When buying a new power tool, some major tool brands usually come to mind first before others. Most people generally veer towards these brands, as they’re the major or most popular ones around.
It’s like iPhone and Samsung. People buy these phones more because they’re the major or most popular brands available for consumers. Most consumers either wants an iPhone or a Samsung smartphone.
Tool brands are also like that. People either want a Milwaukee tool, a Dewalt, a Makita and so on because they’re the major brands available.
In fact, some people favor just one brand, and nothing else. I’ve seen several folks that buy only Dewalt tools. Some buy only Makita or Metabo which used to be Hitachi.
The question is, how should you look at tool brands, and how should they affect how you choose tools for your craft?
Which ones should you trust and which ones should you stay away from?
Is it okay to stick to just one brand or choose from whatever one you find appealing when choosing a particular tool?
To help you decide, let’s learn about some of the major tool brands you’re going to come across in the market when shopping for a new power tool.
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Dewalt, no doubt is one of the most popular brands you’ll come across when choosing tools for your craft. They manufacture different types of power tools, PPE and hardware such as drills, thickness planers, circular saws, table saws, and so on.
The company was started in 1923 by Raymond E. Dewalt, who invented the Radial Arm Saw, and has since then grown to be a global tool brand. One that’s very popular among professional craftsmen and even simple DIYers.
Although it was bought by Black & Decker in 1960, it was never rebranded to Black & Decker. In fact, Black & Decker began rebranding their professional and high-end tools to Dewalt, making the Dewalt brand even stronger and more popular.
They make a lot of power tools both corded and battery powered. In fact, Dewalt has one of the best line of cordless tools, powered by their 20V/60V Max FLEXVOLT battery system which now powers all Dewalts cordless products. The FLEXVOLT system allows craftsmen to use the same battery to power different cordless products with different voltages.
For instance, a 20V Max tool can be powered with a 60V Max FLEXVOLT battery, because the battery will automatically switch and produce 20V instead of the 60V, immediately it’s plugged into the 20V power tool.
Founded in 1915, Makita is one of the oldest and most popular tool brands. They’re a Japanese company founded by Kabushiki Gaisha Makita.
Makita’s Headquarters is in Nagoy, Aichi, Japan, but they have factories all over the world in countries like United States, United Kingdom, China, Brazil, Romania, Mexico, Germany, Thailand and United Arab Emirates.
Although at first, they started as a company that sold and repaired electric motors and lighting equipment, they quickly progressed to making power tools in 1958 by the introduction of their first electric planer.
Today, Makita makes different categories of products such as power tools, cordless tools, OPE, and tool accessories such as batteries, chargers and blades. They also have drill and masonry products for cutting and drilling through concrete or stone.
Makita produces 3 different types of cordless tools system and batteries. They include the XGT system which comprise their 40V / 80 V Max line of cordless tools and batteries basically meant for carrying out the toughest jobs, with a battery that will outlast any of the other batteries.
The second type is the 18V / 36V line of cordless tools, which are the next set of cordless products after the 40V / 80V line. As for the 3rd type of Makita cordless products, it’s the 12V line which provides a compact and ergonomic solution for craftsmen to carry out tasks in cramped and tight spaces.
Apart from their corded and cordless products, Makita also produces some of the best Petrol-powered equipment such as chainsaws, power generators, leaf blowers, lawn mowers and so on.
The Craftsman tool brand was originally created by Sears in 1927, but it’s now owned by Stanley Black & Decker. Just like Dewalt, Craftsman was acquired by Stanley Black & Decker in March 2017, but was never rebranded to Black and Decker.
They produce lots of hand tools for mechanics like wrenches, screw drivers, ratchets and so on. Although most of the Craftsman products are sourced from different manufacturers following design specifications given to them, the Craftsman brand still remains one of the most trusted tool brand in the US.
Skil is a global tool brand with a wide array of tools available for craftsmen all over the world. Skil’s main focus is to satisfy the do-it-yourself consumer, producing tools that will allow everyday folks to carry out simple projects at home.
Skil however, also offers professional grade power tools for craftsmen under the name SKILSAW. So, whenever you go on Amazon or any other market place and search for their product, the once labeled Skil are for do-it-yourselfers while those labeled SKILSAW are professional grade products, which are usually much more expensive.
They have a lot of history in the power tool market being that they invented the first portable circular saw which was called Model 77. You may know it today as “the saw that build America”.
Today Skil produces different types of tools including circular saws, sanders, power drills, jig saws, table saws, reciprocating saws, sanders and so on. But the single product that placed them on the map was the Model 77 worm drive circular saw which is still being produced today with a design that has changed much.
Milwaukee is a city, but it’s also named after one of the best tool brands available for professional craftsmen today.
The Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation founded in 1924 is a subsidiary of Techtronic Industries, a Hong Kong based multinational power tool company that also owns brands like Ridgid and Ryobi.
Milwaukee produces different types of power tools till date which include circular saws, nailers, electric hammers, sanders, handheld power drills, grinders and so on.
One of their greatest contributions however is the introduction of the first reciprocating saw 1951, which was then called Sawzall.
Before Chang Type Industrial Co. Ltd. owned Delta Machinery, it has passed through the ownership of several other companies including Stanley Black & Decker.
However, one thing has always remained the same over the years. They’ve always focused on and produced some of the best woodworking tools. In fact, the power miter saw was invented when Delta Machinery was the power tool Division of Rockwell.
If you’re a woodworker looking for pro level woodworking tools to carry out your projects, then Delta Machinery is one of the companies with the best options you can go for.
Sawstop builds table saws with a special feature that stops the blade instantaneously from accidentally causing serious damage to a user’s hand if it comes in contact with it.
Table saws are very important pieces of machinery, but they’re also very dangerous as they can cause really serious damage if care and proper safety guidelines are not followed while operating it. This issue is what gave birth to the SawStop company.
Unlike the other brands mentioned in this article, SawStop specializes in building table saws for woodworking purposes. Table saws that are fitted with their automatic blade braking system that stops the blade from spinning and withdraws it under the table if a user’s hand or body comes in contact with it. All this happen in less than 5 milliseconds.
This is the technology SawStop is known for, a piece of tech that prevents you from losing your fingers when operating a table saw.
Some woodworkers don’t really fancy this kind of saw due to a number of reasons. The main reason is that the blade braking system can be set off by really wet or green lumber. So, you can’t really cut just about any type of lumber with it.
When the break is set off, the blade gets damaged beyond repair. The brake is also not reusable, which means extra expenses for buying a new blade and brake.
These are pretty good limitations and reasons not to own one. However, you can think of it this way. What is the cost of a new blade and brake compared to a machine that can ensure your hands and fingers stay intact in case things go south when operating the machine? That’s why people buy Sawstop.
When I hear Festool, the first thought that comes to my mind is expensive, high-end. But these are not just mediocre tools tagged with high prices. No, these are really high-quality, cutting-edge tools, top of the pile.
Festool produces some of the best products in the power tool market, such as miter saws, plunge-cut track saws, sanders routers and dust extractors.
They produce high precision tools with great dust collection / extraction capabilities. You’ll hardly find a Festool product with poor dust extraction / collection.
So, the next time you come across a Festool product in your local hardware store, you should know that behind all that price tag is a really good tool.
Festool is a German company and they’ve been around for quite some time, since 1925 and have subsidiaries in several countries including United States, United Kingdom, France, Canada and so on.
If you carry out simple DIY projects at home, Festool products are probably not the best options for you. On the other hand, if you’re a pro craftsman and you make cabinets, furniture and carry out other home remodeling projects, then Festool products are totally worth it.
The WEN power tool brand is one I’ve recommended time and again in my reviews, from their portable thickness planers to routers, sanders and scroll saws.
One thing I’ve noticed is that their tools are budget and DIY friendly. They’re really affordable, even though the quality is up there with the best. That means if you don’t have deep pockets to go for some of the high-end tools, you’ll likely find one from WEN with great quality but for a much better price.
They’ve been around since 1951 and they produce all kinds of tools such as chainsaws, nailers, sanders, planers, circular saws, grinders, reciprocating saws and so on.
Just like Festool, Bosch is a German engineering and technology company. Instead of just power tools however, Bosch have operation spread across four main sectors, which are mobility, consumer goods, industrial tech and energy / building technology.
The consumer goods sector is in charge of producing their power tools along with household appliances.
Bosch might not be a power tool only company, but they stand today as a company that produces some of the best ones available today. One of such tools is the Bosch glide meter saw which is one of the best miter saws I’ve seen.
How Should Tool Brands Affect Your Tool Choices?
Like I said earlier, there are do-it-yourselfers and even certain professional craftsmen that prefer to stick to just one particular brand without buying from another.
That in itself is not a bad approach, but it’s not a very good one as well, because the best of each set of tools are likely made by different brands.
For instance, most pros I’ve come across prefer SKILSAW circular saws for carrying out framing and construction projects.
SKILSAW might be the best brand for circular saws, but they don’t produce the best nailers or the best planers, or the best sanders.
Some brands produce better cordless products while other produce better air powered products. Relying on just one brand can result in you missing out on some really important tools from the other competing ones.
That is not to say you cannot have several tools from a particular brand. For instance, the Dewalt FLEXVOLT system makes it possible to power different tools with the same battery.
So, if you have a Dewalt cordless miter saw with two 60 volts FLEXVOLT batteries, you can also use the same batteries for a Dewalt cordless drill, circular saw and leaf blower. That means it’s okay to buy these other tools bare without the batteries and charger, thus reducing your total cost.
Apart from that scenario or situation, sticking to a particular brand even when there are better alternatives elsewhere is never a good idea.