Professional power-tools can cost substantially more than DIY power-tools. Why is there a price difference? Should you buy professional power-tools when transitioning from a hobby to a business?
Commercial grade power-tools have a longer life expectancy due to their superior design and build quality. We explain why paying more for a professional makes business sense and may protect you in the event of a workplace accident. Using a DIY tool in a commercial environment will invalidate the manufacturers warranty.
If you plan on turning your metalworking or woodworking hobby into a business it makes sense to buy professional-grade power-tools. This article runs through the reasons why it might be the best move even if they cost more.
What type of power-tools are we talking about?
As a DIY person, hobbyist or maker, you may work from a shed or garage and have workshop full of power-tools or gardening equipment such as:
- bench drill
- rivet gun
- nail gun
- plasma cutter
- bench grinders and linisher
- angle grinder
- hand drill
- air compressor
- lathes or milling machines
- lawn mower
- pole saw
- rotating blades
There will usually be a commercial or professional power-tool option for each type of tool. This is the case whether they are powered by rechargeable batteries, electrical power leads or petrol engines.
Think back to when you bought your tools. Was there was a more expensive option that you ignored? Sometimes it can be difficult to see why there is a price difference between power tools. Often, to the untrained eye, the only obvious difference is the colour used by the Manufacturer to differentiate their range.
As a hobbyist, buying a DIY Power-Tool probably made sense. After all, you were probably working on one project at a time and purely for enjoyment. So it may have been hard to justify the extra money required to move up to the “pro” range.
Why are DIY power-tools cheaper than professional range?
A DIY tool that spends most of its’ life sitting idle in a workshop may last many years. As such, it’s easy to be misled into believing it is more robust than it actually is.
In reality, if you add up the total number of times that a DIY tool was used, you might be surprised. It might not be many at all, even over many years. It could also be that each use was for a relatively easy and short task, in a fairly clean, dust-free atmosphere.
Professional-grade tools, however, are often used for multiple hours every day. They are built and warranted to perform in commercial conditions and environments.
In a nutshell, this is why Professional Tools are more expensive than their DIY equivalents.
How is the design of commercial grade power-tool different?
The design process for any tool will centre on things like:
- how many times it will be used in its life
- what the average “run-time” will be during each use
- the conditions it will be used under
During the design of a professional power tool, the metrics used will be far higher. The estimated frequency and duration of each use, for instance, will be higher than for a DIY equivalent.
In a factory or professional work shop durability is crucial to productivity.
Additionally, allowances may be made for the atmosphere or environment the tool will operate in. In some workshops or worksites the atmosphere may be very dusty, which could cause electric motors to overheat.
Consideration may even be given to how many times an electrical lead might be wound up. The capacity and charge rate of Lithium-Ion batteries also needs to match the expected use.
All of these factors, and more, are taken into account when designing a Tool. The result is stronger and more robust components. This, in turn, allows the Manufacturer to provide longer warranty periods than they do for a DIY tool.
Why is a professional-grade Power-Tool stronger?
For a commercial power-tool to last during its warranty period, a more robust build is required.
Many of the differences between Pro-Tools and their DIY equivalent are hidden. Others are a bit more obvious.
- metal bodies or housings rather than plastic
- larger bearings for rotating shafts
- the use of bearings rather than bushes
- brushless electric motors
- larger air filters
- larger oil filters
- heavy duty electrical switches
- heavy duty electrical contacts and cables
- sealed switches
- heavy duty Amp hour (Ah) batteries and charger
The professional series may also come in power tool combo kits with faster charging stations or storage systems.
Why professional power-tool consumable parts last longer?
The range of consumable items for Pro power tools will also include more expensive options. Consumable items, manufactured using better quality steel, alloy or abrasives will usually last longer than those made from cheaper materials.
The materials used may be upgraded for commercial or industrial use in consumable items such as:
- drill bits
- router heads
- saw blades
- grinding discs
- sanding belts and papers
- mower blades
5 reasons to choose commercial power-tools in your business.
1 Better productivity means a lower labour cost.
Tools that breakdown mean more time is wasted on a job and incurring higher labour costs. It can also mean you miss deadlines and annoy your customers. The cost of extra labour hours can dwarf the cost of upgrading to a professional tool.
2 Value for Money and Less Waste
Tools with longer life expectancy means better value for money and less environmental waste.
3 Customer expectation
When you change from a hobby to a business your customers expect a high quality finish. A sub-standard finish from a poor quality tool may mean an unhappy customer and a poor review.
4 Business expense
Although you pay more for the tool, your business may be able to claim the tool as an expense reducing its cost. Ask your accountant if you are not sure.
Using a DIY tool in a business is most probably not complying with the manufacturers instructions. Complying with the manufacturers instructions is often a pre-requirement of meeting any safety obligations. It may also be a requirement of your insurance.
Consistent and reliable performance is paramount when using a powertool for business purposes.
When your income depends upon the reliability of your tools, then your attitude to them will change. Price may no longer be the primary factor in your purchasing decisions. Productivity, quality of job and customer service are simply more important when running a business.
Tools that break or give a poor finish will become a business liability.
Efficiency and productivity are crucial if jobs are to be completed on time and on budget. Poor quality tools can lead to higher labour costs. In business, the last thing you want is rising costs.
Importantly, using a DIY tool for commercial purposes may invalidate the tool manufacturers’ warranty.
Using commercial or professional-grade power-tools makes perfect sense once your hobby becomes a business enterprise.
Work place health and safety laws usually require you to use powertools as directed by the manufacturer. Using a DIY-grade powertool in a commercial environment may mean you are not complying with manufacturers guidelines. There may also be a business insurance implications in the event of a claim.
When you transition from a hobby to business, your powertools may be assessed as a business expense. If that is the case, the Tools’ original purchase price may be tax deductible. In some cases, depreciation may also apply. Ask your Accountant for more information about how this relates to your particular circumstances.
Buying safe and reliable, professional powertools simply makes good business sense.
Which are the leading brands of powertools?
You can check some leading brands and their respective websites here:
Here are some workshop changes you might need as a business
As a hobbyist, you might work on one project at a time. To scale your business up, however, you may need to review things like:
- the type of tools you need to make you more productive.
- upgrading to commercial-grade tools.
- a bigger workshop area to cope with multiple jobs.
- decluttering and re-organising the workshop floor to increase productivity and safety.
- the amount of lighting.
- fume or dust extraction.
- creating a fire prevention and escape plan.
- an organised storage area for materials.
- is the electrical power supply in your workshop big enough?
- your choice of material suppliers and their service agreement.
- any new products you might offer.
How do you convert your hobby into a business?
There is a lot to think about. But, if you get it right, turning your passion into a business can be incredibly rewarding. What a way to make a living! You may wonder is there a difference between a business owner and an employee attitude.
To give yourself a head start, have a read of the e-book we’ve written on this very subject. It takes you through the many of the steps you’ll need to consider before you start.
Building your past-time into a business will require some systems and disciplines.
You may need to improve some systems to speed up things like:
- a website and marketing plan to attract customers
- design software
- cost estimating
- price quoting
- purchasing materials
- warranty terms and conditions
- customer order acknowledgement
- workshop job instructions
- stock management
- work health and safety
- quality control and quality assurance
- any license or certificates you may need to operate your business
- insurances for your workshop, products and people.
Understanding The Reality of Business Ownership
The Should I Own A Business Podcast explores the reality of business ownership in plain language.
Here are some other resources you might find helpful:
Our free Entrepreneur Personality Quiz highlights areas you might need to prepare more before starting a business.
Check out our Small Business Stories and our Slightly Familiar Friends for examples of business challenges so you get a feel for what it is like.