Shopping for the best hand tool brands today can be a bit overwhelming, because you’ve got two options to choose from — hand tools and power tools.
While both types of tools do have their fair share of advantage and disadvantages, hand tools are still a preferred choice for many DIYers.
Hand tools are easy to use, and can be used anywhere without worrying about power outages and recharging batteries. When on the shopping trail for the best high quality hand tool brands, you will be spoiled for choice, given the myriad brands to choose from.
But we’ve checked out this segment, and bring you the lowdown on 5 trusted hand tool brands that won’t let you down in the shop.
Conceived in 1843 by Frederick T. Stanley, Stanley Works is a leading American tool company that started off as a bolt and door hardware manufacturing company.
The company today is billed as the world’s largest global provider of hand tools, power tools and related accessories, and manufactures products that are tough, smart and innovative to get the job done right.
Formerly known as Stanley Works, Stanley Black & Decker, Inc. is a Fortune 500 company headquartered in the greater Hartford city of New Britain, Connecticut.
Stanley Black and Decker is billed as the serves as an umbrella brand for several other big name brands in the tool space including STANLEY® tools, Porter Cable and DEWALT.
For over 170 years, the company has played a pivotal role in delivering new levels of user experience by introducing some of the most useful tools in the market, most notably:
Bailey® Plane — the terms Stanley planes, Bailey Planes, and Stanley Bailey planes are often used interchangeably, but is basically the same plane designed by Leonard Bailey who patented several hand plane designs in the early 1800s. Stanley acquired the rights to seven of Leonard Bailey’s designs.
Virtually every bench and block plane the company made from 1869 are all referred to (somewhat generically) as ‘Stanley Bailey’, or simply ‘Stanley’ or ‘Bailey’.
The rarest Stanley Plane models include the Stanley Victor # 20 Compass Plane, Stanley # 64 Low Angle Butcher Block Plane, and Stanley # 62 Low Angle Cabinet Makers Plane.
Stanley Bailey planes were hailed by woodworkers are a popular choice for today’s wood craftsmen, and is used for trimming down timber to the correct size in preparation for truing and/or edge jointing.
Surform® shaper — a portmanteau of “surface” and “form”, Surform is a registered trademark of the Stanley company, and resembles a food grater. It features a perforated sheet metal strip, with punched holes, where each one is sharpened to form a cutting edge.
Surform is engineered to provide faster cutting action, without any clogging of the tool with the material being worked on, and with little or no dust.
Surform is a multifaceted tool that can be used to smooth pruning cuts and shape excess wood in horticulture, shape surfboards, and trim drywall.
PowerLock® tape rule — the PowerLock tape boasts Stanley’s classic design, and is currently available with improved features, and is backed by the company’s limited lifetime warranty.
It features patented industrial thermoplastic coating — BladeArmor coating, and an innovative slide lock to make measuring fast and easy.
FatMax™ — Stanley’s FatMAx lineup of tools is designed to feature an award worthy design, and are geared towards helping you work smarter and faster. Some key tools in the FatMax range include handsaws, drills, screwdrivers, spirit levels, and hammers.
The sole mission of Stanley Tools is to help people do a better job, and complete tasks with ease and efficiency.
The company has a global footprint in more than 175 countries, and a workforce of approximately 60,000 employees worldwide. Stanley’s brand promise is to constantly update their products, and set the gold standard in the tool department.
Owned by Stanley Black & Decker, the Craftsman trademark was first registered in 1927 by Sears. Just like all Sears products, the tools from Craftsman were not manufactured by the company, but were made by several other companies, and sold under the Craftsman brand.
Craftsman was acquired from Sears Holdings by Stanley Black & Decker in March 2017, which currently holds a limited license for Craftsman products. Craftsman’s earlier customers were mostly farmers, but now is a go-to choice for homeowners, home builders, auto enthusiasts, and master mechanics.
The company runs the “Craftsman Club Rewards” program since 1991 — regards as one of the longest running loyalty programs by a retailer. This loyalty program allows both new and existing Craftsman club members to earn points for every dollar spent on each Craftsman tool including shoes, apparel, and lawn and garden, and then redeem those points for Craftsman products.
Each tool from the Craftsman lineup is tested in real world situations before hitting the shelves to ensure they ensure consumer expectations. Craftsman quality tools such as wrenches, sockets and ratchets are manufactured in China and Taiwan, whereas screwdrivers, adjustable wrenches, pliers, and larger mechanical tool sets continue to be manufactured in the United States.
Furthermore, numerous Craftsman portable power tools were once manufactured by Techtronic Industries Company Limited — a company founded 35 years ago, and headquartered in Hong Kong. These products were previously manufactured by both Ryobi, and the Diehl Motor Company.
With regard to quality, Craftsman received the highest score for both Brand Expectations and Trust in the Harris Interactive Poll in 2007. Most if not all Craftsman products are backed by unlimited free lifetime warranty.
DeWalt, founded in 1924 is an esteemed American tools brand with headquarters in Townson, Maryland, USA. The company is a subsidiary of Stanley Black & Decker, and offers a massive portfolio of products that includes powered tools and hand tools geared towards the construction, manufacturing and woodworking industries.
DeWalt was first started in 1923 by Raymond E. DeWalt, who was the pioneer of the radial arm saw. The company was acquired by American Machine & Foundry Co., Inc. in 1949, who later sold it to Black & Decker in 1960.
Black & Decker rebranded its high-end power tools to DeWalt, and later increased their line of tools with technology from a company it had purchased in 1994 — power tool producer ELU. DeWalt currently has seven manufacturing facilities located all across the United States including New Britain, CT, Shelbyville, KY and Greenfield, IN.
The company bought Porter-Cable — its rival tool manufacturer in 2004, and launched a massive range of contractor’s hand tools that included adjustable wrenches, hammers and saws.
While a small selection of DeWalt products are manufactured outside the United States, most of the company’s products are labelled “Built in the USA with global materials.”
DeWalt’s product range consists of more than 200 different power hand tools, and 800 accessories, which are shipped to several countries worldwide.
The company recently introduced “FLEXVOLT” — the industry’s first hybrid voltage battery pack, and a lineup of cordless lawnmowers and cordless 60v weedeaters which we review here.
NASCAR driver Matt Kenseth was sponsored by DeWalt Tools in 1999 through to the season of 2009, who won 18 races during this time period. Other noteworthy sponsorships by DeWalt include #9 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford Fusion, #20 for Joe Gibbs Racing and #20 Erik Jones.
Founded in 1924 and headquartered in Brookfield, Wisconsin, USA, the Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation is an American tool manufacturing company that is a subsidiary of Techtronic Industries along with Dirt Devil, Hoover, Ryobi, AEG and Vax.
Milwaukee Tools develops, manufactures and markets an array of hand tools, cordless power tools, hand saws, pliers, cutters, screwdrivers and much more. The company started off as the A. H. Petersen tool company, which was founded by partners A.H. Petersen and Albert F. Siebert.
However, it was auctioned off due to huge losses after the company’s production facility was destroyed by a fire in 1923. Albert F. Siebert acquired the remaining assets in 1924, and formed the Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation.
Milwaukee Tools got a big break in the early 1930s with an equipment specification rating granted by the federal government. After which, the company began manufacturing all of its tools in accordance with the U.S. Navy standard of equipment.
Adding to this, Milwaukee Tools also started developing and selling their own sanders, polishers, hand grinders and electric hammers. Another major innovation by Milwaukee Tools was the handheld 3/4-inch electric hammer drill, which also had the ability to be used as a standard drill.
Milwaukee Tools became a major supplier to the U.S. Navy, owing to the manufacturing boom resulting from World War II. The company today offers a large product lineup that includes framing nailers, impact wrenches, ultra quiet compressors, lithium battery packs, and USB rechargeable flashlights.
Each product from the Milwaukee Tools range is backed by an industry leading warranty against any manufacturer defects.
Channellock is an all-American manufacturer of hand tools, best known for its superior quality pliers. The company manufactures more than 140 types of pliers including slip-joint and tongue and groove pliers.
The company’s pliers are distinct from other tools in the market, with their special shade of sky-blue handle grips that have been in practice since 1956. Apart from the aforementioned pliers, Channellock also manufactures adjustable wrenches, nut drivers, screwdrivers, long nose pliers and cutting pliers.
Channellock was founded in 1886 by blacksmith George B. DeArment, who started off by forging farrier’s tools, and then selling from the back of his wagon. This business was later established as the Champion Bolt and Clipper Company, which a few years later in 1904 moved to a 12,000-square-foot facility in Meadville, Pennsylvania.
Channellock is billed as being the largest employer in Crawford County, Pennsylvania with over 350 dedicated associates. Adding to this, the company manufactures more than an impressive 75 different sizes and types of pliers in Meadville, Pennsylvania.
CHANNELLOCK® Diagonal Cutter — made from high carbon U.S. steel, these cutters are equipped with an insulated grip, and feature laser heat treated cutting edges.
SPEEDGRIP™ TONGUE & GROOVE PLIERS — these pliers feature a patented reinforced edge, which is designed to minimize the chances of stress breakage, and a slip proof undercut tongue and groove design.
Channellock 2 Piece Ratcheting Wrench Set — this set offers great value for money as it comes with ratchets of several sizes. Each wrench in this set is heat treated for greater durability on the job.
Some key products from the company’s portfolio include:
Channellock 94-Piece Tool Set — this mini tool set is geared towards mechanics, and offers unmatched strength and reliability. Some tools included in this set are a 3/8 in 45 teeth ratchet, reducing adapter, magnetic bit driver, and 16 – 1/4-inch sockets.
Channellock Xtra Slim Jaw Adjustable Wrench — this 6-inch wrench boasts an extra slim design with 3/32″ jaws, and features an extra wide opening. It offers a precise grip, and is made from chrome vanadium steel.
Channellock 34211 1/4″ Drive Standard Socket set — this standard socket set is powered by the Dyna drive torque system, which enhances the torque by an impressive 20 percent. The tools included in this 21-piece socket set are designed to reduce slippage, and prevent damage to the fasteners.
Channellock has more than 4000 wholesale and retail customers in the United States, and has a footprint in more than 45 countries worldwide.
Founded in 1649, the Fiskars Group is one of the oldest companies in the world, and is regarded as Finland’s most valuable brands.
Headquartered in the Arabianranta district of Helsinki, the Fiskars Group operates in several sectors, and is home to several other leading brands including Fiskars — a company that is renowned for its vast selection of household goods, garden tools, craft tools.
Fiskars created headlines the world over with its orange handled scissors created way back in 1967, and as a result sold over a billion pairs by 2010.
The Fiskars Corporation was conceived by Peter Thorwöste — a Dutch merchant who was commissioned by the Queen of Sweden to manufacture and install a blast furnace in the small village of Fiskars.
Fiskars has come a long way since its inception, and manufactured gardening and yard care products that are truly in a league of their own.
Each gardening product in the company’s product lineup is backed by hours of study, research and validation. They are engineered to feel like a natural extension of your body, and to outperform the competition.
Furthermore, the gardening tools offered by Fiskars allow you to cultivate a better garden, and feature smart technologies, and award-winning ergonomic features, which collectively make it a joy to transform your outdoor space.
Fiskars was listed on the Helsinki Stock Exchange in 1915, and a few noteworthy products from the company’s lineup include:
Fiskars Softouch Pruning Snips — awarded by the arthritis foundation for its easy of use, and highly recommended for those suffering from the ailment, this pair of pruning snips are fitted with precisely ground, and fully hardened sharp stainless steel blades designed to reduce fatigue.
The Softouch snips feature the company’s exclusive Softgrip touchpoints that provide enhanced comfort and control, and make it easy to shape, trim and make intricate cuts.
Fiskars 28 Inch Bypass Lopper — yet another hit from the Fiskar’s brand stable, this large 28-inch bypass lopper is a great choice for cutting tree branches, and offers a 1-1/2 inch thick branch cut capacity.
It is fitted with a precision ground blade, which stays sharp even after long periods of use, and features a low friction coating to easily glide through wood, and the accumulation of sap and debris.
Fiskars X7 Hatchet — regarded as one of the best axes for axe throwing, and of course for shopping small to medium size logs, the X7 Fiskars hatchet is equipped with a proprietary blade with a sharper edge to make clean cuts.
Fiskars Hookaroon — a somewhat unusual tool, and sometimes called a pickaroon, but a hookaroon is very useful when prepping firewood and general logging jobs, this is very highly rated.
7. Wiha Tools
Headquartered in Schonach im Schwarzwald in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, Wiha Tools, founded in 1939 is an esteemed supplier of hand tools.
The companies name is derived from the founder — Willi Hann, who initially only manufactured nuts and bolts, and commenced production of screwdrivers in 1947.
Wiha’s product catalog lists over 3500 products that include some of the best screwdrivers, L-keys, torque wrenches, pliers, bits, hammers, measuring tools and much more.
The company’s U.S. subsidiary — Willi Hahn Corp was founded in 1985, but over the years now has several branches located across the world including Canada, Thailand, Asia-Pacific, China, England, France and Spain.
Wiha has received several accolades times for its innovation, product design, and social commitment, most notably the “Red Dot Awards” and “iF awards”. Some key products from the Wiha Tools product range include:
Wiha Precision Micro Bit Ratchet Steel Storage Box — this tool kit includes 65 tools including a 72-tooth ratchet that is fitted with an ESD safe handle.
The extra fine teeth of this ratchet allow you to make fine adjustments in tight spaces. Other tools included in this tool box include slotted bits, Phillips bits, Torx bits, metric nut setters, and a bit adaptor.
WIHA 66982 ErgoStar Ball End Hex Key Set — made in Germany, this hex key set comes with 22 pieces, each made from hardened steel.
The keys are easy to access, where you simply have to turn the largest key to open the patented ErgoStar holder, and grab your desired key.
The L-key included in this set features a ball end, and allows you to access hex screws in tight spaces, and at an angle of up to 25 degrees.
Wiha 32800 Insulated Tool Set — this tool set is designed for professional use, and comes with a total of 80 different tools.
Each tool in this set is tested to 10,000 volts, and feature insulation directly on the blades for permanent bonding.
The insulated screwdriver included in this kit features an outer cushioned grip, which makes it comfortable to use as well as provides 40 percent more torque than conventional handles.
Founded in 2010, the Apex Tool Group was created as a joint venture between Cooper Tools and Danaher’s Tools. It is am American supplier of hand tools and power tools that was later sold to Bain Capital for approximately USD 1.6 billion in 2012.
The company today is headquartered in Sparks, Maryland, and has 20 factories located in several countries including the United States, Canada, Germany and Mexico.
GearWrench is a premier mechanics hand tool brand by the Apex Tool Group that designs and manufactures superior quality products for professional automotive technicians and industrial users.
The company’s product portfolio has over 4800 tools and accessories to choose from including 90-tooth and 120-position ratchets, ratcheting wrenches, pry bars, screwdrivers, torque wrenches, and several automotive specialty tools.
A few bestselling tools in the company’s product range include:
GEARWRENCH 12 Pt. Ratcheting Combination Wrench Set — this ratcheting box requires a minimum 5 degrees to move fasteners compared to 30 degrees with standard fasteners.
All the wrenches in this set are made from alloy steel, and are topped with a bright finish. The box features an off-corner design, which provides a stronger grip on the fasteners.
GEARWRENCH Ratchet Set — each ratchet in this set features 84-teeth for enhanced strength, and are engineered to meet ANSI specifications.
They are fitted with a low profile head for easy access in hard to read areas.
Adding to this, the ratchets are equipped with ergonomically designed handles that arrive complete with an easy to clean bright chrome finish.
Flex Head Electronic Torque Wrench — this torque wrench features a 120XP head, which provides a 3 degree ratcheting arc, making it easy to turn fasteners in tight spaces.
It is designed to digitally track torque and angle measurements, and offer three function modes to choose from — peak torque, angle and peak angle.
If you’re looking for a new set of power tools, then Ryobi is one of the best brands for home improvement and DIY projects.
Many people have never heard of Ryobi, but they have been in the power tool industry for over 70 years and have manufactured over 100 million tools.
They’re a subsidiary of the much larger Techtronic Industries Company Limited, but Ryobi still retains enough autonomy to maintain its own unique brand identity.
What’s the difference between Ryobi vs. Ridgid? The difference is that Ryobi tools can often be used in more situations due to their more compact design.
The company was founded in 1924. Since then, Ryobi’s mission has been to help people do more.
Every product has been carefully designed to help you get the job done right and help you get more out of life.
They certainly offer value for money and their garden tools, such as cordless ryobi weed eaters and lawn mowers, are particularly inexpensive compared to other major brands.
To do the job right, you need the right tool for the job, and that’s where the aforementioned hand tool brands stand out from the competition. Each brand offers a massive portfolio of products, each backed by the latest technologies, and designed to deliver top-notch performance.