Last Updated on April 12, 2023 by Barry Gray
I’ve always had this fascination with comparing different brands, no matter the industry. However, when the industry is directly related to your main hobby or even your profession, comparing brands can take on a new level of importance.
For me, power tools are some of my favorite gadgets, so I enjoy checking out what different brands offer and how they stack up against one another. So, that’s what I plan on doing here today.
This time, I will compare two interesting brands, Festool and Milwaukee.
Which is Best?
With a lot to talk about and compare, I admit that it’s tough to come to some type of conclusion as to which brand is best.
I do admire the sheer quality that comes with Festool. You just cannot dispute that Festool manufactures stunning tools that will stand the test of time. Their focus on absolute precision and fine-tuning the tools to deliver optimum performance is what makes them stand out.
Milwaukee also makes impressive tools, but they produce them on a larger scale and seek to get them out to a larger market. That helps bring the price down to something far more affordable for a greater number of people.
But for me, Milwaukee is the best, and it’s down to one essential point, the range of tools they have on their product line.
I find you can locate the perfect Milwaukee tool for your needs. They will have it in their hundreds of tools, and don’t forget those accessories.
That is why I say they are the best because both companies offer fantastic customer service, quality of the tool, and a host of other things. So, that’s the one area that sets them apart, and it just so happens to be a rather significant area.
So, with that in mind, let’s check out what each brand has to offer.
The History of Festool
Festool was initially formed back in 1925 in Germany under the name Feel & Stoll. However, they eventually went through a re-naming process in 2000 when their power tools division fell under Festool’s name.
I know this brand name may not be as familiar as some of the names out there, but Fezel & Stoll was the first company to produce the portable chainsaw back in 1927. That shows how they sought to be both creative and innovative in equal measure right from the very outset of their company.
At first, though, one of the main components of their business was repairing machinery rather than developing new tools. That approach allowed them to work out why so many tools failed or issues people had with them, and ultimately, it made it easier for them to design their own tools.
The Ownership of Festool
Festool is still owned by the family of the original creator, Gottlieb Stoll. However, other aspects of the business, which weren’t transferred over to the Festool name, are owned by the ToolTechnics Systems holding company.
The History of Milwaukee
Milwaukee is an All-American company, and it was founded back in 1924 by an individual called A. F. Siebert. Initially created to work on repairing tools, the company quickly decided to take on the mantle of seeking to produce quality tools capable of producing quality results no matter how hard you pushed the tool.
One of their earliest successes was the Hole-Shooter tool, which allowed them to make some headway into an already tough market. However, it was the fact their tools met US Navy standards that saw them make real advances during the war years.
After that, the launch of their Sawzall reciprocating saw in 1951 represented another massive breakthrough for the company. It led to an ever increasing number of tools being created by the company. At the same time, continued innovation and design resulted in a vast collection of accessories also appearing on the market.
The Ownership of Milwaukee
Milwaukee as a brand is no longer owned by the original company. Instead, it was bought in 2005 by Techtonic Industries. That means Milwaukee is owned by one of the largest companies in the industry.
If you quickly check the range of tools available with the Festool name attached, you will notice that this brand focuses more on the high-end tool market than anything else. That means it comes with a high price tag attached, but that’s not always bad.
Instead, I see there being several reasons why you would want to go ahead and invest in tools by Festool.
There is no doubt whatsoever about the quality of the available tools here. They are exceptional in both their design and performance.
This company focuses on ensuring each tool is designed with the user in mind at all times. This may sound obvious, but they go the extra step of contemplating the different scenarios or projects where their tools may be used and then making sure the tool can perform as required.
I love how they go that extra mile regarding the performance side of things. It just means you can go ahead and use the tool and know it’s there for you rather than coming up short.
But keep in mind that these tools are both reliable and very robust. We are talking about high-performance tools that will blow your mind with their capabilities. Also, you feel you can take them pretty much anywhere, and they will still perform to the same level.
In short, I doubt another brand out there delivers better build quality than Festool.
Another point is the innovation of this brand. They will look at ways to make even slight improvements in small areas, knowing it makes a huge difference overall.
I love this attention to detail. It shows they fundamentally understand what the tool owner is looking for. They will focus on making the tool as easy as possible to use and that it delivers a consistent result. Also, they look at areas such as dust extraction and how to ensure nothing gets in your way when it comes to using the tool.
I’m not saying they seek to completely transform how key components work. Instead, it’s that small improvement here and there that makes such a difference.
Festool goes big on precision, and that applies no matter the job. They design tools that deliver the exact type of cut you need or remove the precise amount of material to fit your project.
They manage to do this through typical German engineering, which, let’s face it, is well-known for its precision. But they also make it easy for you to get those results you are searching for, and not over-complicating matters makes a huge difference.
The Customer Service
Aside from innovation, the one other area you will notice people mention regarding Festool is their customer service. It goes beyond being excellent.
You do get a 30-day money-back guarantee should you purchase a tool and decide it’s not the right one for the job. That’s great in its own right, and there are certainly no real issues regarding returning things either.
But that’s not all.
Festool even has a dedicated support line that you can call at pretty much any time, and a member of staff will be on hand to assist you. It always feels as if nothing is too much trouble for them as well, and that’s something I love.
It quickly becomes apparent that Festool values its customers and will go the extra mile to help you when you are in trouble.
As a brand name, Milwaukee tools remain one of the world’s most popular and well-known brands. With hundreds of tools in their product line, which is then surpassed by an even greater number of accessories, Milwaukee has a tool available for every eventuality.
However, I have still identified a number of key areas that helps Milwaukee to stand out from the crowd.
For both tools and accessories, Milwaukee won’t leave you hanging. They have the tool for the job and the bit or blade to get the desired results.
Honestly, I find the most significant issue when it comes to Milwaukee is their having too many accessories. It means you must have a good idea of what you are looking for to narrow your search.
But at least you know it’s almost certain that Milwaukee will indeed have that accessory in their product range.
And here’s another thing. Every item in their product range is manufactured to the same very high standard. Milwaukee seeks to only every produce quality items time and time again, and it’s something I do admit they achieve with ease.
While Festool is known for its innovation, the same applies to Milwaukee. As a company, they seek to constantly invest in finding ways to improve the end-user aspect, and I feel that comes through loud and clear with their tools.
Take their battery as a prime example.
The Lithium-ion battery that comes with Milwaukee cordless tools is perhaps the best battery out there. It has such longevity and allows you to make even more cuts or passes over material than other brands.
But that’s not all.
Milwaukee realized that people hate when batteries die on them half way through a project. So, they made sure that didn’t happen.
Instead, Milwaukee batteries and tools will seek to deliver the same amount of power on a constant basis. This consistency gives you confidence in using the tool; this is only one area where their innovation shines through.
There’s a good reason why Milwaukee tools are used by so many professionals on the job site, and it’s the quality of the tool. It’s robust, rigid, and performs exceptionally well, no matter the circumstances.
These tools last longer than you expect. They are designed so that they don’t simply break down as soon as any pressure is applied to them. This is helped by the fact they tend to use brushless motors, and those motors do require less maintenance than other versions.
But overall, you just know that these tools can be a real workhorse for you, and if you are a professional, then the fact they are so reliable is fantastic.
I always feel that Milwaukee tools are easy to handle, and it’s partly due to their design. They go big for ergonomics, so their tools are designed to sit nicely in your hand and not encourage fatigue through your grip.
Also, they don’t tend to be the heaviest of tools, but they are still heavy enough to make you realize these are sturdy tools, so that also makes a difference with the handling aspect. With a focus on rubberized handles, I tend to experience less in the way of vibrations as well, which simply increases the comfort level associated with Milwaukee tools.
Comparing Festool and Milwaukee
The warranty is key for any power tool, and I feel this applies no matter the price you end up paying. However, you tend to find that different brands have slightly different takes on what should be included in a warranty, which certainly applies when looking at Festool and Milwaukee.
For Festool, they offer you a 3-year full warranty, and incorporated into that is free shipping for your tool back to their service factory. You will also pick up a 10-year spare parts guarantee, giving you some peace of mind.
Milwaukee does things differently. Here, you can pick up a 3-year warranty on their cordless tools, but other tools in their range come with a 1-year warranty or even a 5-year warranty. That does mean it can get a bit confusing as to what your coverage may be.
But one thing I would stress is checking what happens regarding repairs. It’s often the case that specific exclusions apply, so look at the small print to see exactly what’s being covered. However, this is something that applies to all brands, and not just Milwaukee.
When it comes to cost, there’s no comparison. Milwaukee tools are substantially cheaper than Festool. It feels unusual having to say this, as often Milwaukee tools are viewed as generally quite expensive, but that’s not the case here.
The price difference between both brands here can be pretty substantial. In this instance, Milwaukee is the budget brand out of the two, but you still get your hands on a fantastic tool perfect for the professional market.
But this is what I see as important.
Milwaukee goes for a relatively broad market in that while their tools remain expensive compared to most, they are still accessible to most. Festool clearly opts for more of a select market who are searching for more advanced and finer tools.
But both brands clearly have their own market and remain quite distinct. However, if it’s the lower price option you plan on going for, there’s only one option out of the two.
If you plan on choosing between these two brands because of the battery, then you literally only have one option. The Milwaukee battery is one of the best on the market, if not the actual number one, and that’s not only my opinion.
Instead, it’s most people’s opinion in the industry as it does appear to last for a crazy length of time. I’m not saying that the battery that comes with Festool products is terrible as it’s not. However, it just cannot really compete with Milwaukee in this department.
For reliability, it’s impossible to state that one brand is more reliable than the other. In fact, I feel this is an area where they both excel and to equal measures.
I think that reliability is not a determining factor when choosing between these two brands. They remain far too alike in this department for there to be any real difference.
The Range and Accessories
While Festool has many tools available, they cannot compete when lined up against Milwaukee. The same applies to the number of accessories, as Milwaukee is the market leader in both departments.
Their options are insane. It feels as if each tool has a number of accessories attached to it, so you can then change the tool to ensure you get the correct results from your tool.
Both Festool and Milwaukee are exceptional brands when it comes to power tools, and both brands do produce amazing tools in their own right. However, there remains a difference between the two when you look at the price tag.
But let’s get one thing clear. Tools designed and created by Festool are excellent. Can they justify that price? It all depends on your intended usage and also your budget. However, don’t stress if your budget means you must purchase Milwaukee.
By doing so, you have a more comprehensive range of tools alongside far too many accessories for us to count. At that point, you know you can always have the perfect tool for the job and that Milwaukee simply won’t let you down.