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How Long Do Tools Last? #166795 07/28/07 08:17 PM
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,316
renosteinke Offline OP
Cat Servant
I am starting this thread in the business section, as I wish to discuss the expense of maintaining a truck full of tools.

To completely replace the tools (including ladders, etc) on my truck would easily cost $5,000. Maybe even $10,000. Every one of those tools has a limited life. Things wear out, break, or are damaged. It's just a matter of time.

For example, to replace just one tool kit - my kit for shrink tubing - would cost about $190 .... and only $60 of that is in the tubing inventory!

So, my question is this: How much do you figure in your 'overhead' each year for tooling? Do you expect this $10,000 cost to be spread over one year (everything replaced), or three years, or five.... ?

I am speaking here of your overhead allowance - not whatever tax schedule your accountant uses.

Business, Office, Estimating, Legal:
Re: How Long Do Tools Last? [Re: renosteinke] #166798 07/28/07 08:48 PM
Joined: Jul 2007
Posts: 265
wire_twister Offline
I really had not put a definite time on the life of my tools, but if they gave up after only one year I would not buy that brand again. I hope to see at least two years from the smaller tools longer with the bigger and more expensive tools. I do take into account that normal wear and tear might require a little attention, a cord, a switch, or a drill chuck, even a set of brushes, as long as the tool can be kept up and running.


Life is tough, Life is tougher when you are stupid
Re: How Long Do Tools Last? [Re: wire_twister] #166799 07/28/07 10:10 PM
Joined: Jul 2007
Posts: 34
teester Offline
We come up with a tool expense based on the past years spending for tools. Not only do they wear out but they get left on the job, stolen etc. I think to rely on your history to project the future is a fair assumption and safe bet. Adding guys will add to your projection accordingly.

RE tools life. I've got a porter cable "Tiger Saw" reciprocating saw which I bought in 1996, the year I got my license. I've still got it. My first DeWalt cordless got left on a job after 3 or 4 years use and was gone when I went to retreive it.

Hope this helps...

Re: How Long Do Tools Last? [Re: teester] #166852 07/30/07 01:59 PM
Joined: Nov 2006
Posts: 348
ITO Offline
My guess is you are a one man operation, so you will take much better care of your tools and watch them more closely than my labor will so maybe the 1% I use would be too high for you, or maybe with the volume you do 1% may not even touch what you should have set aside for this kind of stuff. It’s really hard to say.

I have a 40 year old wire reeling machine (Reel-O-Matic), and Rigid-535 threaders that are almost 20 years old, but I cant make a drill motor or hammer drill last more than 4 years. My cordless drills have about a 1-year life, and my band saws seem to last about 5 years and usually get stolen before they are done. None of my hydraulic benders seem to last more than 5 years without major work, but my 555s are pushing 15+ years now.

101° Rx = + /_\
Re: How Long Do Tools Last? [Re: ITO] #166855 07/30/07 02:33 PM
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,316
renosteinke Offline OP
Cat Servant
Please note that "tools" are also things like extension cords, wire caddys, work lights, ladders, fish tapes.drill bits, hole saws, and even boards you use for crawling in attics.

Some of these items are usually 'company provided.' Others are subject to a fair amount of wear, and even abuse.

You never buy a tool just once and are done ... if nothing else, there's always the NEXT tool to buy.

Since this is the 'business' forum, the cost of maintaining this stuff is part of your cost of doing business. That means the expense is either built into your rate - or comes out of your pocket.

Re: How Long Do Tools Last? [Re: renosteinke] #166870 07/30/07 09:35 PM
Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,379
Trumpy Offline
How Long Do Tools Last?

Not nearly as long as they used to John.

Good topic though,
I buy all my own tools, even though I work for a PoCo.
Now my job requires me to keep in good condition a lot of specialised tools that your average electrician wouldn't usually need.
But having said that, I've got all the things that you guys would usually use in a day on the tools at work, I am after all an electrician first and foremost.
Buying even things these days like holesaws and drills requires a lot of care, I bought a new set of good quality holesaws last year some time and already they are starting to get blunt.
One other thing I've had a really bad run with is Klein pliers and side-cutters, they don't seem to have the same quality as they used to for some strange reason.
I went to cut a 16mm2 copper wire with my sidey's about 6 weeks ago and the jaws broke, I could not believe what I was seeing, I've used Klein tools since I've been in the trade
and considering that they aren't exactly sold at "Bargain Basement" prices, I was rather peeved.
The same with the pliers, the gripping faces on the pliers don't seem to last as long these days, I am after all only twisting copper with them.
But one tool that really annoyed me about 3 months ago was one of my hydraulic crimping tools, it uses a Porta-pak to bring the crimp head up to pressure to crimp the lug and half way through the crimp (which was in a rather awkward position for a start), decided it would blow a hose, shooting hot oil all over a newly painted wall. mad

Oddly enough John,
At another company where I used to work a few years back, there was a guy there that used to buy his tools from the "bargain bin" at the local big-box store, I'm talking $2 pairs of pliers, a $7 multimeter grin, 50c screwdrivers, dodgiest rubbish you could ever buy, he used to go through tonnes of these tools, but he liked it that way.
Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

Re: How Long Do Tools Last? [Re: Trumpy] #166871 07/30/07 10:06 PM
Joined: Jul 2007
Posts: 34
teester Offline
Nah, I've averaged 4-8 guys or so over the last five or six years. I envision having maybe 15-20 in the future. I've got no desire to have a mega company. I've not got a big ego to stroke. Just want to make a good living and sleep well at night knowing I've not screwed anybody, customers or help.

However if I like what I see at that point and manage that ok then who knows. Maybe you have three or four hundred. If your company is that big you likely don't even know half the guys names, don't know who your company is hiring or how many benders and saws your company has. Not that it's important to know. You just need people you can trust to hire for you with your guidlines. If you can't keep quaility people then you're constantly hiring. The more turnover you have the more likely you are to get bad help.

As far as hand and cordless tools go, my guys buy their own. I buy the benders, band saws, threaders & hydraulic & hand KO sets etc. Replace their worn bits and hole saws etc. If their cordless drill dies etc. I have it repaired or replace it. If it gets stolen, they replace it. It's part of their required tools. I don't get any flak about it. On the other hand, many of the tools I bought previously to put on the trucks has walked off but I don't do that now except for large hammer drills etc.


Last edited by teester; 07/30/07 10:14 PM. Reason: Re: ITO not Trumpy
Re: How Long Do Tools Last? [Re: Trumpy] #166872 07/30/07 10:13 PM
Joined: Jul 2007
Posts: 34
teester Offline
Trumpy: My guys say that Starrett recip. saw blades last longer than Lenox or Milwaukee. We've also found that Bosch hammer drill bits last much longer than the supply house brands do. Stuff like that I try and keep on the shelf and buy it in bulk off ebay. I've saved a small fortune buying stuff there!

Re: How Long Do Tools Last? [Re: teester] #166874 07/30/07 10:42 PM
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,316
renosteinke Offline OP
Cat Servant
Don't forget to include the expense of testing / replacing PPE. Like your gloves and blankets. This has to be done, even if the package is never opened....

Re: How Long Do Tools Last? [Re: renosteinke] #166876 07/31/07 12:39 AM
Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,379
Trumpy Offline
Blankets John??, are you sleeping on the job?. grin
(I know what you mean).
At work we are required to hand in all of our gloves, outers, blankets and clips for Live work every 6 months, for Inspection by the testing crew at work, hence we have 2 sets of this gear.
Testing this gear can get expensive, if you use this sort of gear, it should be charged to the customer in a part charge in maintaining the equipment.
No doubt someone will pop up here and say that it is unfair that they should carry the cost of us maintaining our gear.
Think of it as insurance against a chink in your armour with OSHA, an accident on your site could cost a lot more.

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