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

made in the USA
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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.

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.

Note: It’s important to note that while the above companies still have plants in the US, many of their tool lines are now manufactured overseas. One of the more notable examples is Craftsman which used to be 100% USA made but now has the bulk of its products manufactured in China or Taiwan.

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:

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 and their excellent US General tool chests) are also manufactured in China.

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). 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

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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