This article is going to try to answer a question that many of our readers have been asking — What’s the best power tool brand? A timeless question; often debated but rarely agreed upon. I’ll attempt to answer this complex question as best as I can. But let’s be honest, there can be no absolute answer. There are many ways to approach this topic, such as: What’s the best DIY power tool brand? Or, what’s the best power tool brand for contractors? Perhaps, more importantly these days could be what’s the best cordless tool brand? Choosing the best brand, when buying battery-powered tools can help a lot in the years to come. Using the same batteries and charger for all your cordless tools is ultimately the best way to go. Making the right decision from the outset can make all the difference in the long run.
Some tool brands cover all the bases. These being power tools that are great for both professional and DIY users, also including a huge variety of cordless tools. My personal first choice would be DeWalt. Though, I often rate Makita just as highly. Then there’s a close race between Milwaukee and Bosch. Between these two, I consider Bosch to be the best option. Now, I want to add another power tool brand into the mix. Black & Decker tools that are great for homeowners who aren’t looking for the very best, heavy-duty machines. But rather, good quality power tools for use around the home.
Here’s the list of power tool brands I’ll be discussing:
- DeWalt – great quality, with an extensive range. The largest selection of cordless tools.
- Makita – Amongst the toughest tools I’ve ever used.
- Bosch – A good selection of more affordable tools, as well some of the very best (more expensive) options.
- Black+Decker – Affordable quality for home DIY projects.
There are a lot of other brands that could feature here, Metabo is one that springs to mind. However, I didn’t want to end up with an endless list of power tool brands. I chose the top brands that manufacture just about every power tool you’ll ever need. Many of the high-end tool brands are more specialized. Since cordless tools are so popular, I consider these to be an important factor in my choice. This, in part, is the reason why I have placed DeWalt and Makita at the top of the list.
Although not featured in this article, there’s one power tool brand also deserves recognition. This would be Festool. Most professional carpenters rate Festool as their top choice because their range is limited, mostly to power saws, sanders, and jointers, Festool can only be considered the best power tools for woodworkers. Although, Festool orbital sanders are also popular in auto body shops. Be that as it may, I chose to stick the power tool brands with a comprehensive product lineup, with products for just about application.
Best Power Tool Brand
Raymond DeWalt, founder of the DeWalt Products Company, was an engineering visionary. In 1922, he developed a multi-purpose woodworking machine intended to improve productivity. Two years later, the DeWalt Products Company was established in 1924. Their premium product being the DeWalt Wonder-Worker, a multi-solution woodworking machine with 9 different configurations.
From its inception, DeWalt has been an innovative company. The basic design concept behind all DeWalt tools is to make our lives easier. These are tools that help us work more productively. My admiration for DeWalt tools stems from their user-friendly features. When it comes to quick, easy, and accurate settings and adjustments, DeWalt power tools are an absolute pleasure to use. The same can be said for tool-free blade and bit changes. For the professional, the time-saving benefit offered by these design solutions is obvious. Time is money, making productivity the key to success. Even in a home shop, this makes every project a pleasurable experience.
As far build quality goes, I can hardly fault DeWalt power tools. These are robust machines and dealership service for spare parts and repairs is excellent. Though I consider Makita tools to be more indestructible. Perhaps that’s just my personal experience. DeWalt tools are made from high-grade materials. Their engineering and quality control are also top notch. Plastic is used extensively in power tool manufacturing these days and DeWalt is no exception here. Though, for crucial components, they tend to use durable metals. Even the plastic housings, switches, and other components are tougher than most. Good quality plastic can be beneficial in some aspects of tool design, saving both on cost and weight.
DeWalt power tools can be a bit pricey. Though, compared to many high-end brands, DeWalt is very competitive. They may be more expensive than your average DIY power tool brands. But, then again, DeWalt tools are not your average machines. In my opinion, DeWalt power tools are excellent value for money. For the most part, they perform as well as any of the top rated tools and outlast most. Despite the great engineering and quality, DeWalt is certainly not the most expensive power tool brand.
Few power tool brands supply such a comprehensive range. DeWalt manufacture everything from common tools, like circular saws, angle grinders, jigsaws and miter saws, to air compressors and one of the best heavy-duty generators. They also manufacture garden tools and chainsaws. I can’t think of any power tool brand with such an extensive product range. There’s the added benefit of forming a relationship with one service agent for all your tools.
DeWalt Cordless Tools
I believe that DeWalt has taken over number one spot when it comes to cordless tools and battery technology. Not so long ago, this position was held by Makita. Well, that’s my opinion. I’m not exactly sure how many cordless tools feature in the long standing 20V MAX cordless tool range, but it’s over 200. More than any other power tool brand. As I said earlier, a better selection of battery-powered tools means only one battery type and charger. This cuts down on clutter and will save heaps of cash.
Taking things to the next level, DeWalt introduced a high-power range of 60V and 120V cordless tools. These machines can compete, head on, with corded tools. In fact, the 120V cordless tools can be used with either battery or 120V AC mains power. There aren’t too many options in the 120V cordless tool lineup, but the number of models should increase in time.
The most remarkable thing about the 60V batteries is their backward compatibility. Changes in battery voltage is something that has always irked me. Sure, increasing the voltage gives you more watts per amp hour and that’s a major improvement. But this means that the older tools soon become redundant and replacement batteries can be hard to find. You end up tossing away perfectly good power tools, simply because you can no longer buy the batteries.
DeWalt has solved this battery conundrum. Firstly, they haven’t done away with the 20V MAX tool range when introducing the 60V upgrade. This means you can still buy any of the 20V tools, many at a better price, and buy the batteries. The real innovation is that the new 60V/20V FlexVolt batteries can be used in all their older tools. The battery automatically detects the required voltage (either 20V or 60V), adjusting to the tool that it is inserted into. When using a FlexVolt battery in a 20V tool, you get much higher ampere hours, drastically improving working times when compared to the original 20V MAX batteries. The 120V DeWalt cordless tools use the same 60V FlexVolt battery. By using two batteries, connected in series, these tools have unrivaled power and working times when compared to most other cordless tools.
One of the main reasons why I have become such a faithful DeWalt fan is the service I’ve received over the years. DeWalt authorized service agents are widespread, possibly the best when it comes to service centers in just about every corner of the world. Their service is professional and is guaranteed.
It’s seldom that one may need to use the warranty when it comes to DeWalt tools, I never have. None the less, even the very best tool brands will experience QC issues. That’s the reason for warranties and guarantees. DeWalt is excellent in this regard. You get a 3-year warranty on DeWalt power tools, as well as a money back 90-day guarantee, and a free 1-year service plan.
Founded in 1915, Makita Electric Works initially sold and repaired electric equipment (lighting, motors, and transformers). In 1959, Makita began manufacturing power tools and has become one of the world leaders in this field. Makita USA Inc was established in 1970, followed by Makita subsidiaries across Europe, Australia, and Canada. Later, several Latin American countries were included. By the 2000’s Makita had several companies listed in Eastern Europe. Makita USA started producing locally made power tools in 1985.
The reason I rate Makita power tools amongst the best, has to be their incredible durability. The extensive use of aluminum and high-quality plastics in their construction, make Makita tools virtually indestructible. Impact resistance and a plethora of protection features also improve the durability and performance of Makita tools.
Makita tools are not only amongst the toughest in the world, they have the performance and features to rival any of the top tool manufacturers. Despite my personal affinity for DeWalt tools, some Makita models would be my preferred choice. A good example of this, would be the Makita LS1219LX compound miter saw.
Makita power tool design has shown many great innovations. One of the reasons why Makita tools are exceptionally durable is their Extreme Protection Technology (XPT). This prevents dust from damaging the core components and does a lot to extend tool lifespan, reliability, and reduces maintenance. Another great Makita innovation is the Big Bore technology used in some of their compressors. The larger piston provides improved performance with fantastic recovery times. These low RPM compressors are much quieter and, arguably, the most durable. Makita air compressors, in my opinion, rate amongst the best on every level.
Makita Cordless Tools
The first battery-powered tools I bought were Makita. Although I now feel that DeWalt has taken the lead, Makita was the number one cordless too manufacturer for many years. I doubt anyone would dispute this. Makita was the first major tool brand to produce battery-powered tools. The 6010D drill was launched in 1978 and was the first power tool to use a rechargeable nickel cadmium battery.
From the beginning of the consumer cordless tool revolution in the 1990s, Makita had the edge over other power tool brands. When other batteries and chargers were fairly primitive, Makita had advanced electronic protection and forced ventilation cooling on their chargers. These batteries had the longest working times and the fastest recharging times.
Even though the other tool brands have improved their technology, Makita Star Protection and Active 3 Controls make the 18V LXT lithium ion battery tool range amongst the best there is. Earlier (7.2V and 12V) Makita tools are still available and so are the batteries. Though it’s the 18V and 36V LXT cordless tools that dominate the extensive Makita cordless tool range. Rivalled only by DeWalt, Makita has the second largest selection of cordless tools, making them one of the best choices for contractors and homeowners.
As an established power tool brand, Makita service centers are plentiful. The company has a good reputation for outstanding customer service, which accounts for much of their popularity amongst consumers. For most products, Makita offers a 1-year warranty and a 30-day exchange or money back guarantee. All Makita lithium ion tools, batteries, and chargers, as well as Makita pneumatic nail guns, have a 3-year warranty, with the same 30-day guarantee. I like the no nonsense limitations in the Makita warranty agreement. With only four limitations and exclusions listed on the Makita warranty web page, you can be assured that there aren’t any hidden or obscure reasons why your warranty cannot be honored by any Makita service agent.
Bosch was founded in Stuttgart, Germany, by Robert Bosch in 1886. This makes it one of the oldest electric component manufacturers in the world. Initially, the company exclusively manufactured automotive electric components, gaining a reputation for the most reliable magneto ignition systems for early motor vehicles. They are still one of the largest suppliers of auto electric components.
In 1930, Bosch started to diversify as the European vehicle manufacturing industry was in crisis. At the 1932 Leipzig Trade Fair, Bosch exhibited a range electrically powered tools which included power screwdrivers and grinders. Most notable, was the Bosch hammer drill. The “Bosch Hammer”, as it became known, was unique in its axial movement mechanism. This made it the most durable electric hammer system of its time. A principle that is still used in modern jackhammers.
The Bosch hammer drill has always been one of their world-leading products. In 1984, Bosch introduced the first cordless hammer drill. Today, the Bosch Bulldog rotary hammer drill is considered by many to be one of the most capable and reliable in its class.
Bosch tools are renowned for their excellent and innovative design. The modern product range includes very affordable, light-duty drills, drivers, circular saws, and angle grinders for the DIY market. Amongst their high-end products they have some of the most advanced power tools. Apart from the legendary Bosch Bulldog hammer drill range, I consider the Bosch GCM12SD, 12” Dual-Bevel Glide Miter Saw to be one of the most accomplished compound miter saws on the market.
What gives Bosch power tools universal appeal is the broad variety, ranging from cheap reliable light-duty tools, up to some of the most durable heavy-duty power tools.
Bosch Cordless Tools
While the Bosch range of cordless power tools cannot compete with DeWalt (no tool brand can), their selection of battery-powered tools is almost as comprehensive as Makita. This places the Bosch cordless tool lineup amongst the top brands.
Battery-powered Bosch tools range from very affordable 12V drills, drivers, and other light-duty tools, up to full-size 36V cordless hammer drills and circular saws. Their intermediate range of 18V cordless tools comprises models comparable to any in this class of tools. These tools can be seen as equals to the DeWalt 20V MAX and Makita 18V LXT power tools.
The only drawback to Bosch battery options is the need for different battery types across the range of tools. Unlike Makita, that uses two 18V batteries in their 36V tools, Bosch 36V tools require an entirely different 36V battery and charger.
Bosch is one of the oldest international electric equipment manufacturers and suppliers. This means that Bosch service centers are abundant throughout the world. Bosch offers a very standard 1-year warranty on all their power tools.
Black & Decker
The Black & Decker Corporation began as a small power tool manufacturer in Baltimore, back in 1910. The modern electric drill design, with a pistol style handle and a trigger switch, was patented by Black & Decker in 1917. In 1960, Black & Decker acquired DeWalt. Much later, in 1980, they merged with Stanley, to become Stanley Black & Decker.
Today, Stanley Black & Decker still owns DeWalt, the latter being their premier tool brand. Both the Black & Decker and Stanley brands trade separately although it’s one company. These two brands are seen as more light-duty, affordable tools for the domestic user.
Black & Decker tools are not the toughest, nor are they the most advanced. They do, however, fulfil a very valuable purpose. I know many guys who enjoy doing repairs and minor renovations around their homes. If you aren’t into regular DIY, you don’t use your tools all that often. Despite this, when you take on a project, you still want the right tool for the job.
Buying a full range of tools from brands like DeWalt and Makita, is going to cost a tidy sum. This can be worth it, if you’re using these tools to their full potential. But spending that kind of money on tools that may spend months, possibly years, gathering dust on a shelf, is an outright waste of money.
This is where Black & Decker has an invaluable position in the power tool market. They manufacture just about all the tools one would need for home renovation DIY projects and are not too expensive. As highly capable light-duty DIY tools, I consider Black & Decker to be the best value for money. Their tools are of a higher quality standard than most of the cheaper power tool brands, yet are more than adequate for occasional, even fairly regular use.
The Technology used in Black & Decker tools generally far surpasses that of other cheap power tool brands. In many cases, you will find similar features on Black & Decker tools as you would from the best power tool brands. If I were to choose between Black & Decker and any other cheap power tool brand, like Ryobi, Black & Decker would be my first choice.
Black & Decker Cordless Tools
I haven’t had too much experience using Black & Decker cordless tools, I prefer the more expensive power tool brands. I did buy a Black & Decker cordless jigsaw about fifteen years ago. Though, I was somewhat disappointed. I only bought it because money was a little tight at the time, and this model was being offered at a major discount. Black & Decker prices are hard to resist at the best of times. When offered at a much reduced price, it’s almost impossible to pass by – especially if you’re on a budget.
I should point out though, that my disappointment was based mostly on my expectations. Anyone accustomed to using Makita or DeWalt cordless tools would find most other brands to be severely lacking. My Black & Decker cordless jigsaw performed fairly well and did not break. I was mostly disappointed by the short battery time.
It seems as though Black & Decker cordless tools have improved in leaps and bounds since those early 12V models. Today, Black & Decker have quite a comprehensive range of 20V and 40V cordless tools for the home shop and garden. While these cordless tools can’t compete with the more expensive power tool brands, they do give them a good run for their money.
The bottom line is that Black & Decker cordless tools offer a good quality alternative for those who aren’t up to paying premium prices for the top rated power tool brands.
Black & Decker Service
Black & Decker have a massive range of tools and appliances, available in most retail stores. This makes it incredibly easy to find a Black & Decker service agent close by. The Black & Decker warranty is not the same for all their products. This can be 1-year, 2-years, or 3-years, depending on which Black & Decker product you buy.