Updated on August 10, 2022
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
Headquartered 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.
Related: Mac Tools vs Matco Tools
For example, Stanley is considered a home DIY tool while DeWalt is one of the most prolific tools on any construction site.
This is unfortunately the trend in the past few years as companies try to get their tools to the masses at a lower price point but at the same time their quality suffers.
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, Crescent, and the now retired Armstrong Tools line.
Some additional “made in the USA” tool brands include:
- Klein Tools
- Occidental Leather
- Westling Machine
- Wilde Tool
- Wright Tool
Made In China
China 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 and their excellent US General tool chests) are also manufactured in China.
Made In Taiwan
While 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). Grizzly tools are predominantly made in Taiwan but some from China.
Tekton is generally made in Taiwan (70%) with many tools made in the USA (25%). They are consistently one of the best values in tools when it comes to price and quality.
Some of the tools available through NAPA are made in Taiwan as well as tools from Blue Point, Genius, Gray Pneumatic, Sunex, and more.
Made in Germany
Bosch 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.
35 thoughts on “How Important is it to Buy Tools Made in the USA?”
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.
Thanks Ben for the excellent comment!
Hey Chris this article is not accurate. I have Channellock tools and was suprised to find out when they arrived 1 set made in INDIA (Crap) and the other made in Taiwan ( less crap but still crap). So at a minimum Channellock is not made in the USA.
Thanks Chuck. This one is news to me, especially about India(!). Were these recent purchases? If you have time, would you mind sending a pic of the tools to chris (at) garagetooladvisor.com?
Thanks for the this good list. You and I seem to have the same ideas for value and function of tools and their supporting pieces.
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.
Z. Paul, that is not true. Proto sockets and ratchets are all made in Dallas, TX
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.
Bottom line- American made tool are far and few between these days. Your ONLY choice left is “older” garage sale/auction tools. (Unless you are rich or all your tools remain in a well guarded shop and never need replaced).
Many yrs ago third world countries had “somewhat skilled” workers putting in over 80 hrs a week… at less than a dollar an hour with no benefits. (Some at less than 10 cents an hour). Meanwhile we demanded $20, then $30… finally $40/hr PLUS almost that much in a benefit package to build a Ford or Chevy! You do the math!!! We cannot compete with that and they outnumber us 100 to 1.
12 to 1 at best.
I just know Quality in any thing went i see them or feel it in any thing. Feel it hit it with hand if a machine is tuff or make noise etc. Making the right decision is an good investment. Quality counts. Also look gor warranty. Example Sthil make good chain saws. Echo makes great stuff great engine but echo gives best warranty for 5 years. Most hand tools WARRANTY are life time but lowes craftsman i stayed away from you must have reciept YUCK ????. Home depot tools husky must have reciept yuck ????! I stayed away grom husky tools. I stayed with ARMSTRONG, PROTO ,WRIGHT TOOLS these tool division are no problem returning. If you beat them with a hammer that’s abuse and warranty is voided. Craftsman tools at sears no problem taking it back but sears died. These days i am staying on wright tools and Williams tools. Gear wrench i have some but must have reciept but i never returned one yet. Some people are too cheap they got what they psid for. Smart people buy Quality. For those who can not afford a new good Quality tool set its wise to go to a big outside flee market. Good luck.
I work at our local Home Depot. If you have a broken Husky Tool, we will hand you a new one.
Stanley Black & Decker bought Craftsman from Sears. They are sold in Lowe’s, Sears, and Ace Hardware. There are still Sears open (after Covid wears down). Sears still has rights for the Craftsman name for 15 years from 2017. They aren’t made in the USA. It seems they are from Taiwan, but there might others. Stanley B&D are supposedly working to move manufacturing the the USA.
Please make correction if there are errors in this post
I just picked up a set of Craftsmen screwdrivers in Lowe’s – around a half hour ago. The price was good. The screwdrivers were the upgraded versions with the soft handles.
I looked on the back, and even without my glasses I could see “Made in China”.
I then picked up a set of Kobalt screwdrivers. I looked on the back. “Made in China” was conspicuous.
I put it all back. I am done playing along with this globalist crap. I’ll save up my money and buy from non-communists. Before you scoff, note that if I typed this while in China I would quickly become an involuntary organ donor. Death is large numbers is a tool used over the decades by any and all Communists/Leftists/Socialist/Marxists.
I wanted to add this to my post. Seeing how China has been so secret about the Covid-19, and how much of our medicines are made there and in India, I will do what I should have done years ago. Don’t buy Made in China. Vietnam, too. Communist run countries. Buy as much as I can find in the USA. Second choice would be countries that good allies of the USA. I will contact companies that don’t sell USA items and let them know I am leaving as a customer. I hope many others will do the same.
When Japan destroyed our electronics companies and made items in Japan. Then along came China. They said, let’s make cheap anything forUSA companies. Then they started buying companies and real estate. IBM small computers are now Lenova made in China. I just learned China bought Smithfield that sells meat products. They have many meat products brand names. Ekrich and Nathan and more.
I want to buy USA products, made by my neighbors!
I will agree that we need to become less dependent on Chinese made products. Until more US companies move their manufacturing back to the states, it’s slim pickings on many products, especially when shopping on a budget.
You can try to buy your meats from local butchers. Depending on where you live, you may even be able to go in halves with a neighbor or family friend on a full cow and store it in your deep freezer. Try to get grass fed beef any time you can.
BTW, I grew up on a cattle farm.
I no longer eat beef, and have cut back on all meats to be honest. Switched to a Whole Foods Plant Based Diet, (Not Vegan/Vegetarian) and haven’t looked back. Less need for freezer or even refrigerator.
I too have been contacting many tool and tool box companies and making statements known about buying American products. Hck, I even sent Goodyear a professional message yesterday about their new rules concerning BLM and Blue Lives Matter and MAGA attire. No more Goodyear products of any kind for me unless or until they stop caving and cowering and treating their employees like that.
I just stumbled upon another small US made tool company.
Lang. http://www.langtools.com/ used to be A&E Tools.
I orders a ratchet wrench set – lets see how it goes.
This is from their web page – About us
The Lang family has been making tools in Racine, Wisconsin since 1932. We understand professional hand tools – we understand how professionals use their tools.
We are expert toolmakers. From our beginning 80 years ago, A&E has been committed to leading the way in automotive tools. We developed and patented the first Ratcheting Box Wrench, now a standard in every technician’s toolbox.
Identifying what the customer needs, and what new tools will help the professional do their job better, faster, and easier has been A&E’s hallmark.
At A&E / Lang Tools we take pride in manufacturing the highest quality products. Our customers are professional automotive technicians and industrial end users, along with consumers who demand professional grade hand tools. They won’t settle for anything but the best in their tools, and neither will we. Our family of toolmakers is deeply committed to quality, value, innovation, and most of all, to our customers.
I avoid buying anything made in china, but being in the Philippines it is very difficult to find things not made in china, including tools. Now, there is a ‘FLYMAN USA’ brand tool that seems to be gaining popularity here in the Philippines. I went to google search it to find out if it is in-fact made in the U.S.A. I could not find a thing about it’s manufacturer. I am aware that china is well known for it’s fakery, including naming items to make it appear made in a country other than their own or stores names to make it like It’s a Japanese or Korean store. Talking about pride in their products! 😀 I am wondering if you can help me figure this out. Thank you so much!
I don’t believe these tools are made in the States. I read their facebook page. I sent them a message, but have not received an answer. As soon as I do, I’ll let you know.
I feel your pain, man. I have been trying to research Flyman USA myself and come up with nothing, so I default that to Made in China/PRC. Taiwan made tools are awesome, however. Most of my Tekton is Taiwan, some USA made. Toptul, Hans Tools are two Taiwan brands you can purchase in the Philippines easily in person or Lazada.
OK, finally I have found a set of Flyman U.S.A Jack Stands on FB Marketplace. The box in the picture has the marking “MADE IN PRC” which means Peoples Republic of China (Beijing Governed).
I agree with you on the statement of where things are made, and who they are made by makes a huge difference. I would like to reiterate what you said about China vs. Taiwan, in that things that come out of Taiwan are superior to Chinese made garbage. Plus, They are a Democratically run government.
For the most part, I also understand about companies, like TTI that own Milwaukee, but produce tools in Taiwan and a few in the States. But for the quality control, they don’t use Taiwanese people. From what I was told, they use Americans. The tool companies that use Taiwan for their production tend to also use Americans, or at least locals that have been well trained by Americans so that they know what they are looking for. Take Gearwrench for example. They use Taiwan to manufacture their tools, and it shows when compared to tools made in China. It has a lot to do with the education levels of these different regions. As much as I hate to say it, many times you can even get better products out of Vietnam, even though they are Communist. Better education and better outlook on life, better quality of life. Even though that may not be a large margin, it is still a little better. This translates into better workers, better products.
So as much as it pains me to buy Milwaukee tools made in Taiwan, rather than the U.S., at least it is not China.
I myself am putting together a business plan and dream team to manufacture here in the States, and I want to have as much of my product made in the U.S. as possible, if not 100%. However, sometimes you have to ask if it is worth it to reinvent the wheel, or buy the highest quality product from off shore. I mean, there are some great European companies out there that make certain components that I can use. There are also some small parts that may be sourced from Taiwan as well. But if the main body is manufactured here, from scratch, then I believe it will not only be a better, higher quality end product, it will also be more attractive to buyers.
But in the end, I still have my Made in USA Craftsman tools, though it is a small collection these days, I will hold on to them in hopes that I can exchange them for a Made in USA replacement. My ratchet needs to be rebuilt or exchanged.
But as I said, I will buy what I can afford, and hope that it is a Made in USA Product.
Well said. Thanks for your comments Jeremiah.
I don’t believe that a handful of individuals on this page are the only people who are concerned about quality in the products they buy, and that doesn’t only stop at tools. I began buying tools in Sears and Lowe’s less than 20 years ago as I was growing up and as I came across a need for them. At that stage of life, Kobalt and Craftsman were the “name brands” to me and was the most I could afford. Since the American staple of tools, Craftsman, has gone to the wind and is now incredibly poor CHI NAH quality compared to yesteryear USA made Craftsman, I felt at a loss as to where to turn for quality tools (with a warranty) that weren’t tool truck cost.
The indication to me that there are not just a few people feeling the same way about this, as has already been pointed out, is that older tools that were once made in USA and were better quality (Craftsman, Crescent and others) are now found on eBay for some rather high prices.
For the everyday user, there are a good number of tool manufacturers that lie between these extremes of Harbor Freight house brands and tool truck brands, but I, like many others, was never forced to explore what other options were out there until now.
I don’t have an issue with manufacturing in foreign countries, but after wasting money on cheap tools, cookware, you name it, I’m ready to wise up and spend accordingly in order to buy quality once. As ol’ Ben Franklin said, ”The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”
This method of thinking applies to ALL other products, where feasible. Of course, I don’t seek out computers and cell phones and things of that nature that are 100% made in US or Germany, as that likely won’t happen. However, if quality is a concern and costs are feasible, I will buy American 100 times out of 10 (or German… I do love over-engineering).
Just an example of this, say you need a cast iron skillet? Don’t buy the Martha Stewart china stuff, buy Lodge brand. They’ve been supporting American jobs for over 100 years and are supper affordable AND will last you a lifetime.
Now for tools, I agree with what Ben stated above that not all brands make the ideal tool in all categories. I’ll share the short list of what I’ve seen/researched/used so far to give you some options to look into or stay away from:
Old Craftsman was a great value in about all categories to me, new stuff you couldn’t pay me to use.
Knipex (Germany) has got it going on for all things pliers. Channellock (USA) also has great slip-joint/tongue and groove pliers, side cutters, etc.
Still in research for locking pliers (vise-grips) as Vise-Grips/Irwin is on to commie-land. Proto and Grip-On are recommended, but after looking at the old Petersen made Vise-Grips I have, I may just go to eBay and pay up for some more. *sigh.
For screwdrivers, Klein (USA), JH Williams (USA, associated with Snap-On), Wiha (Germany, check out the impact version).
For punches/chisels, Wilde Tools (KS, USA). These guys actually produced some tools for Craftsman, at least the prybars. I own some of their punches and I’m about to buy their prybars. Tekton’s pliers are currently made by Wilde, from what I’ve gathered.
Tekton, from what I’ve seen, is mostly made in Taiwan with only some in USA and seems to have decent reviews in general. I may try more of them for spare sets, etc.
For air tools, there doesn’t seem to be anyone making them in USA that is anywhere near affordable. So far I have bought a used Matco ½” impact and some Kobalt die grinders.
Dewalt 20v won my vote on cordless impact and drill, but are only assembled in USA. *big deal.
Kobalt had decent sockets when they were made in Taiwan, not sure about the Chinese versions. Seems Lowe’s is nearly phasing them out and ushering in all things cheap Craftsman.
I know Harbor Freight has some “better” product lines out lately that may still be better than their lowest grade, but I try to avoid HF where I can help it. Tool boxes are pretty nice. I could go on all day about the great HF dilemma…
I’m attempting to sell off cheap tools and replace them with quality ones as time goes on, so my research will continue.
Anywho. Just my two cents. I appreciate hearing that others also care about this.
Excellent comment! Thanks Mike.
Much of the Grizzly line of machinery is made in Taiwan, better than mainland. Great customer service and quality machines for a small or home shop.
A country without Manufacturing is a dying country. Remember that the greed of Americans made an adversary of the United States that country being Godless Communist China into the great power that they are today. Could you imagine how the cold war would have turned out had we moved our entire manufacturing base to the Soviet Union? For that is exactly what have done with regards to China. This must be reversed and buying your tools from American or Ally countries is one way to begin. Remember not have we replaced our manufacturing based economy to a service economy but that this was all planned years ago in the 70’s. As well we must remember that we have given almost every secret and technology to China who is fast becoming an unbeatable adversary. We must take a stand!
I agree Thomas. I am a guy who will not by anything from China. I search the internet for made in USA only . If I can’t find it,I buy it used. Many people shop and buy based on price but that’s not me. I feel an American should support made in USA. There’s something about building something with a tool in your hand that’s made in the USA. Tools, pants, shirts and boots, that makes me feel good. I wish more people put their money where their mouth is. China knows the Achilles heel of the USA, corporate greed and the bottom line. we are such pushovers today. We need leaders in companies today, and even everyday buyers, to start caring where what they purchase comes from. We are depleting our country of manufacturing and building communist China instead to a super power. More people need to wake up.
I just want to say “Thank you” for the information on the companies still making products in the USA.
As I have gotten older (and hopefully a bit wiser), I have looked for anything that isn’t made in the PRC. Some of the brands you guys brought up I didn’t know were still in business. It is still good to know that some tools are still made here!
How could you leave out SK Tools? 100% Made in the USA. Makers of the original round head ratchet and the best ratcheting wrenchs on the market with only a 1.7° arc needed for turns. At the time of this comment $277 for the 12 piece metric x-frame set is a good price. That’s $2 per wrench cheaper than Sonic tools which are made in Parts of Asia and Europe.
Doh! Definitely an oversight on our part. One of the best quality tools lines out there. SK was actually acquired by GreatStar Industrial (owns Shop-Vac) last year but they are committed to continue manufacturing their tools in the US. Hopefully that continues.
On another note, we plan on updating this page soon. There are so many company acquisitions in the tool industry, it’s hard to keep up with brands and where they are currently manufactured.