Though the power tool industry is vast and full of industry players estimating overall market growth, little is known about the individual power tool users behind those trends. We set out to change that, which is important with our focus on DIYers, everyday trade workers, and homeowners.
In our journey to understand these audiences, we wanted to have a deeper knowledge of their power tool ownership, brand preferences, purchasing habits, and more. As with anything on DIY Gear Reviews, we conducted this research firsthand by surveying power tool users directly. Below, we include key insights from our survey to understand the average power tool user by the numbers.
Power tool ownership
First power tool purchased
There is a clear winner when it comes to the first power tool people purchase. A power drill was the first power tool that 58.6% of power tool users purchased first, followed closely by impact drivers and circular saws. These fundamental power tools are some of the most versatile options for tackling common projects around the home and on the jobsite.
Manufacturers have also recognized the power tools that every homeowner and trade worker needs, explaining why highly visible end caps at most big box stores in high-traffic areas are packed with power tool combination kits. Most of these kits include at least a drill and impact driver. Combination kits with more tools almost always include a circular saw, among other popular handheld power tools.
Total power tools owned
Most power tool users own between four and seven power tools. Some expected and surprising trends arise when reviewing total tools owned based on experience and general power tool knowledge.
As expected, users with limited knowledge and experience own fewer power tools. 54.5% of power tool users self-selecting as having basic and limited power tools knowledge own one to three power tools.
There is an upward trend in ownership as power tool knowledge increases. 66.2% and 50.0% of moderately knowledgeable and highly knowledgeable respondents, respectively, own between four and 11 power tools, compared to just 39.4% of power tool users with basic knowledge.
|Knowledge/Experience Level||Owns 1-3 Power Tools||Owns 4-7 Power Tools||Owns 8-11 Power Tools||Owns <11 Power Tools|
Interestingly, no users the highest power tool IQ band in our survey own more than 11 power tools. This trend is likely due to a limited sample size.
Power tools owned by brand
One trend persisting throughout our survey was overwhelmingly strong ownership of Dewalt power tools, the most popular brand with our survey demographic comprised of homeowners.
The most telling data point evidencing Dewalt’s widespread appeal is apparent when reviewing respondents who don’t own any power tools from a specific brand.
Only 13.6% of respondents don’t own Dewalt power tools. On the other end of the spectrum, a much higher 55.9% and 51.7% of respondents don’t own power tools from Ridgid and Bosch, respectively.
Makita has the highest percentage of users not owning any of its power tools among the four most popular power tool brands, including Makita, Milwaukee, Dewalt, and Ryobi. Our power tool brand preferences study dives deeper into brand preferences, perceptions, and more.
Purchasing trends and behaviors
Cordless vs corded purchase intent
With technology advances, cordless power tools are now frequently just as powerful as their corded counterparts. These performance improvements explain why four in five consumers planning to buy a power tool are opting for cordless power tools.
Several critical battery technologies have made mass migration to cordless power tools possible. A decades-long transition from nickel-cadmium and nickel metal hydride to lithium-ion batteries vastly improved performance throughout the 2000s.
Newer lithium-ion technologies are further advancing performance with pouch-cell designs that are thinner and longer lasting than traditional 18650 and 21700 cell designs. Dewalt’s Powerstack and Flex’s Stacked Lithium batteries are popular examples of the progression toward pouch-cell designs.
Combined with brushless motors and other technology improvements under the hood, cordless power tools are now highly efficient and powerful, many times with these features packed into smaller and smaller footprints.
What power tool do you plan to buy next?
37.3% of consumers in the market to buy a power tool are considering buying a power drill. It isn’t entirely surprising that power drills are the most popular next purchase, considering the runaway results already demonstrated, with a drill being most people’s first power tool purchase.
The lineup of power tool types next in line doesn’t align as well with the first power tools consumers purchase. Nail guns, including framing, brad, and finish nailers, are the next most popular planned purchase, followed by impact drivers, sanders, and circular saws.
Fewer power tool users are planning to buy tools in niche categories, such as bandsaws and impact wrenches, both of which had the lowest turnout among tools respondents are planning to purchase.
Coveted power tool features
Regardless of experience and knowledge, performance is the most important feature when buying a new power tool. Next in line, respondents buying a new power tool consider build quality and the battery platform as the most important criteria.
Admittedly, we expected the battery platform to be the most important factor. There’s no doubt that battery ecosystems create sticky users, explaining the widespread proliferation of manufacturers offering free tool and battery deals to coerce consumers into their ecosystem. But performance is one factor that can break brand allegiances, according to our research.
The power tools most commonly listed as regrettable purchases closely align with the most frequently purchased types. Power drills, impact drivers, and circular saws were frequently selected as the power tools that respondents regretted buying, either due to buying the wrong model in a given category or regretting the purchase when not using the tool frequently. Any experienced power tool user will have at least one tool in their arsenal collecting dust.
Online vs. in-store
A similar percentage of power tool users buy power tools through online portals such as Amazon.com, HomeDepot.com, and Lowes.com and in-person at big box stores including Home Depot and Lowe’s.
Few people purchase power tools at a hardware store, including national brands such as Ace Hardware and local hardware stores.
We didn’t explore this trend further, but we presume the convenience of a wide product selection and competitive pricing offered at Home Depot and Lowe’s explain why most people don’t visit a local hardware store for power tool purchases.
The largest segment of power tool users (24.6%) visits a big box store a few times a month. As big box stores continue dotting the landscape, expect that visitation frequency increases the easier it is to hop in a car for a quick drive to Home Depot or Lowe’s.
In contrast to big box store visitation frequency, power tool users are far less likely to visit a local hardware store. One-third of respondents visit a local hardware store less than once a month, compared to far fewer 15.3% of respondents visiting big box stores less than once a month.
There is a wider disparity in visitation frequency comparing Harbor Freight and Home Depot, the largest big box store by annual revenue. 53.4% of respondents visit a Harbor Freight less than once a month.
While we didn’t survey power tool users to understand why these differences exist with Harbor Freight, the likely reasons are proximity to a store, limited overall product selection, no access to the most popular power tool brands, and perceptions around the quality of Harbor Freight’s offerings.
Power tool research resources
Searching for a new power tool can be dizzying when considering the sheer number of options across many brands, price points, and models available in each manufacturer’s lineup. As a result, it’s not surprising that power tool users frequently consult other resources in their research before buying a new power tool.
Online editorial reviews are far and away the most popular research resource that power tool users rely on. 67.8% of power tool users rely on online editorial reviews to help them determine the proper power tools to buy, followed next in line by asking friends, family, and in-store employees for guidance.
Annual power tool spend
The majority of power tool users spend between $101 and $400 annually purchasing new power tools, or 51.7% of respondents.
Over the long term, we expect the average power tool user’s annual budget to increase beyond the inflation rate. One reason for this shift is the already outlined preference for cordless over corded power tools for added convenience.
This continuing transition to cordless power tools increases the average ticket price of a power tool and aligns with industry growth estimates.
For example, industry research firm Markets and Markets forecasts the global power tools market to grow at an 8.9% CAGR through 2027. Much of this inflationary-beating growth is attributed to the preference for cordless power tools, according to Market and Markets.
Power tool injuries
Injuries and severity
Power tools are dangerous and can cause serious injuries when used improperly. Our survey uncovered that 43.2% of power tool users have sustained injuries from power tools.
The most frequent power tool injuries, such as minor cuts and bruises, aren’t serious enough to require medical care.
However, a surprisingly high 18.6% of power tool users have suffered injuries that required medical attention, including lacerations requiring stitches, broken bones, and permanent disabilities, such as amputations and severed ligaments.
One interesting trend in our survey results is that beginner power tool users aren’t the most likely to sustain an injury. As the table below demonstrates, an injury is more likely to occur as knowledge and experience increases.
|Knowledge/Experience||% of Power Tool Users Reporting an Injury|
One reason for this trend may simply be how frequently each user uses power tools. Highly knowledgeable and experienced users have been using power tools more frequently and longer than less experienced people, increasing the chance of an accident. Even with proper safety precautions, a power tool injury, minor or serious, is likely to occur at some point.
OSHA outlines several best practices in its guide to power tool best practices. Common safety protocols include wearing proper PP&E, which is a simple solution.
Another critical best practice is to use select safety mechanisms included with some power tools. For example, a powerful drill has an auxiliary handle to help avoid wrist injuries, table saws have riving knives to help avoid kickback, and circular saws are designed with blade guards to protect users. Power tool users frequently disengage these safety mechanisms or don’t use them properly in many scenarios.
Most intimidating power tools
Power saws, including circular saws and table saws, are the most dangerous power tools according to power tool users. 35.6% of power tool users consider a circular saw the most intimidating power tool, followed by table saws at 30.5% of users.
We include below several key demographic characteristics of power tool users, including breakdowns by age, household income, and knowledge level.
The age sweet spot for power tool users is the 35 to 44 and 45 to 54 age bands. A combined 55.9% of power tool users fall within this age group.
While these age bands are comprised of the most power tool users, our survey suggests it’s not the demographic that spends the most on power tools each year.
The 18 to 24 and 25 to 34 age demographics have the highest proportion of power tool users who spend at least $701 annually buying new power tools.
One reason this trend may persist is that younger power tool users are building out their tool arsenals, whereas older people already own the power tools they need. Below, we further break down power tool spending by age band.
|Age||Spend At Least $701 Annually On New Power Tools|
|18 to 24||30.0%|
|25 to 34||32.0%|
|35 to 44||9.1%|
|45 to 54||6.1%|
|55 to 64||15.4%|
The average power tool user has a household income ranging from $75,000 to $150,000, totaling 50.0% of power tool users.
Unsurprisingly, this band of earners is more likely to spend the most buying new power tools each year. Below, we break down power tool spending by household income to further understand purchasing trends.
|Household Income||Spend At Least $701 Annually On New Power Tools|
|$15,000 to $29,999||0.0%|
|$30,000 to $49,999||0.0%|
|$50,000 to $74,999||0.0%|
|$75,000 to $99,999||23.1%|
|$100,000 to $150,000||15.2%|
*This data point suggests power tool users with the lowest household incomes have the highest proportion of people with large power tool budgets. However, the insights aren’t reliable for this specific household income demographic due to a limited sample size in our survey.
The majority of power tool users (55.1%) are moderately knowledgeable about how to use power tools, including how to use them and the tool types.