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The Rockwell label has popped up on an entire line of power tools lately. This half-inch, 18V drill caught our eye and made us wonder how many folks have taken a chance on the new tools with the old name.

Like other drills in its class it features a 24-position torque collar, magnetic fastener tray, bubble level, and a two-finger trigger. With a hefty two-speed motor, it boasts big torque numbers to the tune of 485 in/lbs of grunt. But how will it fare against a sea of competitors who have the jump on it?

To answer that question you could take the Zen master approach: “Only time well tell.” But we don’t have much Zen in us, so we want to know what you think. Are the new Rockwell tools going to find a place in the shop soon, or will they make their way to the bargain table first? Let us know in comments.

18V NiCad Cordless Drill [Rockwell]
Street Pricing [Google Products]

 

41 Responses to Hot or Not? Rockwell Power Tools

  1. PutnamEco says:

    Ah, genuine Chinese tools, My guess, the bargain bin.

    Is Snap-on next, in the race for the bottom.
    http://www.alltradetools.com/index.html/screen/product_nav/display_id/id483dcc0283f682.33852473

  2. tooldork says:

    Bargain bin…..the LI conversion rate is speeding up with more tools being offered and decreasing prices.

    Besides, I can get a Bosch 18V NiCad at about the same price. Why take a risk with Rockwell when I can get a proven winner?

  3. Chet says:

    Right on Putnam….it’s a race to the bottom. These are probably being built by the same factory that makes Bob Villa power tools along with all the other off brands that have been diluting the market.

    Maybe it’s me but I don’t think it’s a real strong strategy to take a decent brand and slap it on a commodity power tool from China. Where’s the differentiation and innovation that made this a decent brand to start with.

  4. McAngryPants says:

    mongo only buys yellow tools (DeWalt). And NOTHING from Harbor Freight that plugs into the wall.

  5. fred says:

    We still have some old Rockwell Porter Cable Tools (USA made chain-driven sanders, 4-1/2 inch worm-gear trim saw etc.) Its sad that the Rockwell name – like lots of other brands – now has no value – except to peddle junk.

  6. Jim K. says:

    Like with so many things all this means is that the buyer must beware. Do your research and the best option for your needs should be pretty apparent. Not saying that I like it, just acknowledging the way it is.

  7. mhig9000 says:

    It’s just an attempt to swindle the uninitiated. They take an old reliable name people may have heard of their fathers using and slapped it on their otherwise unsellable tools and voila – Rockwell power tools.

    If you’re a professional or even a serious do-it-yourselfer, you definitely get what you pay for, and if its a tool you’re using it all the time its almost always worth the money for a tried and tested brand. Probably why, for the most part, all you see on jobsites is red, yellow, or teal.

  8. kif says:

    My grandfather had a nice Rockwell circ saw, from many moons ago. THAT was a nice tool. It’s the name game; the Chinese are no longer content with professional sounding names (i.e. Chicago Electric, Pittsburgh Tools, Cleveland Steam, etc.).

    Poaching once respected name brands is the next step. Pep Boys sells a line of cordless tools with some name, I forget which. The Winchester names appears on lower-end pocket knives.

    If they really wanted to cash in, they would crack a history book or visit some historical societies… Indestro of Defiance, Ohio hasn’t been defamed yet…

    Maybe the Chinese are hoping that K-Mart’s parent company will sell off “Craftsman” for some cash flow…..

  9. Julian Tracy says:

    HDT tools had a special on the Milwaukee 18 volt 4pc kit w/ hammer drill, circ saw, recip saw, flashlight, bag, 2 batts + charger all for $225 shipped.

    Why buy crap when good deals on good tools are there for the buying?

    Color it orange and call a central electric pile of crap.

    JT

  10. AZ_Engineer says:

    This approach really annoys me. I wouldn’t buy one just on principle. Rockwell build great industrial tools, and to use that good name on cheap imports is so deceptive. So many buyers have no idea. It’s sad….joe

  11. Coach James says:

    Pep Boys sells Goodyear and Kawasaki power tools. The Kawasaki are also an Alltrade line according to an article I read last year.

  12. rockwelllover says:

    so whats the difference between this and the made in china dewalt? can you guys be more specific,cause I might buy one of this.

  13. fred says:

    Re Rockwelllover Says:

    I’m not sure that anyone was actually commenting on the specific tool. Rather we were saying that when a Chinese company resorts to using a brand name like Rockwell (nothing to do with Rockwell International) to peddle their wares – alarm bells sound and one has to suspect that that quality may not be as good as you might hope. If they wanted to stand behind their product – why not establish their own brand identity. No one complains about the Hitachi or Makita brand names – both Japanese companies that produce some of their product outside of Japan.

    Regarding a Dewalt Tool made in China or a Porter Cable tool made in Mexico or a Delta tool made in Taiwan – we have mixed emotions – but hope that their parent company (Black & Decker) located in Towson Maryland – will stand behind the quality of their product. Time will tell.

  14. rockwelllover says:

    just needed some more info,actually went to their site and they have lifetime warranty on their battery.don’t get me wrong,I own DeWalt,Milwaukee,Porter Cable drills,but this was before production shifted overseas.What I’m trying to decide is should I buy a current Dewalt,Milwaukee drill thats made in China for 3 times the cost or should I get this.Production shifted to China and they are still charging Made In USA prices.

  15. Zathrus says:

    Frankly, I don’t see much in this (or many drills) to buy over a Ryobi. Some of the bigger name brands (Milwaukee and Rigid in particular) have definite advantages over Ryobi-grade tools, but not a ton. The big complaint against Ryobi’s 18V line has been the batteries, but the batteries (and chargers) are so dirt cheap compared to the other brands it’s hardly even worth mentioning ($40 for two batteries vs how much for 1 of the other guys?). And the new LiIon batteries are right up there with the big guys (in cost too!).

    As for the lifetime warrantee — from who? Who are you going to have to deal with in order to get it honored? Are they still going to be around in 5, 10, 15 years or will they have sold the name off to the next guy without selling the obligations as well? If I want a lifetime warrantee then I’d go with Rigid… and even then the warranty is void (limited to 2 years IIRC) if you’re a pro. At least with Rigid I have significantly higher faith that they’re not going to just up and disappear, or sell off their name brand to someone else (they could; but they didn’t *just* acquire it for the name brand, so that’s a lot more doubtful).

    Forget this junk — if you want well made, well performing, and cheap then go with Ryobi. If you need the improvements (and there certainly are some) from Milwaukee, Bosch, Rigid, DeWalt, etc. then go with them. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re getting a top-grade tool from a fly-by-night company that just buys defunt logos and brands.

  16. TOMTOOLMAN says:

    I happen to know someone who works for this company. Most of the employees are former Bosch, B&D and Irwin guys who didn’t like working for a big corporation. They revived the Rockwell name and why not? If they make good tools, it seems like smart business to use a name everyone already knows instead of a brand new one nobody knows. Their philosophy (according to their website http://www.rockwelltools.com) is to cut out all the Nascar marketing and bloated corporate payrolls and offer good tools at lower prices. Sounds good to me.

    I love how you guys bash the tools before you’ve even used them. I checked out amazon and most all of the tools have 4+ star ratings. I even saw an ad for the Jawhorse which looked pretty cool.

  17. PutnamEco says:

    TOMTOOLMAN Says:

    They revived the Rockwell name and why not?

    Why are they riding on the backs of giants, instead of making a name for themselves?
    ——————————————————————————————————————————————
    It seems like smart business to use a name everyone already knows instead of a brand new one nobody knows.

    —-
    It may make them a few quick bucks based on people mistaking them for what was once a quality tool manufacturers wares, but pulling a quick switch is really no way to win MY approval.

    What we need is a quality American tool company making top quality tools in the good old USA. Not more value engineered, Chiwaneese tools that rely on a false quality perception based on a bought out manufacturers name.

  18. TOMTOOLMAN says:

    PUtnamEco:

    Love Made in America, too bad it doesn’t exist anymore…I guess you prefer to send your money to that ivory tower in Towson, MD where the Corporate Fat cats at B&D/Dewalt/Delta/Porter Cable fly around in their corporate jets and pretend to be tool guys….given what’s happening to us little guys by the Wall Street suits these days, no so sure I’d throw my money in their greedy little pockets.

  19. Rockweller says:

    Before you draw any conclusions you have to ask yourself a question first- Made in America or made in good quality? If you choose Made in America, then go ahead, though it seems more difficult in the market now… if the latter, I can tell you Rockwell definately does much better than you think! You get the value by the money you pay.

    PutnamEco, you just an ignorant filth… don’t be a dick. You know nothing about tools.

  20. NailHead says:

    Here’s a word in praise of cheap-ass tools. Believe it or not, they do have their place. If you’re a home owner screwed out of your money by your insurance company after a certain blankety-blank hurricane and have to do all of your repairs yourself, these babies are a godsend. Some of us will not be using these tools to make our living, but we need them now. Ditto the sculpture grad student who really needs a tool to get through his program but whose budget is tight. The cheapies teach you about the features you really want in a tool while you’re saving for the real thing.

    Both of the above categories apply to me. I am grateful for all of the recommendations from you pros, though.

  21. Erik says:

    If their market strategy was legit, I’d be interested but it sounds more desperate to me. As for icky corporate strategies, WHAT 4 star reviews on Amazon? That one guy saying time will tell on the hammer drill? Thanks for the spam, you shill. Tell your former Bosch buddies that you happen to know that I don’t consider removable chucks to be a tacky homeowner’s feature, but rather the mark of a good drill that’s easy to self-maintain, especially if you’re only offering keyless chucks on your higher speed 3/8″ which is exactly where you’d want keyless. And why are they introducing a Ni-Cad line into this market? That’s pretty much evidence to me that they’re looking for impulse buys, not people who are into quality tools.

    You want to talk no frills? Check out my Milwaukee hole-shooter. It’s based on an old Sioux design from back in the day when people gave a damn about quality engineering.

    You want great stuff at excellent prices? Look for well-maintained pre-’80s stuff on eBay.

  22. Chuck says:

    I was told a long time ago, when I first started out purchasing my own tools, that I could not go wrong if I purchased the best tool quality tool that my money would allow. This guiding principle has prevented me from sinking good money into low quality tools. I must admit that I have made mistakes along the way – these small mistakes prevented me from making big mistakes. (It’s all part of the learning curve) I now own a large selection of Rockwell international Tools and in my collection you can see the progression from Rockwell Beaver to Rockwell to Rockwell Delta to Porter Cable and Delta.

    Point is – do your homework and go with the best quality you can afford all the while keeping in mind what type of service the tool will be put to. Always go with a tried and true name for a product that has been around for a while.

    I can see where the dispute arises here – Rockwell is an old name and this company is preying on the customer who makes the false assumption that Rockwell is back. This is an appeal to the ignorance of the customer ergo the need to do your research and remember those two famous words: CAVEAT EMPTOR – Buyer Beware.

  23. Dennis says:

    I buy used American made tools instead of new Chinese tools. especially older Rockwell tools.

  24. Hi guy says:

    I have just bought a couple of new power tools. What convinced me to buy was the price and origin of build. Knowing full well the Germans allways give you value for money. So for those that think all Rockwells are made in China take a closer look and you,ll find many are made in Hamburg Germany. I,m English and live in Spain but I,m sure it,s the same company.

  25. I was in Menards yesterday and noticed they had started selling Rockwell cordless drills and impact wrenches. They must have redone the line for the recent lithium ion battery release, because now they are neon green plastic.

    I can’t put my finger on it exactly but something about how they molded the plastic bothered me when I held it. It had a weird feel. That aside, the drills seemed to be built well. It’s really hard to judge how well the tool performs in a store setting.

    One thing I noticed is that they now seem to be using the same ratcheting chuck that Dewalt uses. I’ve said it before, but I really like my Dewalt’s ratcheting chuck. So this is a good thing.

  26. Tufis says:

    I just bought and received the Rockwell Pro-Grade 12V drill kit on Amazon on sale for $49.99 with free delivery. Included were 2 – 1.7 AH nicads, a 1 hour charger, a hard plastic case, and the sweetest feature packed drill you can imagine. Oh, btw – free batteries for life. The Pro-Grade line appears to be just as advertised. The crap from Freight Harbor is not even on the same planet as this kit.

    I am not complaining. Fits my needs and with the money I saved, I will be buying a Sonicrafter. No, I have no affiliation with Rockwell, just calling ’em as I see ’em.

  27. whofan says:

    These Rockwell tools have many simularities with the Ryobi line. The switches and drill clutch look alot like Ryobi and Craftsman. It would be interesting to find out where the source is for this line of tools.
    I must say that the Ryobis are as good as any other cordless tool I`ve used.
    Milwaulkee cordless tools have been junk in my opinion due to there batteries. We have a new 2 years ago lithium 18v Milwaulkee where I work, that is used very infrequently it has two batteries that won`t fully charge rendering it useless. For the cost the Ryobi is better than most.

  28. noone says:

    now its rockwell B&D, so the simlarities are of dewalt…
    and ryobi is a sub of milwaukee tool i thought

  29. Jacobc tx says:

    In my opinion the new rockwell tools are overpriced homeowner toys. I don’t think they would survive more than a month on a jobsite. As for me I’ve been using Milaukee power tools for the last 12 yrs. unfortunately they just sold out to the same Chinese crap maker that puts out ryobis and rigids.

  30. charles says:

    i own mostly milwaulkee power tools and love them, my old mil sawzall quit on the job 3 years ago so i sent one of my employees to get one, he called me and said all he could find in the local hardware store was a rock well. i said get it cuz we had to finish that job. surprisingly the rock well had held up well in that 3 years hell the old milwaulkee wasn’t a year old and went up in smoke. maybe it is like general motors 99% of what gm builds is fall apart shit and if ur lucky enough u might hit the lotto and get a good one. as of course i’ll never ever buy another gm truck period as i own a plumbing/electrical business and we beat the holy shit out of everything we use. on the gm truck we now own dodge rams with no major trouble all hemi’s one with 600,000 miles 03 model

  31. Vmarch says:

    Rockwell is just another Phoenix name branding that relies on the memory of what your great grandfather owned. Let’s face it and its a shame that the corporate greed has reached the power tool industry. Even Milwaukee is owned by the same company that owns Ryobi, yes its true. I was on a job and forgot my right angle drill so I went to Home Crapot and spoke to a Milwaukee rep who told me that all Milwaukee corded tools are made in the USA and the cordless made in China. I bought a Milwaukee right angle drill. After I drilled the hole and wiped it clean, it said Made in China. I took it back and got a refund. I got so pissed I wrote a letter to Milwaukee but they don’t care its all about high profit running a distribution company. I bought a Japanese made Makita and it works like a champ. I am still using my Porter Cable cordless from the 80’s and rebuild the batteries myself. Thank your elected whore politician for turning our country into a nation of consumers and not manufacturers.

  32. tool mama says:

    I found your site as I was researching Rockwell Tools because I needed to prove to my husband that I was right, as always, that Rockwell Tools were American made tools. Now I’m really *&%$d. If it ain’t bad enough that now I gotta figure out how I’m still right; my precious Bladerunnner is just another part of the entitlement mentality of an oppportunist not caring about the reputation of a name built on integrity. The reason you can’t sing Happy Birthday on tv anymore. So now I still had to find an American made tool company….the company is Armstrong tools. These are not cheap tools but if enough people put their money where their mouth is…; So guys, not only did you not give me a solution but you didn’t even make my like better. I hope ya’ll will give these guys a chance and hopefully,they in return, can lower their prices. Here’s hoping everybody has a better weekend than my ole man’s gonna have

  33. Regena Proffitt says:

    Not only are these tools no longer made in the USA Rockwell Tools will not stand behind an advertisment on Shopwiki. There product picture didn’t match the description. Rockwell had nothing to say, and Shopwiki cannot be contacted. I should be in China buying Rockwell tools direct. I would get more results.

  34. Joe Mosher says:

    Rockwell Tools has nothing to do with Rockwell International from the past. The parent company of Rockwell Tools (Positec) is from Hong Kong and has only existed since 1994. Positec has no connection to Rockwell International other than a similar name. What was left of Rockwell International primarily turned into Delta and Porter Cable. Sadly, B&D sunk PC and Delta, ironically was sold to a Taiwanese back in 2011.

  35. chimp says:

    I think 99% of everybody has missed the point.
    was the object not to review as an owner of this tool?

    I bet all you yanks have been raving about the GM V8 engine being a great American engine even thouh it was built in a plant in England for years until the main guy thouht he’d hship the WHOLE plant to the us as it was importing 80% of the product.
    So what….some chinese company robbed a badge, if the company that built all your grandads stuff was as good as you all say it was (probably while stroking your wang) then the firm wouldn’t have gone bust.

    get over yourselves….the germans do everything better than anybody…even warmongering! Yes, you’re even a close second at invading for greed.

  36. Robin says:

    Purchased a Rockwell buffer yesterday. Plugged it in and had a listen to it. Worst sounding gearbox I have ever heard. Taking it back for a refund. They must have cut the gears out with a hacksaw and put it together without lubricant.The quality is the pits. The name, appearance and feel of the tool fooled me. When a gearbox makes this racket it is not long for this planet.

  37. jim says:

    I too was skeptical of Rockwell tools until i actually tried one. saw a great deal for 16v lithium drill and impact combo for $100 online. while it Does not match the performance of my 18v Dewalt, the Rockwell is much more compact and i find myself reaching for the Rockwell much more than the dewalt. build construction is very good. it had survived many drops and still ticks like new.
    i noticed that many reviewers have not used these tools and are commenting on the China vs usa topic. Rockwell is a us company. they use factories in China for production. this is similar to most of the consumer products sold in usa. how many of you think apple makes quality prodcts? ipads, iphones, and most macs are made in China. i work for an electronics manufacturing firm and find that many Chinese products are in fact well made. yes. there are often crap, but typically the prices reflect that. the Rockwell is an exception. they are a great value. especially for the homeowner who does not want to spend a fortune but still wants a quality tool.

  38. jim says:

    correction. Rockwell is owned by positec tool which is a Chinese company. still doesn’t change my opinion of their tools.

  39. dan says:

    interesting read.. although, no one seems to have actually commented on using the rockwell tools.. we know they’re cheap, wecan see the price tags but do they do the job?

  40. chris says:

    I love made in USA .But lets face it no one makes cordless tools here anymore. Milwaukee was my favorite except for a Hilti 20v li ion witch was made in Germany and cost twice as much but is the best . We bought 4 Dewalts for work less than a year ago and 4 out of 8 batteries quit taking a charge!
    I’ve had Makita ,panasonic ,Bocsh ,Porter Cable , Dewalt ,Milwaukee , and Hilti.
    So whats the difference they’re all made in China with an american name !
    For the hell of it I’m going to try the Rockwell brushless 20v with lifetime battery replacement and 3 year warranty its got to be better than Dewalts .
    I still have my Hilti but variable speed switch needs replaced whitch I will do soon It’s still the best if money doesn’t matter .
    Lets bring the manufacturing back to USA ! I for one would pay a little more for the piece of mind .

    • Jim F says:

      Rockwell tools would be a good buy if the batteries would be available when the lifetime warranty was needed. Can’t seem to find replacement 18 volt batteries.

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