Have you heard of Norske Tools? A whole slew of Norske Tools power tool accessories popped up on Amazon in recent months. I saw these somewhere recently, and Fred mentioned the brand in my recent post about the Milwaukee Tool acquisition of Imperial Blades.
Norske Tools? I have never heard of the brand.
From their Amazon listings and their website, they make circular saw blades, impact screwdriver bit sets, hole saws, color-coded Torx power bits, insert bits, oscillating multi-tool blades and accessories, and a few other variations of these types of accessories.
What Can We Dig Up?
Their “about us” page doesn’t tell much.
Their Canadian headquarters is a unit in a shared building in Surrey, British Columbia. Their USA distribution center is in Ferndale, Washington, and a web search shows it to be used by several other seemingly unrelated Canadian companies.
A June 2018 shipping manifest details a shipment from “Industrial Supply (Qingdao) Ltd.” to Norske Tools through the Port of Tacoma, Washington.
An online marketplace says this about Industrial Supply (Qingdao) Ltd,:
Industrial Supply (Qingdao) Ltd. is one of the leading suppliers of Machine Tool Accessories, Measuring Tools, Cutting Tools, Woodworking Machines and Woodworking Tools in China. With incorporating some of the most famous brands in Europe (UK, Germany, Italy) and the USA, Industrial Supply is highly regarded and standing for Quality, Innovation and Value.
Norske Tools’ website, norsketools.com, was first registered on 2015-11-18. Their first Facebook social media post was in January 2018, and they first joined Twitter in December 2017. The “wayback machine” suggests that their website launched in September 2016.
A search for trademarks turns up the viking helmet, shown above, and lists the applicant as Unitek Enterprise Corp, which applications say is based in Belize City.
A search for Unitek Enterprise Corp turns up a patent for a bit quick release mechanism, which lists the name of the inventor, and location given as Norske’s HQ in Surrey Canada. A search for this individual turns up a Linkedin profile, with the person said to be the Quality Control at Norske Tools from January 2016.
There are numerous other folks on Linked in who say they work at Norske Tools, from sales account managers to VPs. The longest-held positions, aside from the inventor listed on a the aforemented patent application, are listed as starting around February 2016.
There’s a 2017 legal complaint between Exchange-a-Blade and Norske Tools over their Trade-a-Blade program. In section 11, it says that Norske was incorporated in November 2015 and by December 2015 it purchased the assets of Sibkis, which had operated a Trade-a-Blade program. They also say that “Norske began selling its products in association with the TRADE-A-BLADE on October 13, 2016.” Section 14 says “Norske entered the market in October 2016 in a RONA Building Supplies store in Elora, Ontario.”
What does this tell us? Absolutely nothing!
There are no forum posts about Norske Tools accessories that I can find – anywhere.
They promise guaranteed performance and legendary performance, and with sharp aesthetics and marketing visuals, I’m automatically halfway convinced to give them a try.
From what I’m seeing – a young company that sprang forth a wide range of products from seemingly nowhere, I would assume that they mainly do design work and contract Chinese manufacturers to produce the tools. Or at least that’s what I assumed before I dug up a little more.
Given that there’s at least one patent application attributed to the company, they don’t quite seem to be “lick and stick” relabeling OEM products that might already be on the marketplace.
The legal complaint I read said that some Norske employees came from Exchange-A-Blade, another power tool accessories brand, also based in Canada. That gave me some more names to look up.
I found a quote from Bob Johnston, VP & GM of Norske Tools in an article from “YardStick” magazine hosted on the Norske Tools website:
With the help of an Asian PTA manufacturer that is backing our enterprise, Norske Tools sells a range of innovative accessories for the non-tradeable (buy new) and tradeable (buy new with trade-in) PTA retail sectors.
He also says that:
The Norske parent company is a PTA manufacturer, which allows us to control quality, innovate, provide better service to our customers through shorter lead times and first-to-market products.
These long-standing relationships have allowed us to share drawings, collaborate on designs, and ensure quality with our state-of-the-art testing facility in Surrey.
The article also says:
All told, Norske Tools is a worthwhile PTA supply option that smaller LBM chains and hardware independents need to look into, to improve their positions against big box competition.
Here’s an unrelated story, but I have a point to it: I was once contacted by an OEM screwdriver bit company that had a USA distribution website, and was asked if I’d be willing to review their direct-to-user impact-rated screwdriver bits. Some other reviewers I talked to had loved these bits, but I was hesitant about whether I should take advantage of the opportunity or not. It seems a little odd to me, to review direct-from-OEM products, as it didn’t seem like something I could easily recommend to readers, even if the bits held their own against products from more familiar brands.
The problem there was that there was no brand recognition. Or rather, there was no branding. There was no marketing. There was no identity. I simply didn’t think a review would be of much interest to ToolGuyd readers.
At the time, they said that distribution would be set up through several suppliers, some of which I was very familiar with. I asked some follow-up questions about this, and never heard back.
If Norske is owned by this same OEM company, or perhaps another power tool accessory manufacturer in China, things start to make sense, and good sense at that.
If you made it this far, bear with me for a moment. Here’s an analogy to help you see the way things have fallen into place, at least in my perspective.
Chervon, also unrelated to all this, is a power tools OEM (original equipment manufacturer), whose products can be found under other brands’ labels. Kobalt and Sears Craftsman are two examples. A few years ago, they tried to launch a Hammerhead line of tools and accessories, and although I wouldn’t call that a successful endeavor, they have achieved great success with their brand of EGO cordless outdoor power tools. Now, they’re trying to do the same with new Skil PWRCore cordless power tools, after buying the Skil and Skilsaw brands from Bosch Tools.
The unidentified power tool accessories maker seems to be doing the same with Norske Tools. At least, if I am understanding things correctly, Norske Tools is a direct-from-OEM power tool accessories brand.
Thus, Norske Tools could be likened then to EGO. Or, perhaps to Skil, if you ignore all of Skil’s history prior to their acquisition by Chervon.
If Norske Tools’ parent company isn’t just a manufacturer, but can also work out their own unique designs, which I wouldn’t assume all OEMs can do, it will increase the appeal of Norske Tools’ products, as it could mean unique products.
I’ve seen some new tool brands here in the USA, where I just couldn’t figure things out. Brands like Sonic Tools and Bodivix are hard to decipher. When I started looking into Norske Tools just a few hours ago, I feared that the same would happen, that the mystery would remain.
Why should I buy anything from Norske Tools? Well, that’s a different question to ask. But, understanding what they are a little better, I’m personally at least a little more open-minded than I otherwise would have been.
It looks like Norske Tools has tradesmen and other professional users in mind, which I would assume means a level of quality on-par with other such pro brands. Heck, they might even be made at the same factory as certain pro brands’ offerings for all we know.
Norske Tools also looks to be putting serious efforts into their branding and marketing efforts. Look at the imagery I included in this post, above.
Here’s a repeat of the UltraMax Impact Torsion bit marketing image.
When I started off on my investigative journey – for lack of a better way of putting it – I was extremely skeptical. I’m still a little hesitant, but I’m leaning towards seeing this as an effort by a brand trying to build credibility.
Will they be successful? I don’t know.
I was mainly expecting to discover Norske Tools to be a rebranding-type of operation, and that they simply slapped their name onto whatever accessories they can contract from overseas OEMs. But the truth is far more interesting. It’s an effort by a power tool accessories maker that wants to sell direct via their own brand.
From the article, this is Norske Tools’ motivation:
Specifically, the company’s leadership team saw that smaller LBM chains and independent hardware retailers needed to match the direct buying advantages enjoyed by their big box competitors, plus improve their relationships with customers by offering superior-quality, innovative designed PTA items at reasonable prices.
I’m thinking that there are two potential outcomes. First, Norske Tools could very well remain “that brand that popped up on Amazon that we never heard about before.” Or, they could grow their presence, and five years from now, we’ll be talking about the new generations of Milwaukee Shockwave bits, Bosch Impact Tough bits, and Norske Tools UltraMax bits, and how they compare against each other.
Here’s the catch. I really like the new Bosch impact screwdriver bits, and I am also very fond of Milwaukee’s Shockwave screwdriver bits. It’ll take some effort to get me to try an unknown brand of “industrial” bits at premium prices. What about the average user who doesn’t have the benefit of “editorial curiosity” to provide the extra ounce of persuasion?
That is also just talking about impact screwdriver bits. What about circular saw blades? Oscillating multi-tool blades? Hole saws? Reciprocating saw blades? Norske Tools has a lot of power tool accessory markets to break into.
Some independent hardware stores are carrying Norske Tools accessories, and now Amazon is as well. They’re going to put more effort into getting their name out.
See More(Norske Tools via Amazon)
If by some chance you’ve tried any of Norse Tools’ power tool accessories, what do you think about them? Can anyone provide any additional insights about the brand?
Thanks for all the digging and insights. Like you, I’m not sure what to make of the brand’s quality or longevity in the market – but appreciate alternative suppliers and competition – so I wish them well. As I mentioned in the prior post about Imperial Blades – their pricepoint on Amazon would not compel me to try out one of their circular saw blades – compared to say a Freud alternative. They do seem to be offering some different designs for OMT blades – that might be interesting.
They make shovels and outdoor winter stuff too.
I have two sets of their impact bit kits. They work great, no issues and the quality appears at or better than Milwaukee impact bits I have been using for years. Bought both sets from Amazon over the summer. I like the cases but oddly they open opposite with the logo up to what we expect when “opening a book” if that makes sense.
A lot of info in the blog post but could have been much shorter with the same info.
How did you find out about them?
I considered shortening things up, but the “thought process” was important to keep.
Looking into things, I saw some testimonials on social media – but nowhere else, such as any trade or tool-related forums. I can’t be sure if those sets were free samples that weren’t disclosed, if the posts were sponsored and not disclosed, if they were tipped off by the brand, or if everyone just happened to come across the brand and bought their products to check out.
So, I tidied things up a little bit and shared things in a linear as-I-discovered-things manner, lest the same uncertainties be asked about my post.
Plus, I’m hoping that someone else also interested in the matter might take some of what I’ve done and branch off to do their own deeper digging. For that, the little steps could be helpful.
I’ve always been chastised for not showing enough “work,” and so I can’t be too apologetic that here I’ve shared too much.
I enjoyed the entire discovery process as you related it.
And no I will be trying this “new” to me brand out.
As for the reverse of a book opening packaging. I imagine the designers are not users and secondly the manufacturer might be emulating Mandarin or Cantonese reading modes?
“And no I will NOT be trying these…”
They have displays at many local hardware retailers in British Columbia.
Of course it could be shorter but then would lack all the step you took to find this info, which I appreciate! Depends on where I’m at in my day, sometimes cliff notes are what I need ASAP! But most times I’m willing to take the 5 min to read an article that provides detailed info! I’m very research based and the internet can be a rabbit hole for that so seeing “how & why” you got to these conclusions helps me greatly understand what I’m reading. As a human I ask how & why a lot lol so I enjoyed this 5 min read. I almost pulled the trigger on this brand a few weeks ago. I’m in a “new” trade so different tools ect and building a drill/driver collection is always nice! (Shop-a-holic?) I think I will but a set of their bits to test them out. I read an article a few months back on which bits last the longest and I thought I remember shockwave bits being very soft? Right now my main bits are dewalt flextorq and Ryobib(sooo cheap!?) and my tools are mainly Milwaukee lol I love the color red but won’t limit my self to one brand for life! Just grabbed gen 2 7 1/4 fuel circular saw, 2x 12ah batteries, rapid charger and a big bag for $300! But that not going to stop me from grabbing a flexvolt sliding compound miter as soon as you guys post a sick price! “Flexvolt” & “Red Lithium 12 ah”!? What more could I ask for? oh Festool Kapex, Fein cordless multitool (have the corded) & Hilti brushless (when released!?) Impact Drill? Yes soooon as you guys get me a link with a sick deal, my fingers on the trigger! Btw Thanks for the in depth research always much appreciated!
I have a set, I forget the part number, but it’s a multi bit set with power bits, bit holders, and nut drivers. It holds up as well as the Dewalt flextorq set I have, I bought it as a spare set, but it has found its way into regular circulation. My only gripe is the colored bands on the nut driver bits don’t match conventional color coding. I’m a commercial electrician so I use these in an impactor most of the time, driving 10 by 1 self drilling screws into steel and, wood screws into 1/4 masonry plug anchors. Hope that helps
Mike, at the risk,ofmsounding completely out of it on this, what are the typicwl,colourmcodes for driver bits? In my eperience with most of these bit kits the colurs were all the same. All my new Bosch bits are res on black with no differentiating between sizes or types. Our bits at work were handed out by our supply lady and were either all black or plain steel. I never really noticed a colour coding.
As an aside, I also have a set of Wera imperial sockets in quarter inch drive and they have the wonkiest colour coding I have ever seen. In U.S. imperial sizes the common coding for hexagonal socket drivers is black=3/16, red=1/4, yellow =5/16, green=11/32, blue =3/8, brown=7/16, and back to red at 1/2 inch. Once you used to this it is easy to see which driver or socket you are grabbing at a glance. My Wera set is completely different and I think it is likely following a European standard for small hex drivers. I am not sure. Anyway, I wonder if the Norske driver colurs may be some European or Asian convention?
The color coding I’m referring too is the nut driver sizes, they use green for 1/4, blue for 5/16 and yellow for 3/8. It’s not a big deal but I find it annoying.
Okay Mike, got it now. Indeed, imperial hex drivers are messed up when it comes to the sets imported to the States. I just checked my Wera Toolcheck Plus kit and they have 1/4 yellow, 5/16 blue, and 3/8 red. The omly one ‘standard’ is 11/32 in green. So I suspect the Noeske coding is following some Asian convention for socket/drivers sold there. Thanks for the fast reply.
Also guys, wanted to add I was originally asking about colur coding of other than hex driver bits in these kits. If you look at the photos, they have colour bands on the Torx bits and I had never noticed this before. I just forgot to clarify that when I asked Mike about coding. I get it for hex drivers and find beyond convenient.
As an aside, has anyone ever seen other bit types designated by colours such as Philps, Posi, JIS, Torx, internal hex?
@TOOLSbyDesign here. I’ve been working with Norske Tools for a while now to go over their products. I have found their newest bit sets to be excellent. Gedore even used the same manufacturer to sell nearly the exact same bit sets in Europe. They are high quality.
The Reversa-Cut blades work very well. I have received a lot of feedback from others using the blades who are reporting good results.
The Starlock OMT blades are made in Germany, presumably at a factory that makes the Fein blades.
Overall, I have been satisfied and happy with the offerings that I have gone over. This is a newer company that will be growing as distribution picks up and people see the value. At least, that is what I feel.
Wow. Great info and a lot of work done on this read. Nice job.
Barron J Johnson
Not that this is what you guy’s are talking about but what’s up with their multi tool blades
They clam 40 x longer life. What are they referring to? I would like to know how they come up with 40 x
40x no bit? 40x a chucked piece of unmilled steel?
I recently used a non impact PH#2 in an impact gun for what I thought was going to be some very light work. After about two dozen screws the bit is trashed to the point that it will cam out in any screw that isn’t brand new. My guess, as with most of these types of claims, is that they compare it to the cheapest version of the tool that can do the same task.
I thought this brand looked familiar I did see these at Rona stores which lowes has since bought and most have been transformed into Lowes.
I never purchased any of them since I had never heard of the brand and it cost roughly the same as reputable brands.
They had the whole exchange a blade program at Rona too for blades and even items like wholesaws. But they looked to be garbage blades. Its more of a hassle to keep exchanging poor quality blades than it is to buy a good quality blade and not be running back and forth.
Whiskey and Wood
I have one of their larger driver sets from amazon, I purchased them after @toolsbydesign pointed out they were finally on amazon. Previously I had heard really good things about their reversible saw blades and their bits from a variety of tradesmen for about a year. After trying them, a few things stick out.
1. They seem to be made of a pretty hard steel, much harder than Milwaukee, Dewalt, and spax. As hard as the Wiha, wera, and felo bits I buy, definitely less brittle than wiha, as they are impact rated, but time will tell on that front.
2. The fit is incredible, better than even the wera, felo, and wiha bits I’ve got
3. The box set (around $33 at time of purchase on amazon) is the most complete bit set for my purposes and definitely the best in its price range.
4. In my opinion they are as good and maybe even better(we wil see after a year) than the premium but sets that I usually buy from KCtool at 2-3x the price
I’m extremely happy with the purchase and will be buying more sets 100%
That second and third point are the ones I’m interested in and why I’m considering giving these a shot. Bits are a reasonable cheap consumable so there isn’t a large commitment, but just being “harder steel” isn’t really anything useful to me. Good fit provides better longevity and a better experience. As I’m moving away from phillips, it would be nice to get a bit set that isn’t “25 PH2 and oh crap here’s some other things.” This is one of the few sets I’ve seen that addresses it other than Wiha/Wera and those are running a bit premium over this option.
“Norske Tools… we will make you remember our legendary past even though it doesn’t exist.”
Anyone got any member berries to share so I can remember their past?
Well I certainly did not know of Norske til now I find this interesting. At first blush I really like the colours and the way they are marked. For those of us who seem to need readers for any sort of small script, clearly marked bits like this are a huge advantage. I have a couple of the new Bosch modular bit boxes(thanks Stuart for linking to them at the intro prices last year) and I love the bits but sometimes making out the driver size is an exercise in squinting. We will have to keep an eye on this company.
Damnitall. Now you’ve made me try a test order for the “Japanese” tooth oscillating blades. Grrr.
Chinese made? Sounds like it. I’m sure if it was made in the USA,they would be bragging about it. And be labeled as such.
Sounds like just another Chinese brand .
Not that Al Chinese stuff is junk ,but most people I know prefer USA made products or at least German made.
Probably mostly, but I did notice that their Starlock series of oscillating blades is made in Germany (the universal ones seem to not be…). Makes me tempted to try them as they have some interesting blade options (Japanese tooth!?), but they don’t seem to be available on amazon, so I’ll probably hold off.
Their bits and drivers are junk. Didn’t last a day. Everything snapped or broke.
Being a small (17 employee) company based in Canada – with an undisclosed parent company – I’m not sure what they would brag about. I’m also not sure what the buying proclivities of our Canadian brethren are regarding COO – but I have to say that I do like Canadian-made planes etc. from Veritas-Lee Valley.
Re one of their tool lines ( circular saw blades ) – I have to say that I like USA-made Forrest blades – but have had good experiences with Freud and some CMT blades (Italian-made). There are folks who also seem to like Tenryu blades (used to be Japan – but now seem to come from China)
For OMT blades – many seem to be made in Switzerland (e.g. some Bosch and Fein) – but I’ve had ones made in Germany and even Lichtenstein
Most likely a Chinese company trying to get around the tariffs.
The bits look similar to other generic chinese bits like Workpro and Taklife sell similar sets on Amazon. Just chinese stuff. If you want USA made look on ebay there is a guy that put together sets of only use made bits from various companies including suppliers for snapon and irwin and made a set out of the various different USA made bits.
From the picture I know of at least two or three Internet based suppliers of power tool accessories plus Ryobi plus Ultex which seems to be a house brand for some of the larger specialist tool retailers where other than the colour of the box the contents are identical. At least every twelve if not six months a brand trying to be the next big player in this market launches and then disappears without trace.
At least these guys (offices in BC) didn’t pick some name that recalled the halcyon days of tools made in Sheffield – rather wanting a name that might make one think of the steel mills along the Baltic rather than ones in Hebei province.
Well… Norske means «Norwegian» in Norwegian 😉 so no baltics…. 🙂
I’m interested to try the “optimized” star drive bits. I use a ton of GRK and similar star drive construction screws and improved fastener retention (not that it’s terrible with torx by any means) is intriguing. Plus, the large amount of 2″ power bits and the great bit ID system has me curious enough to give them a shot to dethrone my Makita Golds.
I’ve always found shockwave to be very brittle. Bounced around max fit, gold, and a few randoms, landing on Makitas impact x. If I see these around, I’ll definitely try them. Thanks, Stu!
The bit design seems odd. Like a turned baluster. If I understand correctly, the LONG narrow portions of other impact bits, the “torsion zones”, are designed to flex ever so slightly preventing the bit from shattering under high torque impact driver use. These have those “zones” too, but they also have other short narrow parts, which can’t flex over a span, for what appears to be purely decorative reasons. I would guess bits would regularly snap at those points. Short narrow, weakness. Long narrow, flex.
Case and 2″ bit retention clips seem HEAVILY inspired by Bosch’s Custom Case system. 1″ bit retention is different (which may be a good thing, Bosch’s 1″ bit retention while not bad is less than ideal.) Those Bosch Cases are sweet. Bits are pretty good too.
My local hardware store has had Norskie bits for some time now.
Haven’t tried them yet, but after reading this, I’ll go pick some up and give them a go.
i have seen them a few times at trades shows here in canada., They are in the next city over from me. i am pretty sure i have some norske sample bits somewhere in my garage, but i can remember if i have actually used it yet. Their products do look interesting but the screwdriver bit market is a crowded one. They did indeed spin off from the exchange-blade guys. Those of us in canada are well versed in the exchangea-blade products.
I just ordered and received a set of the 2nd generation driver bits by Norske from Amazon.ca. I haven’t used them yet but I must say – they seem really solid. For starters, the case is really heavy duty. I will report back after using them.
It would be interesting to have a follow up on this article for 2022. Where are they now?
Nearly 4 years later, and Norske still seems to be a direct-to-Amazon brand, with little to differentiate themselves from other like-focused brands.
Per the Norske social account, they had an arrangement with Costco Canada too.
There could be more to this company, but their social media hype seems to have died down a few years ago, and they haven’t crossed my radar since then.
Hi Stuart, thanks for your interest and reply. Kudos to some good research. Social media has not been a strength for Norske. The company has focused its energy on developing a grass roots dealer base in the US and Canada. Norske specializes in a vendor managed program with key emphasis on merchandising. Veteran Sales reps leverage their relationships to convert dealers to carry a countertop bit spinner and other PTA in Norske displays. The brand is featured in many LBM and Hardlines retailers. Ace, Orgill and other Independents are examples. In Canada, Home Hardware, Castle and Timbermarts sell the product. There are presently over 500 dealers.
Sorry, I missed your email address the first time, and failed to notice that you are affiliated with Norke Tools.
I’d be less skeptical if you sent me a message or information, rather than simply setting yourself up to answer your own question with sales messaging.