Is Dewalt THE top tier brand?

I work in construction and obviously I see a lot of different contractors. Years ago, I noticed most construction guys had a lot of Milwaukee brand tools and quickly everyone switched to Dewalt brand. I rarely see anything but Dewalt’s these days.

My foreman is in his 50’s. He owns a lot of Craftsman brand tools, buys their more premium stuff but claims Dewalt is not the best but he would say so wouldn’t he?
I only own one Dewalt product which is a drill. It’s fine I guess as far as drills go but was pricey. I have pretty good luck with Black n Decker tools plus they’re more reasonably priced.

I’m curious why Dewalt brand tools are so heavily used or do you see other brands used more often in your area?

Dewalt is not the best brand nor is it the worst. You frequently see tool popularity in patches. If Bob is happy with his Dewalt, Jeff the guy working with him may pick up the same. This continues and everyone on the job site is now working with Dewalts. If Bob had started with a Makita things may have turned out differently.

Dewalt historically has offered a decent line up across many different tools which makes it easy for someone to stay brand loyal.

There is deviation amount trades, electricians in my area tend to use Milwaukee and plumbers tend to use Rigid, carpenters tend towards Dewalt.

I don’t have any brand loyalty, I have tools from multiple different manufacturers. I run a lot of corded tools so I don’t have to use batteries as a deciding factor.

When it comes to the best brands your looking at Hilti and Festool but most guys on job sites aren’t going to spend that type of money. A 400 dollar Hilti drill doesn’t dramatically out perform a Dewalt. When the Hilti walks away when you’re not looking it hurts a lot more though.

One factor is all the battery powered tools with the interchangeable batteries. So if you have a dewalt drill, you can use the same batteries and chargers on your circular saw and reciprocating saw, etc. It’s handy. But I’m a Makita fan, myself.

DeWalt is a quality mid-tear brand for power tools. You’ll get a tool that performs well, has a decent warranty, and will last, at a reasonable price point for a serious hobbyist, handyman, or contractor. It certainly won’t stand up to the level of abuse that something like a Festool or Bosch will, but that’s why those cost a lot more.

I was told this by a guy in a tool store. Not a big box, a real tool store.

Up until the mid 80’s, Black and Decker made a line that was very, very good homeowner/handyman and almost pro.
Then they destroyed their reputation by making toys. Yes, kiddie toys. “My First Kitchen” was one I remember (how many ways is that wrong?).
Meanwhile, DeWalt had been making “Radial Arm Saws”. When that market dried up, B&D bought DeWalt to re-enter the market they used to have.
I still have my 1/2" B&D drill from 1983. It has taken a beating and still works fine. Used it to install 2 kitchens - a drill-intensive task.

Is DeWalt really re-badged B&D? Never looked into it.

B&D took the idea of making their contractor-grade tools a different brand from Honda/Acura. B&D had actually bought out DeWalt back in 1960, but they had been phasing out the brand name over time. However, tradesmen generally knew the DeWalt brand and had a highly favorable reaction to it. B&D didn’t really have a contractor-grade tool line until then – just handyman and industrial. (Makita pretty much created the contractor tool market in the 70s and 80s, apparently.)

Source/further reading from the Baltimore Sun, 1992-04-05: Black & Decker hopes DeWalt tools’ reputation will conjure new business

You get what you pay for!

Best: Bosch Greenlee Milwaukee

DeWalt is well placed in the contractor’s tool market. The balance of price/quality is right on for that market. For most of their tools there’s an equivalent that usually costs a little less from the other brands but a contractor can just go with DeWalt and get what he’s expecting each time.

Their distinctive yellow color is a good marketing move also, DeWalt tools are instantly recognizable. That could make it appear that they are the contractor’s choice just because the other tools they may have are not so noticeable.

Quality varies from model to model. Flatly stating that (for example) Bosch is the best tool is incorrect, as many Bosch products get very poor consumer reviews, while other tools from Bosch are five-star. Same goes for DeWalt and every other tool within economic reach of the ordinary person. Seriously, who the fuck can afford Festool?

I have a number of DeWalt power and battery tools, because they get good user reviews and perform to my expectations. I also have a Bosch hammer drill because it’s indestructible, and a Makita biscuit cutter that gets better reviews than any of the others.

I like Milwaukee and Bosch also, not just DeWalt. Depends on the tool/need/job. Even Ryobi and Rigid have tools I like. Heck, I’ve even been known to buy cheap stuff from Harbor Freight. Depends…

I’m not a contractor but serious DYIer. Currently doing all my own carpentry on a restaurant we are opening in what was just a shell of a building. ( I plead insanity). I started with a 18v DeWalt cordless drill 20 years ago and have kept adding more DeWalt stuff over the years. Partly for battery compatibility and in the case of the corded stuff because I can expect a good tool for the price. I do own other brands as well.

Lots of tradesmen around here seem to favor Milwaukee.

As has been said no one brand has all the best tools. Anyone who says different has swallowed the kool-aid.

Personally I wouldn’t put much faith in the opinion of someone who owns all Craftsman stuff. They have been coasting on their reputation for a long, long time and I have been burned by their products too often.

This may be out of date, but I love my Bosch because they actually made a “high-end handyman” drill when I was last shopping. It’s half the size and a third the weight of a serious contractor drill, but build solidly and incredibly comfy in the hand. More than enough power for 99.9% of jobs I’ll ever need a drill for; my father borrowed it when he built a deck a few years back because it’s so much less tiring than his heavy-duty Dewalt.

Dewalt is pretty expensive for what it is, but you can get the parts to repair them, so you can keep them going and going. Really heavy continuous usage can result in the electronic trigger modules going faulty, but a replacement is a lot cheaper than a new machine.

If you really want to be working that hard for that long, day after day, you’d be better off either adding it into the cost of a contract and treating the equipment as job disposable - write it off against tax. If you do this you then take a different view, and even fairly cheap machines then become viable.

If reliability is critical, then you have to pay, and that’s when you start getting into Hilti territory - this is stuff you don’t throw away after the contract is done

I am pretty loyal to DeWalt. I got a 12V cordless drill as a gift many years ago and it performed (and continues to perform) so well I just stuck with them. I just recently bought a 20v combo set with recip. saw, circ. saw, 1/2" hammer drill, 1/4" impact and a flashlight. I’ve only used the saws so far, used the recip with a pruning blade extensively, cutting up the smaller branches of trees I felled with a chainsaw. Very pleased.
At my last job and at the current one I’ve used Makita and Milwaukee and they are really good too.

I moonlighted at Lowe’s for a while about ten years ago. I wasn’t the “Tool World” guy; I was in the hardware department across the aisle. I don’t know what was the best or best-selling tool line, but I do recall that Black and Decker was considered shit. I agree that the DeWalt yellow is pretty good for brand identification.

I found Dewalt to be pretty good. Consistent quality over many, many years.
Craftsman used to be a solid reliable brand. Went to shit about 20 years ago and never recovered. Same with Black and Decker.
Makita is now a strong contender for affordable tools. Slightly better than Dewalt IMHO, slightly less than Milwaukee.

You pays your money and you takes your choice. YMMV, etc.

If a professional on a job site whose livelihood depends on his tools doesn’t need to spend $400 on a drill, who does? Rich hobbyists?

Even among contractors, there is a lot of variation on what they are willing to spend on tools. Some want the tool to the best possible, damn the cost. Others view it as: it’s good, and I can always replace it if it breaks since it doesn’t cost that much…

Some of the guys I knew who had specialized into the pricier types of crafts had some pretty cool, and very pricey, tools that they carted around in their pretty vehicles. I had tools that I was pleased with, and went in my purchased used Ford truck’s tool box.

If I was a contractor of any size, I would absolutely invest in appropriate Hilti drills. I used them extensively when I was in the military and have never come across a better hammer drill. Even the battery-powered drills outperformed any other corded hammer drill.

Your run of the mill contractor usually don’t drop the big bucks because security is a constant issue. The more secure the site is the more willing they are to spend. For example if you go into a cabinet shop you’ll see Festool tools, but they may carry Milwaukee in the van they send to houses.

Contractors that are very specialized and show up to do one thing. Like the guy I have do concrete cores on commercial sites. Everything he uses cost a fortune, but it allows him to show up x-ray and core a half dozen holes in a few hours, and be on his way. I can’t x-ray but I can core with my roto-hammer, my $1k Makita roto-hammer set up is blown out of the water by his $5k Hilti coring set up.

Also high end contractors. One of the outfits I work with specializes in expensive homes. A 5 million dollar build is the cheapest site you’ll see them on. Anywhere they set up the site will be fenced off and you need to go through security to be there. They get all types of really expensive tools to play with.