As I was pulling some stuff out of the dryer, I noticed the clothes were actually dry. When it was new, it sometimes took several full cycles to fully dry a load of clothes, but half a year later the clothes are dry before the cycle is over. I started wondering, if a machine like my dryer has a break in-period, then what about my power tools?
How does the performance of a power tool change over time? Is it a steady decline as soon as you un-box it, or does it start to operate more efficiently as you use it — until parts start to wear out? It’s probably not as simple as that because there are many competing processes; the blades in machines like table and miter saws start dulling right away, decreasing performance, but the motor may increase in performance after a break-in period. Further complicating matters, as you use the tool you become more comfortable with its operation, which also may make it seem more efficient.
There are many mechanisms by which a tool could get better as it’s used more. For instance if you have a power tool with a brush motor it can take a while before the brushes wear enough to seat properly. Rough edges soften, plastic and rubber grips start to conform to your hand over time, and new stiff mechanisms get smoother over time, hopefully without becoming sloppy.
Have you ever noticed whether your tools seem to work better as they age? Do you go through any break-in rituals with new power tools? Let us know in comments.