Is the myth that all Power tools are made in the same place TRUE????

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Blog entry by Delta356 posted 12-15-2010 05:25 AM 3158 reads 0 times favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hi all, I propose this question because I have seen a lot of LJ say that Harbor Freight tools are made by the same tool maker of the Top tool brands, DELTA MACHINERY, DEWALT, PORTER CABLE, HITACHI ECT… Is this a myth or true. You can not compare Harbor Freight tools to Delta tools. The quality is not there with Harbor Freight.
Many say they there all the same tool, and they just color them and put a sticker on them. I can see that , because I look at harbor Freight tools and many look like the Big Brand names. But is the quality the same. Can you compare an ugly orange Router tool to a nice black and silver, and a pinch of red 690 Router??

So are all tools made by the same tool maker?? Does the color of the tool take US????

OR is it a Myth made up so we buy Harbor Freight tools ????

Comments WELCOME…
(Please be respectful to each other and please don’t go over board!!!)

Thanks, Michael Frey
Portland, OR


21 comments so far

View Alexander's profile


193 posts in 3165 days

#1 posted 12-15-2010 05:53 AM

I have heard that one of the big differences in the tool manufactoring is the quaility control. How many people are on the line making sure the specks are right and the quaility of material is correct. The cheep tool can look like the expenive tool but not work as well. My 2 cents.

-- John at Sugarloft Mountain........Don't argue with an idiot; people watching may not be able to tell the difference.

View RonPeters's profile


713 posts in 2934 days

#2 posted 12-15-2010 05:54 AM

Grizzly makes Delta. Not sure about the rest. How I know this is twenty years ago I had a Grizzly band saw that, in order to get parts I had to prove to the Grizzly folks via a photo, that I actually owned one and not a Delta – who puts their label on the side of a Grizzly. The parts were identical. Grizzly must have had a contract of some kind prohibiting selling to Delta customers??

I just bought a Harbor Freight spindle sander and it looks suspiciously similar to one of the ‘other’ higher priced brands.

It could be as Alexander suggests – QC?

After all, that’s how they make electronic components. They make one type of resistor (say 100 ohms?) and they test and cull out those that don’t make the 0.01% tolerance. They sell them for less if they are 5%, or 10% etc, but they still ‘sell’ them. They only toss them if they are way off tolerance. So, why wouldn’t they do that for other manufacturing?

-- “Once more unto the breach, dear friends...” Henry V - Act III, Scene I

View spamfilterman's profile


149 posts in 3076 days

#3 posted 12-15-2010 06:25 AM

Another thing to keep in mind is that the first 3 brands you mentioned – Delta, Dewalt, and Porter Cable – are all owned by Black & Decker.

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4368 days

#4 posted 12-15-2010 06:27 AM

They all come from a workshop at the north pole…yep foreign made.

View Delta356's profile


463 posts in 2908 days

#5 posted 12-15-2010 06:29 AM

That’s great (Dennis mitchell) LOL

View dbhost's profile


5736 posts in 3286 days

#6 posted 12-15-2010 06:37 AM

IF you compare the machines side by side, it’s pretty obvious that they are the same castings etc… Where they differ is usually bolt on items etc.. There are certain tools where there are much more major differences. But in regards to items like 14” band saws, certain models of drill presses etc… They are more or less the same from the same place.

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View BigTiny's profile


1676 posts in 2942 days

#7 posted 12-15-2010 06:45 AM

The North Pole ain’t “foreign” to us Canucks, dude! ;)

There are more than one manufacturer in the field. but many companies make different marks. It’s like Chrysler makes Plymouth and Dodge, or General Motors making Chev, Pontiac, Caddy etc.

I once toured a tire factory in Toronto that was in the process of making tires under three other makes as well as their own well known brand. Same machines, but different molds and rubber compounds. They’ll make you your very own private brand of tires if you meet their minimum order. (Probably millions of dollars)

Same goes for tools. A company can exercise more “economy of scale” by making tools for others as well as their own. This explains why there are so many “private label” tools around that look so similar.

-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

View dbhost's profile


5736 posts in 3286 days

#8 posted 12-15-2010 07:10 AM

Actually, Chrysler doesn’t make Plymouth, and GM doesn’t make Pontiac. At least they don’t any more… Just like in cars it’s luxury features and add ons. A Caddy engine runs no longer than a Chevrolet engine these days because they are made on the same assembly line. But that Caddilac has a nicer interior and a funny crest on the grille…

FWIW, I am mad at GM for dropping the Pontiac and Saturn lines, but keeping Buick… I would have LOVED a G8 but couldn’t afford it before they shut it down…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View Delta356's profile


463 posts in 2908 days

#9 posted 12-15-2010 07:13 AM

When I went Harbor Freight the one thing I noticed was the casting and Percison of the machines really were not that great, compared to Delta machine. I even see that with Craftsman tools , there casting are just death, and they put to much plastic on there machines…

View Greedo's profile


473 posts in 3014 days

#10 posted 12-15-2010 02:09 PM

you know, with tools or anything else that is mechanical. when they are engineered they know exactly the resistance and wear of each component. tools are designed to last x-number of work hours, most factories make cheap and expensive tools at the same time, what differs can be the quality of the materials. but the production cost can’t be that different. it’s even likely that they do it on purpous to make the cheap tools less easy to use, especially if the same “group” owns a quality brand aswell.
they make money on the numbers with cheap tools, they know the tool will last by example 1-5 years, so they sell a new one every 1 to 5 years.
quality stuff is more expensive because it lasts longer, not so much because it’s more expensive to produce.
the longer a tool lasts, the longer it will be stopping you from buying a new one. so they need a bigger margin.
at least it’s what i think

View grosa's profile


1004 posts in 2883 days

#11 posted 12-15-2010 04:20 PM

I’m with you Charlie, I have older tool because of the quality. Most older tools are heaver also. I have two older Rockwell laths, They don’t walk across the floor .

-- Have a great day.

View nobuckle's profile


1120 posts in 2815 days

#12 posted 12-15-2010 05:20 PM

I’m a real stickler for quality in my tools. I can’t afford to buy things twice. While I do own a few power tools from Harbor Freight I bought them knowing that they are not the highest quality. I bought one of their oscilating multi-tools a while back for a project and it worked out great. Whether or not it stands the test of time is another story I also have one of their small laminate trim routers. I don’t use it that often but I’ve not had any trouble from it when I do. I have a Drill Master 4” grinder that I have not used yet. A couple of my friends also use Harbor Freight’s power tools because they look at them as throw away tools. To me that’s a bad mindset. I buy tools based on use. Most all of my woodworking machinery is Delta. My friends are trying to get me to buy machines from HF but I don’t believe that the quality is good enough. I know that Delta is not top of the line, but their power tools work out very well for me. Like you, I have to be budget conscious. I only make large purchases when I know I can aford them. If spending more means that I get better accuracy I’ll do it most every time.

-- Doug - Make an effort to live by the slogan "We try harder"

View rustfever's profile


753 posts in 3364 days

#13 posted 12-15-2010 05:35 PM

I once owned an 18” band saw, branded by one of the companies mentioned. I could not adjust the table to within acceptable tollerances. It would not maintain any setting.

I eventually got rid of it and purchased another of one of the brands mentioned. The two looked very similiar, excepting the trunions. The second band saw’s trunions were well machined, smooth to adjust, and excelled in maintaining tolerances.

Because two brands are manufactured by a single manufacturer, does not indicate the two have identical quality.

Just my observations.

-- Rustfever, Central California

View dbhost's profile


5736 posts in 3286 days

#14 posted 12-15-2010 06:27 PM

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying HF tools are all that great. But I can’t agree that at least current Delta is worth a bucket of spit either. Most of the stuff they are importing, aside from having a bit more attention to the details in finishing, they just aren’t made any better. And in some cases, they are worse than their HF counterparts. The 14” cast iron C frame bandsaw is a prime example. The versions you saw sold at Lowes, which are meant to be in the same market niche as the HF 14” band saw, well the Delta have a reputation for having the tension mechanisms fail, repeatedly… The older units didn’t do that, the HF doesn’t (the HF is known to have switch failures). The common parts, the frames, tables trunions etc… remain intact on them. There are other tools like the now discontinued Grizzly 12×36 lathe that is virtually identical to the HF #34706 12×36 lathe. There is one big difference beyond branding though. The motor. And the Grizzly was known to have motor problems…

I have posted up several threads on this subject. Yes, for a few hunting around like a lunatic and digging up good used machined and overhauling them is a great way to get top quality machines at bargain basement prices. Unfortunately those deals are not a sure fire thing across the country. Different regions seem to have different quantities and qualities of tools available… Typically around here, older U.S. made tools are either completely trashed, or insanely overpriced by the time they hit the used market… So for some, probably most of us, used isn’t in the cards. The old saying goes, buy the best tools you can afford to buy. Unfortunately for some of us, that means Harbor Freight, Northern Tool, etc… Most of the HF stuff I have has been a spot on winner. Some of it is utter junk. So far the junk I have had seems to be bits and blades. This shouldn’t shock anyone…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View Bluepine38's profile


3379 posts in 3139 days

#15 posted 12-15-2010 07:38 PM

A lot of the tools and machinery on the market have a made in China stamp on them. Since China likes to
have their plants owned and operated by their own people, it would not surprise me if one company made
tools for more that one US brand. Quality control would be the main issue that would make the difference,
and anyone that has ever worked in manufacturing knows that quality control can be a very iffy item. Like
the old saying about never buy an item made on Monday or Friday in a plant, there is a little truth in every-

-- As ever, Gus-the 79 yr young apprentice carpenter

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