It doesn't make sense to pay a lot of money for a tool you may only use once or twice a year or for one specific project, leaving it to sit in your garage the remainder of the time. Sometimes you're better off renting. You get a high-quality tool that'll help you ace a project and maybe even save you time.
You can now buy a tile saw for as little as $50 at home centers, so it might seem like a good deal. But the cheap saws have limited capabilities. They're designed for ceramic and porcelain tiles, so they're not a good choice for cutting marble or thick tiles. The small deck and adjustable arm also have trouble accommodating large tiles. "Cutting 16- or 22-inch tiles at a diagonal may not work on small saws," says Paul Phelon, co-owner of Timp Rental Center, which has stores in the Provo, Utah, area.
Phelon rents commercial tile saws that retail for about $1200. The high-quality saws handle virtually any tile without chipping the edges, come with a stand, and typically rent for about $50 per day. The sliding deck lets you set the tile in place, then push the deck and tile through the blade as one unit rather than pushing just the tile. This gives you more control for precision cuts.
If you're still dead set on buying a tile saw, talk to rental centers, which typically sell used tools and equipment. "The rental store industry constantly rotates its inventory to keep up with the new tools," he says.
Instead of plopping down $25 or more for a manual, clamshell post-hole digger, rent a power auger the next time you're putting in a fence or building a deck. You can rent a one- or two-person power auger, or even a Bobcat skid-steer with a hole-digging accessory to dig all the holes you need in a half-day or so.
Phelon says rental centers can recommend an auger type based on your soil; sometimes a one-person power auger isn't powerful enough for hard soils. "It all comes down to how rocky or hard the ground is you want to dig through," he says. Just don't forget to have your utilities marked before picking up the digger.
(See more: 10 things you should always buy used)
Every once in a while when you're boring a 5-inch hole in your foundation to run a dryer vent or knocking old mortar out of a masonry wall for tuckpointing, you need more power than your ordinary drill can provide. "You can buy masonry bits, but if you don't have the hammer action, you can drill and drill and push and push and not go anywhere," Phelon says. "You have to have that hammer action, and in 30 seconds you're done."
You need a rotary hammer, but they're expensive, with starting prices of a couple hundred bucks for a quality tool. So rent one instead, for about $35 for 4 hours.
Unless you're a gardening fanatic who's constantly turning up the soil, you probably need to till only once or twice a year. The rest of the time, the tiller is gobbling up room in your garage. "If you only use something for 2 hours a year, it takes a long time to get your investment back," Phelon says. He rents $5000 hydraulic rear tillers for $90 to $100 per day.