Recently, a viewer wrote saying he’d read conflicting reviews on Amazon about a tool I’d recommended in a web article. He was asking how I could vouch for a product that some people clearly didn't like. I thought it was a great question.
How Can Folks Have Such Contradictory Opinions?
The tool in question was the Grabit screw extractor. One-third of the reviews were negative, yet two-thirds were positive. Some users praised the tool’s ability to remove things like 2 ½” deck screws while others said it was useless at the very same task. How could folks have such opposite experiences using the same device?
Users Are Not Created Equal.
A tool that satisfies a weekend do-it-yourselfer may prove a real disappointment to the demanding needs of a pro. The opposite can be true, too. Sometimes a novice can misuse a tool from lack of experience or failure to read the directions - can any of us relate to that? In the case of the Grabit, it’s possible the tool is being used at too high a drill speed or too much (or too little) pressure is being exerted. It’s hard to say.
Quality Can Vary Over Time.
Early versions of a specialty tool can be virtually handmade in a semi-production machine shop. As volumes increase and pressure to achieve more competitive pricing grows, materials and manufacturing processes can change and, sometimes, so can quality.
It Can Be Tough to Judge a Tool Without Knowing the Circumstances
In the case of the screw extractor there are many variables that could affect its ability to perform as expected: the size of the screw, metal composition, oxidation, age and the surrounding material. Old, dry wood, for example, can grip a screw tighter than boa constrictor squeezing a warthog.
How Do I Decide?
Although I’m interested in other’s opinions, my recommendation is not based solely on them. Before I advocate a tool or any other product, I use it myself. If it performs satisfactorily for me, I often share my experience with viewers and readers. It may not be scientific, but the advice is always the product of hands-on experience.