Whose power tools should I buy?

I’ve noticed that Black & Decker is one of the more affordable brands. Are these tools useful or will they be sabotaged after three or four uses? My poverty is profound, but I don’t want to buy crap. Craftsman?

If I were professional, I reckon I’d want to shell out for Milwaukee or Ryobi, but I’m just interested in intermittent house work.
Also, who should I get it from? Lowe’s? Home Depot? Sears?

B&D has or had “factory refurbished” stores around. They are factory seconds that are repaired and sold cheaper. These are sold in a branded Black and Decker brick and motor store. I bought a couple of these products and they are fine.

It’s less about the brand, and more about the voltage. For normal home duties, a 12 v set will suffice. If you plan to engage in anything that requires heavy power, like drilling into masonry, cutting ply thicker than 3/4", or slicing pipes then you will want to invest in an 18 v kit of some type.

Ryobi tends be the cheapest high end set, but B@D is good home use equipment.

A good part of the answer depends on what tool(s) you need. Can you be more specific?

…my 2 cents…

I’d recommend shelling out for good ones, they’ll be something you’ll likely have for a long time - either that or if you ever decide to resell, they’ll hold their value better. Always buy as nice a tools as you can possibly afford, this is no area to skimp. The B&D tools I have used have always been on the el cheapo side - not just in price but durability and ease of use design.

For durability, ease of use design, availability - I recommend Dewalt. Or Ryobi if you really can’t shell for the Dewalt brand.
For the lowest prices I would go to either Home Depot, or Lowes, depending on which of the two stores in your specific locale you prefer.

For example I have shopped at several Lowes, and Home Depots over the years and although prices and customer policies of the two chains are similar/comparable - their personnel (associates vary from outstanding to dickheadmorons) and specific service may vary considerably depending on the exact store.

Damn if I know. I’ve bought Ryobi, Bosch and DeWalt.

The DeWalt (12 volt cordless drill) did great around the house and the batteries lasted 3-4 years. It was a little overmatched when I tried using it for semi-pro theatre set building, but other workers were using newer upscale 12v DeWalts (w/ 1/2" chucks) that did fine. When the batteries conked out I couldn’t see spending $120 for a new set of 12v batteries.

I’ve now got an 18v Ryobi cordless drill and hate the batteries, which have consistently only lasted a year. I went to Ryobi because they offered cheap replacement batteries, so I’m reaping what I’ve sown.

From Bosch I’ve got a circular saw, jig saw and older 3/8" corded drill. I’ve had problems with all of them, although I’m admittedly not good on tool maintenance.

A decent place for reviews is Consumersearch.com, which assembles recommendations from other review sites. They’re very diligent and smart about it, and rank their various sources for reliability.

Right now Consumer Reports gives Best Buy ratings to Hitachi and Makita for circular saws (about $100). They like Porter Cable for cheap cordless tool packages ($300).

For bargains on tools, checkout the bargain/discontinued areas at Sears. The prices are good enough that you can’t go too far wrong.Or look for factory stores. But it’s risky buying refurbished cordless drills at non-factory outlets; the batteries might well be on their last legs.

Unfortunately, voltage is a poor indicator of performance for low end power tools. The cordless batteries they all use are made up of individual cells, much like the disposable batteries everyone is familiar with. Each cell is rated at 1.5 volts, and they are connected in series to get the nominal voltage. You may have noted that AA, AAA, C, and D batteries are all 1.5 volts. Well, the good manufactures Dewalt, Bosch, Milwaukee, use a large cell, about the size of a C battery. B&D and some other cheapo manufacturers use a tiny cell, the equivalent of a AAA. So they get the same nominal voltage, but the tool has terrible runtime. With NiCad batteries, you can tell by the wiehgt. If an 18v battery has good heft, like a can of soup, you’re golden. If it’s way lighter than it’s size would indicate, run away.

Now, that said, Lithium Ion batteries are the new thing. They’re a lot lighter, to it’s harder to tell by weight.

After all that, in your situation, I would go with Ryobi, because they use a universal 18v battery for all their tools, or Rigid, the Home Depot house brand. The Rigid recommendation is based on owning a corded hammer drill and framing nailer. I don’t have first hand experience with their cordless tools, but have been pleased with the price/quality of the tools I do own. All my cordless tools are DeWalt, mostly because the interchange with what I use at work.

ETA: Also, read the instructions for your battery charger. Most new chargers have a cutoff that prevents overcharging, but cheaper ones may not. You also should use a battery until it’s almost, but not totally dead. Recharging a mostly good battery will shorten it’s life.

Where does Makita fall in yer alls’ opinion. I have purchased just one cordless drill in my life. It’s a Makita ½ inch. I doubt I will ever need to buy another. So, I really don’t have anything to compare it to. I’ve used 3” hole saws on it through joists. It just goes and goes.

I really have to recommend Makita. Is that the upper end?

The cabinet factory I used to work in had all Makita cordless tools but that may just be because the offered the company a good deal on their tools.

I purchased all my cordless tools from a Sears outlet store selling refurbished Craftsman tools. The 1/2 drill and trim saw are great but the reciprocating saw was a piece of junk.

Do a search online for consumer reviews of the specific tool you are looking for, i.e., “circular saw”. Different models within brand lines differ in quality.

Makita is fairly upscale.
I have all DeWalt in my garage for a couple of reasons. One is the interchangeability of batteries (all of my stuff is 18V except for one light that is 12V)
I can buy these online really cheap sans batteries. Both Amazon and one of their resellers called Tool King have some super deals on both new bare tools and refurbished tools.
Of all of my tools, the drill driver and the circular saw are the ones I love the most. I almost never pull out my Skill 77 any longer. The DeWalt is just so handy. I loooove that saw.
Dewalt might be a bit upscale for a casual user, but I am very happy with it.

My last Makita cordless drill lasted most of 15 years. It would have lasted longer except that the garage is somewhat moist and the contact points all rusted up. I was able to keep it going a couple years by cleaning them once in a while but by then it was no longer possible to get replacement batteries for it. I loved that drill. It was small and the battery was small so it balanced nicely and was great for almost everything I did putting scenery and furniture (stage use, not always typical construction) together. The weight of it made it possible for me to use for long time periods without setting off my tennis elbow. I mourn that drill.

The replacement Ryobi is pretty good, but doesn’t really get the workout the old Makita did. I am not really doing the same things. I do have to switch to the corded one if I need lots of torque or if I need to use one for any length of time.

Personally I really don’t like Black and Decker. The tools are cheaply made really don’t hold up. If you are only doing occasional stuff though it might be ok.

I’ve a Skill Magnesium worm drive that I love. Though it is great for ripping lot’s of plywood, It’s a bit over the top when I need to cut a few 2x4s. I’ll think about a DeWalt cordless.

As you said, the drill/driver is what I use the most. My Makita is on it’s second set of batteries. It’s 12 years old. I always have two for it. Keep one charging while I’m working and switch them out.

And while this does not speak to the OP. If you need to buy a chain saw. Just get it over with and by a STIHL. My previous Husqvarna did an admirable job. I thought it was a great saw untill I bought the STIHL.

I have always bought DeWalt but have a Milwaukee 1/2" drill. Good luck so far.

Makita seems to be very good stuff. At the last company that I worked for we had an old Makita cordless 3/8" drill that we used for building shipping crates and repairing skids. As long as there was a charged battery that thing was nearly unstoppable. I would buy Makita without much hesitation.

I’m a tool junkie so I’m predjudiced towards the better stuff. If you’re using it once or twice a year for relatively light work there’s no sense overspending.

Lowes or Home Depot is fine or shop for the best deal online, just make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. I don’t know if it’s true or not but I’ve heard that Walmart has some tools that are made specifically for them with cheaper innards but looking exactly the same as the manufacturers “regular” model sold other places.

I have a Stihl gas powered hedge clipper and gas powered leaf blower. Both have had serious problems and were expensive to fix.
Can’t speak for thier chainsaws.

Just my .02

I have this Makita combo set, and while I never use the impact wrench, the driver is unstoppable. My old shop used a wide variety of tools, and I have to second what everybody says about investing in better stuff. Lousy tools will cause you grief in the end. Black & Decker is one of Stanley Works’ brands, along with DeWalt, Porter Cable, and Craftsman. All of them are on the lower end. I’ve had particularly bad luck with Porter Cables, whose chucks have tended to fail after a year or two.

Milwaukee generally makes excellent power tools, and they’ve been around for a very long time. I have a Milwaukee circular saw and a drill that blow through any task easily. Porter Cable used to make good tools, but I don’t know how they rate nowadays.

There are many battery tool sets out there, and it really depends on what you need it to do. A DeWalt set is expensive: if you’re only going to use the tools infrequently, you might want to look at Ryobi or even Skil sets. My Makita cordless drill finally crapped out on me after about 10 years. Even new batteries go dead almost immediately, so I’m guessing something wrong with the tool itself.

As a car-electronics installer, my experience is with DeWalt and Makita. I like both, but find the Makita products to be less noisy. I currently use an 18-volt Makita impact gun, with a drill chuck I can attach to it for occasional drilling (mostly plastic and thin metal).

DeWalt is the high-end version of Black and Decker.

I’ve been in a Black and Decker factory outlet (in Kittery, Maine) and love going there. Lots of refurbished product at good prices.

My mother had a mid-grade Black and Decker cordless drill for occasional household repairs and it’s been great…I think for occasional use you’ll be happy with Black and Decker.

I agree with the others that voltage isn’t terribly important. That being said, the little drills like 9.6 volt and lower do sacrifice some power to gain their small size and light weight. If that’s not important to you, I’d go with 12 volts or larger.

Here are what I think should be your things to consider:

  1. How many batteries, and how long to charge. I have two batteries and a one-hour fast charger, because I can’t afford work interruptions. A single battery with an overnight charger would mean you need to plan and be ready for whatever job you intend to do, and the work will come to a stop when the battery dies.

I recommend something with two batteries. A slow charger would probably be no problem…two batteries should get you through even a big project in a day.

  1. RPM: Many drills have a “gearshift” to select two (or sometimes three) speeds. Like a car, the higher gear is faster, but the lower gear is more powerful. At any rate, anything less than 1200RPM in high “gear” will be annoying when driving things like drywall screws.

  2. Battery and parts availability: Regardless of brand, you’ll find that a replacement battery costs around 50% of the price of a whole new kit…so after a number of years when your two batteries eventually fail, you’ll probably end up just throwing everything away and buying a whole new kit. Regardless, buy a name-brand unit so you’ll be able to buy new batteries when the need arises.

  3. Name brand: As in my last comment, avoid the no-name stuff you see at the auto parts store, at Ocean State Job Lot, Harbor Freight, et cetera. Even if they do work well, you’ll end up with a doorstop when you find out you can’t find any replacement parts.

  4. Compatibility with other power tools from the same brand: Think about what you might want to buy in the future. For example, one company might offer a choice of 12, 14, and 18-volt drills, but their only circular saw is 18 volts. Suppose you might want the circular saw someday in the future…in that case, choose the 18-volt drill so you can share batteries between the tools later.

This will help prevent having to throw away and replace everything as in #3—if, say, two years from now you buy the saw that comes with two extra batteries, you can “borrow” the batteries to use in your drill, even if the drill’s batteries have gone bad.

Another quote for Makita. I’ve got one of their early 9.4V 3/8" drills that is on it’s second set of batteries and third on-off switch. Must be at least 20 years old, and still does a great job. I like a tool you can get repair parts for, no matter how old.

I’ve found that Craftsman does a good job, too. I just replaced the batteries on a 24V weedeater that was over five YO. They cost only about a third of what the original tool cost, which pleased me. A lot of times a replacement battery will cost almost what the whole tool cost when new.

Sorry - meant “vote”, not “quote”. And I previewed the thing, too.