If you are looking to stock up on a useful arsenal of power tools, generally you should be looking at sticking to a single brand. That is especially the case if you are looking at getting cordless tools and want their batteries to be compatible.
With more than a dozen options out there – some better and some worse – it can be difficult to choose. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at Makita and Craftsman to help you decide which – if either – of the two brands is the best one for you.
A Brief History of Makita & Craftsman
Makita traces its origins all the way back to 1915 when it was founded in Anjo, Japan, by none other than Mosaburo Makita. The original Makita Electric Works began by selling and repairing motors, transformers, and electric equipment.
Then in 1958, Makita began selling a portable electric planer, one of the first of its kind, and shortly after, it started manufacturing and selling a variety of other power tools. What is notable is that Makita was the first company to introduce a nickel hydride battery tool to the market, a rechargeable drill/driver to be exact.
At this time, Makita manufactures a wide range of products including cordless tools, corded tools, and gas-powered (particularly lawn care and landscaping) equipment . Makita is a fairly large company, as at this time it has nearly 18,000 employees worldwide, with offices in about a dozen different countries, and hundreds of millions of dollars in total revenues.
Next, we have Craftsman, a brand which was first established in 1927 when the Craftsman trademark was bought from the Marion-Craftsman Tool Company for just 500 dollars. What is interesting is that this was originally the house brand of Sears, a popular retailer that has unfortunately gone out of business in the last decade.
However, you might be surprised to know that as of 2017, the owner of Craftsman is Stanley Black & Decker, a giant in the world of tools.
What is important to note is that Craftsman is marketed as a fairly middle of the line tool brand. It’s known as being a brand that sells tools at mid-level prices. At this time, the main focus of the Craftsman brand is the production of hand and power tools, work gear, and lawn and garden equipment.
Craftsman has just around 1,000 employees, with around 600 million dollars in annual revenues. It is rated as one of the top 10 tool brands in the world.
Makita vs Craftsman: Which Offers Better Quality?
When it comes to product quality, let’s take a look at Makita first. Specifically, let’s start by looking at where its tools are made. When it comes down to it, Makita has factories in roughly 10 countries, including Brazil, Romania, Japan, China, Mexico, the UK, the USA, Germany, Dubai, and Thailand.
What is impressive here is that although a lot of the items are made in the Global South, so in countries with what could be considered relatively lower production standards, almost equal amount of tools is made in countries with what are considered to be high production standards, such as Japan, the USA, Germany, the UK.
Among other tools, a variety of saws, demo hammers, brush cutters, and sanders are made in Japan.
Moreover, Makita tools are known for being very high in quality, better than most other tool brands. The consensus is that if you need tools for professional, heavy, and daily use, it is a great brand to go with.
Right off the bat, something that should be noted about the Craftsman brand is that they do make many of their tools in China and Taiwan. However, Craftsman has been expanding its factories in the Global North, particularly in the USA.
At this time, Craftsman operates various factories throughout the USA, in states such as Connecticut, South Carolina, Illinois, & Mississippi. The parent company behind Craftsman, Stanley Black & Decker, is looking to move more of its production back to the USA going forward as well.
Now, with that being said, while Craftsman is recognized as one of the top tool companies out there, just beware that their products are fairly not necessarily meant for heavy-duty use. In other words, they are geared more towards basic, home use, and lighter-duty DIY use.
Although, the good thing here is that Craftsman tools are usually quite affordable.
Which Offers a Better Warranty?
When it comes to warranties, Makita is pretty good in this regard.
First, Makita offers a 30-day return and replacement warranty, where you can get a replacement or refund if you are not satisfied. Makita also guarantees that all products shall be free of defects and have good workmanship for one year, with emissions-related items (such as gas chainsaws) being covered for two years, and some other products, such as lithium-ion battery tools, being covered by a three-year limited warranty.
When it comes to Craftsman, although this brand is seen as being lesser than Makita, still offers some really good warranties.
Most of their power tools and cordless tools come with one-, two-, or three-year limited warranties, much of the lawn and garden equipment comes with five-, seven-, and fifteen-year, and even lifetime limited warranties. As for hand tools, most of them come with either a limited or full lifetime warranty.
When all is said and done, Craftsman might have better warranties on their products at a quick glance. That said, Makita offers great customer service too, so you shouldn’t let this be the factor that sways your direction heavily in either way.
Makita vs Craftsman: Which Has a Better Product Portfolio?
Let’s take a look at a few key categories to get a better idea of the two companies’ offerings.
When it comes to jigsaws, Makita currently has 10 options available, compared to just four options from Craftsman. The same can be said for drills, of which Makita has over 30 to choose from, compared to less than half that amount for Craftsman. When it comes to angle grinders, Makita has 15 to choose from, with Craftsman having less than 10.
Across the board, no matter the product category, Makita appears to have anywhere from two to three times the selection that Craftsman has.
That said, when it comes to hand tools, Craftsman is the clear winner.
Which of the Two Brands Should You Choose?
At the end of the day, if you need professional quality tools and great selection, albeit at fairly high prices, Makita is the brand to go with.
However, if you are looking for tools for home use and your budget is fairly limited, you should consider Craftsman instead. While this brand’s tools are not ideal for heavy-duty use, they are more than sufficient for most projects encountered by homeowners, DIYers, and even some tradesmen.
As you can see, neither of the brands is good or bad in absolute terms. Instead, it is more important to consider your use case and choose the right brand accordingly.
While Makita is popular among both professionals and amateurs alike, Craftsman is more widely used among lighter-duty users.