Whether you’re a newbie or a pro, finding the best power tool brand is important to your success. It’s doubly important in a world where cordless tools often rule the day. And… there are a lot of great brands out there but you’ll need to know what you need from your load out before you buy the tools.
Read on, and let me break down the best power tool brands for you, and help guide you to one that fits just right.
Contents (Jump to Topic)
- 1 Best Power Tool Brands -America
- 2 Best Power Tool Brands – Japan
- 3 Best Power Tool Brands – Europe
- 4 Summary
Best Power Tool Brands -America
If you prefer to buy American products, you’re in luck when it comes to power tools. The following brands are all housed in the US, so let’s jump in.
Best American Brands for Professionals
These brands all have a great reputation, especially among professionals. While they’re a bit expensive for the casual DIYer in most cases, they’re also among the biggest brands out there.
DeWalt was founded in the 1920s by the inventor of the radial arm saw, Raymond DeWalt. The company focused on their saw, dubbed the “Wonder Worker” which was the standard for cutting timber until the powered miter saw emerged in the 1970s.
The original company was sold around until ending up in Black & Decker’s portfolio in 1960. In 1992 the company made a serious push to ditch its reputation for consumer-grade products, creating the black and yellow DeWalt power tool brand.
DeWalt mainly produces construction-grade power tools. Although they’ve entered the market for hand tools and mechanic tools as well in the last decade. While their tools are all solid, DeWalt are quickly becoming one of the most recognized cordless power tool brands.
DeWalt has tools available in 12V, 20V, and a 60V battery for exceptionally powerful tools like demolition hammers. The most distinct feature of the brand is its FlexVolt lineup. These batteries operate at either 20V or 60V depending on the tool. There’s also a range of mAh ratings available as well if you need something longer-lasting.
DeWalt stands out for its huge collection of compatible cordless power tools and the heavy-duty construction. It’s rare they’ve put out a sub-standard tool, but the question for the home DIYer is if the high price is worth it.
- One of the leading cordless power tool brands
- FlexVolt 20V/60V batteries
- Heavy duty tools
- Branded hand tools and accessories available
While the DeWalt brand as we know it is relatively new, Milwaukee have been around since the 1930s. The company was originally founded by A. F. Siebert and has passed through many hands. The brand is currently owned by Techtronic Industries.
The brand has a legacy of innovation, beginning with a hand-held ¾” hammer drill and going from there. Perhaps the most famous of the company’s inventions is the Sawzall, the original reciprocating saw developed in 1951.
The brand has had some hiccups over the years, but its current lineup is high-quality and wide-reaching. Like DeWalt, the power tool company has released a lot of accessories and hand tools with its familiar red-and-white branding.
Milwaukee makes professional products, similar in quality and pricing to other high-end power tool brands like DeWalt. Their M18 FUEL lineup is of particular interest to many. The battery has a higher power output than most 18V batteries.
Milwaukee also offers the best limited warranty out of the popular brands, a five-year limited warranty is standard on their tools. Overall they’re a competent, professional company that puts out products suitable for professionals. And they have a cost to match.
- Currently owned by techtronic industries
- The original manufacturer of the Sawzall
- High-quality tools
- Robust 18V battery and tool series
- 5 year limited warranty
Ridgid tools are produced by the Ridge Tool Company and have a long history. They were founded in 1923 and sold 20 years later, before ending up under the umbrella of Emerson Electric. The company’s claim to fame began with a pipe wrench. Then they focused mainly on producing products for professionals in the HVAC, plumbing, and pipefitting fields.
Currently, Ridgid power tools are only sold at Home Depot locations due to a contractual obligation. This doesn’t extend to their hand tools. The power tools they sell are actually produced by TTI, who owns a large portion of the market including Milwaukee.
Ridgid’s power tools have a good reputation among professionals. They’re well suited for someone starting out in a trade. They have tons of cordless power tools available and they’re significantly less expensive than most professional power tool brands. That said, their selection is limited compared to titans like DeWalt.
Ridgid does do one thing better than anyone else: they offer lifetime battery replacement as long as you registered your products after purchase. That’s not just a small advantage, it’s huge considering lithium ion batteries for cordless power tools often run more than $100 each.
Ridgid products are solid and dependable, but most people defer to DeWalt when it comes to power and battery life. They’re a great power tool brand, and very common in some fields. The lower price and battery replacement is their main draw, but they’re good across the board.
- Cheaper than other professional power tool brands
- Lifetime replacement on your batteries
- Good value ratio for new professionals
- Power tools only available in Home Depot
Best American Brands for DIY
Not everyone needs products that will stand up to heavy daily use. For weekend warriors and garage hobbyists value is often more important than making sure you have the absolute best. The following brands are US companies that serve that niche well.
Black & Decker
Black & Decker is an older brand, currently rebranded as Black + Decker. The company, as noted earlier owns DeWalt, Bostitch, and a few other brands. The brand originally sold their tools for DIY use, rather than occupational use. This earned them a reputation for being “cheap.”
The company was founded a long time ago, 1910 to be exact. Their intention was to produce portable power tools, and by 1917 they’d produced and patented the first pistol grip one handed drill. The Black & Decker Company still stands on its own, rather than being acquired by a multinational. Instead, Black & Decker owns other brands of tools.
The reputation of Black & Decker took a big hit over time. Their products were marketed to the homeowner and casual hobbyists, creating an impression of cheap and lightweight products. The release of the DeWalt brand in 1992 reflects that: they had to use another branding to be taken seriously.
Today’s Black + Decker products fit well in their niche. They’re a solid choice for those who need something occasionally, and the pricing matches that purpose. Professionals are going to be disappointed, however, since the quality needed for a 40-hour workweek isn’t there.
Overall, Black + Decker tools aren’t very distinctive and the range of products is small compared to most brands. They do the job on a budget, but they’re never going to top the list as professional tools.
- Still owned by the original company
- Produce “good for the price” tools
- A relatively small range of tools
- Best delegated to home usage
Craftsman tools were the original Sears Catalogue tools, starting in 1927. Like all Sears products, they were outsourced from the start. Older Craftsman products could even vary by location, depending on the manufacturer. For much of the brand’s life Craftsman was considered a “middle of the road” line of tools. With Craftsman Professional and Craftsman Industrial being the pro equivalents.
Currently, Craftsman is owned by Stanley Black and Decker. They were bought out in 2017, with Sears retaining some limited licensing. The tools are currently sold as consumer-grade, matching the history of the brand and putting them about on par with the Black + Decker products. It’s only been a couple of years since the brand changed hands, so things may change quite a bit in the coming years.
Craftsman tools used to offer a lifetime warranty on their tools, and they still do on their hand tools. The rest of their warranty lineup is a bit underwhelming, ranging from one to three years of limited warranty. With that said, being able to easily replace broken hand tools is a good deal.
The tools themselves are solid for homeowners but not a good fit for professionals. Their lineup isn’t as large as that of Black + Decker, but they do have a wider range of outdoor products. Many of these are cordless power tools, and they can be a boon for moderately sized yards.
Unfortunately, Craftsman isn’t quite the “go-to” DIY brand that it was decades ago but they remain a solid contender for at-home use. Their products are still worth a look, especially if you’re in need of outdoor equipment.
- Good price for the quality
- Wide range of outdoor products
- Excellent warranty on hand tools, mediocre on power tools
- The recent sale of the brand may not have had its full impact yet
Kobalt is the in-house brand for Lowe’s, designed to occupy the same niche as other store brands like Craftsman and Husky. Naturally, they’re available only at Lowe’s. Starting in 2018 Lowe’s began to phase out Kobalt products in favor of Craftsman which had been acquired by Stanley Black & Decker.
It’s a bit hard to trace down where exactly Lowe’s gets their tools. It appears that currently, they’re working with a company called Chervon. The company doesn’t currently list them on their page of brands, but that may be due to being an in-house brand. The same company also produces products for Skil.
Kobalt’s tools work well enough for at-home use. Some even hold up in the field, but it varies from tool to tool. Their current claim to fame is their 24V max system, which packs more punch than the usual 20V Max batteries found for other brands.
Kobalt previously had a wider range of tools, but Lowe’s has begun phasing out some of them for Craftsman options. The good news is the brand is still supported and their batteries are quite cheap.
As a whole, Kobalt are good products and if you’re a loyal Lowe’s customer they’re worth a shot. I wouldn’t necessarily go out of my way to get them in favor of another DIY-capable brand, however.
- 24V Max batteries available and cheap
- Good range of tools
- Lowe’s exclusive
- Some tools have been replaced with Craftsman models in the store
Porter-Cable is an American company founded in 1909. Originally a small tool shop, in 1926 they began to venture into power tools. Their innovations included the belt sander and helical drive circular saw. The latter of which is still used today with little modification.
In 1960 the brand was acquired by Rockwell, who promptly used the name to sell low-end products meant to compete with Black and Decker. It turned out to be a bad idea, and the damage done to the brand was lasting. By 1981 they’d been sold again, to Pentair Inc, and introduced the first orbital sander.
Currently, the brand has been bought out by their old rival, Stanley Black & Decker, and produces consumer-grade products. While still an American company, Porter-Cable currently produces most of its tools in Canada and Mexico.
The tools they produce are usually good. Their woodworking tools in particular are still highly regarded by tradesmen. There is one problem: Porter-Cable is an almost-dead brand. With many of its products being transparent re-skins of Craftsman models with minor upgrades. It may not be worth investing in their batteries for that reason.
Porter-Cable makes tools suitable for more than just messing around in the garage, but the brand may be on its way out. However it appears at least the 20V line of tools will be supported for some time. Plus woodworkers will get more of their money’s worth than most other DIY-rated brands.
- High-quality tools for the price
- Good enough for serious hobbyist use
- Excellent woodworking tools
- Some tools are almost identical to Craftsman
Best Power Tool Brands – Japan
Japanese tools have a good reputation overall, and the brands that make their way to the US are highly regarded. The following are the best of those brands.
Best Japanese Brands for Professionals
For professionals, a few brands come to mind. For serious hobbyists and those who need their tools every day consider the following.
Makita makes great tools, and they’re a common sight in the field across a variety of trades. The company itself was formed in 1915, and they’ve put some serious innovation into the field of power tools.
Makita was actually the first to release a rechargeable tool, the 6500D drill in 1969. They’ve stayed at the forefront of battery technology. Producing the first NiCad tools, the first nickel hydride tools and the first Li-ion tool.
The tools Makita produce are impressive, especially their battery-operated lineup. They’re expensive tools but the batteries are long-lasting and their tools are great. They also have advanced electronics to keep motors from burning and tools from being damaged under heavy use.
Makita does everything well, from their brushless motors to extensive battery-operated lineup. Their primary market is professionals, where the high build-quality and advanced electronics will be put to the test.
As a brand, Makita makes solid products that are great in the field. The high price tag often scares off weekend warriors, and it may not be worth it for hobbyists. On the other hand, these products are designed for people who make their living with them.
- The first producer of cordless tools
- Advanced electronic safety mechanisms for motors
- Trusted by professionals
- Top-notch saws and drills
Metabo HPT may seem like a latecomer to the power tool industry, but they’re actually a rebranding of Hitachi. Metabo itself started as a German company producing hand drills in 1923. Currently, the company is owned by a former subsidiary of the Hitachi Group, Koki Holdings America.
The re-brand is mostly complete, Hitachi branded tools are rarely found these days. Their initial lineup was essentially the same as Hitachi’s tools, just sold with different colors and the Metabo HPT name.
Metabo HPT shouldn’t be confused with Metabo or Metabo Industrial. Those tools are different and aren’t compatible when it comes to batteries and parts. Keep a sharp eye out if you choose Metabo HPT as your tool brand.
The tools are still top-notch. The company seems to have taken a bit of a hit from the rebranding but they’re regaining ground as people come to trust them. For the consumer that means they’re a bit cheaper than Makita and other professional brands at the moment.
Metabo HPT took a risk by changing its recognized name, but the tools are the same. The batteries are even compatible with both Hitachi and Metabo HPT tools. They’re a strong contender, just be aware the HPT brand is separate from products labeled as just Metabo.
- Rebranded Hitachi tools
- Not the same as Metabo, look for the HPT
- Lower cost than most professional brands
Best Japanese Brands for DIY
For the person working around the home, there’s one company that sits above the others from Japan.
Ryobi are relatively late to the part. Having started selling power tools in 1968 after a history with die-stamped products and printing presses. Currently, the brand is sold exclusively in Home Depot in the US and they have an extensive lineup of products.
The tools themselves are licensed through One World Technologies, Inc. which also manufactures tools for Milwaukee, AEG, and a few other brands. OEM manufacturers are common in the tool industry, and it’s no surprise that production has been outsourced.
Ryobi has a reputation as being among the better consumer-grade brands. In particular, their 18V ONE+ line is robust, even finding itself into the hands of seasoned professionals.
The company produces a wide array of different battery-operated tools, being well known for their cordless drill and impact drivers. While their tabletop tool selection is a bit sparse, Ryobi does offer an impressive amount of outdoor equipment. Most of them are battery-operated, using the same battery found in the rest of their lineup. Their batteries have a reputation for lasting longer than other consumer-grade brands as well.
Ryobi represents a cheap but viable alternative to most pro-level products. Their exclusive deal with Home Depot makes them a good buy for frequent customers as well.
- Home Depot exclusive tools
- Long-lasting batteries
- Higher build quality than most consumer-grade brands
- Excellent collection of outdoor tools
Best Power Tool Brands – Europe
Some people prefer the elegance of European tools, and there are still some serious manufacturers in the Old World. If that floats your boat, then take a closer look at the following brands.
Best European Brands for Professionals
Europe produces great tools, as well as some of the most expensive. The following companies primarily sell to professionals, but their tools can be found online if that’s what you’re looking for.
Festool is an older company, founded in 1925 in Germany as Festo, named after an amalgamation of the founder’s last names. They’re a relatively small company, employing about 1000 people at their various subsidiaries.
Unlike virtually every other great power tool brand, Festool is actually still family-owned. Their small size and tremendous reputation allow them to operate differently than most tool companies as well. Festool does one thing: they make some of the best power tools possible.
There’s one caveat: Festool can be prohibitively expensive. They also have a relatively small catalog, especially compared to other industry-standard tools like DeWalt. They’re not even the Porsche of power tools, they’re the Rolls-Royce.
Festool also sells its products in their “Systainers” which function as both packaging and storage for their tools. They’re quite handy, particularly if you’re running a shop. The company even sells containers and carts made to take the Systainers and let you move them around easily. For commercial shops that’s a huge advantage.
All that said, it’s hard to recommend Festool to the average person. The products are very expensive, even for a professional. While the price is high, it also pays to note that Festool has one of the best warranties around.
- Prohibitively expensive
- Extremely high-quality tools
- Relatively small selection
- All tools come with Systainers for storage
Bosch Tools is an elderly German brand, founded in 1886 in a backyard by Robert Bosch. The company started producing automotive parts. This includes being the only reliable supplier of ignition devices for cars. They’re actually the ones who invented the spark plug in 1902.
The company is an enormous multinational, producing products across many sectors. Their power tools are a significant portion of their business, and they own a few other brands. The one that’s familiar to most DIYers is Dremel.
The Bosch Tools brand has an excellent reputation. Their overall quality is comparable to DeWalt, although their tool selection lags behind somewhat. Where Bosch excels is in smaller products, their 12V lineup is great for light-duty tools. In the 18V category, they’re a bit slimmer than many companies.
One of the defining features of Bosch tools is their durability, especially while the products remain sleek. Currently, their Durashield housing is a big selling point. Most professionals have dropped a tool at least once, Bosch’s tools are designed for that eventuality.
They’re a solid brand overall, especially if you want 12V tools. Bosch has been around longer than the competition for the most part, and they continue to innovate. They’re worth a look for professionals and DIYers.
- Founded in 1886 and still going
- Tools are very tough
- Build-quality comparable to other professional brands
- Great lineup of light-duty tools with their 12V batteries
Hilti is another premium quality tool brand. Like Bosch, Hilti is owned by a multi-national corporation but they’re from Liechtenstein. It was founded as a mechanical workshop in 1941 before they began to spread to other endeavors.
The Hilti company is still owned by the family that founded it, it’s a privately owned corporation. They’re not famous among Americans, but they have an exceptional reputation when it comes to masonry and concrete construction tools.
As a premium power tool brand, Hilti focuses on quality and not quantity. For the consumer that means superior products with a high price tag. Their lineup isn’t as extensive as most professional brands, but what’s there is some of the best.
Hilti particularly comes through for people working with concrete. They produce fasteners in addition to their tools under the same brand name. All of their products are great, and the warranty is fantastic. You’ll get 20 years of protection from manufacturer error, two years of “wear-and-tear” covered, and repairs are free if they’re not done in one day.
Like Festool, I’d recommend thinking about whether or not the expense of the tools is worth it for you. For most hobbyists, a wider lineup is better, but if you’re working with concrete in construction they’re a great purchase.
- Premium brand of tools with extra quality
- Very expensive tools
- Relatively small lineup
- World-class masonry and concrete tools
Best European Brands for DIY
For the DIYer, many European brands are just too expensive. That said, there’s still a good consumer-grade brand based there.
Skil is an older company, founded in 1920 with the invention of the electric handsaw. The man who invented it went into business with a partner who left a few years later. Leaving behind the original inventor and the Skil brand as Skilsaw, Inc.
Currently, they serve the DIY market as Skil, while Skilsaw produces tools designed for the professional market. Don’t confuse the brands if you’re going down this road, they’re a world apart.
Skil is currently a subsidiary of Chervon, making them a Chinese owned company. Their products often make lists of “best of” as budget options. That seems a far cry away from a company whose name was once synonymous with circular saws. The truth is that they’re far removed from their origins these days.
The lower manufacturing costs allow Skil tools to be sold at very cheap prices in the US. Unfortunately, that’s come at a cost of quality. They’ll do the job around the home, but it’s doubtful you’ll see a Skil in the wild being used by a professional.
They’re a good option for limited budgets, and they have a good range of products. Skil catches some flak from professionals, but the company has done exactly what it set out to do. Sell cheap, light-to-medium duty tools for the DIY crowd.
- Currently Chinese owned, all manufacturing occurs there as well
- Low priced tools
- Marketed towards the light-duty DIY crowd
- The brand has moved far away from its origins
I hope this article has taught you what you need to make your mind up when choosing the best power tool brand. In the end, the brand of tools you pick should be focused on your goals. For DIYers, there is a wide variety of cheaper tools, although serious hobbyists may want to take a look into professional brands.
The professional should look into high-end brands to make sure their tools are still working after hundreds of hours in the field.
The choice is yours, which brand do you favor? Let us know in the comments!