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Porter-Cable (PC) held a press event in New York on Tuesday. The event was to introduce new tools, both cordless and corded. After the release, we were invited to attend a Yankees baseball game. (I know it’s a dirty job, but I don’t mind taking one for the team.)

Let’s talk tools. PC introduced a line of tools that will be sold at many regular dealers, but the only home center where these tools will be found is Lowe’s. The majority of the line, due out in November 2008, focuses on 18V cordless tools in nickel cadmium (Ni-Cad), with one using lithium ion (Li-ion).

In this category the company is bringing out a four pack of tools that includes a drill/driver with a 1/2″ chuck, a 6-1/2″ circular saw, a reciprocating saw and a flashlight ($150). A second group of tools is a two pack that includes the drill/driver and the circular saw ($110). Each package has a charger and two batteries as well as other miscellaneous parts including a saw blade, bit tips and a soft-sided carrying case. Interestingly, PC decided to stay with Ni-Cad for these tools although they are compatible with the 18V Li-ion batteries too. In addition, Porter-Cable introduced a hammer-drill kit (the tool plus two batteries and a charger) expected to retail for $140.

If lithium power is your choice, PC is bringing out a drill/driver kit. The drill features a 1/2″ metal chuck and a 24-position clutch with a two-speed gearbox. The kit also includes two batteries and a charger ($180). The batteries are P1-level batteries with a 1.1 amp hour rating.

The kit prices look pretty good for PC tools and each of these tools will be available individually. I had the tools in my hands at the event, but didn’t have time to get a good look at each. My question is this: Why continue to use Ni-cad technology when most others are using, and consumers are knowledgeable about, Li-ion? My best guess about the battery choice is that the older technology allows the company to hit specific price points that enticed Lowe’s to the table. I can’t think of another reason to stick with Ni-cad when the buying public is changing gears to accept Li-ion-powered tools.

When PC Vice-President Dan Gregory said DeWalt tools were their professional-line tools, I was astounded, as were others. He explained that PC is attempting to position these tools for tradesman , an area of the market that PC feels is full of value-conscientious, value-driven buyers. PC is being sandwiched between Black & Decker (at the low end) and DeWalt (the high end). I’ve always thought my Porter-Cable routers and PC sanders were better than the DeWalt counterparts.

So what’s to happen to the regular Porter-Cable tools that we all know today? As for the existing tools PC has produced for years (the routers and random orbit sanders), I’ve been told the company doesn’t plan to change them at all. I hope we see packaging that differentiates between the new line and the company’s current tools.

In addition to the new tools mentioned above, Porter-Cable introduced a battery-powered, 6-1/2″ circular saw with a laser that was pretty cool. It was priced at $60, but you also have to buy a battery and charger. New in corded tools: hammer drills, reciprocating saws, small angle grinders, 1/2″-chuck drill/drivers and laser-equipped circular saws. For the suggested retail price for the kits or for individual tools, open the PDF below.

-Glen D. Huey

PCPrices.pdf (3.46 MB)

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Showing 26 comments
  • BT

    Old blog, but found it and had to comment… From what I can tell, the cordless PC stuff is made in China, most of the rest (corded stuff) is made in Mexico, which I’m told actually usually means China, with trivial final assembly in Mexico to avoid tariffs (thank you, NAFTA), though I don’t know that for sure in this case. The last of the American-made stuff went on clearance a few years ago, replaced by Mexican-made stuff.

    The cordless tools look and feel cheap. When I first saw them, I thought that they had to be made in China, and that B&D was trying to reposition PC as some sort of premium home handyman brand. Big mistake in my mind; going down-market is always a big gamble for a brand, but suppose they have more market research than I do…

    I do know for sure that I won’t buy them. When I began woodworking a few years ago, I bought a lot of PC tools. I didn’t buy them because Norm uses them. I bought them because of quality and reputation, and because they were made in the US. I have seen more than a few comments here and elsewhere that you shouldn’t care where products are made. Perhaps good-quality products can be made in China (though this seems to me to be the exception rather than the rule), but buying these items does not do our struggling economy any favors. Eventually, we’ll all be either working at Wal-Mart selling this Chinese-made stuff, or doing the marketing for a bunch of foreign-owned companies. That’s what trade deficits do.

    I’m not sure what brand I will buy now. Not many power tools are made in the US anymore.

    Finally, it strikes me that this sort of thing was tried before. It was before my time, but I’ve read that Rockwell tried something similar when it bought PC, with disasterous results, though they used the Rockwell name rather than PC.

    Oh well… At least the new Unisaw is still made here – for now.

  • PCLuv

    I work at a Black and Decker Factory Outlet store. (Full disclosure)

    I was able to put my hands on these tools today at Lowes and being extremely familiar with the Firestorm tools, I can say that these aren’t re-painted Firestorms. Firestorms, like Black and Decker, used inflexible plastic. That’s why they shatter when dropped most of the time. These PC tools felt a bit more DeWalt-ish.

    I’m going to buy the 18 volt line. I suspect they went with Ni-Cad’s because of the economy. Sanyo makes Black and Decker’s batteries and they raised their prices significantly in the past year. Couple that with a struggling housing market and Black and Decker gets put on the ropes in terms of innovation. See VPX for proof of that.

    I grew up with Porter Cable and didn’t even know Black and Decker had bought them until I went to work at the store. I, like many of you, worried about the quality of the tools now that the Firestorm brand is dead. From what I could tell just by holding them at Lowes, it’s going to be ok. Time will tell though. I’ll know more once I put them to work.

    If anything, it allows people like me who really could never afford PC to be able to get in on the ground level. Truth be told, having an 18 volt line that was compatible with Lithium batteries is what Black and Decker should have done with the VPX brand. Instead they tried to re-live the Versapack glory days and now we are peddling them on the Outlet level.

  • Kevin McAllister

    These tools are a disgrace to the Porter Cable brand. For years PC made great quality tools, now that B&D has a hold of the brand I am not expecting anything less than a Sub-par tool. I personally rather use hand tools rather than the tinker tools they have come out with.

    On another note, who cares where the tools are made as long as they are a quality product. And if Mexico has such great human rights compared to China then why are there thousands trying to get through boarder to the US? Besides, wouldn’t you count Mexico as a third or "second" world contry? I highly doubt that any of the cordless products we are talking about are made in the US.

  • Peter Gibbons

    Sounds to me like Cory is probably a B&D employee trying to save face in the light of yet another upcoming product flop (VPX). Back to the topic at hand….. these new PC tools are a discrace to the PC name. I can’t wait until the product testing comes out on these. The new PC tools are just more low quality products produced by the marketing company that is B&D. What happened to the days when a man bought a power tool because it was a solid tool that performed the job instead one with the flashy commercials and a race car?

  • Cory

    Dan’s comment was in relation to Cordless Tools. When it comes to cordless DeWalt is their top brand. When it comes to woodworking tools PC and Delta are their #1 brand(s). So the PC nailers, sanders, routers are still #1. Woodworking is not a strong point in the DW stable and PC fills that gap.

    "Where are the DeWalt and Porter Cable tools made? My guess is China or some other third world country. I a sick of quality brand name products moving from the United States to China for cheap labor and limited (if any) enviormental rules to comply with. China has one of the worst human rights records in history. "
    Do some research before opening you mouth. The majority of DW tools are made in Mexico not China, and the Majority of PC tools are still made in Jackson Tenn…again not China.

    "DeWalt has managed to run the BD name into the ground and now looks like the PC name is next. I guess thats their way to Power Tool dominance buy other brands and run them into the ground."
    Again, research is a good idea. DeWalt has been Owned by B&D since the early 60s!! DeWalt does not own anyone…B&D is the parent company.

  • Kevin Everhard

    Can you say plastic gears?????? How many desperate housewives husband’s will be too afraid to return there painted up Black&Decker that is barely good enough to be considered a Home Owner’s Tool? OHHHH……..Thank you so much Honey………I Love It…….NOT!!!!!!!! My Grandfather just rolled 3 times in his grave! I will have to cherish the router he gave me even more now. I’m ruling these tools out before they even touch my fingers. Ni-Cad, are you serious?????That is so 3 years ago!!!!!

  • tim mahoney

    Agreed, from what ive seen and read really does look like Firestorm repainted. I guess thats how they cut corners in manfucaturing. DeWalt has managed to run the BD name into the ground and now looks like the PC name is next. I guess thats their way to Power Tool dominance buy other brands and run them into the ground. Thanks for destroying the brand name that my family stood behind in their shop. I guess in the future i will go elsewhere.

  • James

    It is the firestorm tool line. Just with a PC sticker on it. Thanks B&D for more JUNK….

  • Ern

    They appear to be repainted B&D Firestorm tools. What a shame, the prices say it all.

  • Alan Wesley

    I am not happy with the DeWalt NiCad battery life. I have 14.4V tools and DeWalt has no intention of adding a 14.4V Li-Ion battery. I love my Bosch Li-Ion batteries.

    I have several DeWalt and PC tools, but my mind has been drifting to Bosch more and more. More engineering, innovation, quality and performance. I have a need for a few new tools, and would have chosen either PC or Bosch, but with PC’s new direction, is there any choice?

  • Rory Wynhoff

    John Davis said, "so why is this a big deal?" Because some of us care, John. More and more this nation and its fellows are just mere shells of what there once was. More sadly, how many can redognize this?

    It is very sad to see an old friend demoted to what many once-proud-names have become. John Deere was forged by men with 8th grade educations (which is all a high school grad gets today, if that), but they had the determination and vision of giants. It also is being ransacked by punks who lack the vision to see beyond this quarter – of course they will fail!

    When price-point is as deep as you go and the only attribute you think you have to compete with there is no doubt what the end of that line will become, a name that means nothing to anyone and a product to match.

  • Robert Finley

    I have been a devoted user of Porter Cable tools for almost as long as they have been around. My shop is full of PC tools and the only other brand tools I have are because PC did not or does not make the particular tool.
    I have watched business management trained people more and more running businesses so the stock holders make their money and less and less concern about the service and product quality. Rarely do CEO’s and CFO’s have any real knowledge or care about the products the companies produce. They are part of the huge influx of college trained business execs and only care about this years bottom line and their own personal wallets. They worry about next year when this year was not as good as they had promised the stock holders.

  • Chris C.

    Some themes developing, I’ll take a whack at them…

    In terms of the tool market, I think that Chris Schwarz hit the nail
    on the head in the editorial column of Woodworking Magazine. In his
    observation, he noted that the tool market seems to be polarizing into
    two camps: Very high quality tools from elite makers like Lie-Neilson,
    Veritas, etc. and on the other pole cheap throw away junk.

    Could the polarization of the tool market reflect, in some ways, the
    polarization of the middle class? That is, a disappearing middle, with only
    the haves and have nots.

    Secondly, on labor and wages. We can open up a can of worms here and
    maybe we should. But let us say that certain utopian dreamers with visions
    of a flat world where everyone if forced to act the same even if they
    are very different are getting their way.

    I wouldn’t really blame labor unions. I agree that sometimes they are
    over bearing, but what do you want the US to look like? If the answer is
    China, we should keep doing what we are doing.


  • Rob Mammen

    I for one am disappointed that Porter Cable has been moved to a second class citizen. PC tools have been better than Dewalt power tolls since day one. This is why i have a shop full of PC tool and only one Dewalt tool. the engineering behind PC had power tools has always been first class. they are good made in America tools.

  • John Davis

    To Brian S Du Bois,

    what drug are you on? It is BECAUSE of union labor that manufacturing moved overseas. Their overpriced demand for salaries and benefits effected the bottom line for many companies and forced the push to move to places with a cheaper workforce.

    Why is it that people who work on the line doing little more skilled labor then a monkey could do should make more than the engineers who design the tools, or the people who make sure that the company is profitable.

  • Brian S Du Bois

    Where are the DeWalt and Porter Cable tools made? My guess is China or some other third world country. I a sick of quality brand name products moving from the United States to China for cheap labor and limited (if any) enviormental rules to comply with. China has one of the worst human rights records in history.

    I would rather pay three times the current price to have a quality product made in the United States with Union Labor. Union Labor provides a quality, drug-free and well trained workforce. Before someone complains about the cost of Union Labor, ask yourself this question, when is that last time you heard someone complaining about the cost of CEO, COO and other top management’s salaries and bonus plans.

    When will the people in the US wake up and demand a stop to the sellinf of our jobs to an overseas factories to simply have the cheapest price possible?

  • John Davis

    Why does this surprise anyone? While there are a few of us who still value the highest quality tools, most people I have talked to only care about the almighty dollar. There are thousands of professional woodworkers and MILLIONS of hobbyists.

    Anyway what is in a name now a days? You have tools from all brands coming from manufacturers all over the world and the quality varies by tool. Where was Royobi or Ridgid 5 years ago. It just means that reviews of tools will be more important when buying.

    I probably won’t buy these tools, but the days of brand loyalty have been gone for much longer than this announcement so why is this a big deal?

  • Greg Silsby

    I’ve been waiting, not at all eagerly, for this announcement, as it has been on the horizon for a while. Once again it would appear that a company is being headed by professionals whose expertise is in being company heads, not in making wise, long-range business decisions. I’m sure I can speak for many historically devoted Porter Cable fans who will no longer feel they can trust the quality of the brand. Unfortunately, I had already lost confidance in DeWalt’s later product quality, so it looks like I don’t need to leave this corporation’s stable of products; they have already left me. As for the company management going down with the company, that’s not the way it usually works these days. A "golden parachute" agreement will ensure that the exec who leaves (way too late) will have plenty of resources to live well until landing a similar position with the next doomed company. I’ve seen it too many times.

  • Gale Parker

    Well isn’t this a fine howdy do do. My cabinets are full of PC tools and they have been very good to me over the years.It will be a cold day in Hell before I switch to the high line "DeWalt" as I have not see one of their tools hold up when really worked and their warranty is worthless. Watch out garage and estate sales as I think I will start buying all of the old PC tools that I can find before they go the same route as us old woodworkers.
    What happened to pride and craftmanship?

  • Steve

    I, too, am disappointed that my PC tools will now be viewed as second rate. I think they could have beefed up some of the B&D tools to meet the niche they’re after rather than cheapen the PC brand.

  • Jerry LEase

    Another GREAT tool line bites the dust…. it may take a few years… but Black & Decker / DeWalt will decimate the heavy duty quality Porter Cable tools in search of the "Weekend warrior / half ass tradesman" market that chases lowest prices only and then management will wonder in amazement as yet another GREAT American brand declines in the face of quality heavy duty import competition from Makita, Hitachi and numerous others from Asia and Europe. A sad day. Take heart in the fact that these clowns who are making these decisions on the future of Porter Cable will go down with the brand and you will see them flipping burgers at BurgerBoy before the remnants of Porter Cable are sold to some Chinese manufacturer.

  • Walt Schubert

    "When PC Vice-President Dan Gregory said DeWalt tools were their professional-line tools, I was astounded, as were others."

    I guess there is always hope, but the above comment does not instill confidence! One can always hope, however, that instead of reducing quality on PC Products, an improvement in DeWalt is on the horizon.

    Seems doubtful though doesn’t it?


    P.S.: I agree with Matt above in his question, "Does he use any of these tools?"

  • Matt

    "When PC Vice-President Dan Gregory said DeWalt tools were their professional-line tools, I was astounded, as were others."

    When I read the above, it seemed as though I had been transported to some other dimension. I picked my PC tools for demonstrated high performance and durability (not to mention variety). I see DW as a better product in the cordless drill arena only. PC is my preferred power tool elsewhere (router, circular saw, plate joiner, orbital sanders, belt sander, etc…). I almost feel betrayed by Dan trying to redirect my viewpoint – what is this based on? Does he use any of these tools?

    Also, the NiCad battery, pricepoint or not, was clearly a poor decision. Who would consider going back. Battery memory, weight savings, power curve – don’t these have ‘value’ in the pricepoint equation?


  • Chris C.

    Sadly, consolidation rarely does much good for
    the consumer. Essentially, the number of players over
    the last five years in this market has dwindled as
    a couple of parent companies own most of it.

    It’s too bad, because the reduction of competition always
    cheapens the end product.

    One final note. Since PW magazine is involved in reviewing
    tools, it is questionable to be taking gifts such as
    trips to baseball games. It doesn’t matter if you feel
    you can be unbiased or not; the question alone clouds
    the waters. It would be like a judge whose wife appears
    in his traffic court…better to simply dismiss yourself
    before anyone raises the question.


  • Lyle

    Don’t get too enamored by Li-Ion. Current Li-Ion chemistries do not have the same range as their NiCad counterparts. For us here in Canada where winter is always around the corner, NiCad’s are far more useful and dependable compared to Li-Ion.

  • dave brown

    Sounds like when DeWalt & Porter Cable became owned by the same parent company, they decided to use DeWalt as the "premium" brand. That’s sad as I’ve always thought highly of my PC tools. Guess you can’t have two top dogs in your stable?

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