Manual Tools vs. Automatic Tools

There is absolutely no shortcoming of tools and appliances. From dishwasher to power washers, and from power drills to paintbrushes, if you have a job to do, you can find a tool for it.

But, when looking for a new tool, no matter the type, you have one major choice before you start comparing specific models.

Should you get a manual tool or an automatic tool?

The Case for Manual Tools

Manual tools are still a very popular option for both light users and heavy users like professional contractors. They have their own unique pros and cons.

Most manual tools and appliances are much cheaper than their automatic counterparts. For example:

A manually powered coffee grinder and pour-over coffee maker is much cheaper than buying a Keurig and k-cups.

A paintbrush and paint pan is much cheaper than a paint gun.

A mass-produced log splitting axe is much cheaper than a gas-powered log splitting machine.

In almost all circumstances, as long as you aren’t opting for high quality handmade products, a manual tool with cost less than an automatic tool.

Aside from the price, manual tools have fewer moving parts. That means there’s a lot less that can break. It also tends to keep maintenance cheaper.

The major drawback for manual tools is that they are usually much slower at getting jobs done. A nail gun is much faster than a hammer for example.

The Case for Automatic Tools

Automatic tools are very popular, and for good reason. They make many people’s lives much easier.

Probably the biggest benefit to using an automatic tool over its manual counterpart is speed. From homemakers to those in commercial construction, speed matters.

For example, how many people do you know that still wash their clothes with a washing board and not with a washing machine? And, you will rarely find cement being mixed by hand nowadays.

The biggest drawback of automatic tools is one of the biggest benefits you get from manual tools, and that is the price. Automatically tools can be extremely costly.

However, when evaluating the true cost of an automatic tool, you should take more than its sticker price into consideration. If the time saved over the life of a tools use outweighs the initial extra expense, it could end up being a much better value than a manual tool.

Or to put it another way, a contractor paying employees an hourly rate may get a job done in half the time using an automatic tool than they would if everyone were using manual tools. What he or she loses on the cost of the tool, they make up for in the cost of labor.

The Winner

There’s no real clear-cut winner. It very much depends on the situation. For casual users, a manual tool will probably be the best value. For heavy users automatic tools usually tend to be a better long-term value despite the higher initial out-of-pocket expense.

As long as you get the right tool for the job, you can’t really go wrong with either selection.

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