It’s a simple question really, but I’ve been hung up on a question I was asked on social media: How do you feel about Craftsman [tools] for DIY stuff? Should I go some other route?
I fired off a quick answer: Neutral? Not a lot of competitive options at their current price point.
I’ve reviewed some Craftsman tools, tested others, and am in the process of testing more.
When talking about Craftsman tools, there are lots of different product categories to consider.
I reviewed a purchased copy of Craftsman’s most entry-level cordless drill back in November 2018, and my overall sentiment was that the kit was cheap but capable. It’s an entry-level cordless drill, but workable, and Craftsman also has other cordless drill models for those willing to spend more.
Other Craftsman cordless power tools have proved to be competent performers, on-par with other brands’ competitive DIYer-targeted offerings.
I haven’t tried Craftsman’s air tools, but I’d bet they’re decent. They have a pancake-style air compressor that is heavily advertised around holiday shopping seasons, and Craftsman is now the fourth brand to come out with a cordless air compressor.
The brand has been expanding, although I haven’t seen as rapid a push in cordless power tool or hand tool segments as I’d like. I’m waiting for Craftsman’s USA-made hand tools, which they keep saying is on the way.
USA-made Craftsman hand tools are “chroming soon.”
When someone asks about Craftsman tools, I generally hone in on their hand tools. Sure, Craftsman now has lawn and garden equipment, cordless power tools, workshop equipment, storage products, and all kinds of other tools in their broad selection, but that’s not what I visualize.
I own a fair amount of Sears-era Craftsman hand tools – pliers, wrenches, ratchets, sockets, wire strippers, chisels, prying bars, hammers, mallets, screwdrivers, specialty tools, and then some, with nearly all of these tools being made in the USA.
So when “Craftsman tools” hits my brain, that’s what I think of, the Craftsman tools in my kit.
Do the Craftsman tools available today, developed and launched by Stanley Black & Decker after acquiring the brand, match up to the Craftsman tools from a few years ago, before Sears and their suppliers started shifting production overseas?
I answer this question by thinking of another question. Would I trade any of my existing Craftsman hand tools for any of the new ones? The answer to that is no, and so by extension and in my opinion, Stanley Black & Decker’s Craftsman hand tools are NOT as good as older Sears-era Craftsman hand tools.
Would I choose today’s Craftsman hand tools over the last generation of Sears Craftsman hand tools? Absolutely.
What I’m looking forward to are Craftsman’s hand tools of tomorrow. Stanley Black & Decker can very easily launch/relaunch a Craftsman Professional tool brand. They certainly have the know-how, and perhaps they can model the differentiation similar to what they did with Stanley and Stanley FatMax brands.
Maybe there won’t be a better tier of Craftsman hand tools, but there’s certainly plenty of room, with respect to quality, market space, and pricing, between Craftsman and Stanley Black & Decker’s Proto and Mac professional tool brands.
Are there better options for DIYers today? Well, yes. At the same entry to mid level price points? That’s trickier. Lowe’s Kobalt tools selection is not what it once was, Home Depot’s Husky tools are decent but limited in breadth beyond core mechanics tools.
Harbor Freight is possibly Craftsman’s biggest competitor right now, with their new higher-priced and more premium-focused Icon tools, plus all the cheaper tools already on shelves.
Gearwrench tools are priced higher than Craftsman tools, and so I’d consider them an upgrade rather than being competitive.
Maybe Tekton? But while they’ve been strengthening parts of their product offerings, Tekton tool quality can very widely. For instance, I’d absolutely use their screwdrivers, but their pliers and cutters are more basic and of lower quality than the USA-made Craftsman versions I have in my kit. Maybe they’d be on-par with Craftsman’s current tool selection?
It used to be so easy. If someone were looking for DIY hand tools, Craftsman!! was a good answer. Kobalt was a decent alternative. Now? I think Craftsman is getting there. I purchased some more hand tools a couple of months ago, for review and comparison purposes, and their quality was decent. By decent, I mean better than acceptable. while not quite being as good as the older Craftsman tools I enjoy using regularly.
Stanley Black & Decker would likely describe me as a sophisticated hobbyist, a term their marketing execs have used in the past. Right now, I think that they’ve been reasonably successful in meeting the needs of homeowners, beginner DIYers, budget shoppers, and other such users.
What about tools for “sophisticated hobbyists,” pro users, or those more inclined to purchase higher-quality or pro-grade tools?
I’m hoping that Craftsman’s mid-grade tools are coming, but that remains to be seen.
But for now, I think my original sentiment holds. How do I feel about Craftsman tools? I’m neutral, with the general opinion that there aren’t a lot of competitive options at their current price point. You can find good and even better alternatives if you shop around, but a lot of entry-level users don’t tend to shop around.
The COVID-19 pandemic likely disrupted Craftsman’s timetable, but I’m still very much interested in seeing what they’ll be launching this year and next.
Gotta add again, flea markets and pawn shops are pretty good sources of older Craftsman/other stuff. Might need some cleanup, but the tools from the “American heyday” of such things still have decades of use left for pennies on the dollar.
Just gotta have some wire brushes, really. And some patience in filling out sets.
Many of those probably still have the lifetime warranty?
No. Warranty now states must have original receipt. The sears bankruptcy killed the lifetime warranty. And the tools sucked back then and are worse now.
Craftsman’s website still says “No proof of purchase required” for most types of hand tools.
I’ve tried to warranty some of my older Sears store tools. It’s a no go. I couldn’t get anything out of the Lowes stores. I tried contacting Craftsman directly and that’s fallen on crickets. So at this point when I break something I’m replacing it with a much better tool. I may wind up giving the entire Craftsman hand tool set I have away given this.
I turned my old in for new at Lowe’s without a problem.
I just recently tried to return a ratchet handle at Lowe’s and got absolutely nowhere they would not accept it would not honor the warranty so I called Sears Craftsman and once again that fell on deaf ears. I’ve always owned Craftsman tools and use them on a daily basis but I will be looking to buy tools from other brand.
My older Craftsman tools are great, have held up over the years, n I will go back to them when they’re American made.
I needed some stubby ratcheting combination end wrenches so consulted my son, a professional mechanic, n while he has mostly Snapon, he recommended Gearwrench. They’re made in Taiwan as are Craftsman n numerous other brands.
I really like combination end wrenches that have 4 sides to grip a bolt head. MAC, and the new Cresent brand do. They’re two of the few.
Only tools with lifetime warranties are worth buying, and thankfully there are a few.
Out in Alaska’s back country, you need good dependable tools.
Not tire. I have recently warrantied without issue or proof of purchase through Lowe’s. Almost as easy as harbor freight tool warranty
Have had some luck with ebay to fill in gaps in my Sears USA Craftsman tools. But have also noticed a number of sellers with inflated sense of what those tools are worth.
Yes, there are a lot more people thunkingbtheor tools are worth more, than those that are reasonable with their pricing.
I’ve noticed every Craftsman tool listed on eBay starts out with the word “rare” now. The reason I won’t buy the older USA Craftsman tools wether listed as new or used is if one breaks your replacement will not be of the same quality. I own a 3/4″, 1/2″, and 3/8″ drive Craftsman ratchets that I’ve had forever. After 30 + years of use they eventually all needed repairing. This was several years ago when I took them to Sears to have the internals replaced. When I asked the guy doing the repairs about what was going back inside them he told me parts straight from China. All 3 came back with the quick release mechanisms that go completely through and out the center of the drive. The original ones were quick release but not all the way through. I was certain was a weaker design and I proved that by breaking one later that day under normal use. It took me two years to find USA gear kits to return them all back to original. They were my father’s and I don’t use them as much anymore due to the sentimental value and knowing I could never replace them.
The straight-through release pin is how it’s shown in the original patent for quick-release ratchets. Sears bought that patent from one of its young employees for way less than its worth. When the employee sued and won the patent back, Sears had to hurriedly redesign the quick release mechanism so as not to infringe, and that’s how the blind quick release came to be. That’s its only reason for existing. It’s not a superior design, just different enough to satisfy the lawyers.
I agree. But as the article said, there are other brands on the market in this process point, or a bit higher, that are better than the current, Chicom offerings from Craftsman.
Craftsman Hand tools are the only thing worth buying. They have a special return group for the different products and the hand tool warranty isn’t too bad to cope with.
Anything else though, guaranteed to break within a year and getting replacement parts is literally like entering the gates of HELL. I am so sick to my stomach over their quality and have been thrown on the back burner for my grandpas lawnmower (1 yr old) and my tool chest(2 yr old) both of which are broken and have been on phone for hours from this person to that person who speak broken English just to get a part so I can replace myself rather than wait a year for some crackhead(repair tech) to come out and look at it and come back a year later to
Utter BS company and I won’t ever buy from them again for this reason. Nowadays it’s all of them though so who do I buy from to get some quality?
Craftsman was Great, and I mean the only thing I buy. But now after pulling out of this country for a Bigger profit the quality is Down Hill, foreign metal, and rust finishes……till they proof in the quality, American metal and finishes. NO!
It’s a shame but my personal feeling toward Craftsman tools is negative. I have a tool chest full of the older wrenches and gear that I use all the time and wouldn’t trade away but when I go looking for tools now I don’t even consider Craftsman. Their battery operated tools were always so-so, not on a par with their hand tools, and then they cheapened the grade of their hand tools. Whatever the reason they deserted the quality and ‘made in America’ that made me like them so I see no reason to care if they get it back. I don’t feel vengeful, I just don’t care about them.
My sentiments exactly. I wouldn’t throw my old Craftsman stuff out but I would be very unlikely to buy anything new from them. They went too far and came back in too late. The ship has sailed.
I have no interest in their current Taiwan/China made hand tools, but I do love my older ones. (not that I have anything against Taiwan made hand tools, but not a big fan of the Craftsman lineup currently)
I would say that if they bring back USA manufacturing, and some level of quality and better design comes with it, then I would definitely consider them again. If they move manufacturing to USA and they still make lobster clawed cheap steel junk, then no thanks.
I’d take Kobalt instead.
Kobalt are the worst hand tools I have ever used. Ever.
I don’t think I’ve been happy with a single Kobalt tool I’ve ever bought. At least one critical area always seems deficient in their offerings…
Two Kobalt full tang hammers and an allen wrench set have actually been decent for the price. The hammers haven’t fallen apart, are decent in ergonomics and the Allen wrench set haven’t broken or rounded out the corners. The hammers were $10 a piece and the allen wrench set was $12 for both metric and sae.
Completely depends on what you buy from them these days. The sears china stuff is largley junk. Went there around Christmas and got a tool tote becuase it was about 5 bucks. Its junk but for what I wanted it for it works. I bought a sander there and it burnt up after about 5 hours of use. Junk. The SBD stuff it all depends. I got their 224 piece mechanics set. Its really nice actually. I hate its made in China and will probably get rid of it soon after USA comes out. (I am a stickler for Craftsman mechanics tools). Craftsman sent me their USA tape measure and its great, honestly prefer it to FatMax. Their 2 brushless offerings are good. The rest of their lineup, I wouldnt bother with at sears or Lowes. Better options sitting right next to them.
Bottom line with modern Craftsman it is not a blanket statement on quality. With Dewalt anything you buy you can be pretty sure the tool will be good. With Ryobi you pretty much know the quality you are getting. With SBD Craftsman you can get an overpriced not so good pair of pliers or a pretty good brushless tool. Research is needed. I would love a pro line to come out to make it easier to differentiate.
My perception of Craftsman depends on whether we’re talking about the hand tools or their cordless power tools. For Cordless power tools, they have a pretty comprehensive lineup – but Ryobi is tough competition. If I were recommending a brand to a DIYer… I’d probably say Ryobi, but Craftsman is right there (not quite as extensive, but I believe they’re just getting started).
Hand tools though? I thing it’s tough because there isn’t an obvious single brand that is a direct competitor and has the same selection breadth. I agree Husky is probably the closest alternative (at lease in the USA) – but just like Craftsman, some of it is pretty junky.
Here in Canada, I consider Mastercraft and Maximum tools, both sold exclusively at Canadian Tire, to be direct competitors. At one time they were marketed as the same brand, with Maximum being the higher-tier line (and I still have some tools bearing “Mastercraft Maximum” branding). Now the tools just have “Maximum” on them.
In general, I consider the Mastercraft lineup to be pretty competitive with Craftsman and Maximum to be slightly better. Both are made in China, but some of the tools are pretty nice. Maximum is an odd duck though because the tool prices usually approach Dewalt’s level – and I think Dewalt is better, or at least has the brand recognition to charge a higher premium.
Tekton does have some quality tools. Some of their pliers are made in the USA by Wilde. They also have USA made pet bars, bungee cords, and double open end wrenches. Along with their new hard handled screwdrivers and bit drivers that go with the established rubber handled drivers.
I have had no problems stripping out SBD Craftsman sockets. The screwdrivers are total crap. So at best they are similar to the old discontinued Harbor Freight tools before they started doing tool replacement warranties. I’d compare their power tools to Ryobi, Ridgid, and Porter Cable in terms of price but quality was never there, even if Bob Vila was a spokesman for it.
Stu, gotta totally disagree about whether or not SBD can/will “easily” come out with a “Craftsman Pro” line. Forget Mac/Proto, where does that place Dewalt?
If memory serves, SBD (or was it just B&D?) came out with a “Black and Decker Pro” line that was introduced as a Sears Craftsman killer but basically a market flop. They rebranded it Dewalt complete with the now signature yellow and black trim and reintroduced it with a new premium price tag, and they had a winner.
If they came out with a “Craftsman Pro” how do you place it? Do you basically produce red badged Dewalt at the same price point? That’s essentially the GM model with GMC, Chevrolet, and what used to be a myriad of other branding. And if you haven’t noticed, GM is doing significantly less of that now and purposely going out of their way to make each brand distinct. Or do you sell it as a “value priced” Dewalt tool? That makes sense as a competitor but not as sister product lines.
Also I would not lump Proto and Mac into this discussion. Mac is a tool truck brand, used for marketing specifically to that market. Similarly Proto and Dewalt are targeted towards specific marketing channels. At best you could say that Dewalt=Proto=Mac quality wise although all 3 have price points based on their channel.
I’m not sure if I agree or not, but as a “sophisticated hobbyist” i find that there is a major hole in SBD’s line up.
I can’t buy Mac directly because their website is terrible, and must be years behind what they are actually releasing as far as I can tell from facebook salesmen, and I would need to have a tool truck visit my house. Since I already have most of what I need I can’t see a tool truck swinging by once a month for me to window shop and maybe spend 1-2k a year. Proto is hard to find info on as well.
They either need to step up their virtual showroom big time on those brands or get some “pro” tools into the stores in addition to the diy level tools.
I do agree this can be tricky with Dewalt vs Craftsman, but Dewalt just doesn’t offer automotive tools or as wide of an array of hand tools that “Old Craftsman” / Mac / Proto do. As such there is a gap…will SBD choose to fill it.
This gap is most obvious when you compare Milwaukee M12 automotive tools to anything from SBD. There are 6 M12 ratchets and now a coming low profile impact which can be picked up in person at HD or on various online tool retailers. There are 2 Mac ratchets that are years old, larger, and much more costly which can only be had directly through Mac dealers or second hand.
I pretty much agree with most people on here. I had a crap ton of older Craftsman hand tools. Unfortunately those were stolen a while ago, and now I’m in the market to replace them. Craftsman used to have a great tool program, where you could buy a large, medium or small tool set, and then add on to those with additional sets, and you wouldn’t get a lot, if any doubling of tools. Now, you can’t do that, no matter how you try. And it seems that every tool set has the obligatory 99 degree Allen wrenches and a multi bit screw driver in them to make up the number of tools, so in reality, you’re not getting anything of value anymore.
I won’t be buying them now, but, as many have stated, if they bring them back, I mean All of them, as I dont want to be intermixed with crap tools just to get some good ones. I may, and I say this with reserve, may look at them again. Especially if they give us a lot of flack about their warranty, like they have been lately.
As far as their cordless tools, they seem to be rebrands DeWalt tools. So, that may be a step up from before, when they were rebrands Ryobi junk. But I don’t buy pro-sumer cordless powertools, I’m on the ‘other “Red Team” where I know my money is well spent.
Craftsman needs to step up their tool storage game and bring back the Craftsman Pro Series tool boxes/chest and bring back that lines lifetime warranty. They 2000 and 3000 line is old, and made in the US. However, I personally would like to see a little sturdier built quality and better attention to final details. It only takes three seconds per edge to roll the tops of the drawers to add rigidity.
Right now I’m looking at hand tools from a few brands, like Milwaukee, Gearwrench and Tekton and possibly the new Husky line. In reality they aren’t really that much more expensive than the current Craftsman line up.
Craftsman could easily use the slightly upgraded DeWalt hand tools. Why? Because they are limited in what they produce in that line up. Craftsman could expand on it, due to their current and past line up of mechanics tools.
Stanley was once the OEM for Craftsman back in the 80s. When Sears switched suppliers for Craftsman, Stanley launched the Husky brand exclusive to Home Depot in 1992. In 2002 Stanley renewed its deal with Home Depot for 5 years with the caveat that Home Depot would become the owner of the Husky brand when the deal expired. Once Home Depot became the owner of Husky in 2007 they eventually switched to the same supplier Sears was using for Craftsman. Stanley eventually bought Craftsman to launch non-exclusive at Lowes to compete with Husky.
To add a bit to your Husky history – they were once an independent company – founded in 1924. By 1929 (they year of the Stock Market Crash) they were sold to Olsen Mfg. Then again during the Great Depression – Husky was sold to the New Britain Tool Co. When Litton Industries was on their fabled – and seemingly “gobble up what you can” buying spree in the 1970’s – New Britain became one of their subsidiaries. Then when Litton started divesting itself – in the 1980’s – New Britain Tool – plus brands Husky and Blackhawk – were sold to National Hand Tool (once a Craftsman OEM). Stanley acquired National Hand Tool in 1992 – and as you say cut a deal with Home Depot that year.
I remember in the 1960’s that there were lots of Auto Parts stores – some carried Husky sockets and wrenches – while others might have SK-Wayne, or Blackhawk or Bonney Forge or Herbrand or Thorsen. Hardware stores back then were more likely to carry Armstrong or Proto, or Martin/Fairmount or Williams.
I like a lot of Tekton tools, but like you say, quality varies. A lot of their stuff looks like generic Chinese tools under various names on Amazon. But some of their stuff is great, far exceeding expectations. I do like that they seem to be focused on bring new, quality tools to market as opposed to just replacing their lower quality tools.
I also know their CS and warranty are top notch. My dad bent his 1/2 drive breaker bar and they just asked for a photo before sending him a new one. He lives pretty far away from places like sears, harbor freight, HD and Lowes so that sort of CS goes a long way for him.
The acetate screwdrivers are not up to the quality of the USA made versions. I’ve had the chrome chip off the tips of a couple of the drivers, leaving a sharp surface, after only a few uses. I’d probably recommend something from Harbor Freight or Tekton. Maybe the made in USA stuff will be better.
I have extensive Milwaukee M18 / M12 tools. However, I have started to build a V20 set. I have the CMCF820 3 – speed impact driver and the CMCD721 hammer drill, as well as the circular saw, jig saw, and reciprocating saws. I see there are brushless saws creeping into the line up (per Lowe’s website ), as well as a brushless SDS hammer. I really like the tools, and as an everyday person who is not really a tool snob, I wish them well. Instead of getting into tool politics, and damning this or that company…. I do wish them well. As far as hand tools, I have mostly Kobalt mixed in with older Craftsman hand tools. While most definitely not on the level of Fuel cordless tools ( which I love ), most users would get serviceable tools from SBD Craftsman, and they seem to be improving ( brushless motors and stiffer shoes on the saws ).
Your question is problematic because DIYer is a broad spectrum. I have 10- year old Chinese craftsman and a fulk line of c3 tools. All were sufficient for occasional heavy work…building, framing, or mechanical stuff. But unless prices change, I’d say now that HF is more than good enough for occasional moderate work for the light DIYer who will hire for major stuff. For the nearly full DIYer, id want a more professional grade stuff. I was in the middle of the two. Now i hire out more than i repair. People who pay attention will find great deals on hand tools throughout the year via lowes or HD. I don’t know if craftsman is a good deal now, it was for us bc we were gold members in those years and the deals were so good that there is nothing like it now, hence bankruptcy of Sears
I find some of the craftsman toolboxes interesting. Not sure how they hold up.
High & Mighty
I think an even better question is what would Bob Vila think of sb&d craftsman tools? He was the face of sears craftsman and alot of people were introduced to the brand because of him and his television show. Do you think that Bob Vila would stand behind Stanley black & decker craftsman tools? Very highly likely not. If Bob wouldn’t use them, than you can’t recommend them. What is certain is that sb&d is never going to strive for the same quality of craftsman that sears craftsman was known for when they were in their prime. It’s a very safe bet that’s not going to happen. Sb&d isn’t interested in building the reputation of craftsman to the likes of what sears accomplished before they went down the toilet. Sears had several factions of craftsman and the quality was considerably different between each one. Sb&d doesn’t have anything like that for any brand they own. Sb&d has turned craftsman into a basic quality diy brand that’s no better than what’s been at sears for the last 10 years. They might as well be made at the same factory. I don’t mean to get off the topic, but Sb&d hasn’t restored any sort of iconic or reputable quality to the brand and as we all know they certainly haven’t followed through with their pledge of American made production. And I’m sorry, but partially American made tools aren’t American made tools. I understand the patriotism aspect of wanting an American made brand of tools, but tools that are comprised of both global components and domestic components and materials aren’t American made tools. So to answer your question about sb&d craftsman tools being a good choice for diyers, I would have to say no. Maybe for real early beginners, but other than that I wouldn’t recommend them.
When Lowe’s first started building their Super stores, late 80s to early 90s, they came out with their Kobalt hand tools. And at a very decent price. These tools were made in the USA by Williams Tool Company. Awesome looking tools. I bought three complete sets. From 1/4″ to 1″. I would put these up against any Snap-On, Mac, Proto and or Mack tools. I still have these tools today. When competition got hard, Lowe’s left the USA and went to where else, but China. You couldn’t run fast enough to give me 10 complete sets. When their sales fell to 0, they knew they had to get out of China. Even though their quality has picked way back up, I still don’t buy the Kobalt brand. Lowe’s cheated his customers out of their money for crappy tools to make them.more money. Where’s the Honor in that mentality!!!
Of course, you can put Williams tools against snap-on as Williams is the OEM behind a lot of snap on tools.
One thing readers need to keep in mind is that DIY normally does not require professional-grade tools that get heavy daily use. When I have pros in the house, they often use DeWalts – a medium-quality brand. They tell me they use them for a year or two and replace them. My point is, you do not have to pop for Festools or Bosch unless you are rich.
I just replaced my 30-year old Craftsman compound mitre with an inexpensive Chicago Electric all aluminum one. My Craftsman weight over 30 lbs, and was getting rusty from the salt air where I live. The Chicago is lite, rustproof, and I like that slider feature. At age 73, it is far easier to lug.
When it comes to power tools, until last year, I was a Milwaukee guy. Milwaukees are well-engineered, durable, mid-range tools. Then Lowes sent me 2 new 20 volt drills to evaluate. I found them to have better balance than my Milwaukees, and a feature not on the Milwaukees – Craftsman put the LED on the battery instead of atop the trigger. I nearly always steady my drill with both hands, especially in hammer mode. That essentially covers any trigger LED making it useless in low light. No problem with the Craftsman. You can use both hands drilling in the dark. Once you key the trigger, the light stays on a bit – very clever. The power, judged by torque in my hand, seem a bit higher than my old 20v Milwaukees as well.
I live on the beach, and the salt in the ambient air of my workshop rusts tools. I have tossed several cheapy Kobalt tools due to rust. As Lowes is clearly sidelining its Kobalt line, they had some killer Craftsman promotional sales over Christmas. I bought a full set of socket wrenches which came with a nice plastic set of drawers to keep them rust-free. I also bought three 3-stacked Craftsman tool boxes with wheels. The new boxes are plastic and nicely clamp shut protecting them from rust. Normally, they sit under my work tables unless I need my plumbing tools, sanders, recip saws, caulking tools, tile tools, electrical tools, Dremels, Multimasters, air tools, etc. So far, these boxes have been both handy and protecting. It is nice to wheel them to the work site too.
All in all, I find the Craftsman tools to be competitive and likely more than up to any DIY usage.
Consumers have long memories. My most striking one when it comes to SBD is having two of their circular saws (one PC one Dewalt) fail on the same day while rehabbing my brothers house a decade ago. The next day a heavy duty Dewalt drill broke down and snap, just like that after $500 in losses I vowed to never buy one of their tools again. Still haven’t, don’t care who they acquire (sorry Irwin, Lenox, MAC) or what they want to name them, I never will.
Today I buy Bosch, Hitachi, Greenworks cordless tools and primarily Klein, Wera hand tools but I’ll buy Tekton, Gearwrench hand tools in a pinch when I need something quick and decent.
I am most familiar with Craftsman hand tools. The new ones look ok (as you would expect with new tools) and I haven’t broken any
I still have a bunch of old power tools from Craftsman. They were pretty good before, maybe not sufficient for a builder who would use it on a daily basis, but ok for a homeowner.
I haven’t purchased or used any of the new power tools since i have just about everything i need. and if it a cordless tool I am already tied to other battery platforms
My answer is generally no to both hand tools and power tools.
For power tools, the reason not to get behind Craftsman is simple. Ryobi exists. There is a company out there that has a wider portfolio of useful tools for DIYers and which has committed to using the same battery platform for I think around 25 years now. Their recent expansion to brushless tools minimizes the need for additional “pro” tools considerably, but if I really needed a heavy duty top of the line hammer drill, I’d be looking to Milwaukee or DeWalt anyway, not to the Craftsman line.
By contrast, I now view Craftsman as just another arm of SBD, whose marketing whims have killed off and replaced more battery platforms than I can recall over the past 10 years. Porter Cable, basically dead. DeWalt 40V, dead. Dewalt old 18V NiCad (while arguably necessary to get DeWalt to its current ergonomic lead against competitors) dead. My concern is that Craftsman is going to end up being the redheaded stepchild for power tools between DeWalt and Black and Decker, and SBD will simply roll back the V20 brand in a few years. Might not happen, but if I’m investing $500-$1000 in a comprehensive power tool set, they’re not getting my money.
Hand tools they might have a shot of being the tool that a guy in need of a screwdriver or ratchet buys when they walk into the store, but I’m not really on board there either. I’ve been fine with much cheaper HF screwdriver sets for dumb around the house stuff. If I’m going to spend more on something, it will be something of appreciably better quality from Wiha, Wera, or others, which I will plan to use for years. Craftsman is at a middle ground of price and quality that does nothing for me.
I agree. I have all craftsman tools from 2004-2008. Mowers, blower, circular saw, drills, wrenches, sockets, Sanger’s, screw drivers, etc. but now, as tools die off I cannot in good conscience look at craftsman. Maybe for a hand tool or corded tool I will consider Stanley/black n decker/ craftsman. But fir anything battery I’m going brushless ryobi. I know people love to rip on ryobi but it’s adequate for what I need and I know a battery will be available when I need one. Unfortunately you simply cannot trust SBD to keep their platform around. I would look into the porter cable or craftsman stuff but honestly they have tarnished their image in my mind. That said – the $20 black and decker corded power drill I have in my garage is working just fine. I don’t care about it. Don’t love it. Don’t care. Because I don’t care about their brand. I really think lost the generation of people in their 40’s when they sold out their warrantees and quality.
ON a cost benefit ratio with good warranty for mechanics hand tools (wrenches, ratchets, sockets etc etc) I’ve been steering people toward Tekton tools. Especially their ratchet/socket sets. Hard to be value wise, very good quality. Yes made in Taiwan but they also don’t try to hide it either.
New craftsman stuff is a close second in that regard too with the benefit of going to a lowes store and getting one when you need something. I look forward to seeing what they put out soon in the new US made line.
Meanwhile cordless power tool wise upper tier craftsman stuff is mid tier dewalt stuff in red. and I have no issues recommending them other than – I tell people to cross shop the dewalt online and see which price you like. If pure price pointing then I steer them to either the craftsman, kobalt or the new Skil But I try to talk people out of the cheapest tool they can get. I mean at that point I tell them to ride over to HF.
I’m like you Stuart. I love old pre Eddie Sears Craftsman stuff. USA made and as pointed out you could buy higher end lines like Professional and Industrial if you wanted. That’s what I’m interested in. For cheaper DIYer stuff there’s literally zero point in my mind to buy Craftsman now. A black and decker or no name drill and saw will get the job done for any of that stuff. A cheap set of stanley or no name tools will also do whatever you need to do. If it’s hand tools Craftsman wants to sell I’m not even interested unless they’re USA made and high quality. If it’s power tools I’m also no longer interested unless they’re high quality and preferably USA made (with global materials).
To me, there’s no point in a middle of the road brand any longer. The cheap brand names have gotten so good that they’re perfect for any DIY job. And the higher end brand names are in such abundance and on sale so often that many times a DeWalt is actually cheaper than Craftsman. SBD stripping a couple of features off a DeWalt tool and then selling it for 10-20 bucks cheaper is pointless now. Just pay a few bucks extra for the yellow tool, get the extra features and have a massive line to choose from. Wait for a sale and possibly buy it cheaper. Or pay significantly less, save a bunch of money and just buy the B&D for diy home use.
I invested into V20 because I wanted to support Craftsman. It was mostly sentimental. But I agree with others, SBD isn’t going to give Craftsman a Professional/Industrial line as I’d hoped. It would step on Mac and DeWalt’s toes. Craftsman is indeed the red headed step child caught in the middle with nowhere to go. With Sears it was their only brand so having higher end Pro lines of power tools and hand tools was possible. With SBD, I see clearly now that’s not going to happen. I wish they’d treat Craftsman as a separate entity and not put a glass ceiling on the brand but it doesn’t look like that will happen so… I’m kind of losing interest which I never thought I’d say.
I’ll repeat what I said on Facebook.
When SBD get their act together about Craftsman, and raise their standards and naming conventions to be EQUAL to the rest of the SBD family of tools, get rid of all Exclusivity Deals with retailers, and make Craftsman-branded editions of all their tools as uniform in design and quality as all the rest of their brands are individually… THEN they will be worthy of DIY user status.
SBD needs to get its act together family-wide. There’s far too much crossover happening, making all the brands worse than they’ve been since the latest acquisition. When DeWALT tools are the only ones that have DeWALT’s standards, that is best for DeWALT. When you start throwing Stanley hand tools at DeWALT and raising the price point, the user just sees a ripoff. Keep Stanley/Proto/FatMAX hand tools their own niche in the world, and take them OUT of DeWALT’s niche. Same goes for Porter Cable, Bostitch, Proto, and so on down the line.
You want to mix the niches? Make it Craftsman, and make it EXACTLY the same quality and price range as your BEST quality products. No more jacking up the price for a NAME. But, if a homeowner just wants the usual tools they would want for the house… Make their Drill and Saw match their Wrenches in name, give THAT line a Lifetime Warranty like Craftsman of old had, and don’t include any Industrial Specialized tools in the Craftsman line. Pipe threaders, Rod Cutters, and Pex Expanders don’t sound much like something a Homeowner needs more than once. So don’t make a Craftsman edition.
And to top it all off, regardless of what OTHER companies do, (Remember the saying about peer pressure: “If everyone else were to jump off a bridge, would you?”) SBD would finally be able to figure out where everything belongs. What did Porter Cable do best, before SBD messed it up? Plumbing and Air Tools? Specialist Trades? Return to that. Don’t REPLACE them with Craftsman, in an attempt to make Craftsman popular. What did Bostitch do before SBD messed them up? Roofing and Staple/Nail tools, correct? Yeah… Stick to that lane, and don’t flinch. Supply the widest range of those tools as Bostitch-Only, and keep the most common, basic editions of those for a Craftsman edition, Lifetime Warranty and all.
Until SBD fires the crack smokers, smack addicts, and LSD Psychedellics that populate their Marketing Departments, Craftsman will just be another in a long line of brands that SBD acquired, then made so generic that you can’t find ANYTHING remarkable about them. Whatever one you happened to pick up, is the system you buy into from now on. That’s how it is right now. There’s NO reason to move around the brands in the SBD family right now. What ONE does, most of the rest do the identical tool. There’s five or six Craftsman brands under SBD, and that’s what hurts Craftsman the most. It’s just not the same colour scheme as Porter Cable, DeWALT, Stanley/Fatmax/Proto, or Bostitch. Yes, there’s the odd exclusive tool in each brand… But otherwise, they’re all the same.
Craftsman needs the Lifetime Warranty back, and it needs to use IDENTICAL quality standards and features as the tools they’re a clone of. Leave being cheap garbage to Black&Decker tools, so people will crash that division’s profits, and force them to go back into Appliance-Only operations.
Kobalt is cheaper and better.enough said
John A Blumberg
I disagree with Ryobi as junk. I have a full line of the blue generation of their cordless tools (since 2001). & in the past couple days have used my 1/2″ drill to make a 12’x12′ ramada with 22 rafters, plywood sheathing & steel roof panels, all with a single charge on a 4ah battery that is still godd to go. I have even found a way to restart the lifecycle of my old Ni-Cad battery packs, which I’ll agree aren’t the best for sawing chores, but at least fill the bilĺ for drilling.
Their outdoor power products are strong too. The 725r triimmer is an example.
At 18 yrs. old it is a capable trimmer / brush cutter, the cultivator makes easy work of flower beds & the edger keeps the drive & walkway borders very sharp.
I only have one set (drill – drill/driver) of the green generation & have found them equally capable.
The only part I have ever ordered for any of them was a rebuild kit for the trimmer’s Walbro carb.
Don’t trust Craftsman. If I am buying Chinese junk tools I might as well go Harbor Freight…I know where the store is and I know the warranties and people.
I generally buy better brands when they go on sale. I have a list of stuff I want and wait for the right sale.
The original kobalt socket sets were made by Williams company-Snap On, and they were top of the line.Then they switched manufacturers. I still think even the new stuff is still on a par with old craftsman sockets.
For the once and a while DIYer I would say yes. For anyone beyond that I would say no. It’s a definite no from me because of how cheaply made these new tools are. Also I will not buy sets of tools that: 1) don’t contain all the normal sizes 2) have no single tool options to fill in the gaps from item 1 which is what all these new Craftsman hand tools do. At this point you’re better off buying the HF Icon stuff if you’re a heavy DIYer.
I was going to write a long winded answer. But it’s probably covered.
Current Craftsman is junk.
The craftsman power tools are worse
I have a craftsman weedeater thats a year old. Recently the plastic cover on the bumphead broke. My local power equiqment dealer can only get the part from China and its on backorder which could mean a month or a year until delivery. I contacted craftsman and after nearly an hour. a representative answered but stated it was the wrong department. When transfered I waited another 30 minutes but never reached anyone. I quit. I went to Lowes yesterday and purchased a Husqvarna weedeater. Many of the common parts such as the weedeater head Lowes stocks for Husqvarna. Bottom line- Craftsman is junk. Buy something else!
What about Crescent hand tools? I’ve been impressed by the quality for the price and a lifetime warranty, seems like a good alternative to the new Craftsman stuff.
Recently, I bought some Craftsman sockets online from the Sears website. Even though the website shows a Sears store located in my town, that particular store would not exchange or allow me to return the sockets. They said that Sears is their parent company but that they are independent retailers and would not honor my exchange or return….darned if I can figure that out. As a consumer, it seems to me that I should be able to make make exchanges and get warranty service from any retailer that sells the Craftsman brand including Lowes, Sears, ACE Hardware and Sears Hometown stores….but apparently that’s not the case. Sears and Craftsman need to get their act in order. Until then, I’m done with Sears and Craftsman.
Don’t buy or try to exchange lowes said at 2 different stores that if they do not carry on the shelf they will not replace. Take them to sesrs? They sent me to lowes. So the warranty for the old craftsman tools is worthless. Wow what a way to get out of warranty.
Not true. I have recently warrantied without issue or proof of purchase through Lowe’s. Almost as easy as harbor freight tool warranty
Well Craftsman Were Great Tools, I Don’t and Won’t Buy Them Anymore! They Were at One Time Manufactured in The United States with Great Quality, now they Are Manufactured in china, or other countries and Quality Sucks! Won’t Buy Anymore! They Want Money Over Quality! Its a Shame, Please Come Back To The United States of America! Craftsman were The Best! Please Lets See What You will and Can Do to Get Me and the Rest of the United States of America!
Craftsman could easily use the slightly upgraded DeWalt hand tools. Why? Because they are limited in what they produce in that line up. Craftsman could expand on it, due to their current and past line up of mechanics tools.