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Old 02-06-2015, 12:13 PM   #1
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Thoughts on brands and quality


What are your thoughts on name branded tools?

For example:

Home Depot is Rigid
Lowes is Kobalt
Rona (Canada) is Ryobi
Canadian Tire is Mastercraft
Sears is Craftsman

Of course I know about the bigger brands like Dewalt, Milwaukee, Porter Gable, etc.

Like most here I am just a novice/intermediate wood worker. The tools will mainly be used for home repairs or small home projects like cabinets and such.

I don't want something that will break down after a few uses but something reliable.

Tools I'm looking at getting soon or this year are: router, 12" compound sliding mitre saw, jigsaw and circular saw.

I already own a portable table saw and a drill and palm sander.

Looking to build a few bookshelves in the next few months when tge weather gets better.

I know the replies may be more on a personal preference but I'd still like to hear your thoughts.

Thanks
Steve

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Old 02-06-2015, 12:42 PM   #2
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Any more, they're getting much better. I had a Ryobi 12v drill/driver years ago and it was pretty much a throw away tool. Now, the quality is on par with the name brands.

Ryobi and Ridgid are very nice and reasonably priced.

Kobalt I don't have any experience with, but I've heard good things.

Craftsman is, well, hard to be a fan of lately. I bought all Craftsman hand tools a few years ago because they were the last reasonably priced non-Chinese tools, but that's not the case anymore. Their C3 is old technology limited by the stem style batteries, and the new 20v line they have is light duty at best. Let's hope they're around for a while, though, I have older Craftsman tools that work very well, and I might need parts some day.

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Old 02-08-2015, 10:47 PM   #3
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Thoughts on brands and quality


Tool brand preference is in some ways just another religious war. Though there do seem to be some generally accepted ideas here. Though hardly always...

* The really cheap stuff like Harbor Freight is generally lower quality. Some have had great experiences with it. Personally, I would never use power tools from them as they just feel cheap when you touch them. And with that level of crap I'm more concerned about safety.

* Lowe's house brand Kobalt and Home Depot's Ryobi seem to be a solid tier of low end affordable tools. I've got several Ryobi power tools; circa saw, jig saw, 18" belt sander. And I'm probably going to get the 10" miter slider. These are reasonably solid; again, some swear by them and say they're great. I use these as my most intermittent tools. That is, they need to be at least 'ok' but they're secondary use.

* Next you have the Dewalts, Bosch, Milwaukee, Makita, etc. This is where you'll really get the 'he said, she said' personal favorites. Personally, I'm half in with Dewalt and Bosch. Both are reasonably high quality and these are my go to tools. Besides my Dewalt 18v hammer drill which I've beaten the crap out of, I JUST upgraded to a 20v brushless combo kit with impact and driver. Only used them a little so far. But wow... the power. Same with my Dewalt router which is my primary mounted in a router table. And my orbital sander. But my Bosch stuff, which includes secondary router for trim work, corded drill for doing tons of pocket holes, and a hand held power planer all work great. Bosch just feels really solid and those tools have always torn up whatever I've thrown at them from mixing concrete to whatever. I LOVE my Bosch 4100 table saw.

One other factor here may be if you care about source. Most stuff is made in China or similar places these days, with varying quality levels. Craftsman is not really American anymore. Milwaukee is actually owned by a Hong Kong company. Dewalt may be the 'most' American brand these days because at least it's still an American company, owned in turn by Stanley Black & Decker., even if manufactured in Mexico and China and elsewhere. (Though they are supposedly bringing more manufacturing and assembly back to the U.S.)

* Oh, as an aside, I don't know much about Porter Cable other than their air tools. Really like my little pancake compressor and nail gun collection.

* Finally you have the 'true' contractor grade stuff like Hilti or Festool. These are out of my personal need range and budget, so can't tell you much about them.

Really what it gets down to is what you're using the tools for. Tools that will be your all the time go to tools, like your drill / driver, should probably be the higher quality; whatever that means to you. If you're building furniture, you probably want a very good, precise table saw. But if you're only occasionally doing jigsawing and mostly for rough cuts? Ryobi is fine. All depends now hat you're doing. As a novice woodworker, I'd say if you're doing pocket hole joinery or headlock loose tenons, you really want to have a corded drill in your collection. Use the cordless for driving to desired torque. But for drilling so many pocket holes, you will go through even the 20v batteries somewhat faster than you'd maybe expect.

Last edited by Scottg; 02-08-2015 at 10:51 PM.
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Old 02-09-2015, 05:58 PM   #4
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i agree with most of what scott g just stated except for the table saw part, in my experience cheap table saws arent worth the risk.. the two most common issues with them is having a fence that doesnt align itself parrallel which makes it much more likely to bind along with really pronounced blade wobble

on the note of kobalt tools, i believe that they are rebranded for canadian tire under the mastercraft maximum line. this sort of thing isnt uncommon for one manufacturer of lower end tools to sell their models to several differnt companies to rebrand them.. for some time ryobi tools were also sold as craftsman. ridgid is sold as "ARG" in the uk

pertaining to buying cordless tools, if your going to have a large selection of them, its best to use one brand this way you can minimize the number of batteries you will have lying around along with chargers
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Old 02-09-2015, 10:45 PM   #5
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Just fyi... The Bosch 4100 is hardly a cheap one. But as a portable, it's certainly smaller than a dedicated full size unit. The challenge with table saws is kind of simple; you've either got the space for a dedicated shop or not. If not, you're going to need to move stuff around. The fence on the 4100 rocks and the blade was a straight 90 right out of the box. Dewalt, Ridgid, etc., all have the same issues if going with portables.

But I agree table saws are big, important purchases and need to be decent quality. And have decent support tools; like good push sticks, etc. (Love the Grrriper thing.)
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Old 02-10-2015, 01:18 PM   #6
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i have to agree again with scott about the bosch table saw. i have the earlier version which is the 4000 but has the same fence. its a simpler design but it also makes it much much simpler to realign if its out of parrallel with the blade, roughly 3 minutes to calibrate..


the dewalt rack and pinion sytem is nice but can be a total headache to realign, about 9 years ago we had one on site that the fence was out by 1/4" and the even bigger issue we had was that it required an odd size nut driver to adjust it.. it took one guy 3 hours of driving around to roughly 9 different tool stores to find the right size nut driver just so we could calibrate the fence
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Old 02-10-2015, 04:10 PM   #7
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I put absolutely no stock whatsoever in Brand Names. The only exception is when a particular brand is well known to be junk. I refuse to pay twice as much just for a name alone. There is no guarantee anymore that it isn't being punched out in the same factory in China as the brand x stuff.
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Old 02-14-2015, 01:48 AM   #8
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I'm a big believer in Milwaukee, especially their fuel line. I'm not so much a one brand person except for battery tools, then I like to keep them the same.
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Old 02-14-2015, 08:45 AM   #9
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I am a big fan of Ridgid
Have not used enough of Kobalt to voice an opinion. Was impressed with some of
their hand tools
Ryobi is one of the few tools that I can think of that has actually upgraded as far as quality in the last few years.
Master craft again don't know enough to voice an opinion
Craftsman really like their hand tools. Power tools I will buy almost anything but craftsman.

I use my power tools lot but am really not loyal to any one brand. I have gotten excellent service out of my Ridgid tools. Have only had 1 I didn't like, that was a 6" sander. Are there better tools yes, but for me these tools didn't cost and arm and leg. So taking them to a jobsite where they were dropped, abused, and everyday wear and tear, they preformed well and lasted longer than I expected in most cases. But I also have some DeWalt, Porter Cable, Milwaukee, and Bosch.
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Old 03-11-2015, 09:41 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PoleCat View Post
I put absolutely no stock whatsoever in Brand Names. The only exception is when a particular brand is well known to be junk. I refuse to pay twice as much just for a name alone. There is no guarantee anymore that it isn't being punched out in the same factory in China as the brand x stuff.
Not so sure about. Brand reputations come from experience. And they may change over time, but there's still meaning. Recently, I got some new screwdrivers. I paid pretty good for them. They're Whia, a German brand. And I got a pari of Knipex pliers. All of this stuff just feels hefty, strong and and high quality. Ergonomically awesome as well. Now I've no idea if they will stand the test of time, but the reputation from others seem to indicate they will. I'd rather spend a bit more for a tool that is safer due to higher quality and will last longer than buy something three times. Of course, you have to make this judgement based on the tool and your usage of it. I just got a Ryobi Miter saw, (literally today; it's sitting in a box downstairs). I'm fairly certain a Bosch I liked is higher quality. But for what I'm doing with the saw, in this case the extra $400 wasn't worth it. Still, the brand rep matters. Because mostly they're kind of accurate, even if not precise.
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Old 03-12-2015, 02:17 PM   #11
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PLEASE do not buy a router.

For 99% of the things you need a router for in home maintenance, you'd be better off using a laminate trimmer, which is basically a miniature router. The advantage of using a laminate trimmer is that it's small enough to be used with one hand, thereby freeing your other hand to hold the work piece. With a full blown router, you need both hands just to hang onto the beast, and that means you need a work bench to clamp the piece to in order to router it.

Porter Cable makes some nice Laminate Trimmers that will, for the most part, do everything you'd need a router for as a DIY'er.
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Old 03-12-2015, 11:15 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Nestor_Kelebay View Post
The advantage of using a laminate trimmer is that it's small enough to be used with one hand, thereby freeing your other hand to hold the work piece.
Hmmm. This might be true. Personally, I've never used my small trim router on anything other than a well secured work piece and two hands on the router. Same old story as to whether or not buy a router. If you start doing any serious woodworking, you absolutely will need a full size router. And will probably end up with two to four of them over time, including a small one for quick trim work.
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Old 03-13-2015, 02:26 PM   #13
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The top-rated tool is actually SnapOn tools. However, these tools are extremely pricy because of their high quality. All of their hand tools have a lifetime warranty, and their power tools have a 1-2 year warranty. This company also only produces US made tools, which is a bonus for US business enthusiasts.

Below SnapOn is Blue-Point and Craftsmen, which range around the same price. Both of these brands tend to make slightly less quality products than SnapOn, but Craftsmen is probably the easiest tool of these three brands to acquire, since it is carried in a variety of department stores.

My personal company sells top-quality hand tools, but since you're seeking out power tools for the future, I would suggest Craftsmen for high-quality for a budget-conscious price.

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Old 03-13-2015, 03:41 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Scottg View Post
Hmmm. This might be true. Personally, I've never used my small trim router on anything other than a well secured work piece and two hands on the router. Same old story as to whether or not buy a router. If you start doing any serious woodworking, you absolutely will need a full size router. And will probably end up with two to four of them over time, including a small one for quick trim work.

Your right on that, i rarely use the trim router, but the 3 1/4 hp that lives in the table get's most of the work, then the 2 hp plunger, then the 1 hp stationary in that order.
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Old 03-13-2015, 05:38 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nina Blaicher View Post
The top-rated tool is actually SnapOn tools. However, these tools are extremely pricy because of their high quality. All of their hand tools have a lifetime warranty, and their power tools have a 1-2 year warranty. This company also only produces US made tools, which is a bonus for US business enthusiasts.

Below SnapOn is Blue-Point and Craftsmen, which range around the same price. Both of these brands tend to make slightly less quality products than SnapOn, but Craftsmen is probably the easiest tool of these three brands to acquire, since it is carried in a variety of department stores.

My personal company sells top-quality hand tools, but since you're seeking out power tools for the future, I would suggest Craftsmen for high-quality for a budget-conscious price.

Nina Blaicher
Tronex Technology, Inc.
I will certainly say 1 thing you rate Craftsman power tools higher than most people I know. Most everyone I know including myself rate them a little bit, very little bit, above Harbor Freight.

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