Craftsman tends to be a very polarizing brand, and it has been for a few years now. I recently posted about Craftsman’s new V-Series announcement, which followed a sizable reveal on Lowe’s website, and was surprised to see quite a bit of negativity.
I invested very heavily in Craftsman tools back when Sears owned the brand, and before they set down an irreversible downwards spiral. Many of my purchasing decisions were hard to make and I had a limited tool budget that didn’t allow for much regret. I wanted quality tools and great value, and at the time, this is what Craftsman was all about.
But then, Sears stopped caring about customers like myself. Craftsman slowly shifted strategies, cheapening the brand in the process. I gradually lost personal interest in the brand and its tools.
With the brand now under Stanley Black & Decker ownership, I’ve been patiently optimistic. I can’t say I’ve remained steady in this, as I almost gave up hope a couple of times.
The potential has been there, for Craftsman to once again cater to the needs of user like myself. But would they squander that potential?
The first new Craftsman hand tools launched around 3-1/2 years ago. There were some post-Sears Craftsman tools on the market before that, but the big relaunch took place in mid-2018. Craftsman now has a lot of value-priced tools on the shelves at Lowe’s, but these are mainly entry-priced offerings that are nothing like the Craftsman tools I own or would be interested in.
There have been some decent holiday season promos on entry to mid-pricepoint Craftsman tools, but I haven’t been too excited about what I’ve seen so far.
I can count on one hand how many different Craftsman tools or accessories I’ve purchased for personal use over the past few years. I’ve purchased quite a few for ToolGuyd/editorial purposes, but not very many for actual use.
If I parted with my existing Sears-era Craftsman tools, would I replace them with any Craftsman tools today? No. That says something to me, that there’s a giant gap in Craftsman’s offerings today.
At least a limited selection of USA-made Craftsman tools remain on the horizon, and although that eventual launch keeps inching closer, I have not seen or heard anything official about the upcoming tools yet. We’re still waiting to learn more.
And now, we have the Craftsman V-Series.
The new Craftsman V-Series tools are described as a more premium lineup of mechanics tools and general purpose tools aimed at professionals – and other demanding users.
This is GOOD NEWS.
Some of you are pooh-poohing the new lineup, but it’s a good move by Stanley Black Decker, and a good move for us as users.
Many of the new Craftsman V-Series tools give off a Facom-like vibe. This is GOOD NEWS. Facom tools are usually very nicely designed and user-centric. Facom quality tools under Craftsman branding would be great.
What has Craftsman done in the past 3-1/2 years to change things up? Lowe’s revamped their mechanics tools and hand tool sections a couple of years ago, and what exciting new developments have we seen since then? Where’s the innovation? Where’s the uniqueness?
Here’s a look at our Craftsman tool coverage. Not much has captured my attention over the past few years.
With limited sales opportunities outside of Lowe’s, what could we have expected to see?
Now we have V-Series, a line of tools seemingly targeting more demanding and discerning users who don’t shop solely based on price, and nobody wants to give Craftsman a chance?
Isn’t this what we wanted?
I know some of you are going to say that what you really want are USA-made Craftsman tools, and I want that too. Those are still on the way.
Regarding the upcoming USA-made tools, if users want premium USA-made tools at their typical pricing, doesn’t Proto already fill this need? If users want mid-level USA-made tools at mid-level pricing, is that what we’re going to see and get? We don’t know enough about Craftsman’s USA production plans to judge the V-Series tools in any such context.
Back to the big question. What would you do differently?
Would I make any changes to the V-Series launch? Maybe? Some of the prices seem a little high, but let’s see how we feel about this in a month or two. Frankly, I rarely trust fourth quarter introductory pricing.
For the ratchets, I might have went with a different head design, as all of the new ratchets I’ve seen so far seem to have sealed heads. Some users like to be able to repair their ratchets with replacement parts, and others like to be able to open things up to adjust gear lubrication to their content. But, there’s still the potential for this down the road. The current ratchets have fantastic handle designs, I’ll give them that.
Craftsman sent over a small sampling of their new V-Series tools, and so far I’m impressed. The sockets seem superior to my Sears-era Craftsman sets, and there’s a good chance the ratcheting wrenches will quickly earned my favor. I own Facom combination wrenches and Proto ratcheting wrenches, and the new Craftsman design seems to fit right at home with them design-wise.
The launch pricing still seems a little high to me, but quality-wise, this is exactly what we’ve been asking for.
A couple of weeks ago, before we learned about V-Series, these are the types of tools I’d say Craftsman needed to make and offer at affordable pricing. So what I do differently at Craftsman right now? Not a damn thing. They are finally on a track that stops at my station. This isn’t a guarantee they won’t disappoint, but it’s reason to be hopeful and optimistic.