Whether you’re a general contractor, a home flipper, or a casual DIY enthusiast, power tools help you get the job done on time and under budget. From power drills to saws, finding the right tools can be tricky, especially given the sheer variety of brands and models on the market today.
At one time, brand loyalty was the name of the game when investing in power tools. These days, however, this approach is less reliable due to recent acquisitions and outsourcing initiatives.
Some brands remain as reliable as ever, but many others have considerably evolved in the last few years. As such, it’s worth your while to familiarize yourself with today’s best power tool brands.
To help, we’ve compiled a guide on the 10 most iconic names. We’ll highlight the features that set the best tool brands and products apart — and answer common questions about parent companies and other key considerations.
How Do These Popular Brands Differ From Others?
As one of the most recognizable names in the power tool sphere, Milwaukee Tool boasts an extremely loyal following. While its products tend to be more expensive than several items highlighted in this list, the quality is undeniable.
Currently a subsidiary of Techtronic Industries (TTI), Milwaukee has a long history of excellence. Its lineup is vast, spanning over 200 products in the M18 line and an additional 100 for the M12 line. Add numerous MX FUEL power tools to the mix, and the variety can be dizzying.
Why Milwaukee Tool Is Great
As an elite-level power tool provider, Milwaukee has a stellar reputation that is only matched by the similarly popular DeWalt. Both brands are highly trusted among commercial users but accessible enough to please everyday homeowners.
Always looking to push the envelope, Milwaukee has played a huge role in promoting lithium-ion batteries and currently provides some of the most reliable batteries in the industry. The company also offers advanced Bluetooth solutions and other exciting technological options.
Pros and Cons of Milwaukee Tool
Like Milwaukee Tool, DeWalt is a respected name that carries a lot of prestige. A subsidiary of Black & Decker, DeWalt is known, in part, for its distinctive black-and-yellow design.
DeWalt’s offerings mimic those from Milwaukee Tool, although compact Atomic options are less impressive than Milwaukee’s highly-regarded M12 line.
Why DeWalt Is Great
Founded and still based in the U.S., DeWalt is the go-to brand for anyone who exclusively wants tools made in America. While global materials are often used, there’s an undeniable satisfaction that comes from supporting local workers with your DeWalt tool purchases.
Pros and Cons of DeWalt
While RIDGID is currently a subsidiary of Emerson Electric, the brand has as much staying power as iconic competitors like DeWalt. Its success began with a pipe wrench, which proved a huge hit among plumbers in the 1920s and 1930s. The RIDGID product line remains a preferred option for professionals, such as electricians and general contractors.
Why RIDGID Is Great
RIDGID’s commercial-grade products provide the extensive power that professional users require, but at a reduced price as compared to similar options from DeWalt or Milwaukee. Although RIDGID tools aren’t quite as durable as some of the most popular products from these respected brands, users can take solace in RIDGID’S exceptional warranty coverage.
Pros and Cons of RIDGID
Founded in Germany during the 19th century, Bosch is, above all else, an engineering company. That being said, power tools have proven vital to Bosch’s long-term success as a brand.
Despite its German headquarters and heritage, Bosch primarily manufactures its tools in Taiwan, China, Malaysia, and Mexico. Bosch tools are meant for everyday homeowners, although some higher-level DIY enthusiasts may find these products useful.
Why Bosch Tools Is Great
Bosch Tools are not the most durable or the most affordable on this list, but they should keep intermediate users happy. Brand recognition boosts confidence without requiring as big of an investment as Milwaukee or DeWalt would.
Pros and Cons of Bosch Tools
As yet another brand that falls under the aforementioned Techtronic Industries name, Ryobi was formed in Japan and is still headquartered there, although it currently operates plants in several countries. It’s best known as a budget provider of entry to mid-level power tools.
Why Ryobi Is Great
Not everyone needs or wants commercial-grade power tools. DIYers on the hunt for budget-friendly solutions will be thrilled to find the easy-to-use products they need under the Ryobi name.
Pros and Cons of Ryobi
As the house brand for Harbor Freight, Chicago Electric offers a wide range of affordable corded and cordless tools. Drills, miter saws, and many other core tools are offered, as are accessories such as saw stands and feather boards.
Why Chicago Is Great
If you’re primarily concerned about price, you can’t go wrong with Chicago Electric. Offering a decent range of power options, the current lineup of Chicago tools should get basic jobs done at a surprisingly low cost, with sales often available to produce even greater savings.
The secret? Cutting out the middleman to provide value-conscious tools exclusively through Harbor Freight.
Pros and Cons of Chicago
Founded as Makita Electric Works in 1915, this respected Japanese manufacturer pivoted into the power tool market in the late 1950s after several decades of success producing and repairing everything from transformers to lighting equipment.
Since then, Makita has consistently been at the forefront of power tool innovations, releasing the first rechargeable drill in the ’80s, plus the first battery-powered tools involving nickel cadmium, nickel hydride, and lithium-ion.
Why Makita Is Great
If you take pride in working with cutting-edge equipment, you can’t go wrong with Makita. As mentioned previously, this brand deserves credit for many of the industry’s biggest technological leaps.
In addition to boosting the pace of innovation in the power tool sector, Makita produces durable tools that are nearly as rugged as their counterparts from Milwaukee and DeWalt.
Pros and Cons of Makita
A familiar name to most, the Craftsman brand was originally launched by Sears in hopes of meeting the unique needs of agricultural users. As Craftsman evolved, its products were used by a wider variety of individuals, including both professionals and homeowners. In 2017, Craftsman was acquired by Stanley Black & Decker.
Why Craftsman Is Great
Deemed the middle-of-the-line brand under Sears’ “good, better, best” structure, Craftsman products have long been known for being reliable. This has fluctuated over time, but Craftsman remains a trusted solution for both novices and intermediate users.
Pros and Cons of Craftsman
Lowe’s house brand Kobalt gets the job done in a pinch. As a middle-tier offering, Kobalt is often compared to Craftsman and Husky, although it’s not nearly as established or as well-known as its Sears and Home Depot counterparts. Still, it’s been around since 1998 — long enough for enthusiasts to feel confident about their tools’ staying power.
Like many budget options, these are primarily produced in China. This may give skeptics pause, but many satisfied users report that Kobalt’s quality exceeds that of many other power tools manufactured abroad.
Why Kobalt Is Great
Reasonable prices and mid-level quality makes Kobalt an enticing brand for many users. The brand’s value-driven products appeal to a specific type of customer who is willing to part with the advanced power and durability of professional-grade solutions. Kobalt tools can accomplish a lot — especially products from the highly regarded lithium-ion lineup.
Pros and Cons of Kobalt
Based in Japan, Hitachi is a multinational conglomerate that’s influential not only in the power tool market, but also in IT, defense, power grids, and construction. The company also produces a variety of power tools, now known under the new monikers HiKOKI and Metabo. These names mark a shift in Hitachi’s approach with an expected emphasis on professional-grade tools.
Why Hitachi Is Great
HiKOKI and Metabo tools provide a step up over mid-level brands such as Ryobi or Bosch, but at a better price point than high-end providers. These names aren’t well-known, but that lends the former Hitachi a hidden gem status that users in the know may find appealing.
Pros and Cons of Hitachi
How To Choose the Best Power Tool Company For You
While some power tools are objectively superior to others in terms of performance, durability, or craftsmanship, no singular brand is perfect for every type of user. The ideal choice will come down to a combination of these factors:
- Price. There’s no denying that power tools can be expensive, but the price range can be dramatic even for the simplest tools near the bottom of the cost spectrum. As products get more complex, this differential continues to expand.
- Durability. Sometimes, a higher initial investment can pay off in the long run. Some of the most expensive brands are known for producing long-lasting tools that limit the need for replacements.
- Warranty coverage. Less rugged tools may be acceptable if they’re accompanied by decent warranty coverage. Don’t get power tools with poor warranties unless they are incredibly affordable.
- Battery life. A long-lasting battery makes owning tools more convenient while also reducing battery replacement costs. Lithium-ion is now the standard, producing exceptional power for a longer period and at a lighter weight.
- Motor quality. Brushless motors are essential for contractors but are also increasingly popular among everyday users. Capable of adjusting to the immediate level of energy, they’re more efficient and less complicated than their brushed counterparts.
To ensure you choose the best possible tools for your situation, determine your goals early on. Which projects do you hope to complete? Will these involve commercial work or simple, home-based DIY tasks? Later, take a closer look at specs, prices, and reviews for powerful insight on preferred brands.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about These Trusted Power Tool Brands
Variety is a huge area of strength for Milwaukee, which offers hundreds of targeted power tools. Ryobi and Craftsman tools also provide a decent range of products.
Makita has long been the leading innovator and shows no signs of slowing down.
Professionals who cannot afford the steep prices of DeWalt, Milwaukee, or Makita may prefer commercial-grade products from RIDGID or Bosch. Some Craftsman tools may also be acceptable.
DeWalt’s parent company is Stanley Black & Decker, which bought out the DeWalt brand in 1960.
While Milwaukee Tool was founded in Wisconsin, it is currently owned by Hong Kong company Techtronic Industries (TTI).