How Important is it to Buy Tools Made in the USA?

Not all tools are created equal. For many years, tools that are manufactured in the United States have been considered some of the best tools on the market, with few exceptions.

In recent years, countries like Taiwan and China have taken steps to increase tool quality, and while they’re still (for the most part) not built to the same degree of performance and dependability as USA-made equipment, there are many overseas tools that are now worth investing in.

Note:  To see which tool brands are favorites with our readers, be sure to check out this poll. You may be surprised.

Made in the USA

tools-made-in-usaHeadquartered and (sometimes) manufactured in the United States, one of the best examples of the tool quality available in the USA is the Stanley/Black & Decker brand. Although many people are not aware of it, this conglomeration is responsible for some of the most popular tools in use by amateurs and professionals alike, including brands such as:

This short list is only a small representation of the companies owned by the brand, but serves as an example of the type quality available and the different types of tools the company manufactures. For example, Stanley is considered a home DIY tool while DeWalt is one of the most prolific tools on any construction site.

Another popular U.S. brand is Danaher, which manufactures equipment under the names Amprobe, Tektronix, Fluke, and others.

Or the APex Tool Group, which is responsible for Apex, Plumb, Lufkin, and the trademarked Crescent tool line.

Some additional “made in the USA” tool brands include:

Made In China

chinaChina represents a number of highly respected tool companies, such as Techtronic Industries Inc., the company which makes such top-rated tools as Ryobi, Milwaukee, and Homelite. This company also produces tools under the Ridgid brand name, under a licensing agree with Emerson Tools.

While Makita is not strictly a Chinese company, they do have manufacturing facilities in China, Germany, Mexico, and other locations.

Most tools available through brick and mortar giant Harbor Freight (including Central Pneumatic air compressors) are also manufactured in China, although these tools tend to be of a lower quality than you will find from other Chinese manufacturers.

Made In Taiwan

taiwanWhile Taiwan has made a reputation for cheaply made tools over the years, some manufacturers have increased the quality level over the past decade or so, earning a new reputation of high quality tools.

This list includes the well-known GearWrench brand, as well as Kobalt and Delta Power Equipment (which is headquartered in the USA but made in Taiwan). Some of the tools available through NAPA are made in Taiwan as well as tools from Blue Point, Genius, and more.

Made in Germany

germanyBosch is one of the first brands to come up in conversations regarding German tool manufacturing, and that particular brand includes the long-time favorite home and medium construction line of Skil tools.

Some other popular German brands include:

The Final Comparisons

While tools made in the USA are still the overall leaders in most quality comparison charts, you should also keep in mind that the US has a greater number of tool manufacturers than other countries, and not all tool makers are high quality.

Taiwan manufacturers have made great strides in improving the quality of tools and many are on par with those made in the US while not costing as much. Additionally, German engineering has had an influence on equipment made all over the world, and many foreign and American made tools have their roots in exquisite German engineering and performance.

Over time, the best qualities of different manufacturers are adopted by their competitors or even improved upon, which means that the manufacturer’s name is less influential today than it might have been 25 years ago.

The USA is still the leader in quality and performance, and every professional tool collection will contain a large number of tools made in the USA, but there are leaders from other nations as well, and their contribution should not be completely ignored.

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Comments

  1. I try to avoid products manufactured in communist countries but price and availability does determine my purchasing decisions.
    My favorite screwdrivers are Wiha, made in Germany. I also like my made in Japan Vessel Impacta screwdrivers.
    Favorite pliers are Knipex made in Germany.
    Favorite punches and chisels are made in USA Mayhew.
    GearWrench made in Taiwan for chrome sockets and ratchets.
    For impact sockets I tend to but Sunex or Grey Pneumatic as both are made in Taiwan. I also own GearWrench made in China impact sockets. All are great, only real difference I’ve noticed is the country of origin and quality of the cases.
    IMO it’s hard to beat Westling Machine socket organizers. They are a bit pricey but IMO well worth the price in the long run.
    Can’t beat the quality of made in the USA Trusty Cook dead blow hammers.
    Made in Mexico Wilton B.A.S.H hammers are excellent.
    Pretty hard to beat made in China US General tool boxes from Harbor Freight for the price with a coupon. Money saved on tool boxes leaves a person more money to spend on tools.
    Buying different brands for different tool types is, IMO, wise if you are looking for better tools. For instance I really like GearWrench, owned by Bain Capital, chrome sockets and ratchets but I personally don’t care for their pliers and screwdrivers. I tend to look for tools better than what Harbor Freight sells but I tend to avoid high priced tool truck products.

  2. Unfortunately, while this article is at least partially true. It’s due to be noted that RATCHET AND SOCKET SETS that are made any of the Stanley Black & Decker companies are in fact NOT Made in USA.

  3. Foreign manufacturers of tools are very quickly trying to take over the manufacturing of tools especially China just as foreign car makers have virtually taken over our car manufacturing. So if you are like myself and do not want to see this happen, if you can’t afford to buy new American Tools, buy the American brand used. I never thought I would see the day that China stole the craftsman tools but it is gone now and now have their brand in our NAPA Auto parts.
    I used to buy tools from NAPA when they had New Britain tools; later went to a branch of new Britain Challenger which later became Proto. All that line of tools was great tools Craftsman, New Britain, Challenger Proto they were all good tools because of the one thing they had in common; they were all made here by American citizens. So if you want too keep the one thing we have left, if u cant afford news ones like me, buy used Snap ON or mac the only too manufacturers of American tools left there is one more Cornwell they are not very well advertised. So please don’t let foreigners take over our tool market.

    • Paul, I agree that it’s difficult to see Chinese and Taiwanese tools dominate the market. Many once 100% American brands are now manufactured in Asia or certain types of tools for a brand are still made in the US but others made overseas (making it extremely hard to update the list of brands above). I still remember when my daughter first started reading a couple years ago and asked me why everything was made in China. I couldn’t give her a good answer.

      But, I will say that even if a brand no longer manufactures its tools in America, they often have headquarters, warehouses, and buildings used for final assembly in some cases in the US so while it now may have foreign ownership, you are still supporting American workers here.

      I try not to get political here but at least Trump is trying to do something about Chinese tariffs to possibly even the playing field a bit.

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