CES 2016, the annual Consumer Electronics Show, kicked off this week. Craftsman has released news at CES in the past, and so I spent a few minutes on Google trying to see if there were any recent announcements.
I didn’t find anything Craftsman-related in any CES 2016 coverage, but I did find a Craftsman page that says:
Coming in 2016, New Craftsman Industrial Brand Mechanics Tools.
There’s also this PDF, which I think I also saw a few months ago, that discusses the new Craftsman Industrial offerings.
I must say, I’m a bit excited about this. I bought a lot of Craftsman Professional tools, and most are great quality. Since then, Craftsman discontinued most (if not all) Craftsman Professional tools, as well as the branding. “Craftsman Professional” is no more. Craftsman also moved away from USA production, and in doing so the designs of some of their hand tools have changed.
I’ve written about this before, so there’s no need to rehash it too much.
Right now, if I’m in need of any mechanics tools, such as a certain ratchet style, a replacement socket, an accessory such as an extension, adapter, or breaker bar, Craftsman isn’t anywhere on my list. I will sooner look at Husky (which has recently piqued my interest), Kobalt, Tekton, Gearwrench, Proto, or Facom.
Craftsman used to be my go-to brand for mechanics hand tools, but not anymore.
In addition to interest in what these new tools have to offer, I am hoping that this might be the start of a new direction for Craftsman. I won’t hold my breath, but I will allow myself to feel some excitement and optimism.
What does concern me is that these are Craftsman Industrial tools, and not Craftsman Professional tools. Craftsman has offered some Craftsman Industrial tools in recent years, and also a small selection of USA-made hand tools, but they were sold at industrial suppliers, such as Grainger.
Grainger isn’t a very affordable place for individual users to shop.
A big part of why I bought so many Craftsman Professional tools is because they offered great quality at very affordable prices. Hopefully the same will be true of these new tools.
Oh, and in addition to being made in the USA, these new Craftsman Industrial tools have a lifetime warranty.
But… and not to sound too grumpy, all of my Craftsman Professional tools also have a lifetime warranty, but since they don’t exist anymore, what does it matter? If one of my Craftsman Professional tools fails, and I bring it to Sears, my only replacement option would be to accept a lesser tool.
Here’s a look at the new offerings mentioned in their PDF sneak peek:
Premium Grade Ratchet – We’ve reviewed these Craftsman premium ratchets before, or something very similar, and they were very good. The handle design isn’t my favorite, but I still reach for the test samples every now and then in lieu of my personally owned ratchets.
It’s nice to see these ratchets returning to market. They offered a very good balance between number of teeth and strength.
Round Head Ratchet – I don’t remember if this is the round head ratchet that many users liked, or if it was the two-winged round head ratchet. I think it was this one. Either way, the new round head ratchet looks like it could be quite compact, and the refreshed handle design looks pretty snazzy.
Quick-Release Teardrop Ratchet – I’m not a very big fan of Craftsman’s basic quick-release teardrop ratchet design, but they do make for good “beater” ratchets. I bought a NOS (new old stock) model at the local Sears Essentials before it closed due to leasing disagreement, and sometimes use it in tough situations.
It has fewer teeth, which increases the size of the ratcheting arc, but it’s also strong. I’ll use it in situations where I’m worried a fine-toothed ratchet might break.
Clinch Drive Wrenches – These new Craftsman wrenches have anti-slipping grooves, which Craftsman says allows up to 29% more gripping power in either direction compared to previous standard open end wrenches.
Lots of professional and industrial tool brands have similar anti-slipping and improved-gripping enhanced open end wrench designs. Check out the imagery in our Williams SuperCombo wrench review to see a clear example.
Such features do seem to work well in higher torque applications.
I’ll give Craftsman extra points if these are long pattern wrenches.
Satin Finish Wrenches – Craftsman will also be coming out with new satin finish wrenches in combination, ratcheting, and stubby styles. Hopefully this means non-ratcheting combination wrenches, as well as ratcheting combination wrenches. While full polish wrenches are usually easier to clean, some users prefer satin-finish wrenches over shiny chrome.
Double Box End Ratcheting Wrenches – I can’t say I have ever used a double box end ratcheting wrench, but some users swear by them.
What I really want to see a return of Craftsman’s USA-made deep offset wrenches. Last year I wrote about these wrenches after one got me through an assembly task, and they’ve saved me more time and effort since then.
What do you think?