Author Topic: Craftsman Tools' Future  (Read 9215 times)

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Offline corrado33

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Craftsman Tools' Future
« on: May 27, 2014, 05:25:58 pm »
This thread stems from the Wiha screwdrivers thread.

I had an interesting discussion with a friend of mine the other day about Craftsman tools. For the record, I have no idea if these tools are offered overseas or not. They're Sears brand tools. Sears hasn't been doing well in the states for years. With the advent of online shopping and places like Wal-Mart selling tools as well, Sears stores have been getting less and less frequent and often smaller.

The great thing about Craftsman tools is that they have a lifetime replacement warranty. They don't even ask you why the tool is broken. You take it in, ask for another one and walk out with a brand new identical tool. However, if Sears doesn't survive, what will happen to Craftsman tools? Will people still buy them? (If they're offered somewhere else.) How do they compare to other tools that don't have lifetime replacement warranties? Would you buy them if they didn't have a lifetime warranty?

I personally own a lot of the "Craftsman Professional" series. (Mainly screwdrivers and wrenches.) They come with the same warranty but are a bit more ergonomic and handle better. I've never had any problems with them and really enjoy using them. They're probably not as high quality as my brother's multitude of Snap On sets, but they're still really nice.

Anyway, thoughts?
 

Offline kolonelkadat

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Re: Craftsman Tools' Future
« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2014, 06:12:59 pm »
Let it be known, I hate sears. I have an axe to grind with them, so my opinion is far from objective.

Craftsmen tools arent bad I guess, and they are certainly better than the single use tools that lowes sells. (single use meaning it breaks after the first use). But why in the world would I shop at sears when I could buy better quality stuff somewhere else for around the same price?

If I want tools, theres snapon.
If I want chainsaws, theres stihl.
if I want lawnmowers, theres husqvarna.
If I want kitchen appliances, theres whirlpool.
If I want clothes, theres a local haberdashery and tailor.

For me, the "lifetime replacement" isnt a selling point since I typically either buy quality tools that dont break or buy cheap tools I intend to throw away or give away when im done using them. 

End of the day, if a tool breaks, Im either happy with the performance I got from it and am therefore happy to give the company that made it more of my money so they stick around, or I am dissatisfied and do not wish to use that companys products any longer.

 

Offline benjamin545

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Re: Craftsman Tools' Future
« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2014, 09:28:51 pm »
sears wouldn't be doing so bad if they would just fire all those goddamn floor salesmen, and get rid of the consumer electronics department. who would ever go to sears and buy a tv? you can get a better tv somewhere else for cheaper. their clothing doesn't seem too bad, and they are pretty decent prices. the problem with sears is they just don't advertise themselves. they merged with k-mart a few years ago and ever since then it seems they are becoming just as boring as k-mart. they have a lot of good products, they have all the makings to be THE place to go for reliable no questions asked home appliances and home tools. but as they currently are, people just don't have it in their head to associate sears with long term affordable home goods. if anything they are known for being the butt of a joke.

sears are often located in malls, and honestly, with the general attitude of malls nowadays, if i were sears i would be doing everything i could to get out of the malls, same goes for radio shack.

malls are where you go to see boring overpriced store after boring overpriced store. want to see some crap that you find in unwanted advert mags for way more money than its ever worth? go to the mall. want to buy a $50 shirt with some other douche's name on it? go to the mall. want to buy your wife something special that wont make her look any less fat than she is? go to the mall.

sears has a good potential customer, the problem s that they wont go to sears, its that they wont go to where sears is.
"But what about k-mart, they aren't doing any better either" ya well k-mart sucks, and if you can find one it feels like walking into the early 90's, and nobody wants that.
 

Offline SirNick

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Re: Craftsman Tools' Future
« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2014, 09:38:03 pm »
Hm, management that lost its direction and left the franchise to drown in a sea of apathy.  Gee, there's a song we haven't all heard a thousand times before...

Pretty much spot on, and that's unfortunate.  All it would take is someone at the top with an interest in seeing the brand thrive to turn things around.  Sears is potentially in a market space that isn't in immediate danger of being taken over by the Internet.  I know I won't be ordering a table saw or washing machine from Amazon any time soon.

But, as it stands, walking through a Sears is a depressing experience.  The sense of impending doom permeates through the place.  I went in the other day to look for a sprinkler and some car wheel ramps.  Left with neither.
 

Offline deth502

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Re: Craftsman Tools' Future
« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2014, 12:55:41 am »
i have quite a few craftsman tools. they are not bad. i wouldnt call them the best, but not bad.

k-mart used to carry "benchtop" brand tools. imo, some of the best tools ever. i was so upset when kmart bought out sears and started selling shitty craftsman tools and stopped the benchtop brand.

there used to be a kmart by me, it closed years ago. when they were there, i bought some benchtop tools there that touted a lifetime warranty, but that dosent necessarily mean shit if they dont stand behind them. i bought some tools just to try them out. i tried like hell to break them, just so i could see how they treated the warranty, for YEARS. i have NEVER broken a benchtop tool, even when i was trying to. craftsman tools i break all the time.

those are my thoughts on craftsman tools. im certainly not a fan-boy, ive got my issues wth them, but i still think they are near the top in the value category in price-vs-quality.
 

Offline benjamin545

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Re: Craftsman Tools' Future
« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2014, 01:16:35 am »
craftsman USE to be really dependable tools, they have always been a re-branding of some other companies tools, but it use to be a really quality tool, then 15-20 years ago they started to use the same manufacturer that now also sells all the home depot husky, lowes kobolt, and other common cheapy store lifetime warranty stuff. not that it was probably craftsman that first did this, and a LOT of people in pro trades and home users would often cite the replacement warranty as the reason they bought craftsman, not necessarily the quality. so when sears switched to crappier tools, they probably saved a ton on cost, but probably didn't see that much increase in people who actually broke something and bothered to take it back. a lot of people that buy craftsman are just home DIY guys who use it infrequently.

thats why now you cant hardly buy a tool without the store just handing you a new one if it breaks. it just doesn't cost them that much but a lot of people hear that "lifetime warranty" and drop all reason to buy anything else.

if we do some math, lets say i sell a tool for $10.00 but it costs $5.00 to make with quality. if someone breaks it once, and i replace it, i still have a loss in the cost of doing business,
if i now drop the quality so it costs $3.00 to make it, i can replace it TWICE and still break even.

so it becomes a no brainier to just sell garbage and replace garbage with more garbage if the customer brakes the first one.

with that being said, craftsman can still have some quality tools out there, not everything is cheap crap. but i will say that they often keep re-badging or re-releasing their tools, one year the socket might look one way, the next year they might be very different almost as if they are just slapping their name on whatever thing they can find cheap for this year. they might be a 10 piece kit this year, next year its an 11 piece kit, next year its an 8 and 12 piece kit it just doesn't give the "long Lasting" feel when you dont see the same thing on the shelf for very long.
 

Online edavid

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Re: Craftsman Tools' Future
« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2014, 04:09:33 am »
However, if Sears doesn't survive, what will happen to Craftsman tools? Will people still buy them? (If they're offered somewhere else.)

They are already offered in other stores than Sears, and Sears has taken some steps to be able to sell its brands:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Craftsman_%28tools%29
 

Offline nanofrog

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Re: Craftsman Tools' Future
« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2014, 04:17:07 am »
Craftsman sources most of their tools from Apex (formerly Danaher, and these portions were rolled into Apex, which most recently sold to Bain Capital). Think Armstrong for example, as they're also part of Apex, and produce most of the hard line tools (US made, such as wrenches, ratchets, and sockets prior to shifting production to China). Quality has been dropping for some time, including the US made products (high point was in the '90's in terms of quality IME). A few would be sourced from others as well, such as Western Forge for screwdrivers (owned by Ideal), Lisle and a few others here and there. So generally speaking, older Craftsman are more desirable in terms of reliability/quality.

Husky is made by Stanley.

Old (1st gen) Kobalt was made by Williams (currently owned by Snap-On). 2nd gen by Apex IIRC, and currently by a mix of primarily Asian suppliers (couple of US suppliers on singles, while sets tend to be out of China, Taiwan if you're lucky). Screwdrivers would be an example, and the quality differences are notable from what I've seen from the various COO's while browsing the shelves at Lowes.

If you're after alternative brands that are US made that aren't Snap-On prices, you might want to take a look at Wright, Proto, JH Williams (some are US, some are Taiwan, but both are good), and SK (excellent value these days IMHO). Warranty wouldn't be as easy to deal with (likely means physical mail), but you're not likely to break them all that often, especially if you're not abusing them.

Taiwan, Japan, Germany, and Czech Republic (Wera) make some excellent tools as well, and not all are super expensive (Japanese brands seem to be an excellent value IMHO; Rakuten is a good source to get them).

Lots of information over on Garage Journal if you're interested (DIY'ers & pro mechanics post).
 

Offline deth502

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Re: Craftsman Tools' Future
« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2014, 07:49:42 pm »

If you're after alternative brands that are US made that aren't Snap-On prices, you might want to take a look at Wright, Proto, JH Williams (some are US, some are Taiwan, but both are good), and SK (excellent value these days IMHO). Warranty wouldn't be as easy to deal with (likely means physical mail), but you're not likely to break them all that often, especially if you're not abusing them.


never heard of the other brands offered, but i do have some sk tools and they are decent quality. just slightly over craftsman prices.   :-+

also... so its not my imagination that things have gotten shittier lately. ive seen "name brand" tools lately of such a poor quality as ive never seen before. ive already went to stores with intentions of buying a certain tool/set untill i saw them, and walked out empty handed.
 

Offline jlmoon

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Re: Craftsman Tools' Future
« Reply #9 on: May 28, 2014, 08:22:20 pm »
Good tools today -- Check out NAPA, they are almost as good as MATCO or PROTO tools.
Much more accurate than Craftsman equivalent.
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Offline skipjackrc4

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Re: Craftsman Tools' Future
« Reply #10 on: May 28, 2014, 08:41:03 pm »
When DeWalt and Porter Cable start selling crap tools, you know you're in trouble.  I've never seen any bad Milwaukee tools, though.  Yet...
 

Offline nanofrog

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Re: Craftsman Tools' Future
« Reply #11 on: May 28, 2014, 09:00:52 pm »
never heard of the other brands offered, but i do have some sk tools and they are decent quality. just slightly over craftsman prices.   :-+
Probably forgot a few, but the others I can think of are more specialty oriented/focus on specific product lines, such as Mayhew (known for chisels and pry bars for example), Pratt-Read for screwdrivers, and Wilde for pliers.

Might want to check out Harry J Epstein. Not the prettiest or easiest website to use, but they're worth a look for good prices on quality tools IMHO (service is good too).  ;)

also... so its not my imagination that things have gotten shittier lately. ive seen "name brand" tools lately of such a poor quality as ive never seen before. ive already went to stores with intentions of buying a certain tool/set untill i saw them, and walked out empty handed.
I've seen it too, and it really makes me angry on the top end (I can understand and accept it with no-name brands sourcing from the cheapest supplier, but less so as you go up in brand reputation, and particularly find such practices reprehensible when intentionally purchasing top tier quality tools, and end up with overpriced crap).

Lindstrom is a perfect example IMHO. Snap-on hasn't put sufficient quality back into the brand for it's segment/price structure IMHO (have a pair made in Spain <Rx8140>, and they're not as good as the Swedish made pairs that sold for less). The finish is a little rougher, they flex with their rated wire sizes enough I'm afraid one of the handle's will snap off (biggest issue by far), and the handles don't grip my hands as well as they should. Especially when others that sell for less than half, do a better job.  |O

So I grab either Tronex or Swanstrom most of the time (perform well, and most comfortable in my hands). Erem ergo versions I have also work extremely well cutting wise, but slip enough I don't use them as often as I might if they had foam grips (didn't know any better when I bought them).

Good tools today -- Check out NAPA, they are almost as good as MATCO or PROTO tools.
Much more accurate than Craftsman equivalent.
IIRC, they're also made by Apex (link just to see how many brand names they own, and they ODM for others like Sears' Craftsman brand which aren't listed).  :o  :P
 

Online tom66

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Re: Craftsman Tools' Future
« Reply #12 on: May 28, 2014, 10:16:44 pm »
Good news is you can still trust quality American names from Harbour Freight like Chicago  Electric...

...

R ...right guys?
 

Offline corrado33

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Re: Craftsman Tools' Future
« Reply #13 on: May 28, 2014, 10:48:19 pm »
Harbor Freight...

Known for **cough cough** when you want to buy things then throw it away after you use it **cough cough** I mean "quality."
 

Offline saturation

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Re: Craftsman Tools' Future
« Reply #14 on: May 29, 2014, 12:15:27 am »
Craftsman hand tools that are made in USA are still very good but their focus is automotive and home repair.  Sears blundered by using the Craftsman name on very poorly made tools and cases that are easily spotted as there is no USA mark on the tool.  However, if you don't notice it, and just rely on the brand name, you can be very disappointed. 


Best Wishes,

 Saturation
 

Offline deth502

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Re: Craftsman Tools' Future
« Reply #15 on: May 29, 2014, 12:40:49 am »
When DeWalt and Porter Cable start selling crap tools, you know you're in trouble.  I've never seen any bad Milwaukee tools, though.  Yet...
in my experience.....


i remember way back in the day black&decker and dewalt were shit tools. but b&d also had a "professional" division, and those power tools were decent quality. then im assuming there was a merger of sorts. the b&d professional tools disappeared, and were replaced by the same tools with a different color and branded as dewalt. and they were decent tools. dewalt tools quality as of lately seems to have been slipping a bit, but they are still not bad.

porter cable, otoh, always used to be near the top in quality, but in the last few years has just plummeted off a cliff in terms of quality. ive heard the hitachi tools that are showing up now is actually porter cables "cheaper" line. scary thought.
 

Offline John Coloccia

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Re: Craftsman Tools' Future
« Reply #16 on: May 29, 2014, 02:33:48 am »
Craftsman hand tools that are made in USA are still very good but their focus is automotive and home repair.  Sears blundered by using the Craftsman name on very poorly made tools and cases that are easily spotted as there is no USA mark on the tool.  However, if you don't notice it, and just rely on the brand name, you can be very disappointed.

Bingo.  My Craftsmen wrenches and sockets are GREAT.  Very high quality, I abuse them and I think I've only broken one socket my entire life.  It was abused, believe me, and they replaced it no questions asked.  The new ones seem just as nice as the 20 year old one it replaced.

But there is a lot of GARBAGE with the Craftsman name out there.  Some of their screwdrivers are just absolutely useless.  I use Wera for screwdrivers now.  I can't believe how crappy the Craftsman ones I got are.

re: Harbor Freight
Here's an absolute gem at Harbor Freight, and about the only thing worth buying in the whole place:

http://www.harborfreight.com/44-in-13-drawer-glossy-red-industrial-roller-cabinet-68784.html

For all the garbage they import, this line of tool chests is pretty good quality!  I have one.  It compares favorably to some of the Craftsman chests I have, though my heavy duty Craftsman are better and can hold far more weight.  Neither really competes with Snap-On, but they're a tiny fraction of the cost.

I would buy that chest again.  I think I got it on sale for even less...maybe $200 or $250.  It's really a steal for what you get.
 

Offline skipjackrc4

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Re: Craftsman Tools' Future
« Reply #17 on: May 29, 2014, 03:22:46 am »
Here's an absolute gem at Harbor Freight, and about the only thing worth buying in the whole place:

http://www.harborfreight.com/44-in-13-drawer-glossy-red-industrial-roller-cabinet-68784.html

For all the garbage they import, this line of tool chests is pretty good quality!  I have one.  It compares favorably to some of the Craftsman chests I have, though my heavy duty Craftsman are better and can hold far more weight.  Neither really competes with Snap-On, but they're a tiny fraction of the cost.

I would buy that chest again.  I think I got it on sale for even less...maybe $200 or $250.  It's really a steal for what you get.

I've got a pair of their side cabinets under my electronics bench.  Absolutely worth every penny, and then some. 
 

Offline SeanB

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Re: Craftsman Tools' Future
« Reply #18 on: May 29, 2014, 06:27:08 am »
I buy Gedore, and they are a lot better than any others for the price. Snap On is about 3 times more, but just shiny, and breaks at about the same stress.

Gedore, where you can have a socket with 1in drive, on a power bar and a 6m cheater bar with another person hanging off the end, and it will undo the nut. If you break the power bar so long as there are no hammer marks on it there is a lifetime guarantee. I have never broken a socket, though quite a few of the cheaper ones have split but never the Gedore. Even the ones ground down to make a thin wall version ( not a common stock item with Gedore) last well.

Only thing without a warranty are the flogging spanners, where they are not sure just how big a hammer you will use to do the persuasion.
 

Offline G7PSK

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Re: Craftsman Tools' Future
« Reply #19 on: May 29, 2014, 07:55:27 am »
Craftsman brand tools are available in the UK through Amazon,not that I have tried them. Snap on tools are way overpriced sold off vans to the garage trade and not that good, Proto tools are more used in industry. I now tend to pick and choose between brands depending on the build quality of the individual and the work to be done.
 

Offline Stonent

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Re: Craftsman Tools' Future
« Reply #20 on: May 29, 2014, 09:00:38 am »
Good news is you can still trust quality American names from Harbour Freight like Chicago  Electric...

...

R ...right guys?

Yes, when I think of things done right, Chicago is always first on my mind. :)
The larger the government, the smaller the citizen.
 

Offline corrado33

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Re: Craftsman Tools' Future
« Reply #21 on: May 29, 2014, 04:48:35 pm »
Snap on tools are way overpriced sold off vans to the garage trade and not that good, Proto tools are more used in industry.

Snap on may be overpriced, but they make some of the nicest toolboxes I've ever seen. My brother has a custom made set of Snap on boxes and you can stand on the thinnest drawers and they still slide with no problem. (While you're standing on it.) It was the first thing he showed me the first time I saw the toolbox.

I am in love with his tool boxes. Maybe one day.
 

Offline SeanB

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Re: Craftsman Tools' Future
« Reply #22 on: May 29, 2014, 04:56:42 pm »
At the price of that Snap on toolbox I would be extremely annoyed if it did not. The clones are not as good there.
 

Offline deth502

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Re: Craftsman Tools' Future
« Reply #23 on: May 29, 2014, 09:06:49 pm »
imo, snap on has gotten a great reputation because all of the "professionals" use them, so they must be the best, right?? but the garages dont necessarily use them because they are top quality, they use them because of the convenience. that big truck stops by 2-3 times a week and replaces all of the tools you broke. saves them the time of driving a half hour or more to sears every time something breaks, and time is money. and, when you need that special tool, no need to run to the store, the guy in the big truck has one outside. convince.

all of that goes away for the casual user/shade tree mechanic. the truck is not going to stop at your house. to the average person they have absolutely no added value for all of that inflated price.
 

Offline nanofrog

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Re: Craftsman Tools' Future
« Reply #24 on: May 29, 2014, 11:10:23 pm »
Plenty of industrial brands out there that will equal or exceed Snap-on, and it costs less (also applies to MAC, MATCO, and Cornwell, which are also sold via a truck model). Just not as convenient for a professional mechanic, but just dandy for factories/industrial maintenance applications. Or the DIY'er that wants quality tools on a lower budget.
 


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