store Deals
Pololu, a robotics and electronics shop, is having a sale on a range of products. This year’s a little different, with different “Doorbusters” every day, and a 15% discount that works on their active Pololu-branded products.
Adafruit has not announced their Black Friday promo yet, but they have a very appealing “buy more get more freebies” promo going on right now. I have yet to find an Adafruit-made product that I didn’t like.
For orders of $99 or more – a free Adafruit Perma-proto half-size breadboard
For orders of $149 or more – a free Adafruit Trinket M0
For orders of $200 or more – free UPS ground shipping (*Continental USA only)
For orders of $249 or more – a free Adafruit Gemma M0
Servocity has posted a Cyber Monday sneak peek. They’ve been my go-to for deals on motion components, such as motors and servos. Their Actobotics mechanical prototyping system is strong and versatile, and with more components, attachments, and accessories than any other system I’ve come across.
Inventables is offering $100 off X-Carve, 0% APR, and free shipping worldwide on orders through Monday.