Are Porter Cable Tools Doomed?

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Forum topic by Woodbum posted 02-22-2013 05:28 PM 14569 views 0 times favorited 25 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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834 posts in 3265 days

02-22-2013 05:28 PM

Just wondering about PC tools. It seems that they are heading down the slope in the quality department. Are they doomed to be relegated to a “house brand” for one of the big orange or blue box stores? I have several older PC tools that have performed well over the last 15-20 years. I bought one of the original RO sanders when they first came out, and am still using it. My older PC routers are outstanding and have performed very well. But the new stuff looks and feels like lightweight junk. Are there two lines of PC tools? The discount line and the “better” line With all of the industry consolidation lately, it would appear that whoever owns them these days is trying to trade on the venerable Porter-Cable name to sell cheap discount tools to the unsuspecting public. My newer Dewalt tools seem to be OK, but I think that they are focusing on keeping the quality up on that line, maybe for the tradesmen out there. Maybe I will have to just continue buying Bosch, which I have delved into recently and really enjoy using. I am just a mid-priced tool buyer that occasionally reaches for the top of the line. I recently coughed up a whole lot of dough for a new PM drill press and got my money’s worth IMHO. I am at that point in my woodworking life when originally bought tools are wearing out and replacement/upgrading has become a regular event across the entire shop

Now, before all of you Festool junkies out there start up, I realize that the Festool line is absolutely superb, but I just cannot reconcile a $1500 “dust extraction” system or a $1000 router for my woodworking. If I were a pro, working on high end job sites every day, then maybe OK. Any insight on the PC tool line, or am I just mis-reading the situation?

-- "Now I'm just another old guy wearing funny clothes"

25 replies so far

View Sundowner's profile


40 posts in 2135 days

#1 posted 02-22-2013 05:44 PM

I’m going to screamed at for this, I just know it, but the downfall of brands comes from us, the consumer for criticisms of cost like you just made. 20 years ago, I bought a DeWalt 996 pistol grip 14.4v cordless drill for $219. I also bought Dewalt DW611 router for $189. Increase those prices forward today with 3% inflation to get an idea of what you really paid back then and you get a $400 drill and a $350 router. A festool OF1010 router will run you $410 and a T15 drill will run you about $460, and they come with a ton more features and power than my old Dewalt tools. Doesn’t sound like that bad of a deal anymore, does it?

Now, do the same process in reverse: that $189 De Walt router that you see in the big box stores today that probably cost about the same 20 years ago is about $100 in current terms. Waht kind of quality professional grade router do you think you’re gonna get for $100?

View SamuraiSaw's profile


515 posts in 2164 days

#2 posted 02-22-2013 05:54 PM

PC and Senco are just two examples of companies playing to the lowest common denominator. They dropped their quality and prices to appeal to folks at HD. I have several of the PC tools that have the “Made in USA” labels on them and will keep fixing them as long as I can, they are far better tools than anything PC currently offers.

Unfortunately, we’ll all be buying disposable tools as time goes on.

-- Artisan Woodworks of Texas....

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3847 days

#3 posted 02-22-2013 06:08 PM

PC was acquired by Black & Decker. They gutted the brand
reputation in order to sort fill in the middle between the
now pretty badly reputation damaged B&D line and the
Pro Dewalt line.

Old PC never had leading edge technology but the tools
were made well and sensibly designed.

I think Dewalt, Bosch and Milwaukee are the lines to look
at if you’re looking for tradesman quality stuff. All three
lines seem to have stinkers in them still though. Makita
is good too. Hitachi has some good stuff and some lame

View SCABrown's profile


18 posts in 2741 days

#4 posted 02-22-2013 06:09 PM

PC and Dewalt are owned by Stanley/Black&Decker. Enough said

-- Aaron

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2884 days

#5 posted 02-22-2013 06:13 PM

PC was bought by B&D who owned the Dewalt brand for decades. I think part of that deal was to eliminate some competition in that price class (you probably notice a lot more “yellow” stuff in the past few years ago). As far as I can tell the Dewalt brand in many cases is the same machine as the old PC gray. PC is being relegated to the “value” category. I would have probably done the opposite but PC was the “acquired” so to the victor goes the spoils.

Some of the tool historians here might correct me on this but I think prior to being acquired by B&D, Dewalt made some nice tools. Then just like PC, B&D moved them to the “value” category in an effort to prop up the once respected B&D brand. Owing to a number of mistakes, the B&D brand went south so they “flipped” their brands. We’ll see if history repeats.

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2448 days

#6 posted 02-22-2013 06:23 PM

I have written off PC except for the old standby – the 7518 speedmatic. I am about to write off Dewalt. I just made a face lift to my cordless tool collection, and I went Milwaukee. Man am I glad I did. They are amazing tools. A tad pricier than DW, and A LOT pricier than PC, but the quality is still there.


View Woodbum's profile


834 posts in 3265 days

#7 posted 02-22-2013 06:40 PM

No screaming or blowback directed at you Sundowner. I’m not bitchin about price really, but quality=value. Festool =quality= value. I am glad to pay for a quality tool that has a reasonable cost, but I don’t expect to buy a $100 or $1000 router. My ‘88 model Craftsman Drill Press was $250. My 2012 PM DP was $1100. Again as you ponted out, a fair price…to me; inflation adjusted with a whole sh**load more features. I gladly paid $300 for a PC 7518 motor only 5 years ago, which is the roughly the same price as today, but I’ll bet the quality is not the same.
I was just wondering what is/has happened to the Porter Cable brand. From the sound of the bounceback, Black and Decker strikes again.

-- "Now I'm just another old guy wearing funny clothes"

View tefinn's profile


1222 posts in 2636 days

#8 posted 02-22-2013 06:49 PM

@ lumberjoe – Millwaukee is owned by TTI, the company that makes Ryobi and Ridgid. They were smart though and kept the quality on the Millwaukee brand.

-- Tom Finnigan - Measures? We don't need no stinking measures! - Hmm, maybe thats why my project pieces don't fit.

View EEngineer's profile


1117 posts in 3813 days

#9 posted 02-22-2013 07:09 PM

…but the downfall of brands comes from us, the consumer for criticisms of cost like you just made. 20 years ago, I bought…

Yeah, but 20 years ago, you weren’t paying for this:

John F. Lundgren, CEO of Stanley, Black & Decker, which owns such brands as DeWalt and Porter-Cable and recently sold off the Delta Machinery brand. According to an analysis by S&P CapitalIQ of company proxy statements, Lundgren was paid total annual compensation of $32.7 million…

Rather than spending money on design or quality, all US companies are spending it on CEO’s now!

-- "Find out what you cannot do and then go do it!"

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2448 days

#10 posted 02-22-2013 07:43 PM

Tom, you are correct. However, Milwaukee is still HEAVILY involved in the QC aspects. As an example, look at this:

That is not a cheap bag with a crappy zipper. It’s a huge, heavy duty blow molded case

Crappy plastic slide latches that never work or cheap tabs to break off? Nope. Metal toolbox latches

What is inside, 2 drills, 2 batteries and a changer that you need an engineering degree to get everything back in without cords sticking out everywhere?


A very compact Li impact driver. This tool is SOLID, well thought out and has amazing features (brushless, digital clutch and speed selection, the light comes on and stays on with a trigger pull, built in battery meter, amazing battery life, a half hour charge, and 2 batteries)

It may be made in china, but it’s not Chinese crap


View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5124 posts in 4160 days

#11 posted 02-22-2013 08:30 PM

I too hate to see the demise of the once-great U.S.A. made brands, but ya have to keep in mind that the Tiwan and Chinese companies can, and will, produce tooling to specific designs. Price points vs: quality designs are the criteriion (or is that criteria?).


View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3847 days

#12 posted 02-22-2013 08:39 PM

DeWalt was acquired by B&D in 1960.

Later B&D acquired the Swiss company ELU in order to
get patents and tooling for ELU’s superior plunge router
designs. They badged these routers as DeWalt in
the N. American market.

B&D has developed and acquired a lot of cool technology
and many of the present line of DeWalt tools are very
well designed, imo. Many DeWalt tools are still made
in Europe as well, particularly Italy.

View Grandpa's profile


3261 posts in 2875 days

#13 posted 02-22-2013 08:40 PM

Keep the quality up along with the customer service and you don’t even need to advertise. We will buy it. Festool is an expample. They don’t advertise much, have good quality and I think good customer service. We will buy it. That is what it takes. you might buy the cheapie the first time but you seldom get stung twice.

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3358 days

#14 posted 02-22-2013 08:52 PM

I have the following DeWalt tools:

DW735 Planer
DW611 trim router combo
DW55140 air compressor
Biscuit plate joiner
5” RO sander
1/4” sheet sander
pneumatic brad nailer
pneumatic finish nailer
stacked dado set

Each one of these are high quality tools and I believe represent nothing short of a professional tool.

-- jay,

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2448 days

#15 posted 02-22-2013 09:18 PM

Jay, I am a little less than impressed with my DeWalt 5” ROS. It’s not bad, however at $100 I feel there much better options. Not to sound like a fanboy but Milwaukee being one of them.


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