Are Machinery Reviews Looking at the Wrong Thing?
Issue: Issue 172
Posted Date: 4/24/2007
Are Machinery Reviews Looking at the Wrong Thing? from WoodCentral
"The typical machinery review will measure how well the machine is set up out of the box. I think that the more important thing is how well the machine stays set up once you start using it. Unfortunately, there seems to be very few long-term reviews of machinery to see how well they stay in alignment. It would be hard to do such reviews due to the time involved, but I think that magazines may be doing a disservice by emphasizing the initial setup in their reviews. Comments?" – Wilbur
Before we go on with this discussion thread, let me just mention that Woodworker's Journal actually did try to do this kind of review in our print magazine. We asked readers to submit their stories of their long-enduring tools to give us a basis to work from. Hardly anyone did, so the department quietly ceased to exist. – Editor
"Interesting thought. Your comments reminded me of Consumer Reports. Often with products, especially cars, they track longer term reliability issues. I know that's not exactly what you are asking about, but I would think that would be useful information. Lots of tools work fine out of the box (or initial setup) but how do they hold up over time? Reliability? Parts? Repair history? That might be a worthy study for a magazine or journal to look into and report on." – Tom
"Half the problem with machinery reviews is that, for the most part, they are done by writers, not machine builders. The good news is that some writers are decent machine people, and the bad news is that I don't know of many machine builders who can write, so don't expect change any time soon. The other half is that they mostly don't get to keep the machine long enough, or use it hard enough, to test the long-term stability. While long-term stability and ease of adjustment are more important than out of the box accuracy, that is not the expectation of most machine buyers. They want it perfect when they plug it in." – Ray
"I agree. Taking one example of a particular machine and rating how well it is set up out of box has always seemed silly to me. May as well rate how difficult it was to remove the anti-corrosion coating." – Dave
"I recall more than once in a tool review reading how difficult it was to remove the anti-rust coating. I agree that usage can reveal hidden problems, design flaws or inappropriate materials such as kind of weak alloy that is used where the adjustments are and it wears our prematurely; or a piece of plastic that gets brittle and cracks before it should. There may be many flaws that can only be exposed by usage and time." – Chico
One person offered a good solution for the problem. – Editor
"Use the power of the Internet and the members of this forum. Who better than the people that use it long term to tell us about it?" – Joe
The next two writers pointed out that there's a "Catch 22." – Editor.
"Interesting thread, thanks for starting it. One problem is that each year manufacturers tweak most of the machines, so knowing how well a five-year-old machine is holding up may not be much of a guide to what's in the BORG today. I hardly ever totally agree with the machine reviews, usually because they have some review criteria that don't really matter to me. As long as they explain what they did, I find the info worth reading, but forums like this one are where you get the real skinny." –Jesse
"I definitely agree that reviews often have a problem even though they try really hard. The best review would be one on how a machine performs over the years. However, once you read that review the machine would have been discontinued for a new model so you wouldn't be able to buy it. I was thinking that we should all do reviews of the equipment that we own and post it on WC somewhere, but that's what got me thinking about machine models being discontinued." – John