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Times are tight–about as tight as anyone can recall–so it's smart to look for ways to keep costs in line and your business moving ahead. If you're in construction, tools are an expense you can't avoid, but one place to find big savings is to buy reconditioned tools.

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We're not talking old, worn-out, used-up junk here. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that factory reconditioned products are a $300 million annual business in the United States, with reputable companies from Caterpillar to Milwaukee Electric to Amazon.com offering "second time around" equipment and backing it up with full warranties.

A quick Internet search turns up many Web sites offering virtually every type of remanufactured corded and cordless power tools. For example, Tool King (www.toolking.com) claims to be in business since 1978 and offers a "100% customer satisfaction guarantee." Another site, Reconditioned Sales Inc. (www.reconditionedsales.com), is the "exclusive authorized reconditioning center" for Hitachi power tools. Until 2007, Hitachi did the rebuilding and reselling in-house before subcontracting it out.

According to Amazon.com, "Reconditioned generally means that the tool has been returned to the manufacturer, who brings the tool back to like-new condition. Some tools may contain cosmetic blemishes." In other words, a used tool may look like everything else in your toolbox, but the remanufacturer has reworked the tool to the point where it is confident the tool will perform as well as a shiny new model.

How much can you save buying rebuilt tools? A sampling from several power tool resellers shows discounts that range from 25% to 75% of a tool's original list price. However, buyers should beware of the fine print in reseller guarantees, and check with specific manufacturers to ensure that resellers are offering actual factory reconditioned and warrantied products.