Comments 13 Comments
Bosch Green or Bosch Blue?

I like tools, I always have done and I still regularly use pliers, wire cutters and a ball pein hammer that I bought when I started my apprenticeship in 1967. I bought my first power tool in the mid 1970s which was a British made, two speed, 420W Wolf Sapphire and which, believe it or not, is still my only ‘go to’ corded drill.

Wolf and other power tool names (remember the old Stanley Bridges drills and Arcoy Dovetailer?) have long since gone to the wall and have been replaced by the new kids on the block, such as the MakitaFestool and Hitachi brands. One such maker is, of course, Bosch and we stock a huge variety of their power tools, both with tails and without…those are the ones with the new fangled battery things, although the Luddite in me suspects they’ll never take off!

Seriously though, the Bosch range, unlike some other brands, is deliberately split into two quite distinct areas: the lean green tools pitched at the DIY spectrum of users and the tougher, steel blue stuff ranged squarely at the big booted, multi-tool-belted, check-shirted trade users (see, I was paying attention the other night watching ‘The Company Men’).

The green stuff is built to a less demanding specification, as they’re intended for occasional use at weekends to cut the odd bit of shelving or to drill a few holes in the wall to hang a new cupboard. They’re not expected to last quite so long and, as a consequence, they don’t stretch the pocket quite so unnervingly.

Bosch blue tools, on the other hand, are built to an altogether more rigorous standard, designed to go the distance and do the job in a multitude of different trades. However, that didn’t prevent me from burning out the motor in one of their corded drills a few years ago; but my guess is that it was an exception to the rule.

Whilst it’s great to own top quality gear, there’s a convincing argument to suggest that a trade user might not necessarily want to load his (or her) van up with the latest, all singing, all dancing, hi-tec blue Bosch power drill, for example, when a much simpler, cheaper, green one will do the job just as effectively.

This idea might be even more appealing when a green drill has been bought for one job and if it burns out or, Heaven forbid, some light fingered ‘colleague’ takes a shine to it (and it’s been known to happen), it’s not too exorbitant to replace it. To do the same with a Festool would cause me to shed some tears together with a distinct sucking of the teeth as the credit card was handed over.

This trend was noticed at first hand some years ago when the current AxHQ was being constructed and it caused some comment amongst the staff at the time. It would be extremely interesting to hear your views on this issue, not just as a trade user, but also if you use power tools for any application, be it on site, at home, college or in the workshop.

If you’d like to contribute to the conversation, please pitch in on our Facebook page or at the end of this entry and as Jim Rockford would have said “leave your name and number. I’ll get back to you…”

  • Alfred Chow – Maker of Things

    I use Bosch Blue tools where ever I can but do have a few Bosch Green tools my dad got in part ex when he was selling tools. The Green tools have been great in the workshop where they have an easier life then on site and can be swapped for another if they fail mid job.

    • Rob Stoakley

      …which was one of the salient point of this AxBlog entry, n’est pas? If it packs up mid-job or even in the ‘shop, then discard and buy another. Simples…and even better, cheap.
      I still like Festool in the ‘shop though.

  • Jon ‘Jim’ll’ Knight

    Bosch green might be intended for a few shelves at weekends, but my ones have stood up to some rather more serious “DIY” at my local preserved railway. Bosch green might be dearer than some of the other DIY brands, but they do tend to solider on remarkably well – certainly a lot better than many other DIY brands (Black & Decker – I got through two of their drills on one loco before switching to the Bosch I still have)

    • Rob Stoakley

      Thanks for your comment Jon. I’ve never used a Bosch ‘green’ in any serious sort of way so can’t really comment on their supposed reliabilitly, though I’d tend to agree with you on B&D stuff. In my experience though, it’s not the actual power tool itself that fails, but the battery that goes ‘fubar’…fortunately they can be replaced for a moderate amount of shekels.

  • jaso

    No the trade prefer makita. Lol

  • DIYer

    I’m a DIYer, and I’m a fan of the pro tools, Bosch included. I’ve had a good number of consumer grade tools as well as plenty of pro tools. Bosch are a good example, but B&D/DeWalt also count, and others too. Over the years, I’ve given up buying consumer grade tools. I’ve burned out sanders and a planer/thicknesser, worn out drill chucks (one on a cheap pillar drill, one green Bosch), stripped the gearbox from a cheapy-cheap SDS drill, and probably others that don’t spring to mind right now.
    The trouble is that if one of my tools dies (unless it’s a drill, because I am lucky enough to have a choice), I’m really stuck. Usually, I’m in the middle of something that needs finishing. It’s also expensive to replace tools that fail early. I’m yet to wreck a pro tool in any way, so I prefer to spend more. The only reason I ever buy a cheap tool is if I am convinced I’ll use it very rarely, so I can’t justify the extra investment. Even so, I’ve been bitten a few times by this. I decide it’s something I’ll use rarely, and then it turns out to be something so useful it gets used all the time, and then I “buy cheap, buy twice”. I hate that. As for Bosch, it’s blue for me, every time.

  • Stiubhart

    I use green Bosch for some serious / heavyweight DIY and hobby work (wood-turning and carving) and have never had any problem with them.

    My sister (professional vehicle trimmer and upholsterer) had a couple of blue Bosch tools (drill and jigsaw) in her workshop which I used on a few occasions when helping out; given my albeit limited experience with them I will stick with the green variety.

    This may well be a personal thing but I thought the equivalent green job handled better and ‘felt right,’ maybe a case of what you are used to; as a pensioner I also have to take cost into account and given that Bosch DIY quality performs well I will stick with them.

  • Amclaussen

    During my younger years I was very frugal and tried to save as much as possible when buying tools, both in quantity and sometimes, skimping on quality too. One day I was performing an installation at the home of one of my clients, installing a large Audio system that comprised the building of large and strong acoustical cabinets built into his wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling bookshelf, the walls of the speaker cabinets were to be integrated with the shelves paneling, and everything had to be solid, strong and completely impervious to any vibrations and rattles, which meant a lot of wood screws and glue. I was using my old B&D household-grade 1/4″ hand drill, which only worked for about 5 minutes before it became too hot to hold, and then discovered the house owner had another 1/4″ hand drill, but it was a blue Bosch (it was around 1975…). So, I started using it to let my B&D cool down, as I was risking to burn its motor! Soon I noticed the Bosch did not overheat, it was quite warm but definitely NOT hot, thus I ended the installation with the invaluable help of the Bosch! A few years later I had the opportunity to buy some tools direct from the factory thanks to a friend that worked at Black&Decker, at “employee prices” too low to be believed… Again, I did the mistake of buying cheap, supposedly “professional” and “trade” grade tools at a heavy discount; only to find after some use, that the damn tools were too noisy, unbalanced, vibrated a lot and had too loose tolerances (the circular saw had so much axial play, that the circular blade took too much kerf, not because of the kerf actually, but because the shaft had so much play! Again, I regretted my purchases. Finally, when I finished my professional studies, began to work as an engineer and earned some money, I was able to start to buy better and better tools, which have paid themselves as most have not required replacement or repairs. Along those years I finally identified the several classes of tools that are offered in the market, and today I follow the practice of paying attention to the different qualities that define when a tool is good enough for a given task. Thus, I have some tools where brute force is appreciated, and others when precision is of utmost importance, and buy accord to that. Lately, as this mad capitalism style has conquered almost every market and brand, I’ve started to see that even previously “very good to excellent” tool brands are producing lesser quality or compromised designs, supposedly because of the fierce competition from Chinese brands; but the truth is that true quality is becoming scarce by the week… Therefore, I prefer to ask either users or repair technicians about any new tool I pretend to buy before deciding on it. Tool reviews are useful as long as one learns how to read them, in order to discard those reviews that are written by the manufacturer or by newbies that are too enchanted with their newly acquired tool to see its true shortcomings. Therefore, for me, the blue Bosch line still represents a good value, but beware that some tools are NOT at the same quality level that bosch had several years ago (confirmed by the same technician that works on an local authorized repair shop that repairs both Bosch and Dewalt tools. This applies to my old Bosch 1587AVS jigsaw: I was thinking of getting the latest model Bosch Jigsaw, but when I asked the repair technician, He immediately told me :DON’T! and showed me several almost new Bosch jigsaws that were under repair, and quietly told me: “Keep your old 1587 and don’t ever sell it, the newer models are more powerful, but they just don’t last as long” !!!

    Now, you have to consider there are SEVERAL model LEVELS among the Bosch blue line, so that you need to keep close attention between the models form their line because not only power varies, but features and even internal construction varies too; it is more than just the basic colour issue. ( just for example: compare the construction of the Bosch 1594K to their 3365 5 Amp Planer; th first one has a die cast precise variable angle fence, the second has a stamped less precise one. Both are made in Switzerland, and both are blue, but they are NOT in the same level . Amclaussen.

    • Rob Stoakley

      Many thanks indeed for this very insightful reply. I guess what you’re saying is that there appear to be several informal grades of manufacture within one company range, but as the ‘bean counters’ get a grip (along with other competitors with similar gear), the overall quality may possibly decline. As far as I can tell, there’s little today that can rival my Wolf ’76 Sapphire in terms of build quality and in fact some years ago I saw one of my ‘pals’ attempting to burn out the motor by drilling a deep 3/4″ hole in concrete. He didn’t succeed but did successfully burn out his drill tip, much to his dismay and my amusement.

  • justinwood_56

    I’ve been both, as a trader and home workshop, I now have a tendency to buy cheap when trying a new type of tool, then buy better when I know the use It’ll get, I still have my corded bosch drill from 1987 and it works just fine but it’s just for home use.. I tent to use battery drills more these days… my home hobby workshop is mainly hand tools for woodwork but use corded tools for cutting and routing …. basically for hobbists n DIY’ers you’ll buy whats needed and affordable… lets face it, all electric tools die on us so I don’t get attached to the tool, it just has a job to do…..

  • Because I want to have something I can depend on and being a fan of the Bosch brand I do tend to buy a lot of Blues and generally they serve me well and have proven to be good investments. A few years ago though I was caught out when an ageing, non Bosch, cordless drill/driver stripped its gear box just before I needed it for a substantial piece of work (drilling and the screwing in countless screws into green oak) that would have been a nightmare to use a manual screwdriver for and was way to far from the mains to consider a corded tool. So as I needed it next day and it convenient I popped into Robert Dyas and was pleased to see they had some Bosch cordless drill/drivers on sale, I was concerned though that it was a green. The price was good enough for me to consider it as a disposable tool that I may end up using once with little further use. To my great surprise it went on to give a couple of years of good service and has now been given to a keen DIYer friend as I did eventually get fed up worrying it would soon wear out so got myself a nice big Blue one.
    So ironically the only green Bosch I have ever owned has still not failed despite some harsh demands made of it. Sure it was also a royal pain with the low capacity batteries and my new Blue purchase is justified on that front alone. But I never did feel I could fully trust it, despite the fact it never let me down. So it seems the marketing efforts by Bosch work as well as their tools do be they Green or Blue.

    • Rob Stoakley

      Interesting Niall, that’s been the response of one or two users of the green stuff. It just goes to show that all their stuff is pretty good, regardless of colour.

  • Izzy Woodgears

    I have been fully involved in home woodworking for just over 2 years now,aftr having my very first exposure to woodworking machinery like bandsaws thicknessers and belt sanders and basic woodworking taskts like finishing, more than 20 years ago (the big gap was due to lack of time in hichchool and too much focus on partying on weekends in the earlier years. now that I am fully int construction of different things like basic furniture and other such things,I can say after using Bosch Green small tools from back then such as cordless drill jigsaws etc,they certainly did what they were intended to do and did it ok,but being lucky enough to have Bosch Blue sliding compound mitre saw which is my dad’s I can safely say Bosch Blue is much MUCH superior especially in the department of mitre saws,and truth be told, I recently purchased another decent DIYer’s mitre saw by Rockwell,which I since sold off simply because it’s overall size was a bit small for my taste,but having said that, I have also sued a Bosch Green one a friend bough recently, nd to my surprise my little Rockwell 2000w mitre saw had a MUCH more accurate and firm mitre detentes which had absolutely ZERO play in the graduations and clicked firmly into the desired grad,unlike my mates Bosch Green which was very sloppy and you had to be very slow in getting to your desired degree without overlapping it and even then,it wasn’t 100% even for a DIY saw,and very very loud. the Bosch Blue on the other hand has been used (and abused) my my dad and I even for small fire wood logs and has solid positive graduations for angle setting and I would say is just as good as most of the other pro grade mitre saws out there. my tool arsenal consists of both pro and DIY tools which are basically Rockwell for DIY tools which I use less (biscuit joiner,palm sander,random orbit sander and baby drill press) and my more frequently used tools belt sander,circ saw mini router and such are all Makita and wouldn’t go for a DIY grade for tools like that I woud say. I am now going to splash out and get a new mitre saw of my own but this time I am going for the metabo with the induction motor and scrap brushed motors on a mitre saw all together. so,if those of us are on a budget,go for a denent DIY tools which you would need less often and don’t care if it stuffs up,but for the crucial and primary tools it’s worth going pro grade for more reassurance.