What To Know Before Buying Stanley Power Tools

Sometimes, companies fail to innovate and are eventually lost to history and nostalgia, or worse, become part of a package of brands and patents sold to the highest bidder. Innovation rarely makes tools disappear, though, and companies like Stanley can continue to make world-class hand tools after being subsumed into a toolmaking mega-brand. In the case of Stanley, the mega-parent company is Stanley Black & Decker, owner of brands like DeWalt, Craftsman, Irwin, and Cub Cadet. 

So when you start looking around for Stanley power tools, you won't find a lot: mostly middling workshop and portable vacuums, a smattering of job site infrastructure items you might not consider power tools (like work lights and heaters), along with a much-unloved power station, car battery charger, garage door opener, or tire inflator. The hand tools that made the Stanley brand are still in evidence. Stanley hand planes, despite once being ubiquitous, are still shockingly collectible. These days, Stanley touts its perennial favorite tape measure lineup, which features the much-loved PowerLock and FatMax models. It would be fair to call the hand planes and tape measures legendary, but what about the handful of power tools?

Vacuums all the way down

Stanley's power tools include only 15 shop and portable vacuums, one cordless handheld vacuum, and a power station that reviewers panned on Stanley's own website. The vacuums' reputations are a mixed bag, to say the least. While Stanley vacuums took Popular Mechanics' top spot in 2022 for Best Midsize Shop Vac and Best Vacuum for Home and Garage Use, other major review sites didn't even consider Stanley. We might prefer the cheap $40 shop vac that we tried from Home Depot.

Project Farm, the gold standard in tool review YouTube channels, found the Stanley model quiet, light, and easy on power consumption. But testing also found that it had by far the lowest airspeed, the second-lowest suction performance (above only Walmart's Hart brand), and middle-of-the-pack rates of sucking up water and sand. It held the least water of all tested models. To add insult to injury, Project Farm found the best vacuum to be a Craftsman model made by that same manufacturer. We ranked DeWalt the best power tool brand, while our construction expert named Black & Decker a power tool brand to avoid at all costs. Perhaps these results contain the real lesson: with DeWalt, Milwaukee, and Craftsman in the fold, what do Stanley-branded power tools even bring to the table?