Kobalt Vs. DeWalt (Budget Vs. Performance)

Last Updated on October 21, 2022 by Barry Gray

When it comes to two brands capable of producing quality and reliable tools, then both Kobalt and DeWalt would undoubtedly fall into that category. However, I think that then opens up an entirely different question: Which brand out of those two is the best?

It’s not an easy question to answer. Both brands are established and very popular, but I think I can compare the two to come up with some sort of conclusion. So, that’s what I’m going to do.

Which One is Best?

This is difficult as the two brands are not the same in that they do not offer the same style of tools and target the same market. Instead, they work in two very distinct areas.

But if I am going simply by the tools, then I would opt for DeWalt. Their power tools are excellent, and they can easily outperform pretty much every other tool on the market. Also, I appreciate their array of accessories. They allow you to get the perfect tool for the task without having to purchase a completely different tool.

However, I don’t want you to sit there thinking that this must mean Kobalt is inferior. Kobalt does a stunning job for its target market, and its tools will not disappoint the beginner DIY’er.

I know DeWalt is more expensive, but if your budget can be pushed just that bit, I suggest you try getting your hands on a DeWalt. It will just perform better and give you better end results in a shorter time.

The History of Kobalt

kobalt tools

As a brand, Kobalt does not have the same history as DeWalt since it only launched in 1998. Created as the house range for Lowes, it did mean Kobalt power tools suddenly appeared everywhere thanks to the sheer number of stores they were stocked in.

But before you go ahead and point out that Lowes has other names when it comes to power tools, it’s important to note that Kobalt was always viewed as their premium brand. So, with that in mind, you would automatically presume that their brand was better than others appearing in their stores.

The entire reason for the appearance of Kobalt was to allow Lowes to tackle the same market as their competitors, such as Home Depot and Sears. Also, they wanted to fight against names such as Husky and Craftsman, and they felt this was the best way to do that.

Who Owns Kobalt?

The structure of the Kobalt brand is a bit confusing. The manufacturing and production of different tools are often managed by individual companies, and that’s where things get complex.

Also, Kobalt tools can now be found in places out with Lowes. That’s why you see them appearing in the likes of Wal-Mart and even the Tractor Supply Company.

At this moment, the Danahar Corporation produces the hand tools while miter saws are made by Rexon Industrial Corp. In addition, Chevron is responsible for producing cordless power tools, so you see how this picture becomes more difficult by the moment. 

Kobalt Tools

kobalt tools in store

So if you plan to purchase Kobalt tools, what should you expect? Honestly, I think you should expect quite a lot from them. After all, I feel they have done well to establish themselves to such an extent in a relatively short period. 

For me, one of the best things is that Kobalt does produce high-quality tools, but they manage to do so without charging you a lot of cash. That means people on a budget can own some brilliant tools without stressing about money.

But that’s not the only reason why I would contemplate purchasing Kobalt tools. However, you need to know they can deliver on what you need before you hand over any cash.

Who are Kobalt Tools Aimed at?

I see Kobalt tools as perfect for the home DIY’er who carries out the occasional weekend project or carries out some essential repairs around the house. Kobalt tools would work perfectly in those situations, and I don’t see how they would really let you down.

Where are They Manufactured?

If you view Kobalt as an All-American brand, then that view will not extend to the manufacturing side of things. Actually, most of the components that appear in Kobalt tools will be manufactured in plants either in Germany or China. 

That news may surprise some individuals. After all, you may know that Kobalt owns a production line based in Nevada. However, that factory focuses rather specifically on mechanic tools rather than power tools.

How Good is the Quality?

First, forget about the price of these tools. The cost of Kobalt tools is not an accurate reflection of the quality of the tool you then get your hands on. I feel the quality of the tool far outstrips the price you pay, so I see Kobalt as representing real value for money in that respect.

However, I must stress that they only represent value for either people starting out with DIY or those that don’t indulge in any heavy projects on a regular basis.

But if you look at their tools’ construction, you will find that most come with a steel construction. That means they are stronger than you expect and can easily cope with more pressure than other tools in this price range.

Another important point is how they feel when holding them, and Kobalt does an excellent job of making this tool as comfortable as possible. I do admit that they can be slightly on the heavy side, but that extra weight is helped by the fact the tool feels well-balanced.

Overall, the quality is undoubtedly there with Kobalt tools.

Range of Tools

The range is where you start seeing a bit of a problem, but only if you are hunting for more of a specialist tool.

Kobalt focuses on developing and manufacturing your standard tools. That means you will find it easy to get your hands on drills, impact drivers, miter saws, circular saws, and your other common tools. However, they do come with some limitations regarding the number of tools and the range of accessories and bits.

But while that sounds disappointing, I want you to remember their target market. By focusing on the beginner home DIY’er, they know those individuals do not require more specialist tools, so why bother developing them?

In that case, I would say Kobalt does an excellent job of covering all the bases that their intended market would want.

Why Buy Kobalt Tools?

more kobalt tools

So with all that in mind, why would you want to go ahead and purchase Kobalt tools? Well, I can think of several reasons why this could be a good thing.

Cost

Kobalt tools are fantastic from a price perspective, so if you are in the market for a budget tool with just a bit more quality than average, this is the brand you need to consider.

You may also want to add that Kobalt tools are very easy to find, thanks to the sheer number of stores that stock them.

They are Easy to Use

Another point that stands out for me is the fact that Kobalt tools are designed to be very easy to use. I love this about them as any individual new to power tools does not have to then be blinded by too many options or adjustments on the tools. 

You always get the feeling you can take a Kobalt tool out of the box and get to work with it. They keep things nice and basic, but the brand still ensures their tools get the job done.

Durability

Given the quality of their construction, I do find Kobalt tools to be very durable. Granted, you need to keep using them within their limits, but if you do that, then I don’t think you will run into too many problems with Kobalt.

I’m not saying these tools are designed for heavy-duty use. That’s not going to happen with this brand. However, your average DIY’er should find that their Kobalt power tools will last longer than anticipated.

The History of DeWalt

dewalt power tools

DeWalt has a far more extensive history than Kobalt as a company producing power tools. Launched in 1923 by Raymond DeWalt, hence the name, their first tool was the radial arm saw, and it’s the thing that allowed them to become established in the industry.

Since then, they have indeed gone on to build their brand within power tools to such an extent that they are perhaps the most easily recognizable power tool brand out there today.

However, it has not always been plain sailing for DeWalt. They even moved away from focusing on power tools during WW2 to help with the war effort, but they have since worked hard to establish their name as one of the market’s most reliable and innovative power tool brands.

Who Owns DeWalt?

DeWalt has been owned by Stanley Black & Decker since 1960 when they purchased the brand from the American Machine and Foundry Company. That does mean DeWalt is owned by one of the biggest names in the industry, and they have indeed sought to push DeWalt as one of the premium brands.

DeWalt Tools

dewalt miter saw

There is so much I could say about DeWalt tools, so I need to try to summarize things as best I can. After all, DeWalt is one of the leading power tool brands. However, I do have a few points to make about their tools.

Which Market Do They Target?

While DeWalt will clearly sell their tools to any individual, their target market is more toward construction and the serious DIY’er rather than people new to power tools. This is reflected in what the tool can do and how it performs.

Where are They Manufactured?

DeWalt tools are classed as being made in America, but that’s only speaking about the putting together of the tools. Different components are often manufactured in various plants worldwide before everything is taken to one of several plants in the US.

How Good is the Quality?

DeWalt tools are undoubtedly manufactured to very high standards, and I feel the quality of their tools is not something you can call into question. This brand is known for manufacturing tools capable of withstanding a lot of punishment and pressure before anything potentially goes wrong.

Also, you can take DeWalt tools anywhere. There’s a reason why so many contractors love this brand, and it’s because they work in any condition and they won’t let you down. That’s all thanks to the absolute quality of the tool.

The Range

Another thing I love about DeWalt is the variety of tools and accessories they offer. DeWalt has hundreds of tools, but opt for the 20V range, if possible, and hundreds of accessories. Also, you should not have difficulty getting your hands on their products as they are stocked in many locations.

Why Buy DeWalt Tools?

dewalt miter saw workshop

As with Kobalt, I have several reasons why an individual may wish to go ahead and buy DeWalt tools. 

They are Reliable

One thing I can say with certainty is that DeWalt tools have no issues regarding reliability. They perform to a high standard and will continue to do so for an extended period.

I love this about DeWalt. I just know it’s going to get the job done without a struggle, which gives you confidence about the tool when it comes to completing your projects. 

If you want to own power tools you know you can trust, then DeWalt is one brand I would strongly suggest you check out.

Variability

Thanks to the array of accessories available, you should never have any problem finding the correct tool for the job and the right bit. I love this aspect of DeWalt tools. You can take the bare tool and then adapt it to fit your needs. 

This variability is a real standout thing about DeWalt tools. I know I will get what I want with this brand, which is a big deal in my book.

Ability to Do the Job

Another considerable advantage is just their ability to do the job. DeWalt seeks to boost power and also make sure the power is then delivered to the tool so it can complete the task. I don’t think for a second you will constantly run into difficulties when using DeWalt or feel it comes up short.

Once again, that’s another reason why contractors love DeWalt. 

Kobalt Vs. DeWalt (Other Important Factors)

working with dewalt miter saw

Ease of Use

So if I look at the ease of use, I would say both perform well in this area, but Kobalt would win. However, I put this down to what people expect from DeWalt. 

I see it that a contractor using a DeWalt power tool needs it to have the ability to complete different tasks than a home DIY’er who is perhaps using a Kobalt tool.

But I also don’t think the DeWalt is difficult to use, not for people with experience. In that respect, the ease of use comes down to what you expect from the tool.

Cost

There’s no competition in terms of cost, as Kobalt is significantly cheaper than DeWalt. However, they do target a different market, so that’s understandable.

The difference is pretty vast, but as I’ve said at different times, it’s not a reflection of Kobalt producing inferior tools. Instead, I see Kobalt as offering value for money even though their power tools just cannot quite reach the heights of DeWalt.

Warranty

If you have previously read some of my other brand comparisons, you will know how I always stress the need to consider the warranty. Also, it’s incredible how different warranties can sometimes be when looking at two different brands.

Here, Kobalt wins, and it’s because most of their tools come with a lifetime warranty. I admit they have limitations on what’s covered, but it’s rare for a brand to offer such an extended warranty.

DeWalt also offers its own limited warranty, but it only generally extends to three years. Also, people do report a few issues regarding getting the company to stick with the warranty.

Overall Conclusion

Kobalt and DeWalt make excellent tools, but they tackle different markets, which you must remember when weighing up purchasing one of their tools.

Both brands produce quality tools, and there’s no doubt Kobalt offers value. However, if you intend to use your power tools regularly, then DeWalt is the brand I would suggest. 

At the end of the day, you need to weigh what you will use your tools to do and your own experience levels. That alone can help you ascertain which brand will work best for you. If your power tools allow you to complete your projects, those are the best tools to have in your collection.

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Barry Gray

Hi, I’m Barry. I’ve loved woodworking and bringing things back to life for more years than I care to remember. I hope my passion for tools comes across loud and clear in everything you read here on The Tool Square.

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