I'm a newcomer to the group. Used to do a lot of woodworking, but for
one reason and another dropped out almost twenty years ago. Now I'm
trying to rebuild my shop and buying new tools is confusing.
I stick to name brands: Craftsman, Milwaukee, DeWalt, etc., but wonder
whether off brands are good products as well.
For instance, someone on another thread mentioned the Ridgid has a
good reputation here, so I'll expand my search to that brand.
Is there a summary anywhere of the group's opinions on the relative
merits of various brands?
If not, is there a simple list of good, bad, and indifferent brands?
I have my original Craftsman table saw, vintage 1975, Craftsman radial
saw, vintage 1969, and a DeWalt 12" chop saw with kick stand. I have
an assortment of power hand tools, both corded and cordless.
At one point, when I thought I'd never get back into woodworking, I
sold a Delta drill press (no big loss, it's replaceable) and I also
sold a Craftsman lathe of uncertain vintage, but it was 30 years old
when I bought it circa 1975. Solid cast iron, cast iron pedestal, 3"
solid oak bench top, every accessory Craftsman made for it. That was
one of a kind. Also sold a Craftsman shaper, also cast iron with a
I've recently bought a Craftsman belt sander and Craftsman pad sander,
a Milwaukee circular saw, a DeWalt biscuit cutter, a Milwaukee half
inch router, a cheap delta shaper, a bunch of new hand tools -
screwdrivers, pliers, etc.
My next tool purchase will probably be a drill press, a bench model,
as I don't foresee a need for the depth of a floor model.
There is a Woodcraft store near me:
They sell a line called Jet.
Good tools. But all are now made offshore--that holds true for
virtually every major power tool made, and most minor ones, these
days. The model 66 Powermatic used to be made in the USA, but that was
several years ago.
Check out Steel City Tools, too. I have their 16" bandsaw, and, except
for being a bit short to the table, it's a wonderful tool.
Woodcraft also charges super premium prices. I have one of the new 17"
Delta drill presses, designed specifically for woodworking. It ain't
lovable (too damned heavy to assemble for a fat old man; in fact, two
of us had to use an engine crane hoist to get the head onto the tube),
but it is good, with features no found on a machinist's DP. I'm not
enamored of the laser all that much, but, hey, it's on there and it
can be useful.
Thanks, John. Just what I needed at this time, but they couldn't find
another sucker...not true, but I'm up past my ears for the next two
months, yet I have to start wheeling and dealing to gather more
members, and some more sponsors, as well as straight company members.
Mostly, we're aiming at writing members. A lot of the new kids on the
block don't belong; they should. It can be handy.
Well, I'm sure that Doug left you in a good place to start from... I'm also
sure it will take effort to sustain and grow. The next 5-10 years will
probably see a new generation come into it's own as the "old" guys retire.
Hopefully the new guys don't run out of material and see the merit of
"a few dollars more than Craftsman, and get a better tool outa the deal."
What part is tough to understand?
Craftsman generally not top of the line stuff. Your money is better spent
with the other brands I mentioned.
Most of the time that is correct. Once in a while though, you find
something with the Sears, Kenmore, Craftsman name so on it that is the exact
item as the "brand" name, but Sears sells it for less or on sale at a
No one builds the best of everything so brand loyalty only benefits the
I would not consider Craftsman unless the tool is made by an reputable tool
company like DeWalt, Bosch, etc.
Decent brands include Milwaukee, Bosch, Makita, Festool, Panasonic, Hitachi,
and a few others, in no particular order. Porter Cable used to be much
better but has not got the good repudiation it once had.
You might indicate which particular tools you are interested in and solicit
brands or models from there. For example Bosch and Milwaukee probably make
the best jig saws. Bosch, DeWalt, and Festool probably make the better
routers. Any of the above mentioned for drills.
Not to start a Craftsman bashing thread, but the old Craftsman stuff is
generally pretty good, 30-40 years old. The new stuff I try to avoid,
although there are a few keepers in the bunch, you just need to be careful.
IMO you can buy DeWalt, Milwaukee, Bosch, and a few others for the same or a
few dollars more than Craftsman, and get a better tool outa the deal.
With tools these days you are likely to get less than you could with brand
loyalty. What you need to do is decide on the tool and what features it needs
and how much you are willing to spend. Then look at individual tools that fit
your criteria for what is well made. I hapen to think DeWalt is overpriced tor
what you get, a few years back Milwaukee was bought by somebody and I don't know
of their current quality, Bosch, Makita and hitachi are generally good but may
not be the best value for the money. As for Craftsman, they built really good
tools for a while and had a good reputation. Then for a coulpe of decades
starting late 70's or early 80's they started cutting costs and the quality went
down. Recently they started building a "professional" line (don't remember if
they call it professional or contractor or what) that is well built. They are
not the only company today with a "homeowner/hobbiest" line and a
"professional/contractor" line. The hobbiest lines are suitable for occasional
use but that is a few times a year.
There are some lesser known brands like Jet and Grizzly that sometimes give
decent quality without the brand name cost.
So to sum up, don't worry so much about brand and learning what to look for in a
well built tool and then hunt for those.
Name brands also include Black & Decker and Skil, but I don't want their
tools. There are many names that are not as well known to the non craftsman
types that make good tools, such as Festool, Kreg, Triton, and more.
Reputable stores such as Rockler, Highland Hardware, Lee Valley only carry
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