Where I Buy Tools:
- Classic Hand Tools - Great tools at a fair price, with excellent service and a personal touch
- Axminster Tools & Machinery - Good range of tools, with excellent service
- Rutlands - Good range of tools, with excellent service
- ToolStation - Convenient, and great prices
- Screwfix - Convenient, large range, and not bad prices
- eBay - Some great bargains occasionally, and a good place to sell off unwanted tools
- Trade fairs - Beware! Set a budget before you go - all those glistening tools are a great temptation
- Tool dealers - I trawl the stalls at wood fairs. Sometimes the only option to get a specific tool. You have to haggle if you don't want to pay over the odds
- Toolnut - Online, and local to me. I've met the owner, Paul, and can highly recommend dealing with him
- Workshop Heaven - Good range of tools, with excellent service
Cheap tools:If your definition of cheap is great value for money, then you can get that from all the above, if you're a savvy shopper. Look out for regular discounts at the online stores - anything from 10 - 50% off is not unusual, but be sure you actually need what's on offer! On auction sites, like eBay, watch a few items sell first, to get an idea of what price you should be paying, before bidding on anything.
An alternative definition would be low cost, with the inevitable lower 'value'. This might be two virtually identical tools, one sold under a well respected brand, the other not. You might spend a quarter of the price for a tool that performs just as well.
More often though, a low cost tool will not be made of the same materials, and not be finished to the same standard. Plastic handles on a plane might not affect it's performance, but a ductile iron body will resist rust and breakage more than a lower cost cast iron one. The backs of low cost chisels might not be ground flat, and you may need to invest an hour of fettling to put that right.
If you buy low cost tools, expect to put in some time if you want them to perform closer to more expensive ones.
If you are committed to woodworking, then pay what you can afford, so you can spend more time working wood, rather than working metal.