Best Hand Tool Brands: Home, DIY, the Money


best hand tool brands

Have you ever tried to do DIY with tools that aren’t fit for purpose?

Don’t bother, it’s a disaster. It’s super frustrating when a task should be super simple but takes forever because you don’t have adequate tools.

And when the finished job looks bad or isn’t up to standard, it looks bad on you.

But there’s a solution. With good quality tools to hand, you can do a professional job and save time plus headaches and money.

In this article, we’re going to begin by first looking at what we think are the 9 best tool brands overall.

Then we’re going to look at the top couple of brands for screwdrivers, wrenches, and hammers. We’ll also provide a few links to products along the way.

We’re also going to talk about which hand tool brand is the best, and whether you should stick with just one brand for your hand tools. Then we’ll wrap up with a brief summary.

9 Best Hand Tool Brands

Stanley

The Stanley brand has been around for over 100 years, having been founded as far back as 1843. It’s an American brand that, despite its long since passed beginnings, still holds a firm position in the marketplace today.

The brand merged with a top power tool and appliance brand Black and Decker in 2010, but we can confirm that the Stanley brand is still properly maintained and remains a firm fixture in the product line.

They are known for their wide product range of hand tools. They have everything from hammers and screwdrivers through to spirit levels and cutting tools.

Did you know that Stanley was the first brand to introduce the first locking tape measure into the market? Impressive huh? And it remains one of their more popular products to this day.

But they certainly haven’t become complacent in the marketplace, they continue to innovate, for example by packing extra durability into some of their carbide blades.

More recently, they have been introducing digital equipment to their product lineup. As can be seen in their new digital leveling systems, they are amazingly accurate and reliable.

Irwin Tools

Irwin Industrial Tools is a brand that doesn’t get quite as much attention as it deserves. Irwin’s blacksmiths were responsible for the invention of the first-ever locking pliers, the iconic “Vise-Grip”.

The brand began in the good old USA and was well known throughout the 1900s for the quality of its hand tool lines.

In 2008, the brand decided to move its hand tool manufacture overseas to China. This has helped the brand to remain competitive in the marketplace, by allowing them to produce the same product quality at a more affordable price point.

Then in 2016, Stanley Black and Decker bought out the Irwin brand. And this has certainly helped to boost the visibility of the Irwin brand.

Irwin’s bar clamps are still seen as the most sturdy and reliable ones on the market. And their product line goes beyond traditional hand tools to include drill bits and saw blades that are still very much sought after by contractors and craftsmen alike.

DeWalt

Sure, these days DeWalt is better known for their power tool offerings but they still have a great presence in the marketplace with their hand tools as well. This is much thanks to both the product affordability and its very widespread availability.

Again, this is a very long-established brand that dates back almost 100 years. It was DeWalt that invented the first-ever radial arm saw, and the brand’s fame from these saws really took off in the following decades.

And it was in the 1990s that DeWalt tried its hand at power tools and hand tools. But it wasn’t until 2011 that they released their ever-popular contractor’s toolset, comprised of saws, pliers, hammers, and more.

Funnily enough, the DeWalt brand is yet another that has come under the Stanley Black and Decker umbrella. Yet DeWalt still sees excellent brand recognition in its own right. This is thanks to its ready availability both in stores and online.

A lot of DeWalt’s hand tools are technically made in the USA, but even when it’s labeled as such, some of the parts are actually made overseas. That doesn’t bother us at all, but I guess it might put some people off.

Milwaukee

Milwaukee is a brand with a long history, going as far back as 1918 in fact.

What happened was the founder of the brand, A.H. Petersen accepted a contract with Ford to improve on the existing electric drills used in his factories. Petersen did a great job, and the Milwaukee brand was built on the back of it.

The Milwaukee brand is known for its innovation and how they create new electric power tools year on year.

They’re still best known for their electric power tools, but they also have quite the selection of hand tools as well. And they’re just as good and reliable as their power tools.

These tools include some great folding knives that have been specifically designed with craftsmen and construction workers in mind. They also offer a great selection of tape measures and socket wrench sets.

Craftsman

Craftsman is easily one of the most recognized brands here in the US. And this comes down to them being an in-house brand for mega-retailer Sears.

This made Craftsman a particularly accessible brand during Sear’s heyday, and it kept the price competitive too.

Unfortunately, however, the brand’s popularity began to wane as Sears began to decline.

There were also times during the decline of Sears that Craftsman contracted out the manufacture of their hand tools, but we are pleased to report that Craftsman tools are now back to their original high standard.

More recently, in 2017 the Craftsman brand was bought by (you guessed it!) Stanley Black and Decker. And this buyout has really boosted both the product quality and the brand’s place in the hand tool market.

Craftsman is popular for their toolsets in particular. These sets can include anything from drill bits and ratchets all the way through to wrenches and screwdrivers.

These toolsets are popular for their size, versatility, and of course for their affordability too.

Klein Tools

Again, this is another long-established brand. Klein Tools has been around since as far back as 1857 in fact.

The origins began right here in America when one Mathias Klein started making hand tools for linemen.

Thus, the Klein brand grew alongside the rise of telecommunications and its reputation grew too. They even have a picture of a lineman on a telegraph pole in their logo.

But, Klein now makes many other hand tools besides those used by linemen. They make screwdrivers, hex wrenches, and much more besides.

Klein tools prides itself in producing tools that are genuinely made entirely in the good old USA, with the majority of their tools being made at company-owned plants in Kansas and Texas.

They’ve really invested in their US-based manufacturing, expanding several of its factories in the last few years.

Snap-On Tools

Snap-On Tools has developed a reputation for its passion for producing profession-grade high-end hand tools.

However, their products are rarely seen in stores, due to their more direct sales methods. Snap-On Tools dealers travel from to various workshops, selling their wares directly to mechanics and industrial professionals, effectively cutting out the retail store middle man.

Their clients absolutely love the brand’s attention to detail, and it’s bought them a lot of respect and brand loyalty.

Snap-On’s various core products are still the main reason that Snap-On fares so well in the hand tool marketplace. But their other hand tools are making waves too. Including their pliers, screwdrivers and wrenches.

Harbor Freight

Compared to many of the other brands we’re showing you, Harbor Freight is basically the new kid in town, having been formed as recently as 1977 as a family business.

As a brand, Harbor Freight is committed to producing affordable hand tools, but at the same time are also of good quality.

They operate through several branded stores, and also via a mail-order system, making them one of the most widely available hand tool brands today.

Their product range includes most of the hand tools that general contractors work with every day, including lines in screwdrivers, durable socket wrenches, hammers, pliers, and so on.

But, when it comes to their specialty tools, and in particular their magnetic hand tools, these are even more popular with consumers, thanks to how more affordable they are compared to the high-end brands.

Mac Tools

Mac Tools, like many other hand tool brands, really came into its own with the demand for such tools around the 2nd World War.

And after the war was over Mac Tools became a mainstay in the hand tool marketplace. Mac Tools has a reputation for reliability and durability.

Like Snap-On, Mac Tools likes to sell its products directly to consumers via a fleet of sales vans.

The brand has an impressively broad catalog of products available to buy, and at one point it numbered as high as a whopping 42,000 items!

And while their product offering has shrunk since then, they still have an impressive 8,000 tools available. And at far more competitive prices than some of the other direct-to-consumer brands.

Today their product range has become a little specialized, with much attention given to automotive and auto-sports tools.

2 Best Hammer Brands

Let’s take a look at the best brands for hammers!

Stiletto Tools

If you’ve ever thought that hammers are pretty much all the same, you’ll be wrong. The hammers from Stiletto Tools’ are something else, and a cut above the rest.

The Stiletto TB3MC Ti-Bone 3 Titanium Hammer, for example, has a super durable titanium head that has plenty of heft, but at the same time is very easy to control.

And better yet the hammer plate is replaceable which means the hammer gets an extra-long lifespan.

They have other specialty hammers besides, like their infamous drywall hatchet.

The Stiletto brand has been around since as far back as 1901. And they became widely known for introducing titanium into the striking tool line, which decreases the hammer’s rate of recoil. And this in turn helps to reduce hand and wrist fatigue.

V&B Mfg Co

V&B stands for Vaughn & Bushnell, a brand that dates as far back as 1869 in Illinois when Alexander Vaughn started in the custom tool business with a new type of post auger.

Several years later, the brand expanded its product range to include a standardized set of handyman tools, including an impressive hammer range.

They were considered very innovative for their time. They may have looked pretty basic, but they featured the now iconic triple-wedge design.

To this very day, V&B continues to make some of the most trusted striking tools in the industry. And the majority of their products still originate from a small town in Illinois.

2 Best Screwdriver Brands

Let’s check out some of the best brands for screwdrivers!

Cremax

The Cremax brand is something of a hidden treasure. It may not be as well-known as perhaps it ought to be, but they have earned a top spot in our book as a top screwdriver brand, thanks to their very affordable line of magnetic screwdrivers.

Both DIYers and tradesmen alike agree that magnetic is the best way to go to make easy work out of driving screws.

And we just love their 10-piece magnetic screwdriver sets that make top-quality magnetic screwdrivers available to the masses.

There is one snag with Cremax, however. And that’s how their products only seem to be available with online retailers, which is a shame.

So, while their products are easily accessible, it can be a struggle to get hold of certain items when the warehouse stock starts to run low.

Also, some customers have complained about the brand’s warranties, saying that they aren’t reliable.

In short, though, we would say it’s worth getting hold of some of their magnetic screwdrivers if you can.

Channellock

Channellock’s journey into the hand tool industry begins with a line of hand-forged farrier’s tools, founded by one George B. DeArmet.

The company was committed to making superior products, and they soon invented their famous Chanellock pliers. These are multi-position tongue and groove pliers.

This style of plier has become so popular that almost every other major hand tool brand has invented its own version.

Channellock doesn’t just have pliers in their product offering though. They have some great specialty screwdrivers and Torx screwdrivers.

All Chanellock hand tools are made right here in the USA, specifically in Meadville, Pennsylvania.

2 Best Wrench Brands

Want to find out more about the best brands for wrenches? Here goes.

Crescent

Now Crescent is a brand with some iconic wrenches. They patented the crescent wrench here in the US in 1915.

And even now they are still recognized as producing adjustable wrenches that are both very durable and very versatile.

But their brand is no longer just about wrenches, and they offer some 2,600 other tools to their consumers, including several specialty wrenches, that have maintained the brands’ super-durable construction.

And while other iconic brands have seen some dips and troughs in their market share over the years, the market share for Cresent products has remained very steady and stable. This is because there’s been no wavering at all with regards to product quality.

Another thing we like about Crescent is how their products are very widely available. You can get them from most big box hardware stores, so they’re just as accessible to DIY-ers as they are to professional tradesmen.

Gearwrench

Gearwrench, as the name suggests has a strong focus on wrenches. They’re very much a newcomer to the market, having only been around since 1996.

But they quickly gained ground and were soon seen as a premier brand for hand tools for mechanics.

They’re well known for their ratcheting wrench, which features a patented 5-degree system that makes for super user-friendly use. They sport some 20 other styles of socket wrenches besides this one.

And they offer a wide array of other specialty tools in the automotive arena, totaling over a whopping 600 items!

Which hand tool brand is the best?

You’re right to be picky about what brand to go to for your hand tools.

But we’re going to level with you here and say that there isn’t really one brand that performs above the rest for all types of hand tools. It’s more a case of different brands being better at different things.

As we’ve already covered there are some great brands for screwdrivers, wrenches, and hammers. But none of them made it onto our shortlist of best brands overall.

And some brands made our best overall brand shortlist because they have such a broad product selection, having a tool for every eventuality.

And to be honest, one of the reasons the bigger brands become so big is not all because of the product quality, but also in large part due to their product availability.

Which is fair. Who’s got the time to go searching the earth for products that are hard to get hold of?

So, we would argue that there is no best overall brand when it comes to hand tools. But that’s not to say that there aren’t great brands out there. And if you decide to go with any of the brands we’ve mentioned, you and your project will be in good hands.

Should you stick with just one hand tool brand?

There’s not really much benefit to be had by sticking with just one hand tool brand.

Sure, it helps in some situations, when you need bits of a particular size. But on the whole, it’s not usually necessary.

We mentioned it earlier, but it bears repeating here. There isn’t really one brand that performs above the rest for all types of hand tools. It’s more a case of different brands being better at different things.

So, rather than sticking with just one brand of hand tools, our best advice to you readers is to handpick the brands for the hand tools that you’ll be using the most.

For example, by going to Gearwrench for your wrenches, and Stiletto Tools for your hammers, and Cremax for your magnetic screwdrivers.

Mix and match your hand tool brands so you get the best quality tool for each task and job. That way you simply can’t go wrong, and you can defeat the frustration that comes from not having the best tools available to hand.

Conclusion

You know it’s funny. While we researching the brands for this article it occurred to us that one of the best signs for a good quality tool brand is whether it’s been bought out by Stanley Black & Decker, lol.

But all jokes aside, there are some great hand tool brands out there. And the good news is that you don’t have to go searching high and low for them. Especially now that so many are available online with trusted retailers.

There really is no one hand tool brand that outperforms them all, but there are some really great options out there for you.

And remember just because a brand has been around for a long time doesn’t mean they’re no longer up to current standards. These brands have had to continue to innovate to keep up with more recent demands.

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