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It’s been our experience that in almost every profession one brand of tools becomes preeminent — even in areas where tools aren’t that different.  For example, it’s been our experience that Greenlee is a very popular brand among electricians even when they’re purchasing simple tools — like a screwdriver — where many companies offer the same quality of tool.

I’d guess this is at least partially due to the apprenticeship system.  Why not buy the tools that your mentor uses?  Another reason: if everyone’s using ’em, they can’t be all bad, right?

Anyway, I’m really interested to know — and I bet you are, too — what brands are popular in what fields.  Let’s pitch in and make a list.  Let us know in comments what tool brands are popular in your profession.

(Thanks to presta for this great CC-licensed photo.)


20 Responses to Reader Question: What’s The Popular Tool Brand In Your Profession?

  1. John says:

    Cisco. I’m a network engineer and I work in the core networks of our hosting infrastructure, unlike some who use the term to mean they manage a small windows network. In my profession the core routers of almost every enterprise environment are backed by Cisco gear. Juniper has been making inroads, but the goto name is still Cisco. Not quite the same type of tools, but you asked.

  2. Brad says:

    The preeminent tool in my office is my boss. That dude is everywhere, and man is he a tool. I joke, I joke… I kid, I kid… I’m a developer, so Visual Studio for me. ASP .NET and C#.

  3. dlone says:

    For tech writers, it’s Microsoft Word.

  4. Fong says:

    When I did car audio, people favored Makita for power tools (even though I had Dewalts) and Snap-On for hand tools (I used Husky since they were cheaper). In my current industrial sensor industry, there are only personal preferences.

  5. Eric G. says:

    Working in the hardware (computer) industry it’s Xcelite and Wiha hand tools everywhere.

  6. l_bilyk says:

    My thoughts..
    Auto techs – snap on with mac lagging far behind
    Electricians – greenlee and klein
    Woodworkers – porter cable and makita
    General Contractos – dewalt and milwaukee
    Plumbers – ridgid
    Tile guys – MK for the saws.. the hand tools seem to be pretty random

  7. Jim says:

    In my days of film production it was makita drills and leatherman multitools everywhere. Later doing video production, TV Engineers LOVED Xcelite hand tools, makita still seemed to be the drill of choice though. Nowadays I’ve moved on to the planetarium field where price seems to drive every purchase. (Really, I’ve never seen so many crappy tools in use in another professional industry. Makes me sad.)

  8. WW Hobbyist says:

    Started w/ a number of DeWalt products, but have found that the quality just isn’t there.

    My random orbital sander’s dust collection bag ripped and can only replace going directly to manufacturer. My plunge router base’s flexible hose for dust collection came unglued the FIRST time I used it.

    Bosch’s new 10.8 Lithium driver is the whip…small in size, big in power.

    Rigid Shop Vac – 13.5 Gal/6 HP does the trick w/ ease.

  9. Chris says:

    Car Mechanic: Snap-On for those who can afford it, Mac for those who can’t

  10. Leslie says:

    LOL I wasn’t going to comment but having read John, Brad, and dlone’s comments I’ll add:

    As a college computer networking teacher, my primary tools are
    ~ as much legacy hardware and software as I can beg, borrow or steal as I try to get through to these kids that they’re not going to go out there and find much of the latest and greatest, and certainly not the souped-up game/media optimized stuff they have at home,
    ~ Linux, though it’s a tool I’m pretty much just learning myself, and
    ~ my little generic toolkit for when I want to open the box or make some cable

  11. Harry says:

    For professional Auto Techs, Snap on is probably the brand most lusted after. Sometimes they are the only company that might make a particular tool or size of tool. Their service and over engineering of tools is definitely top shelf. I personally would place MATCO a close second followed by Cornwell, and then MAC. It all depends on what type of vehicles you work on, how the tools feel when using them (fit, balance, texture), and that they’ll last forever or close to it. The service from your dealer has a lot to do with maintaining brand loyalty too. I own and use these brands along with others daily.

  12. Scott Dallesasse says:

    I work in electrical construction, primarily in commercial / industrial. The tools that we use are mainly Klein for linesman’s, wire strippers, and nut and screw drivers. Also Channel Locks usually for the groove joint pliers.

    Most of the contractors issue each of “us, (union electricians) with Ideal hand benders, Panasonic driver / drills and maybe a small Panasonic circular saw.

    Larger jobs also may have Rigid threaders, “ponys” or stationary threaders, Milwaukee portaband bandsaws, Milwaukee or Hilti rotohammers, Bosch bulldog hammer drills.

  13. Brent says:

    As an architect its AutoCAD Architectural Desktop 2006 all day long.


  14. Crispy says:

    At my car audio install job:

    Dewalt is the drill of choice. There is one Black and Decker Firestorm and my Bosch 10.8v Litheon driver is making inroads, I think more guys would have one if they could afford it.

    Snap-on is the handtool of choice, with Stanely being the cheapy route. Kliens are popular for stripping and crimping. The BoJo nylon pry tools are real popular for interior work, mine being Eastwood branded.

  15. Telephone central office work: Klein, Newton, Jonard, Amp, OK Industries, Standard Pneumatic, Thomas & Betts, Xcelite, Trompeter, Milwaukee, DeWalt, Wiha, Brother

    Telephone / cellular outside work: Harris, Klein, 3m, Tempo, Burndy, Exfo, DeWalt, Extech, Cementex

    Telephone PBX / datacom work: Paladin, Fluke, Allen Tel, Makita, Brady

  16. ega278 says:

    For auto work the most popular brands are Snap-On, Mac and Matco. The reason being because reps show up to the shops in trucks weekly and you can get a whole master tool set and just make payments. It’s good for people who don’t have any money and don’t have time to mess around and need everything RIGHT NOW so they can get to work. The problem with that is the extraordinary high cost of the tools in the long run. The idea is that you put a socket on a ratchet, put it on a nut and turn it and the nut should come off. Why do you need a $95 ratchet and a $25 socket from Snap-On when a $10 ratchet and a $2 socket made by Pittsburgh from Harbor Freight will do the same thing with the same warranty? A Craftsman combination wrench will turn a nut or bolt EXACTLY the same as a Snap-On wrench, and for only 15-20% of the price, and carries the same lifetime guarantee. The other route, if you absolutely NEED everything right now, you can go to Harbor Freight and buy Pittsburgh tools which are even cheaper and also carry a lifetime warranty. Then you can just use them while you’re making money and then buy the more expensive tools if you want them. Remember when people used to joke about “Taiwan” or “China” tools and how crappy they were? No more, because they are using the same high quality manufacturing processes the US uses. Yes, all our jobs have went there along with all the equipment and technology too.

    So, for specialty tools definitely go with Snap-On, Mac or Matco. For every other general tool just search around for good quality cheap stuff like Craftsman, Stanley, Popular Mechanics and Harbor Freight. I would also like to add that all my chrome sockets are Metrinch brand, the ones they had an infomercial for years ago. They are amazing and they are a space saver in my box because you only need 1 shallow and 1 deep socket for each size instead of needing a shallow and deep for each size of both metric and standard. I went to the website to check them out and then called the place in California and bought just the socket sets instead of those blow molded case sets.

    For impact guns in particular there is a difference in quality and performance. Ingersoll-Rand is the required brand because there’s nothing more frustrating than when you’re trying to do a job and your damn impact won’t even take a rusty bolt out. One mechanic I used to work with used to literally chuck his Snap-On gun across the shop and yell for me to get my IR gun for him to use. For all other air tools, just go for the cheap stuff because the main problem with air tools isn’t necessarily quality but that guys don’t oil them and then they gum up from being dried out. Put 5-10 drops in them before the first use of the day every day and they will run like new forever and that includes the $15 Harbor Freight air ratchet

    So, go to Harbor Freight and spend $150 on a giant set of tools and you’ll be able to do the same jobs the other mechanic does with his set of tools that cost $1800.

  17. The Harbor Freight lifetime guarantee is not “the same”, by a long shot! If you can’t produce a receipt for the purchase of that tool, you’re shit outta luck.

    Furthermore, have you noticed that the receipts are printed in disappearing ink? After a few months they’re so faded as to be unreadable.

  18. sam says:

    in the theatre:

    – dewalt cordless drills
    – porter cable pneumatics
    – leatherman multitools for old fashioned guys
    – gerber multitools for younger guys

  19. Sean McDonald says:

    I’m in a different yet same as most mechanics, I work as a assembly tech for a industrial welding manufacturer T.J. Snow. I use most tools that mechanics use, but also need heavier duty stuff too we use bolts up to 4″ heads.. alot of hex and torx as well, our tool brand of preference in our shop is craftsman, snap-on, and matco in that order. Alot of us have bought harbor frieght stuff .. but in our environment it just dont last. Ive bought some of the imapct tools from harbor frieght they last a few weeks, and just didnt have the balls to take out a really stuck bolt .. so out came the IR titanium and out came the bolt.
    I do use harbor frieght for some things like adjustable wrenches, and a few other lightly used tools. we have a local store here in Chattanooga, Tn that is called mill and mine , they have some fabisa impact sockets that are really good and cheaper than name brand stuff and better than harbor frieght.
    Recently Ive started buying a little known by most comapny called toptul found them on ebay .. bought some sockets to try .. absoultly awesome quality and price.. life time warranty .. and no reciept required.. Ive beat these to death trying to bust em and cant .. check out toptul.com

  20. Rob says:

    I’m a electrician
    I use Wera screw drivers
    channel lock linesmen with fish tape puller, side cutters and pliers in general
    I have a klien wire strippers and pipe reaming tool
    Makita LXT 6 piece combo kit(my favorite tools) cordless impact is a must have

    Greenlee benders and KO sets and other large tools spceific to the trade
    mainly bosh hammer drill used by our guys

    makita is the over drill of choice but there are dewalt guys in my company
    and for drilling wood frame building apparments and such
    a hole hawg by Milwaukee is a must

    for anything else the guys tend to use craftsman or master craft for sockets and such typical something with a good warrenty that was on sale

    I I have a thing for signet gear wrenches and while I was a car audio installer I used lancer screwdrivers still have lots of them they are great
    and channel lock crimpers and snap on soldering irons and my IR titanium 1/2 impact gun

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