Back in October, TikTok user @notmycarl posted a video entitled “How to get free tools from Home Depot,” in which they describe and seemingly demonstrate how to do just that. Basically, it involves bringing an old tool with a full lifetime warranty—from brands like Milwaukee, Husky, Channellock, or Crescent Tools—into a Home Depot without a receipt, and exchanging it for a brand-new tool of the same make and model.
While there’s no charge for the new tool, you do have to be in possession of an old tool to exchange. For this, the video’s creator suggests “look[ing] through your dad’s old toolbox,” and keeping an eye out for tools from the brands above at yard sales. This advice appears to be based on the assumption that new hand tools are preferable to older versions of the same models—even if they’re still working well. But is that actually the case? I asked a few home improvement experts for their thoughts on the subject.
Has the quality of hand tools improved over time?
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While the original TikTok video—which is now up to 5.3 million views—raises multiple issues worthy of discussion, my focus here will be on the quality of hand tools, and whether it has changed over the past few decades. I was brought up to believe that when it comes to hand tools, “they don’t make ’em like they used to,” and have a toolbox stocked mostly with inherited tools and estate sale finds—but would I actually be better off trading mine in for newer models?
According to Michael Branover, a home contractor and the founder of Branover Contractors Inc, it all depends on the brand and specific tool. “Evaluate the build quality, materials used, and any design enhancements in newer models,” he says. “In some cases, the latest tools might have changed the design or swapped for cheaper materials. Always research and compare reviews to ensure the new tools meet or exceed the standards set by their older counterparts.”
Along the same lines, Matthew Ferris, a master plumber, HVAC expert, and the founder of Ferris Plumbing, says that the question of whether today’s tools are as well-built as older ones doesn’t have a straightforward answer. “I’ve noticed it can go either way depending on the brand,” he says. “Some definitely utilize better materials now like stronger alloys, while others may cut corners versus decades past.”
Statement from Home Depot on their exchange policy
So, what’s the big-box home improvement retailer’s take on this so-called “hack” for getting free tools? In response to my questions on this use of the company’s exchange policy for Milwaukee or Husky tools—or any that have a full lifetime warranty—I received the following emailed statement from a Home Depot spokesperson:
The Husky Lifetime Warranty states: “If your Husky product ever fails, bring it back and we will replace it for free. This full warranty gives you specific rights, and you may also have other rights, which vary state to state.” For more information on Husky warranties, visit this link. Customers can check their local Home Depot store for additional details.
That’s the entirety of the statement, so you may want to contact your local store for information on exchanging tools from other brands still under warranty.