In the electrical tool realm, is there any entry-level brand that is better than the others? The short answer is simply “no.” Competition is harsh between manufacturers and each one has something to offer. To figure out which tool should be bought by a given user in a given circumstance, they have to be compared individually. Eventual rebates also need to be considered since they can improve the value for money of a tool drastically.

Still, some tendencies can be observed in this booming market and some highlights specific to different brands are presented in this article. It also contains some general commentaries, which are subjective to some degree since each user has their own impressions and personal preferences. Even so, by taking them for what they are, they can really help to better understand the market.

Here are the brands covered in this article:

Black and Decker

“Basic tools at a low price point”

It might be the quintessential tool brand in North America. Black and Decker has a cordless tool line, but if you plan to work with wood or other materials more frequently than from time to time, I would avoid that brand and choose something that is a little higher end. Ryobi, for example, isn’t that much more expensive and for what it’s worth, I had an excellent experience with that brand. Black and Decker tools aren’t really conceived to work hard for long periods of time. Because of this, I think investing in a Black and Decker cordless system would mean missing out on what the competition has to offer.

Their corded tools can be worth it, though. I have a belt sander from them and I really like its profiled shape and the fact that you can expose the front part of the top of the belt to sand curves or spots that would be impossible to reach with a normal belt sander. This is probably not a heavy-duty tool, but still, it is far from being a toy and I would not hesitate to recommend it since it is well conceived and versatile.

A Black and Decker belt sander
A Black and Decker belt sander
A Black and Decker belt sander with the "hood" opened
The same sander with the “hood” opened, which is very practical to sand irregularly shaped pieces of wood

King Canada

“Low-priced hard worker”

My good old mitre saw , which I really like, and my small drill press are from this brand.

King Canada seems to make fewer efforts to have user-friendly features than the other entry-level brands. I think their customer base might be made for a good part of relatively experienced handyman on a tight budget.

Except for lasers, which the brand seems to often include in their product, King Canada’s tool doesn’t always include features or options that would be practical for the user. On the other hand, for a price point about the same as Mastercraft, you can get tools that seem more heavy-duty. That being said, I have more trust in their stationary tools than in their handheld tools.

A King Canada drill press
A King Canada drill press (an Irwin drilling vise has been put on the table)

Mastercraft

Does the job. "

This is the big house brand of the Canadian Tire retail chain, although Canadian Tire now also has another tool house brand today, which is named Maximum. Tools from the Mastercraft line are easy to spot by their sky blue colour (some years ago they were often dark blue). They are affordable and it seems that many efforts are made to make their tools as user-friendly as possible. They indeed often have features that we usually see in higher-end tools.

These add-ons might be made at the expense of the components quality. The performance of their electrical motors are often weaker than average and their tool casing are often made mostly with plastic. That being said, Mastercraft tools generally have the quality required to perform well or even very well. I am, among other things, very satisfied with my small wood lathe of this brand that I paid around CAD 120 plus taxes by taking advantage of two promotions. This lathe has an electrical tool speed adjustment dial, which is much more convenient than a basic belt and pulley system, and even if its motor sometimes lacks in power, it is still a very good tool, especially at this price point. I have many other Mastercraft tools and generally, I am able to work well with them.

A Mastercraft wood lathe
A Mastercraft wood lathe

That being said, Mastercraft tools often aren’t worth what they are priced when they are not in promotion. Canadian Tire probably makes a very high profit margin on their tool at regular price, which is why they can make big promotions like selling their tools at half price or even lower. These rebates can be combined with other Canadian Tire promotions like “obtain $30 in Canadian Tire money if you spend $150” or other similar incentives. These promotions are indeed interesting, but also necessary in order to have good value for money with Mastercraft tools.

WEN

“Mastercraft in black”

This is a lesser-known brand in Quebec that can, however, often be seen on Amazon. Their quality and price seem very similar to Mastercraft and the brand seems to have the same concern for making their tools as user-friendly as possible. I only own two accessories from this brand: a sanding drum kit meant to be used with a drill press and a chuck for my wood lathe. They seem to work fine and were low-priced.

A WEN sanding drum kit
A WEN sanding drum kit

“Come to me (Jesus Christ), all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Why these verses?