I have plenty of crappy tools. Many of them came from Harbor Freight or similar shops, but generally I have a bunch of sub-standard tools.

I also have some good tools.

As time is passing I’m getting less and less patient with the bad tools. I don’t want to be thinking of how the tools might be failing and instead want to think about what it is I’m actually trying to work on.

So many times the the difference between a good tool and a crap tool isn’t the level of precision that it exhibits, but how much trust you have in the tool to do its job the first time around.

For instance, I have a lot of faith in my Fluke 87-5 meter or the equivalent Keysight U1273AX (though mine still has the Agilent branding). I know when I use them that the reading I get from them will be correct. I know that my 3D printer (an Ultimaker 3) will have a tendency to work right the first time around with minimal tinkering. I know my Tektronix scope will display the right signal.

I was watching a video about cheap digital calipers compared to a real one. It’s a difference in price by about a factor of 10 from what I paid for mine… but something like a Mitutoyo or a Starrett I know will give the right result without having to worry about the tooling.

Does the cheap tools work?

Well, they do… but you always have to have your thinking cap on to make sure that they are working. Just because a number is shown doesn’t mean that it’s the right number.

It usually is.

But you aren’t as sure.