Here’s what could be a tough question for you – which is your favorite European hand tool brand?
Here in the USA, there are plenty of well-known European tool brands, but also quite a few that toe the line of obscurity. I happen to really like a lot of the brands that are known but hard to find. They’re not impossible to find, just difficult. That’s not intentional, but things just worked out that way.
I put together a list of my favorite brands that came to mind in no particular order. Part of why they’re among my favorite brands is because they’re among the best brands. Some are all-around decent brands, others are leaders in their fields.
If you’re not familiar with these brands, check out the links below, which leads to our reviews and other brand-specific coverage of some of their tools and products. I’m sure I left out a number of brands, and I’m counting on you guys to share a few words about ’em. You are also of course welcome to share your thoughts about any or all of these mentioned brands.
PB Swiss Tools: awesome screwdrivers and hex keys
Wera: great screwdrivers and very nice compact socket sets
Wiha: awesome precision screwdrivers
NWS: Fantastic(o) pliers (if you don’t see what I did there, you owe it to yourself to check out their high leverage cutters)
Knipex: great pliers – not the best, but better than many USA brand offerings
Irega: the BEST adjustable wrenches, and easy to find under Channellock branding
Grip-on: great locking pliers, and with no-pinch release levers
Beta: sweet mechanics tools
Facom: a gem of a Stanley Black & Decker brand
Irazola/Bahco: Bahco offers great variety, from ratcheting screwdrivers to sweet Swedish hacksaws, and Irazola is my grail brand of screwdriver
Felo: very nice screwdrivers, especially their gel-cushioned ones
Sola: nice levels, but my 24″ level shipped with dust inside the bubble vial – this will always bug me!
Halder: excellent rubber mallets with interchangeable heads, and dead blow hammers
Hazet – strong mechanics tools reputation, decent screwdrivers
There’s also Gedore, Stahlwille, and oodles of other brands I have little experience with.
If I had to pick favorites, it would be… Irazola for screwdrivers, PB Swiss Tools for hex keys, Facom for wrenches, NWS for pliers, Knipex for specialty pliers, Wera for precision screwdrivers, and Wera for mechanics tools (ratchet, sockets, sets).
May 5, 2015 – Original Post
July 20, 2021 – Minor edits, added Halder,
stahlwillie and hazet.
During my apprenticeship I used Elora and britool spanners and still using them to this day , I have used most of the above brands but you get to trust a brand and these are my two.
Hi! Elora is a fantastic brand. Family owned focused on top quality only steel. There are ratchet wrenches from one generation back that still work every day on the shops! The same stands for Stahlwille. Top are also PB Swiss and felo. NWS are excellent but also knipex. Knipex is N1 and all rival are compared to it.
Wera has excellent quality, However; I heard they are built in Chequia now…
For over fifty years I have bought and mislaid many tools and to me they are as precious as jewellery. Now when I look through me tool boxes so much of the contents is Made in England the UK or Sheffield. The sad thing is most of these manufacturers are gone or now just rebrand cheap alternatives. But as Brexit approaches and we start to rebalance our economy the UK must make the quality things it was once known for. From the screwdriver, now almost extinct in UK manufacturing to locomotives, something we supplied the word with. Can we, sure we can.
I’m totally confused with your comment!
I assume your manufacturing moved to China,not to the rest of Europe.
Move your jobs back to UK and please stop dumping your colonial problems to my country! (This goes for France too)
I didn’t see the OP mention ‘colony’ once! I don’t get your angle.
And besides, an awful lot of people regret the loss of legendary high quality US, UK and Euro manufacturers going to the grave as the throw away society takes over. Don’t you?
Fair play mate! Well said!
It’s not the throwaway society that was the end of the once might British manufacturing sector – it was the willingness of company management to shift manufacturing overseas where labour was cheaper, and the willingness of various governments to allow them to do that.
If you’re in a fully peaceful world with open international trade, it doesn’t really matter that your socket set is made under licence in Taiwan or China – it’s when things start looking dark that you really rue the lack of strategic industries.
And of course, those economic experts espousing the benefits of globalisation never did work out how expensive it is to support regions that have had their main employers disappear; a few years support, some announcements about retraining, and then the regions were left to collapse.
Koko The Talking Ape
I’m with Jon B. It would help us be more sympathetic if we knew what country you’re from, and what you’re actually talking about.
I’m lucky enough to have found a few vintage Sheffield pliers here in the US. Great quality and borderline beautiful in an industrial sort of way. Wish you could find pliers like that still. As much as I like my Wiha and Knipex ones, Sheffields are my go-to needlenose and dikes.
After 1960 europe and norh america start to sale everything.
They brought false capitalism to the West.
In the past, everything had an identity, but now if you talk about identity, I will accuse you of racism.
Every famous and high-quality brand is produced in the original country, but now everything is mostly produced in China and Taiwan. American, German, Italian, French, and English brands are produced in these two countries.
The meaning of writing “made in America” or “made in England” means that this product must be produced in the land of America or England with the knowledge and skills of the workers and specialists of these countries.
But today, because they made money the main priority for Europe and America, the only brand of America and Europe is the same name.
When the owner of a famous American brand is an Asian capitalist, and all the products of this product are produced in Asian countries, and not even an American is involved in its production.
Ford, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz brands have American, Italian and German identities, even the names of these brands were taken from the names of the founders of these factories.
In the past, everything in Europe and America had a European and American identity, and Europe was the producer.
But today, the people of Europe have turned into consumers, and people who try to preserve their identity and patriotism are called racists.
My grandfather had a German tool 70 years ago, which he used for 30 years, and his grandfather’s promotion of its quality made many people buy that tool.
But now that brand no longer exists, and instead of the original German brand, a number of multinational brands owned by non-German and non-European capitalists have been created, and the workers are not even German.
Europe and America must regain control of their countries and restore credibility and quality. I hope that the policy governing Europe, which aims to destroy the brands and products of European workers, will disappear so that we can see real American and European products again.
Wera, then Wiha, then Knipex.
I don’t have any tools from the brands you mentioned above, except for Wiha. I think Wiha is great!
Quite a few European tool companies are a bit more specialized in what they produce in the way of hand tools – and I’m not sure that I have a single favorite – or even a favorite in category – but I offer some suggestions of some European toolmakers that I think worthy of consideration –
COMPANY TYPE COUNTRY
Artu Carbide Grit Files GERMANY
Auriou Hand Made Rasps and Scrapers FRANCE
Bessey Clamps GERMANY
Beta Tools Mechanics Tools ITALY
C.K. Electrician’s Tools GERMANY
Campagnolo Bicycle Tools ITALY
Clifton (Clico) Woodworking Tools UK/ENGLAND
Cox Caulking and Epoxy Guns UK/ENGLAND
Crown Woodworking tools UK/ENGLAND
Cyclus Tools Bicycle Tools GERMANY
Dewit Garden Tools HOLLAND
Diamic Chiesls UK/ENGLAND
Elora Mechanics Tools GERMANY
EMMERICH PRIMUS Planes GERMANY
Facom Mechanics Tools FRANCE
Felco Cutters SWITZERLAND
Felo Screwdrivers GERMANY
Fiskars Garden and Craft Tools FINLAND
Gardena Garden tools GERMANY
Garlick Saw Co. Hand saws and scrapers UK/ENGLAND
Grip-On Vise Grip Pliers SPAIN
Grobet Swiss Pattern Files SWITZERLAND
Gross Stabil Clamps GERMANY
Harris Scrapers UK/ENGLAND
Hazet Mechanics Tools GERMANY
Heyco Pliers and Wrenches GERMANY
IBEX Small Planes GERMANY
ILES (Ashley Iles) Woodworking Tools UK/ENGLAND
ILES (RAY ILES) Woodworking Tools UK/ENGLAND
KNIPEX Pliers and Screwdrivers GERMANY
KUNZ Planes GERMANY
Lutz Small planes GERMANY
Narex Chisels CZECH REPUBLIC
NWS Pliers GERMANY
OCHSENKOPF Garden Tools GERMANY
Pajarito Plaster Tools GERMANY
Pavan Plaster Tools ITALY
PB Swiss Screwdrivers SWITZERLAND
PFERD files GERMANY
Portasol Torches IRELAND
Rennsteig Tools Punches GERMANY
Sandvik Wrenches and Cutting tools SWEDEN
Silberschnitt Gass Tools GERMANY
Sneeboer Garden Tools HOLLAND
Stabila Levels GERMANY
Stahlwille Mechanics Tools GERMANY
Storch Plaster Tools GERMANY
Stubai Hammers and roofing tools AUSTRIA
Thor Hammer Hammers UK/ENGLAND
TWO CHERRIES Chisels and Gouges GERMANY
UPONOR – WIRSBO PEX Tools FRANCE
URKO Clamps SPAIN
Var Bicycle Tools FRANCE
Venice Brushes Paintbrushes ITALY
WAGO Electric Terminal Tools GERMANY
WERA Mechanics Tools CZECH REPUBLIC
WIHA Screwdrivers, Pliers and more GERMANY
Wolfcraft Woodworking Tools GERMANY
I think that Auriou (Forge de Saint Jeury) makes some of the best rasps in the world, Dewit makes some great garden hand tools. Felco produces some ecellent (if not the best) garden shears and wire/cable cutters, Ray Isles makes some great planes and other wood working tools, Knipex and NWS produce some terrific pliers, PB Swiss, Wera and Wiha screwdrivers are among the best in class , Stabila levels are great, and I like Two Cherries brand woodcarving tools quite a bit. I’m no auto mechanic – but I’ve heard good things about Hazet and Stahlwille tools.
Outstanding work on the list there! Quite a few entries I haven’t had heard of yet.
One of the best tools is made in Romania (Mob Ius) and Serbia (Unior). They don’t have much of marketing, but just like Romanian wine, even though nobody knows them, they are among the best. Like a treasure, just have to look for it. And the advantages for eastern Eu tools, is the price, as the same quality, quarter of the price at least.
Unior is a manufacturer in Slovenia.
I have a Unior wrench which is intended for use on bike pedals, and it’s a wonderful thing, and hasn’t yet met a bike pedal it couldn’t remove.
I have a 30+ year old set of Felco pruners my dad gave me when I got my first house. I’ve had a few others come through (mostly because my wife isn’t getting her hands on my Felcos as she has a bad habit of leaving them out in the garden) and nothing readily available comes close. Even the leather sheath is fantastic.
Koko The Talking Ape
I noticed a few years ago that a lot of the better woodworking tools come from Germany or Sweden (Sandvik, Two Cherries, Gross Stabil, Auriou, etc.) The only American-ish company I can think of in that league is is Veritas, and they’re Canadian. (I’m talking woodworking specifically.)
DEITHER SEFRIN DE MATTOS
Best Germany hand tools
Nah look at YouTube tests…meh and meh. i wanted to buy their combination spanners and they failed. Seems gedore is MID- brand at best
I use gedore wrenches alot and they hold up better than mist.other brands I’ve come across and that’s using pipes and dead blow hammers on them to get the job done on trucks and equipment failure zero cant say that for many other wrenches ive put to early retirement
Gedore made the mistake of renaming their cheap brand (Carolus) to Gedore Red a couple of years ago. So now you have lots of cheap tools with the Gedore name on the market, devaluating the good name of their premium tools.
I use them in work quite a bit (hydraulic manufacturing). While I don’t have a bad word to say about them and the quality feels solid , I would rather spend a tiny bit more and buy wera or knipex for my personal tools. Take that with a serious grain of salt, I love tools, they’re a hobby for me in addition to being my work tools. Gedore tools will absolutely get the job done and build to a high standard.
You forgot king dick tools made in England
of the tools I’ve used when overseas and brought home.
Stahlwille, – I know you say wera sockets are very compact, I’ve not had a set in hand so I’m curious. but I have a set of Stahlwille, and have used them in places on aircraft. there are a few times I can fit the Stahlwille in a spot that I can’t fit a Cromwell or a SK. although the newer SK’s are about as small.
strength – never broken on. Stahlwille wrenches are just a good IMO and lighter for equal size of anything I’ve held in my hand. I don’t think that’s always a good thing – as I’m sure that’s part of why they cost so much. comparatively I like my SK set I got recently but they are a touch heavier.
Stahlwille ratchets on the other hand – while very compact pear/tear drop shaped – and useful – are sloppy in comparison for their price – IMO.
their speciality tools however – are often very very good.
love Knipex pliers – as wire work pliers.
Hazet is good stuff too – but when the opportunity arose – I brought home Stahlwille hand tools. 3/8 and 1/4 sockets sets, full metric and SAE combo wrenches, some specialty tools (engineer hammer, punches, aviation bits etc)
PB Swiss, Wiha & NWS are my favorite of the ones you mentioned, but I really like all the brands that you listed, except for Sola, I have no experience with them. One that I didn’t see listed above is Schmitz, they make awesome precision pliers.
Knipex, wera, and felo
I’d say Wera for screwdrivers, they have a good alance between high quality and decent prices. There are better ones, and there are cheaper ones, but probably the best balance of the two for my uses and budget. They also make one of the best bit holders I ever used in the Rapidaptor, and make a nice multi bit screwdriver with on board bit storage, and a Rapidaptor bit holder on a shank you can use at two different lengths, or even remove completely and use as a bit holder in a drill or impact driver (not recommended by Wera, but I’ve done it many times). Also, some of their bit assortments come with some of the best organizers/holders I have ever used.
My other Euro tool brand of choice would be Knipex. Their Pliers wrench are unequaled by anything else I have ever used, and their Cobra pliers are awesome, as well. Looking to try their CoBolt cutter sometime, as well.
Wiha for Torx anything and any Power bits. Maybe there are other Torx sources just as good, but Wiha has always kept me fully satisfied with their stuff.
I have some stuff from Knipex, Wiha, Felo and Irega. All very nice. Hoping to give NWS and Grip On a try soon. How about Stabila for Levels and maybe Mora for knives? Mora isn’t really high end, but good for the price.
Facom for me. Excellent quality and a very wide selection if from only one real dealer stateside.
My Favorite have always been SK Tools. I know they have ben through some hard times but they were the first tools next to Craftsman that I picked up and did some serious work on cars. I rebuilt a 327 engine using mostly SK tools. I got tired of borrowing my parents car to go and get the Craftsman tools replaced. Let’s see I broke a socket wrench and all Sears did was give me the gears that go in the handle. That was 1/2″ mind you. Then I broke several sockets and stripped out many of the 12 pointers. Always use 6 pointers for serious work. Cracked a few combination wrenches on the open end side. Getting the idea? Never once broke an SK tool. Paid $89.95 for my first 1/2 “and 3/8″ inch set with metric and standard sockets of course all 6 pointers. Loaned it to my dad and he loved it so much he bought the 1/2″, 3/8″, and 1/4” set. I was lucky because a year later A and A Trading Post did a clearance on all their SK tools sets and I about filed bankruptcy.
I own so many Wera drivers it borders on obsessive. I have a nice collection of Wiha torx drivers, and a decent number of Knipex.
Love ’em all.
The Wera Rapidaptor can’t get enough praise. I live their bits and bitholding screwdrivers and mini ratchet.
When Craftsman decided to go west over the pond, I went east over the pond. In short order I dumped all my Craftsman tools.
I currently have a varied mix of mostly European tools, with an occasional Japanese specialty tool.
Wiha, Wera, NWS, Irega, PB Swiss, Knipex, and Beta are the most represented.
I am also a fan of Thor hammers from England.
Box is full of Knipex/Orbis, Hazet, Gedore, Stahlwille, Beta, Facom, FELO hand tools. Cant stand wera, pb or wiha. Lol. Then all the specialty tools from turnis/kukko, matador, esgen, walter… It never ends.
Wiha for precision screwdrivers. Wera for Hex/larger drivers.
I was unaware of the list of others.
1. Wera I love all the Wera stuff I have and the Joker ratcheting wrenches are the best I have ever used
No mention of stabila! This is spirit level most trades people use in UK.
It’s funny the first place I go to when I come over to U.S. Is Home Depot. Tools in U.S. are much cheaper than here in the UK.
I did the same
I’m not commie so I love American tools! ha j/k but seriously…. although I do love the harbor freight lifetime warranty on their “pro hand tools” (I own 2 of their extendable ratchets)
Why do you say Knipex isn’t the best? Is it because you prefer NWS or is there another brand that’s better than both?
Yes, I tend to prefer NWS over Knipex. https://toolguyd.com/knipex-or-nws-pliers/
i have tried nws numerous times and on diffrent application and all have failed compared to knipex
Same here. I have a few pliers that are NWS but they don’t work near as well as the Knipex. I would have to say at this point that Knipex pliers are by far my most utilized European tools. I also have some older Wiha stuff that is nice. I have not been impressed by their newer stuff. I have also tried a few PB Swiss tools but just cannot get into them.
I love the NWS Fantasticos and the NWS Ergonomic needlenose pliers. Everything else I have is Knipex. The CoBolts are expensive for small bolt cutters but work extremely well.
7″ Cobras and 7″ Pliers Wrench
are what I use most often. I’m rarely more than 10 feet from a pair of those.
Knipex to me seems to be in a unique category with brands like Festool. They are good, but tend to have a cult following that tend to oversell how good they really are.
Anyways, out of hundreds of tools, my single favorite tool is my NWS cutters.
Stabila , Knipex , NWS , Wera , Whia . I like to try more , but many good makes are tuff to find .
Wera, Festool and Knipex.
I also have Wiha screwdrivers but prefer my Wera 932/6 Kraftform Plus impact set.
Knipex is brilliant and worth the investment as they have excellent HRC hardness and can be resharpened unlike others so they will last a life time making them inexpensive.
I think Witte also makes a really good screwdriver.
I hope USA companies take notice that people who are serious about there tools and want top quality and design are buying German made tools.
I have a good amount of Wera, Wiha, and Knipex, but I’ll talk about Beta since they’re rather unknown in the US.
The wrenches are very good, tight on the fastener, but maybe a bit soft (I have some gouges from linking them…which I suppose is inappropriate usage). Matte finish has good grip for greasy hands.
Their T-handle hex and Torx drivers are second to none. Great ergonomics, and one of the only companies I’ve found that forges the hex tips (made in USA Allen being the other, except they’re all but outsourced to Asia nowadays). I like em better than any Snap-On or Bondhus T-handles I’ve used.
The sockets are decent, the ratchets have really good ergos, but a little draggy since they have 17 teeth engaged at all times.
Beta has started outsourcing their cheaper stuff to Asia (namely their Easy line of tools), but everything I’ve bought so far and mentioned is made in Italy. Great stuff, pretty underappreciated here, although they have pretty high profile inroads into MotoGP teams.
No need to buy European tools when you can superior USA made tools, so I don’t have favorite European tool name.
not to get into a whose is better natiaonality of orgin bashing. not all the euro tools are the best thing since sliced bread
neither are all the american ones. I mean this will turn into one of those car threads before too long. and as you all know the best cars are made in Austrailia – so it’s a loosing battle.
now that said – in my short times in EU to work on or train people to work on aircraft I never saw anyone pull out a device branded Wera – or Whila – or NWS. In Ireland, Spain, nor in Germany.
most of the other names I’ve seen. the only reason I got the stahlwille tools when I was over there – was because they happened to be packaged – sold as – a aviation mechanics tool kit with rolling box and the whole 9. it also happened to have everything I was going to need for my jobs minus the metric bits. (for the curious there are no metric nuts/bolts on an aircraft they are all SAE sized – yes even the EU made ones, not sure about the russians – metric is used on helicopters as I understand it)
I bought them when I came home because I liked their SAE counterparts so well – sockets and wrenches. for what I paid for them I don’t ever use my older Craftsman tools that were given to me . but I turn the sockets with either a SK ratchet or my Kobalt double twist ratchet when I use them. unless I just have no space – and that’s really rare
I work as a engineer in Norway and I use a little of many brands.
Protools battery drill (Festtool)
Geilo hand tools (Last Nordic hand tool factory) from Norway.
Finally someone mentioned Bahco. Just like everybody else here, I’ve discovered that not one single manufacturer makes the best of everything. Bahco has some pretty nice tools. I’ve some adjustable wrenches with an exellent finish. I also have a Heyco socket set and when it comes to knives I am yet to find something better than Stanley. Still hunting for more to add to my collection and thanks for all the suggestions.
Here is collection of best hand tools in world, i have a collection even though small but very unique.
Knipex, hands down.
I have a set of Garant sockets (made in Germany), plus various Garant wrenches, and PB hex wrenches I use everyday for work. I also have a couple Stanley drivers made in England, in the tool box.
Would like to try some Beta tools, based on the reviews I’ve read.
Ok I ll give a point of view from this side of the Atlantic 🙂
I work as a field technician so use tools all day long, my preferences are:
Screwdrivers i d go Wiha, SAM and Facom
Sockets and wrenches i d go Facom if those werent that f…. expensive, so i mainly use stanley or KS Tools, SAM also as some very very nice stuffs there but i havent tried them so wont comment, but they do have a very good reputation in that category.
Pliers i d go to NWS or SAM, Facom tend to be very nice ( i got a angled radio plier from them) but the pricing is astronomic most of the time.
Hammers and such i go to MOB and Stanley, i d like to try some estwing one day but they are rather hard to get over here.
Multimeters and such i will only get Arnoux Chauvin (on par with Fluke but French 🙂 )
If i can i tend to go to French made or at least French designed things, then German but the pricing can be rather dramatic.
My 2 cents, im working as mechanic / welder in metal industry, varying from cnc machinery fixing – factory standstill maintenances to workshop.
Socket / Ratchets / fork wrench – Stahlwille, probably not most ergonomic but practically unbreakable, also one of the most expensive brands.
Knipex, excellent pliers.
Bahco, definitely best pipe pliers / wrench, but bahco has lost quite alot reputation ever since it began to manufacture tools in taiwan too.
Wera/Wiha, screwdivers especiatly the yellow ones from Wera that can be hitted with hammer.
Elora / Wera ( Bondhus ) allen keys.
Nupla hammers, Hultafors comes as close second.
Nupila spirit level.
Würth / Facom, both has good tools but neither is best at any category but definitely worth mentioning.
Hilti / Milwaukee both has great electric tools.
Scala has great squares and calipers, pretty much all above mentioned has also but I think scala has the best price / quality.
Sandvik, dont know do they have any “own” tools but they have made bahco sockets as subcontractor and they are definitely better than the red/Black random boxes u get from most stores.
Belzer same story as above but with extractors and some fork wrenches.
Well, practically none brand is best in all tools but if I had to choose 1 brand to stick with it would be stahlwille.
What about USAG and PROXXON
got any comments?
I really like the Proxxon rotary tools (the corded one with metal snout). I own several of ’em. Accurate collet system minimizes vibration. Good speed control. Available side handle for better grip. Overall very good.
No one heard or Britool or Teng tools?
I use both and facom/Garant /Gedore/PBSwiss/wiha/wera/WGB…all very nice quality
I have a small Britool torque wrench. Goes up to 20 ft lb, I think. From the 80’s. Beautifully made.
Is a well-known manufacturer for hand tools for the electronic branches.
Very nice pliers and tweezers.
Very nice article indeed.
I have summerized best of tools from europe which i am having in my collection.
BENMAN TOOLS Germany
Bodmann tools were best, now not made
absolutely agree, i have a old bodmann screwdriver, it is just amazing in quality.
I have a lot of different brands and in my opinion.
Wera- excellent socket,spanners and screwdriver sets would recommend.
Wiha-screwdrivers are very good and slim line but the pliers and cutters are average.
Knipex- best grips on the market and electrical tool are very well made.
Nsw- awesome tools pliers are cutters amazing only brand better is
Felo- good screwdrivers soft handled not ideal for anyone in mechanical I would go snap on 100 percent.
Pb Swiss- Allen keys and screwdrivers are the best without doubt in electrical capacity.
Stahlwille- look very plain but are excellent quality and only second to snap on.
I love German tools but still think Americans still have first place for most.
Any recommendations recommended.
I’ve just bought a set of vde screwdrivers. The make is Intercable. Model Futur II.
Anybody have any experience with this brand?
Hultafors & Facom
What is the best power screwdriver bit set?
PB Swiss Tools, Hilti, Bosch, Makita, Vermont, Felo, Wiha…?
If price isn’t a concern, PB Swiss.
Would you even say that PB swiss screwdriver is better than Snap-On screwdrivers? (if price is not a factor)
Depends on the style?
I have limited experience with Snap-on screwdrivers, but would feel that PB Swiss could be a better value since you’re not paying for at-your-door dealer service.
When talking about some Snap-on-owned brands, it’s hard to compare top quality to top quality. The now-Bahco-owned Irazola ball hex screwdrivers, for instance, might compare on even ground with what PB Swiss has to offer.
If in the market for more than a couple of tools, I’d buy a sampling of each and then let preference steer my purchasing decision, since which one is better will come down to handle shape and comfort. The comparison is different because we’re not talking about say PB Swiss vs. Stanley, but two top-tier brands.
If price is no factor, I’d likely buy a mix of Snap-on, Bahco, and PB Swiss. Snap-on for had-handles screwdrivers, PB Swiss for their cushion-grip Swissgrip screwdrivers, and Bahco for their Irazola-made hex drivers and possible some other styles as well.
When you write “depends on the style” then you refer to that the quality is equal between PB and Snap on? That how I read it at least.
“it’s hard to compare top quality to top quality”
Because the quality is very equivalent?
Why do you think Irazola can be compared to PB and not Snap on?
I already have PB screwdrivers (classic handle), but we considering some Snap on because people talk so positive about them (except the price, which is not important for me).
I have tried the swissgrip PB, but they ain’t so durable (long lasting) as the classic handles and I was wondering if the Snap On would be better, more durable and long lasting compared to the PB classic screwdrivers.
My experience with Snap-on is limited, and my experience with PB Swiss more extensive.
If you’re interested in Snap-on, buy a single hard-handle or Instinct soft handle driver and see how you like it. An Instinct Phillips #2 is $26 online/direct.
For what I use my drivers for, my SwissGrip are excellent and I don’t think Snap-on Instinct will give me anything extra. In an auto maintenance environment, I’d think Snap-on’s hard handle or Instinct might be more durable than SwissGrip and potentially MultiCraft as well. Snap-on’s hard handle feels denser to me than PB Swiss’s CAB plastic handles, but I only have a single driver someone sent me years ago and their less expensive Williams drivers.
I like the Irazola handle shape, but don’t have as many drivers as I do other brands, and so I can’t comment very much on their hard-use durability.
If you’re willing to invest in a set of Snap-on drivers, there’s little to risk in getting a size of driver or two in-hand for subjective comparison.
Thank you for your answer.
As you recommend, I I will try one Snap-on Hard handle and an instinct handle to see if they are more durable than the classic CAB PB handles.
Based on my experience and based on durability the PB classic CAB handles is better than the SwissGrip. But if you look at comfortability the SwissGrip is way better.
Since durability is more important for me I personally think the classic CAB handles are better than the SwissGrip (even in clean environments). With that said SwissGrip is still excellent and may be a better choice for people using screwdrivers for a long period of time daily or weekly.
I love USAG TOOLS
Me too, even though most hail from Taiwan these days.
Just bought NSW 140 69 205 pliers and 134 69 145 cutters from 2 different vendors and I can’t believe how poor the finish is. There’s excess metal everywhere and the pliers don’t open smoothly. Is that normal or did I get faulty or fake products?
That doesn’t sound normal to me. Which sellers? I’d send them back for a replacement.
Thanks for your reply Stuart! Both were from amazon, one directly sold by amazon and one from a third party. I’ve asked for a replacement .
I don’t think I’ve seen Amazon sell NWS pliers directly before. It looks like they have some in stock, but the non-cushion-grip kind, and only 1 of each of all of them. Strange.
If I were looking to buy more NWS tools today, KC Tool and Lee Valley would be my first stops, and Chad’s Toolbox might be the next-best choice.
I got some NWS tools. They have a coating that helps prevent rusting. Not the best finish with it but does not cause any proble.
Smoothened it with a 1000 grit sand paper.
For anyone coming across this in the future, beware of NWS fakes out there sold on Amazon and AliExpress. They are Chinese knock-offs and use the brand name SMU, which if you turn the NWS logo upside down… They actually say PIANO POWER and SUZHOU (China) instead of MADE IN GERMANY and SOLINGEN (Germany) above the logo. They look similar, but they are considerably lower quality. Buy from a known Euro tool dealer online and you won’t have any issues with knock off NWS tools.
Anybody know the Phoenix Contact company? Is a good company?
Yes, I think so, although I’ve only used their terminal blocks, not their tools yet.
it looks like a lot of their tools are rebrands from other companies. I recognize Wera screwdrivers, and that looks like Knipex wire strippers (but I think that design got shopped around)
Phoenix Contact is evidently a rebrand of NWS. Also a German brand. Just look at the side- and wire cutters.
A lot of different brands mentioned above, they are all good to be honest, some are better than others. I do have quite a few tools myself and I do order tools for others as part of my job. My favorite brands include in no particular order:
Bahco (part of Snap On)
I am a mechanical engineer not so much now as I am managing people more and it is less hands on work, but the above mentioned brands I found worked really well. I am not sure about tools for electricians, I have heard good things about C.K pliers etc. but when it comes to mechanical stuff – those mentioned above are my favorites.
I like tools from Knipex, Wiha, Wera, Picard, Halder, Stahlwille, Bahco, Oberg, Facom, Two Cherries, Pfeil, Sandvik, and a variety of cutlery makers from Sheffield, most of which don’t exist anymore. I am also a big fan of German machine tool brands: Wotan, Deckel, and Weipert.
I’d have to say my favorite is Logier, a small maker of Rasps in France. Not only do I feel they are better quality than any others I’ve tried, they also do custom work and made a variety of gunsmith’s rasps for me in shapes that no other maker has. My most commonly used Euro brand is Knipex.
Considering That I own far more Knipex than any other European brand I don’t think its even a contest.
Hell I have more of their pliers than any other brand period. I would love to give my money to a US based company but there are none that come even close to the product range. Nor are any attempting to innovate anywhere near as much, just the same 40 to 50 year old designs and materials. “Oh we moved the pivot point slightly closer to the working end” OK that makes sense on a pair of cutters, I fail to see the advantage on a pair of needle nose. Just a marketing gimmick for those that failed physics. I just wish US manufacturers would invest in innovation rather keep beating the same old design made on decades old equipment until they disappear.
Another vote for Knipex!!!
I also have quite a bit of WERA and USAG but, many of their current offerings aren’t made in Europe.
I have a few Teng items but, their satin finish is more like industrial sandpaper and most of their offerings aren’t made on the continent. However, how can you not like the tools used on wheeler dealers LOL.
Sonic Tools based in the Netherlands but, seems to hawk Taiwan made versions of classic European designs. Notice a trend here?
Ok, if Knipex is not the best for pliers, who is? I’d like to know.
The two brands’ offerings combine well together.
A bit more obscure, but I’m a huge fan of Rothenberger tools, the German equivalent of Ridgid (as in Ridge Tool Co from Elyria).
The pipe wrenches are every bit as good as a Ridgid, and they have a few other specialized plumbing hand tools. I’ve long suspected that their wrenches are rebadged Iregas.
I have a Rothenberger adjustable wrench I like a lot. Looks like an Iregas to me. Package says manufactured in Spain.
Stahlwille, Gedore and Elora from Germany.
Britool and Abingdon-King Dick from England.
I think that the list I provided back in 2015 had some notable omissions.
Lately I’ve reacquainted myself with Lamello (Switzerland) using their Invis system and their Zeta P2 (so much more than my old Dewalt biscuit jointer) to buid knock-down furniture. In our woodworking business – our first biscuit jointers were Lamello – but for personal use i went with a much cheaper Dewalt. Last year when I bought the Zeta P2 – I was reminded about Swiss precision and found how easy the tool and using Clamex connectors facilitated making take-apart furniture. My only complaint has been the cost of the tooling.
Not in the same league as a favorite – but other skips on my old list include:
Freud and Diablo – saw blades and abrasives – Italy and Switzerland
Halder and Picard – hammers from Germany
Level-5 – taping tools from Poland
Morakniv – great utilitarian knives from Sweden
Proxxon – hobbyist tools from Germany and Luxembourg
Raimondi – Tile tools from Italy
Sola – levela and markers from Czech Rebublic
Unior – Bicycle tools from Slovenia
I had no idea the Level 5 drywall tools were from Poland! I have a couple of their knives and they’re really nice, especially for the money.
They also may be (or have the same) OEM for look-alike Dewalt skimming knives
I have 4 Sola levels, all say made in Austria. I have had them for 6-7 years, maybe now made in Czech Republic?
I have 3 Stabila levels, very nice, not much to complain about, but Sola’s vials have the best viability…IMHO.
I have a few Empire with the blue vials. Again very good and not much to complain about but their vials are not as easy and nice to read as Sola’s.
Sola like others may switch around on their COO for different products. They were acquired by Keson. The 3m long level I have from them says Austria, Their makers say Czech Republic and one says India.
In general I prefer Stabila – and I have what they refer to as a 6 piece jamber set bought more than 20 years ago.
I like my Stabila, they are probably the most solid feeling, very well constructed. I have the type 96/196 and after the sola, have the best vials. They are a nice bright yellow which is better than what you find on most levels and also easier to read than the Empire blue vial…which aren’t bad either.
Although the Sola do not feel as solid as the Stabila, they are still very well made, and never having “lost” a level to dropping it and rendering it unusable, the clarity of reading the vials makes my Sola (big red line) my favorites.
In all honesty, I have them spread around between workshop, sheds and in the house, I just grab what is nearest and use it, exception being if I need my 78″, or a Torpedo. I have a nice FatMax torpedo with adjustable vial, but recently bought this
and I love it…my go to when short is what I need.
We had several Sola levels in the business – including a 4 meter long monster screeding level
The Sola level that I have is an SLG 2 300 (3 meters long ) that I now use mostly for leveling soil in garden projects.
Facom – wrenches, both 440 and 440XL, are super. Its a shame they are made in Taiwan rather than France, but it doesn’t take away from the ergonomic design.
Hazet – sockets (best design w/ shoulder & deep knurling)
The other brands are all good quality, but these two above stand out to me.
While I’d also rather they be made in France, I’d be willing to bet that it wouldn’t make any difference.
Lots of comments with reasons I can’t improve upon so just add what I like. Knipex, Bahco, Wiha, Facom, and Molegrip (love the name).
Add Urrea to the list. As a former Proto manufacturer they still make very credible ratchet and socket sets.
Not European though – mostly made in Mexico (that’s not a dig, Urrea tools mostly look really good). I’m a Proto fan, so when I heard Urrea was Proto Mexico back in the day (albeit back quite a ways now), I did some investigating on the brand.
The tools look solid. Apparently some stuff is farmed out now. I didn’t end up buying any of it because there wasn’t any substantial discount over Proto and there’s no retailers here. I’m in Canada though, maybe its more competitive south of our border.
Wera, their Kraftform Kompakt sets are sweet. I love their Kraftform VDE screwdrivers. The handles are really comfortable. Knipex adjustable pliers (cobra, raptor, pliers wrench).
James D Ouzts
what are the best pliers? I’ve got Knipex, Klien, NWS (Irwin), Channellock,
obviously I haven’t tried every stile of every brand but of those the knipex are pretty close to the top. what am I missing?
NWS for pliers. My 9” linesman pliers are equally as effective as my 10” Knipex cobolt for cutting tasks. My Klein branded Quattro pliers are every bit as good as my Cobras. Felo for screwdrivers. I like Wiha for 1” insert bits but I don’t care for the “feel” of the precision drivers. I have a few different Wera sets. Also, their stuff is the most aesthetically pleasing to me. I have only one set of Bahco pliers but I want to try more. I would love to try some Hazet stuff but it’s too pricey to justify.
Did I just miss any mention of Lindstrom pliers? Man I love them. For full size you really can’t beat NWS, although Knipex are a close 2nd. For drivers, I mostly buy Wera for full size, and Wiha for precision. I love PB Swiss , but have a hard time with the pricing. I really need to hunt down some Irazola, though.
[trimmed for brevity & topic relevance]
So far in my life? Wiha Precision 4mm bits, Wera Wrenches and Ratcheting Screwdriver Handles, Bosch Family Power Tool Blades…
Plus I believe there’s some small container companies for precision parts storage located in the Eastern Block countries…
Major rambling here… [brevity] and I’m sorry to everyone who just had to read all that…
Alright, Definitely sorry to Stuart that he had to do that… It is a very difficult topic for me to keep tight and clean… Why does the English Language have to sound so dirty?
I regret the audio tools being removed, but… I do see where it may veer.
Needless to say… I have trouble narrowing down which of my tools are from Europe, and what brand name they go by. But they are, without doubt, European. Power Tools are a different story.
Did you ever find a reasonably-priced source for Irazola screwdrivers?
Reading that you thought this was the pinnacle for screwdrivers, I immediately thought: “Geez, I might have to try those!”
But when I look them up in Canada, I’m seeking ~$220 for a 6-piece set. 😮
I know I just encouraged you to post about premium tools and that Vessel wasn’t too outlandishly expensive, but at Irazola’s prices – I’m out. 😄 Well, at least for the time-being. I’m going to need more details about how Vessel stacks up. I certainly wouldn’t spend that much for a 6-piece set on a whim.
Unfortunately, I haven’t. Irazola seems to have been completely absorbed into Bahco. I have purchased their screwdrivers through international Amazon storefronts, with the Irazola-made drivers are now under Bahco Tekno+ branding.
Amazon DE prices are still pretty painful though – https://www.amazon.de/s?k=bahco+tekno&tag=toolguyd-de-21 . I ended up buying a couple of individual sizes and stopped there.
If you’re only ordering the Bahco/Irazola 7pc screwdriver set, it’s ~$65 USD shipped from Amazon Germany: https://www.amazon.de/dp/B00N7ELB72/?tag=toolguyd-de-21 . That’s inline with premium pro and industrial screwdriver brands.
Thanks! That’s actually not too bad.
Dangit Stuart, you got me! I had the tab open while I worked, debating whether I really needed these screwdrivers or not. Then I noticed there was only 1 in stock…
The set is on it’s way to my house.
Well, it took a bit, but they arrived yesterday!
The package arrived looking like it made the trip by horseback and sail power, but the screwdrivers were undamaged once I cleaned them off (crushed and torn exterior box, tattered packaging inside and everything covered in a thick layer of dust).
Once I cleaned them off a bit, my initial impressions were pretty positive. That IS a nice handle shape!
The ball-shaped bump part way down the handle feels great. It contours with where my pointer and middle finger fall in a normal grip – and is equally useful when I adjust my hand to the end of the driver to spin it one-handed with my fingers.
The rubbery part of the handle is very grippy and provides just the right amount of cushion without making the screwdriver feel mushy or imprecise. The butt end is smooth plastic – good for spinning in your palm. The rounded square overall shape with the two-sided flats on the business-end of the handle does a good job preventing the screwdriver from rolling on flat surfaces.
I ran around the house with the #2 Phillips to give them a test run – tightening door knobs, cabinet hardware and the like to get a feel for them. So far so good!
The tips are very sharp. I thought the black surface coating was wearing off, but after scratching at the shiny parts with my fingernail I realized it was just material transfer from the screws. No visible wear so far (which I wouldn’t expect considering I just started using it, but I thought that coating was purely visual when it appeared to wear so quickly).
The hex bolsters are neat. I might need to pull out a magnifying glass to confirm, but it looks like they are a separate piece added to the shaft. They are a darker color metal than the shaft with a crisp transition between them. That’s neither here nor there for function, but I thought it was interesting how they must be manufactured. Everything is sharp and precise.
I was trying to find fault to see if there was anything I thought could be better. So far the only “faults” are just preference considerations though. The hex part of the Phillips driver shafts is wider than the tips – that might prevent access to a recessed fastener. They aren’t much larger though.
When a screwdriver has a bolster, I might prefer a through-shaft over a lanyard hole. Again, that’s just a preference though, not a faulty design. I don’t use a lanyard on my screwdrivers – I might use the hole to put another screwdriver through for extra torque in a T-handle configuration, but that’s not needed if there’s a bolster. In that case, I might like to have the option of hammering the handle.
Last thing worth mentioning – no tip markings on the end of the handle. I like that when storing screwdrivers vertically in a rack and it might be handy for a tool belt too. They are color coded and different sizes though – and there is a mark on the side of the handles.
That is all I’ve come up with so far. I’m excited to put them to work in a real project. Thanks for the recommendation and the link Stuart! I wouldn’t have tried them otherwise.
I’m glad they worked out well for you!
I wish I could say one of those nice brands like PB Swiss is my favorite, but I definitely cannot afford to be spending 100+ dollars on a set of screwdrivers or allen wrenches. I have never owned or used PB Swiss but I think it would be my favorite if I had. I do have a set of felo wooden handle screwdrivers, and they are very nice especially at the price point.
Just call them ‘Would if I could’ preferences. I don’t own any Wera yet, but having looked at the designs, and ergonomics, I like them better than most others.
If not for the fact that I went Leatherman, I would have put in Victorinox somewhere. I used to absolutely adore my Swiss Army Knife. But once I got my first Wave, it was outclassed. And, since it’s made in… Oregon? Utah? It doesn’t qualify for European hand tools. Similarly… Stuart has me eyeing Bondhus and Gearwrench… I don’t own them yet… Well… I got the Allen Key folders from Bondhus a couple weeks back… but I have to recheck if Bondhus is just a family name of someone who started the company in North America, or a company from Europe with factories in the Americas.
You have a ‘Would if I Could’ preference. Be proud of your tastes in tools, even ones you can’t afford yet. It means you aspire to quality, and gives you goals to fuel your ambitions in life. It’s a very healthy way to manage your tool purchasing.
Knipex in a runaway.
I use my Moras probably more than any other specific tool. Wiha precision screwdrivers and Knipex pliers are my go-to’s, though.
Bahco for adjustable spanners and Knipex for grips.
Footprint Tools, Sheffield, England
One of the last remaining toolmakers in the UK, manufactured in the UK
Goto brand for bricklayers and masons line pins, plugging chisels, bolsters, cold chisels, etc.
Their plugging chisels are fantastic, fully forged and beefy, just like how they used to be made. Side by side comparison with other chisels blows them out of the water.
Most widely known for chainsaws, but also make a related range of gardening / forestry tools.
Their forged bypass secateurs are fantastic, at a very reasonable price too for a tool for life. Absolutely bulletproof, the way a tool should be made.
Gransfors Bruk, Sweden
Great quality axes, cracking steel that really holds an edge. I’ve used several of their axes and they’ve all been excellent.
Plastering and bricklaying tools
Noticed that this Gedore Blue 1/2 drive metric socket set is on sale today at Amazon. It normally is $86 – $96. Right now, $78.20. “GEDORE – 3014347 19 DMU-20 1/2″ Socket Set (15 pcs)”