having read the posts about Ridgid and Metabo I decided to put in my
opinion on HAND HELD power tools in Europe. My comments are based on
personal experience, conversations with other woodworkers and on the
information I received by watching professionals and their tools.
Due to the fact that I'm just 18 years old and buy high quality stuff
I have, of course, not tried all different tools and brands so my
point of view is certainly not absolutely objective.
(Brands are in alphabetical order)
http://www.milwaukee.de/ (most annoying site, you can't view the
different tools without password)
I have a 30+ year-old AEG hammer drill with circular saw, angle
grinder and orbital sander attachment. There's even a table to use the
saw as table saw. At the time these tools were made AEG was
independent of Atlas Copco. The quality is quite good, the drill got
some new brushes I think and still works after it saw a lot of use
when my dad built our house. As far as I know Milwaukee is the
professional line of the company since 2003. Many tools, offered in
the US, are not available in Europe. As a lack of experience I can't
comment on their current tools but in general they make a good
Atlas Copco is also known for compressors, pneumatic tools etc.
Black & Decker/Elu/Dewalt:
Let me start with the Black & Decker-Elu-Dewalt-relations (as far as I
know), for those who are not familiar with.
Long time ago B & D started selling rather cheap tools in Europe.
These tools were primarily designed for the hobbyist. But also
professionals bought them and where rather disappointed of the
quality. Then B & D introduced a "profi line" and hoped that
professionals would buy these tools. But these tools were hardly
successful because B & D was associated with hobby woodworker quality.
Now B & D needed a solution in order to win professional woodworkers
as their customers. Then they found this company Eugen Lutz (ELU)
which was a highly regarded brand in Europe, especially because of
their routers, hand held power planers, mitre saws, ... Finally B & D
bought this company and added more and more B & D tools to the Elu
line. In other parts of the world Elu products were sold under the
Dewalt label. The famous DW 621 router was in fact developed by Elu as
OF 97. Personally, I question if Dewalt themselves would have been
able to make such a good tool. Anyway, about three years ago (year
2000) B & D decided change Elu to Dewalt and from this time on, Elu
was no longer available.
Actually, Black and Decker is a brand name but I regard them more or
less as no name tools. They introduced interesting, multi-functional
tools in the last year, for example the Versa Pack cordless system and
the "Multischleifer" (multi sander). I tried this sander and can say
that it doesn't sand very aggressively, nor does it leave an
outstandingly smooth surface, has not enough power, poor dust
collection and extremely high vibration (out old AEG attachment worked
much better). IMO you can't combine ROS and orbital sander if you
expect high quality.
Elu would be one of my brands if it were still available. I don't
really trust Dewalt and their strategies. They constantly change the
locations of the factories and I'm not conscious that they continue
the famous Elu quality. Elu introduced "power boxes" (= Systainers as
we know them from Festool) and Dewalt took them out of program again.
I'm not complaining about the Systainers but I don't understand why
Dewalt doesn't offer them. More and more companies (Makita, Metabo,
Mafell, Lamello, Protool) introduced Systainers and at the same time
Dewalt stopped selling them.
The Dewalt cordless stuff looks great but I wonder who needs a 24 V
drill. It really annoys me that Dewalt is much more expensive here
than in the US.
For example: DW 980K2 costs EUR 357.6, which is $ 421.36 at today's
Skil tools are regarded as low-end stuff. Personally, I never used
their tools and don't see any reason why I should try them.
Bosch has two lines here: Green for the hobbyist, blue for the
professional. The differences between green and blue vary from tool to
tool. While the blue jigsaw is a completely different tool than the
green model, differences other than the color are hardly visible on
some circular saws.
Again, not all American tools are available here, which is also true
the other way round (check the blue jigsaws, for example). IMO Bosch
makes good tools but lacks are thorough system thought. Their tool
boxes are sometimes too small to hold the tool properly, you need even
adapters to make Bosch tools fit a Bosch vac etc. Bosch offers a wide
range of rotary hammers, now a huge cordless program and very nice
jigsaws. During the past years, Bosch introduced new, innovative tools
like the "Varioschleifer", micro dust bags, "Feinschnittsäge", etc.
Other tools look also good but don't seem to be outstanding.
Famous for rotary hammer drills for heavy duty use. I never used Duss
but professionals claim that the hammer drills are comparable to
Finest engineering and excellent quality. I'd go with Fein tools if I
were working with metal. Fein doesn't offer many tools for woodworkers
but I'd like to see one of their corded screw drivers and the
Minimaster in my shop.
I know that Flex invented the angle grinder many years ago and that's
it. Many PC tools are not available here and I don't even know where
to check out Flex locally.
Industrial standard in rotary hammer drills. Exceptional quality, I
use an old TE 12S which I got from my granddad. Special tools for
measuring, fastening etc.
Apart from this stuff and the rotary hammers, most tools are made by
To be honest, I don't have any experience with Hitachi and this
company is not very popular. Recently I saw simple cordless drill.
Some tools on their website make good impressions. I used an old
rotary hammer but that's it.
High-end carpentry and woodworking tools. Offered a nice plunge saws
and guide rails. As far as I know TTS bought them in 2000 and now
offers some of their tools.
Offers two lines: Blue for the hobbyist, red for the professional. I
have a hammer drill which I like. It was made some years ago when
Kress had only one single line. Some of their tools are average, I'd
say, others (biscuit joiner, red ROS, red cordless drills, etc) offer
good value for the money. The power cord of the blue line is way too
Lamello makes the biscuit joiners of my dreams. IMO professionals use
almost exclusively their biscuit joiners.
Famous for the Erika Pull-push saws. Mafell concentrates on carpentry
tools but offers also great stuff for fine woodworking. It's the only
company from Festool (as far as I know) which offers plunge saws. I
think it was last year they invented the "DuoDübler" an almost
revolutionary product. This year they came out with a new circular saw
and a flexible guide rail. This rail is 1.4 m long and can be
transported with the saw in a single systainer.
Many professionals use Maktia cordless drills, which might be a kind
of tradition because Makita is said to be one of the first companies
which offered good cordless drills. Their cordless stuff is still
impressive but kind of oversized in some cases IMO. I use an older 7.2
cordless drill and I'm satisfied although I had a problem some years
ago. Professionals also seem to like their portable planes which I
don't really understand. The dust port is fixed (other brands allow
the customer to change it from the right to the left side) and power
cords are too short (on other tools too).
One of my buddies from Germany works almost exclusively with Metabo
and is very satisfied with it. Metabo offers stationary power tools
(for the hobbyist) too and is also the owner of Elektra Beckum and
Lurem. I think Metabo makes high quality tools but nothing really
outstanding. Metabo doesn't offer different lines but looking trough
the catalogue you can easily discover the premium stuff, check their
ROS's for comparison, for example.
Their tools are available but hardly known here.
Scheer's main field are large stationary power tools but they also
make routers. I was looking at their tools before I got mine and
that's my impression. The design is often "agricultural", the quality
seems very high, the prices are very high. A midsize router
(comparable to the DW 621 which seems to be standard in the US) would
have cost EUR 673.96, which I wasn't willing to spend. Scheer offers a
high-end routing system for stairs. Producing stairs their unit might
be worth the cost.
Is the name of a company under which three individual companies work
Festool (tools for woodworking, painting, automotive branch)
Protool (concentrates on construction and carpentry)
Tanos (invented the famous Systainer)
Festool is my - and many professionals' - preference. A few days ago I
looked into the car of a company which does remodelling jobs. I found
a shelf full of Festool Systainers inside.
The reason why Festool has such an excellent reputation is that they
offer almost unique tools in some fields. Let me give you a few
The cordless drill with right angle and eccentric attachment
The jigsaw with the CP guide
The plunge saw which is the best example. Mafell is the only company
(as far as I know) which offers a comparable saw. Years ago there was
a third one - Holzher - but Festool finally bought it. This shows that
there are hardly any competitors in the class and while Mafell has
excellent saws they don't offer the wide range of accessories for saw
and guide rails.
Last year Festool celebrated 40 years of Festool guide rails. So they
were probably the first or one of the first brands which offered such
a system. As a professional who has been satisfied for more than 25
years why should you buy another brand?
This might be the reason why Festool is almost alone in this field. A
company would be successful at selling plunge saws if they were way
cheaper or way better as Festool. Way cheaper is difficult if you want
the same grade of quality and way better is apparently difficult too,
otherwise Bosch, Metabo, etc would offer such a saw.
As for the ROS, it works almost without vibrations, has an excellent
dust collection (another Festool feature: you don't need adapters in
connection with a Festool hose), VS, ....
Festool has a 30 days money back guarantee and a three year warranty,
another unique feature.
Is a rather new company within the TTS organization. While Festool
concentrates on "fine woodworking", Protool offers tools for rough
carpentry and building jobs.
I hope I could give you somewhat of an idea what the situation is like
in Europe and I'm willing to answer your questions if I'm able to.
Christian Aufreiter, Austria
PS: If I forgot an important brand, let me know!