I was at my local Home Depot yesterday, picking up a couple of new tools and scoping out the holiday sales displays, when I stopped by the Crescent adjustable wrenches.
There was a 6″ and 10″ combo pack, and what caught my attention was the USA printed on the handles. Hmm, that must be NOS (new old stock), I thought.
So I checked the 8″ wrench. Made in USA.
Okay, maybe it was a fluke and that wrench was also from older inventory. So I checked some of the other wrenches nearby. Made in USA, USA, USA, China. The 10″ wrench was made in China. But, after rifling through, I saw that there were USA-made ones on the peg behind the 2 made-in-China ones.
Why is this important enough to post about? Well, here’s a bit of history:
Prior to Jan 2012: Crescent-branded adjustable wrenches were made in USA and they were inexpensive. They weren’t that great, but they were still decently built.
Jan 2012: New made-in-China crescent adjustable wrenches appeared in stores. Crescent maintained USA production for military and industrial supply channels, but retail market Crescent wrenches were to be made in China.
I bought one of the new wrenches and there were very subtle differences in their designs. It really wasn’t bad for an imported wrench.
Nov 2013: I spotted made-in-USA Crescent wrenches at the local Home Depot. Lots of them. A quick shake-test shows that these wrenches rattle a lot less than older USA-made ones. In general, less rattling reflects a greater quality adjustable wrench.
I bought one of the 8-inch wrenches, and so if I can dig up an older ~2011 USA Crescent adjustable wrench, I’ll do a comparison. For now, my initial assessment is that the new wrenches are decent, and at least good enough for the money. They cost more than the older USA-made wrenches, but not any more than recent China-made ones.
The model numbers are different – the USA-made 8-inch wrench is AC18CVSML, and the China-made 8-inch one is AC28CVS.
In these images, a 10-inch wrench is on the left, and 8-inch on the right. Afterwards I noticed there were made-in-China 8-inch wrenches way back behind a couple of USA-made ones, but disturbing the display to reach for them would not have made the comparison any clearer. Plus, my left arm was already busy holding a couple of things.
It is perhaps important to mention that this was all at the same Northeast Home Depot location.
Why is this significant? Well, it’s not, at least in the grand scheme of things. But I figured this was something interesting to report about. It interests me, and I know it will interest some of you. Plus, I want all of the product managers and wholesale tool buyers out there to know that yes, some consumers DO take notice when products’ manufacturing origins change.
Apex Tool Group has outsourced a lot of tools in recent years, including most if not all of the wrenches, ratchets, and sockets they make for Craftsman. It’s nice to see a step in the reverse direction every now and then.