Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

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Helo80
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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by Helo80 » Sun May 17, 2020 8:13 am

I have mixed feelings about this thread and have a few comments for some on here that could be my father or grandfather...

Largely, the reasons why Craftsman (in general, but not specifically Craftsman) tools have declined is you all.

My aunt has a microwave she bought in the '70s. It still works to this day. She also paid hundreds of dollars for it (I want to say the first consumer microwaves were like $1,000) and this was in the '70s. Now, I can get a functional microwave for $40 at Walmart. Is it going to last for 50 years? No. But, maybe you can go find a $1000 microwave in today's market that will survive a nuclear bomb if that's the spec you want.

Some of the first HP LaserJet printers from like 1990... those old, yellowed out ones that still work like a champ 30 years later and have a full catalog of serviceable parts.... those were like $1400 to $2000, again, in 1990 dollars, and largely bought by schools, government, and businesses. I paid $20 for a refurbished, personal Canon laser printer from Newegg about 5 years ago.

The costs of many things we buy is under a severe price assault by consumers.

Snap-On and Mac still make great tools... though I've heard some of their tools are Chinesium now.... but, most of us do not have incomes that rely on shop tools and the price difference between Snap-On/Mac and Kobalt/Husky/Craftsman/etc. leads us to buying the latter.

BLUF -- You can often still buy quality products in 2020, but you have to pay for them and cannot expect bottom tier Walmart pricing for a product that is expected to last a lifetime.


====================================================================
One more thing, when I see >50 YOA men complaining about cars "not being made like they used to be", I thank God for that because so much pre-2000 was just absolute junk and certainly crashed far worse than what we have today. People get nostalgic about the olden days and forget how dangerous car crashes and crumble zones were.
Last edited by Helo80 on Sun May 17, 2020 8:28 am, edited 2 times in total.

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tainted-meat
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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by tainted-meat » Sun May 17, 2020 8:17 am

I have a Napa toolset that says made in USA and works well for my needs. I bought it almost 20 years ago so not sure if they are still made in USA or not.

Helo80
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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by Helo80 » Sun May 17, 2020 8:20 am

Iowa David wrote:
Sat May 16, 2020 7:09 am
I’ve slowly acquired a vast set of Craftsman hand tools over the last 20 years and have generally felt like their quality was perfectly fine for consumer use.

....
As petty as it sounds, I like my stuff to match and don’t like the idea of having oddball tool brands mixed, but is there a good quality/value hand tool brand that you would recommend as an alternative?

As others have chimed in, Snap-On and MAC tools are still great.... but, you'll pay a price premium for it and they're more for people whose income relies on turning a wrench.... not consumers. Please see my post above as to why your perception that stuff has gone downhill.

Helo80
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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by Helo80 » Sun May 17, 2020 8:21 am

FRANK2009 wrote:
Sat May 16, 2020 7:44 am
Harbor Freight seems pretty good for a consumer. I do all sorts of work on the car with their tools. No complaints.
In all honesty, their stuff is solid for home consumers. I usually buy their impact sockets and have yet to have one fail on me. It's difficult to beat their price, and for my minimal needs, they all work really well.

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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by n00b » Sun May 17, 2020 8:33 am

Another path to savings while having a good experience is to save money on items with no moving parts and spend it on ratchets.

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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by brcarls » Sun May 17, 2020 9:48 am

Helo80 wrote:
Sun May 17, 2020 8:20 am
As others have chimed in, Snap-On and MAC tools are still great.... but, you'll pay a price premium for it and they're more for people whose income relies on turning a wrench.... not consumers. Please see my post above as to why your perception that stuff has gone downhill.
Also keep in mine that while many of their tools are high quality, their primary business model is not about selling tools. The tool trucks are really predatory lending businesses which target people who are poorly uneducated when it comes to money.

sport
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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by sport » Sun May 17, 2020 9:55 am

boomer_techie wrote:
Sun May 17, 2020 12:12 am
Craftsman hand tools used to be made domestically at a variety of places.
I have some Craftsman pliers that I bought a Sears a long time ago. They were made in France. The quality is what you expected from Craftsman at that time.

Helo80
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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by Helo80 » Sun May 17, 2020 10:07 am

brcarls wrote:
Sun May 17, 2020 9:48 am
Helo80 wrote:
Sun May 17, 2020 8:20 am
As others have chimed in, Snap-On and MAC tools are still great.... but, you'll pay a price premium for it and they're more for people whose income relies on turning a wrench.... not consumers. Please see my post above as to why your perception that stuff has gone downhill.
Also keep in mine that while many of their tools are high quality, their primary business model is not about selling tools. The tool trucks are really predatory lending businesses which target people who are poorly uneducated when it comes to money.


Yes, I have heard the horror stories. They go to ASE mechanic schools and get people to spend $5,000 plus in tools.... and then said people drop out or fail out and are on the hook for expensive stuff.

tibbitts
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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by tibbitts » Sun May 17, 2020 10:14 am

ubermax wrote:
Sat May 16, 2020 12:46 pm
bob60014 wrote:
Sat May 16, 2020 7:22 am
Buy them used! Knowing the quality has diminished, Ive bought the bulk of my older Craftsmans hand tools at garage sales and more recently on Facebook Marketplace. Not as convenient as shopping at the store or Amazon, but I watch for estate type sales, clearing dads stuff and the like. It amazing the great stuff that's out there, cheap too.
+1 , I agree , and I think a lot of the responses were good advise , German made (Solingen steel) , Snap On , and some of the power tool makers like Milwaukee , etc. - I still have Craftsman hand tools with a metal toolbox that are at least 45 years old and a Porter Cable router and circular saw that go back a few years and think I still might have a Disston hand saw that's worth a few bucks to someone - buying Chinese today is like it was buying Japanese back in the 50's , the connotation was cheap and poor quality - it's a bottom line world today unfortunately .
As for circular saws I'm not so sure. The blade brake was a significant safety upgrade. Modern circular saw with blade brake vs. older "higher quality" model without one? Not a clear choice.

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Sandtrap
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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by Sandtrap » Sun May 17, 2020 10:24 am

Years ago, I took a Very Old jammed Craftsmen 1/2 inch drive ratchet back to Sears for free replacement. The “new” ratchet was lousy with vague “clicks” and sloppy controls.

I still have a “Penske” 3/8 drive ratchet bought from JC Penney back in the day. Quality is outstanding. Gear clicks are very fine and good for tight spaces.

Cheap tools are not good “Tool Therapy” although stuff from Harbor Freight still gets the job done.
Have a set of Harbor Freight 1/2 drive impact “Torx Sticks” that work fine and the price was great.

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mc2
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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by mc2 » Sun May 17, 2020 12:45 pm

I have a variety of tools. Old USA craftsmen which are nice, a few sets of tekton sockets pretty nice, Ace hardware pliers from 15-20 years ago-very nice, knipex needlenose and wire cutters-awesome! My SK screwdrivers are very nice also.

Seriously, I suggest you get the best tool for your job regardless of whether it matches your current set. I’m a son of a mechanic and largely grew up with snap on and I do a fair amount of moto and bike work, have a very dear friend who is an engineer and vintage moto guy and all of us have a variety of brands.

JoinToday
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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by JoinToday » Sun May 17, 2020 1:04 pm

I have purchased some Sunex socket sets and a Sunex impact driver (pneumatic). Happy so far.

I also have some 40 year old Craftsman 12 point socket sets, but wanted deep 6 point impact sockets. This is what got me started on Sunex

I like having the socket sets in a case so it is easy to see what is missing at the end of a job. I haven't lost any yet
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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by valleyrock » Sun May 17, 2020 1:26 pm

London wrote:
Sat May 16, 2020 1:01 pm
Completely serious question; what makes Snap On tools worth the premium? I do a reasonable amount of small engine work with Home Depot tools and have never had an issue but perhaps I don’t know what I’m missing with a more high end brand?
Years ago I had a job that resulted in my receiving a Snap On calendar. This was a very nice calendar, helping with their brand.

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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by sport » Sun May 17, 2020 1:37 pm

London wrote:
Sat May 16, 2020 1:01 pm
Completely serious question; what makes Snap On tools worth the premium? I do a reasonable amount of small engine work with Home Depot tools and have never had an issue but perhaps I don’t know what I’m missing with a more high end brand?
I once asked a mechanic why he preferred Snap On tools over Craftsman. He told me that the handles on the Snap On wrenches were smooth, and the Craftsman handles have a protruding lug. He said that when you use them all day long, that lug irritates your hand and he did not have that problem with the smooth Snap On wrenches.

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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by Teague » Sun May 17, 2020 7:41 pm

Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Sat May 16, 2020 1:54 pm
Snap on makes very good tools. I have a couple (found both at various times on the road during my walk). There's a shop on my street and I still see the Snap On and Mac trucks there from time to time. My mechanic friends tell me that advantage of Snap On is that you can get that needed tool RIGHT NOW with the truck there and pay for it over time.
Yep, that's the way it worked some decades ago for me. The Snap-On truck would roll up, and it was hard to resist those really good and pretty tools when you only had to make a small down payment. Also, the lifetime warranty came to you, rather than having to go to a store to get a replacement. Used your 12V test light as a pry bar and now it looks like a corkscrew? No problem, here's a brand new one. Wore out your screwdriver tip from years of use? Here you go. Aviation shears not razor sharp after a few years? Replaced, no questions asked. Not sure if those policies are still that liberal.
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sport
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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by sport » Sun May 17, 2020 10:12 pm

I once spoke to a Snap On sales person. He said that his franchise and inventory was his retirement plan. Whenever he got a bonus from Snap On, it was in the form of inventory. When we was ready to retire, he could sell the franchise, the truck, and all the tools in his inventory. Apparently, that added up to a large amount.

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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by alfaspider » Mon May 18, 2020 8:58 am

sport wrote:
Sun May 17, 2020 1:37 pm
London wrote:
Sat May 16, 2020 1:01 pm
Completely serious question; what makes Snap On tools worth the premium? I do a reasonable amount of small engine work with Home Depot tools and have never had an issue but perhaps I don’t know what I’m missing with a more high end brand?
I once asked a mechanic why he preferred Snap On tools over Craftsman. He told me that the handles on the Snap On wrenches were smooth, and the Craftsman handles have a protruding lug. He said that when you use them all day long, that lug irritates your hand and he did not have that problem with the smooth Snap On wrenches.
Craftsman makes a variety of ratchets, and not all of them have a protruding lug- in fact none of my Craftsman ratchets do. Part of the problem with Craftsman is that they sold both high and low quality items side by side at vastly different price points without any differentiation. You could buy a very high quality 84 tooth ratchet for $35 that was USA made, or a total piece of junk that came with an entire socket set for $20. Both branded Craftsman, no way to know the difference other than pricing.

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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by tibbitts » Mon May 18, 2020 9:18 am

alfaspider wrote:
Mon May 18, 2020 8:58 am
sport wrote:
Sun May 17, 2020 1:37 pm
London wrote:
Sat May 16, 2020 1:01 pm
Completely serious question; what makes Snap On tools worth the premium? I do a reasonable amount of small engine work with Home Depot tools and have never had an issue but perhaps I don’t know what I’m missing with a more high end brand?
I once asked a mechanic why he preferred Snap On tools over Craftsman. He told me that the handles on the Snap On wrenches were smooth, and the Craftsman handles have a protruding lug. He said that when you use them all day long, that lug irritates your hand and he did not have that problem with the smooth Snap On wrenches.
Craftsman makes a variety of ratchets, and not all of them have a protruding lug- in fact none of my Craftsman ratchets do. Part of the problem with Craftsman is that they sold both high and low quality items side by side at vastly different price points without any differentiation. You could buy a very high quality 84 tooth ratchet for $35 that was USA made, or a total piece of junk that came with an entire socket set for $20. Both branded Craftsman, no way to know the difference other than pricing.
That's very true, although in earlier times the sets contained the same tools that were sold individually. At least when I was commonly buying tools there were always two levels of Craftsman ratchets, but all back then were USA-made and seemingly high quality. They just had different features (number of teeth, etc.) Set would all contain one or the other. Since then it seems at any given time there are almost infinite variations on "Craftsman" tools at any given time.

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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by wfrobinette » Mon May 18, 2020 10:34 am

Housedoc wrote:
Sat May 16, 2020 7:15 am
I have switched to Home Depot and Lowe's branded hand tools. Lifetime warranty and when HD goes bankrupt I will have bigger issues than free tool replacement.
Lowes is now pushing Craftsman hard.

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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by wfrobinette » Mon May 18, 2020 10:41 am

jeep5ter wrote:
Sat May 16, 2020 9:19 am
Look at the tool itself. If it says Made in USA, or Made in Germany, it will be of acceptable quality. If it says Made in China it won't.
FWIW, I have 25 yo made in China wrench set I won at a county fair game that's still doing what its supposed to do. I'll caveat that I am a simple homeowner doing simple tasks. Frankly, I've never had a tool break on me. Now if I could just keep from leaving them somewhere besides the tool chest.

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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by illumination » Mon May 18, 2020 1:56 pm

I'm a tool junkie, most of my hand tools are older American-made Craftsman. I agree Craftsman fell off a cliff a while ago and stopped buying.

If I had to start all over on hand tools, I would probably go with GearWrench for most wrenches, sockets, ratchets, etc. I've been impressed with them across the board, honestly think it's better than my American Craftsman.
But Knipex for all pliers, Wiha for screwdrivers, Milwaukee Fuel for battery powered tools.

None of them warranty as easy as Craftsman back in the day, but truthfully my total warranty claims over a lifetime have been trivial.

I have some Snap-On, it's quality stuff, but I could only see the value if you actually need regular service at work. You really overpay for their distribution and lending model. I can't see many people making the case to spend $1,200 for just a set of wenches.

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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by alfaspider » Mon May 18, 2020 2:10 pm

wfrobinette wrote:
Mon May 18, 2020 10:41 am
jeep5ter wrote:
Sat May 16, 2020 9:19 am
Look at the tool itself. If it says Made in USA, or Made in Germany, it will be of acceptable quality. If it says Made in China it won't.
FWIW, I have 25 yo made in China wrench set I won at a county fair game that's still doing what its supposed to do. I'll caveat that I am a simple homeowner doing simple tasks. Frankly, I've never had a tool break on me. Now if I could just keep from leaving them somewhere besides the tool chest.
An important point: your needs dictate the level of quality you need. If the only thing you are going to do with a set of wrenches is assemble furniture or maybe the occasional brake job, your needs are different from someone who makes a living turning wrenches. For homeowner duty, the China stuff is generally adequate. A professional mechanic who might pound on a wrench with an air impact hammer would be constantly breaking wrenches, or rounding off bolts (costing time, which is money).

Regarding origin: it's not that the Chinese can't make good tools (and there are some high quality Chinese made tools), it's just that manufacturers who've continued to produce in U.S. or Germany can't compete on price, so they generally try and compete on quality instead. Different market segments. Taiwan has some nice middle ground tools between China and US made.

Harbor Freight has actually filled some of the void left by Craftsman between the mass market junk and pro level stuff with their higher end brands. Quality isn't always up to the task, and their comparison between their brands and the high-end is sometimes laughable, but they also have some good solid middle of the road products. Their U.S. General tool boxes are a good example- a nice step above most of what the big box stores sell. I've even seen Harbor Freight toolboxes in dealer service bays.

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4nursebee
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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by 4nursebee » Tue May 19, 2020 6:58 am

For all you tool fans, how do you care for them?

I recall a "mechanic" at work would wipe down each tool after use, spray it with some kind of oil or cleaning spray, then put it back into his tool chest. I am not sure what internet advice to take on how to do this.

I've been working to get rust off old tools, surprised how after a vinegar soak many of my wrenches have finishes that come off. It is coming off in areas where the rust had been, so perhaps the finish was not all that great. Interesting, some of the China stuff came out the best, US and India not so well. What remains will surely rust easily.

I am now looking forward to buying some quality wrenches!
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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by lazydavid » Tue May 19, 2020 7:18 am

4nursebee wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 6:58 am
For all you tool fans, how do you care for them?
I use my wrenches/sockets, wipe them down if I got them covered with grease while using them, then put them back in the box. No special care whatsoever. My Craftsman set (~220 pieces if memory serves) is still in great condition after 25 years of this, with minimal rust, as are other smaller sets (like ratcheting wrenches) that I haven't had nearly that long.

Most of my older needlenose and lineman's pliers (all of which were manufactured without a finish) have surface oxidation, but even after years and years that hasn't progressed into actual rust.

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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by mmcmonster » Tue May 19, 2020 7:26 am

lazydavid wrote:
Sat May 16, 2020 7:35 am
Yeah unfortunately they've been crap for quite a few years now. Like others have said, Husky (Home Depot) and Kobalt (Lowe's) are the modern equivalent of what Craftsman used to be. For power tools, I would say Rigid (Home Depot) is the modern equivalent.
Agree with the Home Depot brands, Rigid and Husky. It's what my local handymen use, so it's what I buy.

Added benefit of being able to go to the local store and browse, talk to knowledgeable staff, and buy.

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TnGuy
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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by TnGuy » Tue May 19, 2020 7:30 am

Teng Tools are very good quality. I enjoy using the ones that I have.

(An example of one of their socket sets - at Amazon)


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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by vineviz » Tue May 19, 2020 8:43 am

4nursebee wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 6:58 am
For all you tool fans, how do you care for them?

I recall a "mechanic" at work would wipe down each tool after use, spray it with some kind of oil or cleaning spray, then put it back into his tool chest. I am not sure what internet advice to take on how to do this.

I've been working to get rust off old tools, surprised how after a vinegar soak many of my wrenches have finishes that come off. It is coming off in areas where the rust had been, so perhaps the finish was not all that great. Interesting, some of the China stuff came out the best, US and India not so well. What remains will surely rust easily.

I am now looking forward to buying some quality wrenches!
Many mechanics will simply wipe down their tools with motor oil or mineral oil (anything that doesn’t oxidize is fine), but I see woodworkers use something like Moovit Penetrating Lubricant for hand tools more often.
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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by ManOfIron35 » Tue May 19, 2020 8:47 am

Laker1 wrote:
Sat May 16, 2020 10:20 am
I use whatever the NAPA store is selling...if one breaks I call them and they will bring me another one or I can exchange when I go into the store...in over 40 years not one single issue. If NAPA Is gone we have a much bigger issue than tools...LOL
Automotive aftermarket light vehicle makes up 2% of the GDP. With new cars becoming more expensive the parts giants aren't going under. You're seeing the consolidation of your local shops but thats about it.

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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by jpelder » Tue May 19, 2020 9:16 am

Helo80 wrote:
Sun May 17, 2020 8:13 am
I have mixed feelings about this thread and have a few comments for some on here that could be my father or grandfather...


BLUF -- You can often still buy quality products in 2020, but you have to pay for them and cannot expect bottom tier Walmart pricing for a product that is expected to last a lifetime.


====================================================================
One more thing, when I see >50 YOA men complaining about cars "not being made like they used to be", I thank God for that because so much pre-2000 was just absolute junk and certainly crashed far worse than what we have today. People get nostalgic about the olden days and forget how dangerous car crashes and crumble zones were.
Your main point is exactly right. Consumer goods are way less expensive as a share of median income now than they used to be. In a lot of cases, the mid-market has been hollowed, as people just want cheap things or super high-quality things.

Your postscript is so accurate. All of the owner-maintainable things in those old cars required lots of tuning, replacement, etc. Most 1950s-1970s US cars were ready for a new engine (or at least a rebuild) by 100,000 miles. My 9-year-old Chevy is at 109,000 miles, and it's only needed regular maintenance and replacement of a few broken non-engine parts. Still runs and drives like new, with no degradation in engine or suspension performance.

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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by apex84 » Tue May 19, 2020 9:36 am

I also have a decent selection of the the older Craftsman tools. Different tools were made by different manufacturers over the years. My 20 year old Craftsman Professional full-polish wrenches were probably made by Armstrong and are my favorite tool from Craftsman. I never really cared for their screwdrivers.

Lowes now sells some US made Craftsman tools.
https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/24/stanley ... brand.html

I don't worry about matching tools, so I've always bought high quality and took advantage of values when I could. About 15 years ago there was an internet dealer that sold Stahlwille (a German brand) for less than many US tools. I wish I'd bought more. Menards had made in US tools for their house brand until recently.

If I were buying tools now, I'd stick to the fancier brands below and buy over time (basically what I did in the past) or stick to whatever is convenient at your home warehouse of choice. For larger sets of tools at a good price, I'd probably go with Tekton and Sunex from Amazon.

I still have some old US tools from the Cooper tools brands that I bought in high school and still use to this day. Plumb hammer, Lufkin tape measure, and Crescent adjustable wrenches.

Brands I like and use:

Channellock still makes tools in the US
Wera for screwdrivers and nicely packaged socket sets, some of the hand tools are bulky so I wouldn't want them as my only set
Knipex for most pliers, both normal patterns and the plier wrench
NWS Ergonomic pliers are nice, mine are rebranded as Irwin
Snap-On for selected tools based on my use due to their cost
old Craftsman - mostly wrenches and some sockets
Stahlwille - great German tools, mostly bought at a discount in the past
Facom - these used to be more widely distributed in the US and were available at a lower cost
Hazet - I don't have many, were always more expensive than Stahlwille and Facom when I bought most of my tools

KC Tool is a great supplier. Chad's Toolbox sometimes has good deals. You can find Wera on Amazon and set a camelcamelcamel alert.
https://www.kctoolco.com
https://chadstoolbox.com/

West of Chicago
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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by West of Chicago » Wed May 20, 2020 9:35 am

sport wrote:
Sat May 16, 2020 10:02 am
SK makes high quality professional hand tools.
+1 for SK. I still have the socket set my grandfather gave me when I was a kid. Back then, you could find SK tools in a lot of local hardware stores.

A few years ago, I bought a set of SK screwdrivers from an online retailer. The set was missing one phillips size and had a duplicate of another in its place. I called SK and they sent me the missing screwdriver for free.

While walking the dog, I once found a 1/2" drive MAC socket wrench on the side of the road. The ratchet mechanism had gotten rusty and didn't want to turn, but the rest of the wrench was fine. I called MAC and got a rebuild kit for it and now use it regularly. I don't think you can rebuild the cheap stuff.

Buy once, cry once.

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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by Toons » Wed May 20, 2020 9:41 am

Kobalt
:mrgreen:
"One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity" –Bruce Lee

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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by Cubicle » Wed May 20, 2020 11:25 pm

Many family members are in trades. Plumbing, electrical, HVAC. They use top end stuff. Klein & Milwaukee tier. They swear by it. Even "fan-girl" over the stuff.

I get all my tools from Walmart (Hypertough!!! hahaha) & Harbor Freight (a mix of all 99 of their brands). I'm a DIY person, but not by trade. I admit I run into troubles. I may need to buy 2 sets of bits/blades to get the job done. But I still don't spend a lot in the end. Maybe it's more over my lifetime, but I'll stay with my "payment plan".

And I like that I have some form of the tool I need, even if it's not the best. Compressor, clamp, drill, saw, sander, etc... I have enough variety to figure out how to get the job done somehow.

The biggest complaint I have is everything on the lower tier could definitely be sharper. And they dull faster than the high end stuff. I have multiple grinding wheels & bench grinders, so that's my hack solution.
"Oh look another bajillion point declin-Ooooh!!! A coupon for pizza!!!!" <--- This is what everyone's IPS should be. ✓✓✓

quaternion
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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by quaternion » Thu May 21, 2020 5:19 am

The good ol' Craftsman tools were often rebranded industrial tools. You can still buy industrial tools... they just don't say "Craftsman" anymore. But, if it says "Made in USA/Germany/Japan/Switzerland/Spain/Italy," you can expect decent quality. Plenty of online suppliers: Harry Epstein, Tooltopia, Toolup, Frank's tools, Chad's Toolbox, german-hand-tools.com, Amazon (check the foreign sites).

A few brands I like:

Most Tools: Proto, SK (also: Williams, Wright, KTC, but I haven't used them personally)
Pliers: Western Forge (used to make many Craftsman tools, check for "WF" stamp, now part of IDEAL/SK), Knipex, NWS
Sockets: Koken
Screwdrivers: PB Swiss, Vessel, Wihi, Wera
Locking ("Vise-grip") pliers: Grip-on pliers (also rebranded by Proto "made in Spain")
Adjustable ("Crescent") wrench: Irega (also rebranded by Channellock "made in in Spain")

Harbor Freight is hit or miss. Some of their products are serviceable for at least occasional use. Others are tool-shaped garbage. And they often switch suppliers without adequate quality control, so who knows what you'll get.

Many German tools (Hazet, Stahlwille, Gedore) are surely nice, but seem overpriced, at least stateside.

Generally, non-pros should skip the tool truck brands. You're paying for the truck service (which is useless to a homeowner not on the truck route). But I do have an ebayed Snap-On ratchet that's awfully nice...

a_movable_life
Posts: 173
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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by a_movable_life » Thu May 21, 2020 6:02 am

quaternion wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 5:19 am


Most Tools: Proto, SK (also: Williams, Wright, KTC, but I haven't used them personally)


Generally, non-pros should skip the tool truck brands. You're paying for the truck service (which is useless to a homeowner not on the truck route). But I do have an ebayed Snap-On ratchet that's awfully nice...
My 1/4 ratchet is a Proto from my dad. Band was also called "Plumbo" back in the day.

Williams still makes their b-52 super ratchet. Small head, 40 something tooth that feels like an 80.

Armstrong is great also.

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bertilak
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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by bertilak » Thu May 21, 2020 6:14 am

quaternion wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 5:19 am
Harbor Freight is hit or miss. Some of their products are serviceable for at least occasional use. Others are tool-shaped garbage.
"Tool-shaped" as opposed to actual, serviceable, tools. That has been my experience. I have an analogy: After World War II ended some Pacific Islanders built airport-shaped structures hoping to lure back the airplanes. HF sells tool-shaped objects hoping (apparently successfully) to lure customers!

I know people who swear by Harbor Freight. I don't argue. That is, I no longer bring up my analogy.

TO BE FAIR: I was recently dragged to HF by one of these people and I did notice some useful things at good prices. So, HF isn't all bad. I guess that's the "hit or miss" aspect.
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D Newton
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Location: Down by the sea...

Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by D Newton » Thu May 21, 2020 6:44 am

+1 DeWalt for my power tools. Although Milwaukee, Mikita, Porter Cable are probably equally as good. Very pleased quality and reliability of the DeWalt 20V system. Batteries used for weed trimmer and blower too. I recommend whatever brand you purchase use same brand for all tools so batteries can be interchanged amongst different tools...assuming you go with battery powered tools.
:sharebeer
Regards, | Doug

ddurrett896
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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by ddurrett896 » Thu May 21, 2020 7:00 am

Helo80 wrote:
Sun May 17, 2020 8:13 am
My aunt has a microwave she bought in the '70s. It still works to this day. She also paid hundreds of dollars for it (I want to say the first consumer microwaves were like $1,000) and this was in the '70s. Now, I can get a functional microwave for $40 at Walmart. Is it going to last for 50 years? No. But, maybe you can go find a $1000 microwave in today's market that will survive a nuclear bomb if that's the spec you want.
Lol my parents still have their 30+ year old microwave running strong. So big it sits on it's own rolling cart in the kitchen - we even joke it's the reason one of them got cancer.

Saw a meme yesterday comparing two can openers that reminded me of this.

China Made Can Opener
Retail: $12.99
Lasts: 1 year
Actual Lifetime cost: $325
25 end up in landfill
Supports Communism

US Made Can Opener
Retail: $19.99
Lasts: Warranty 25 years
Actual Lifetime cost: $19.99
0 end up in landfill
Supports Democracy

curmudgeon
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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by curmudgeon » Thu May 21, 2020 1:45 pm

bertilak wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 6:14 am
quaternion wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 5:19 am
Harbor Freight is hit or miss. Some of their products are serviceable for at least occasional use. Others are tool-shaped garbage.
TO BE FAIR: I was recently dragged to HF by one of these people and I did notice some useful things at good prices. So, HF isn't all bad. I guess that's the "hit or miss" aspect.
I buy stuff from HF occasionally, generally without high expectations. I've been pleasantly surprised by a few things I've bought there; other times I've "gotten what I paid for". My favorite HF item is usually free (with coupon) - the little lozenge-shaped battery led light is a really nice, handy, design.

batpot
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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by batpot » Thu May 21, 2020 10:53 pm

Not a brand snob. Refuse to pay for "boutique" brands like Mac or Snap On, unless getting a good deal used.
My favorites...

wrenches/sockets:
Gearwrench
And Stanley Locking crescent wrench...thing is a game changer!

screwdrivers/hex keys:
Wera

Small Screwdrivers:
Wiha

Pliers, cutters, etc:
Channellock, Knipex, Kelin, German Made Irwin

Light duty, or on a budget:
Tsunoda

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El Greco
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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by El Greco » Thu May 21, 2020 11:07 pm

Want quality? Buy used tools on Ebay. I am an electronics hobbyist who overhauls vintage equipment. One of my favorite tools is a Weller 8200 soldering gun. This gun is still manufactured new but is total CRAP. So I bought used on Ebay, made in Easton, PA Weller 8200. Great gun, 20 bucks in practically new, unused condition. Do a search. You're likely to find virtually new and unused Craftsman tools there, that you will be a able to keep FOREVER.

Dead Man Walking
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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by Dead Man Walking » Fri May 22, 2020 12:18 am

Craftsman = crap recently. I won’t miss Sears.

DMW

criticalmass
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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by criticalmass » Fri May 22, 2020 12:36 am

Iowa David wrote:
Sat May 16, 2020 7:09 am
I’ve slowly acquired a vast set of Craftsman hand tools over the last 20 years and have generally felt like their quality was perfectly fine for consumer use.

I recently bought a new adjustable wrench and was disappointed with quality and how “cheap” it felt in my hands.

I know a lot of their manufacturing has gradually moved abroad and hadn’t noticed the quality drop off until this tool.

I bought this adjustable wrench new from Amazon. Any chance there are different quality standards based on where it was purchased from?

As petty as it sounds, I like my stuff to match and don’t like the idea of having oddball tool brands mixed, but is there a good quality/value hand tool brand that you would recommend as an alternative?
Before Fast Eddie took over, Craftsman (HAND) tools were generally pretty good and prices reasonable. Screwdrivers, sockets/ratchets, and many other tools were made by Western Forge in USA, and other quality suppliers. (Look for the WF mark on older screwdrivers, etc). The profit margins for hardware was MUCH lower than the "softer side of Sears" but very much worthwhile to the big picture business via the family shopping experience.

But Sears was under pressure from much cheaper imported tools sold at discount stores, and elsewhere. People weren't going to pay $3-5 for a screwdriver, if they could pay $2 for a screwdriver, the 'China' on the label notwithstanding. Sears responded with since abandoned 'companion' brand of cheaper, usually imported hand tools. Then Craftsman quality was reduced to similar to the companion brand, making the latter moot. Then Sears decided to sell off Craftsman to raise cash. That's where we are now. Some Craftsman product production was returning to the USA with different suppliers, but regardless of changes, the Craftsman you see today (in Lowes, hardward stores, etc.) has little resemblance to the tools sold before 2010.

Note that even the best quality older Craftsman tools are no match for something like Snap On when doing commercial heavy duty work all day long, for example working on vehicles. Remember that individual mechanics/technician employees in auto shops and dealerships typically must own all of their own tools, and it is a significant investment.

alfaspider
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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by alfaspider » Fri May 22, 2020 8:51 am

ddurrett896 wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 7:00 am
Helo80 wrote:
Sun May 17, 2020 8:13 am
My aunt has a microwave she bought in the '70s. It still works to this day. She also paid hundreds of dollars for it (I want to say the first consumer microwaves were like $1,000) and this was in the '70s. Now, I can get a functional microwave for $40 at Walmart. Is it going to last for 50 years? No. But, maybe you can go find a $1000 microwave in today's market that will survive a nuclear bomb if that's the spec you want.
Lol my parents still have their 30+ year old microwave running strong. So big it sits on it's own rolling cart in the kitchen - we even joke it's the reason one of them got cancer.

Saw a meme yesterday comparing two can openers that reminded me of this.

China Made Can Opener
Retail: $12.99
Lasts: 1 year
Actual Lifetime cost: $325
25 end up in landfill
Supports Communism

US Made Can Opener
Retail: $19.99
Lasts: Warranty 25 years
Actual Lifetime cost: $19.99
0 end up in landfill
Supports Democracy
Maybe I'm just lucky, but I think this vastly overstates the quality of U.S. Made and vastly understates the quality of Chinese products. I have never broken a can opener in my life (Chinese or otherwise). The Chinese can opener we got for our wedding looks and performs the same as it did 10 years ago- I have no doubt it will make it another 10 or 20. I've never had a microwave of any make break on me. As for warranty, I doubt anybody successfully warranties a 20 year old can opener. Just the postage to send it back would cost as much as it's worth.

That being said, I do buy quality tools when it's something I will use a lot. But origin is only one small factor. Each tool should be evaluated on its merits.

ddurrett896
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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by ddurrett896 » Fri May 22, 2020 9:42 am

alfaspider wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 8:51 am
Maybe I'm just lucky, but I think this vastly overstates the quality of U.S. Made and vastly understates the quality of Chinese products.merits.
Maybe a can open is a bad example.

My $30 Harbor Freight Backpack sprayer lasted 1 season before leaking at the seals.
My $100 King Backpack sprayer is in to season 5 and runs like a champ.

alfaspider
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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by alfaspider » Tue May 26, 2020 9:01 am

ddurrett896 wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 9:42 am
alfaspider wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 8:51 am
Maybe I'm just lucky, but I think this vastly overstates the quality of U.S. Made and vastly understates the quality of Chinese products.merits.
Maybe a can open is a bad example.

My $30 Harbor Freight Backpack sprayer lasted 1 season before leaking at the seals.
My $100 King Backpack sprayer is in to season 5 and runs like a champ.
There's no question that it can be worth paying extra for quality, but the place of manufacture is only suggestive of quality- not determinative. Harbor freight in particular can have wide quality variations. My Harbor Freight tool boxes are impressively good for a consumer grade stuff. There is no reason to think they won't last decades. But some of their stuff is indeed very cheap junk.

Where Harbor Freight (and similar) really comes in handy is to allow ordinary consumers to buy speciality tools that will be very seldom used. For example, a hobbyist might need to use an engine hoist a few times a decade. While the HF engine hoist wouldn't stand up long to constant use by a professional mechanic's shop, it will last decades in the hands of a hobbyist who only uses it on occasion. The hobbyist likely wouldn't even be able to own an engine hoist without the HF option.

beernutz
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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by beernutz » Tue May 26, 2020 9:42 am

My first full summer of work in 1974 was as a Boy Scout camp counselor. Worked 10 weeks and got paid I believe $50 plus room and board though the room was an old cabin with no AC and outdoor cold showers.

The first thing I bought with that entire pay check was a set of Craftsman tools and I still have and use the tool box and the tools I haven't lost.

I lost my faith in Craftsman about 20 years ago when I took a broken socket to Sears to get a replacement and they made the process such a hassle that I left without a new one and vowed I would never buy another Craftsman product again which is a promise I've kept.
Last edited by beernutz on Wed Jun 03, 2020 1:28 pm, edited 2 times in total.

curmudgeon
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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by curmudgeon » Tue May 26, 2020 9:49 am

The combination of this thread and being locked down inspired me to dig even deeper to see if I could find a replacement for my favorite pair of pliers. My dad had a pair of Schollhorn "Bernard" parallel action pliers that he (and I) always thought were just a bit better than any standard ones. These were based on a patent from about 1890, but are pretty hard to find. Very powerful grip and diagonal cutter action for the size. The ones I inherited from my dad have gotten a bit worn.

I was interested to find a wide variety of smaller (5") versions of the pliers are widely available online, used in jewelry making and certain medical/dental procedures. The more general-purpose 6 1/2" version took a lot of digging, but I found a version made by Manley in England. Apparently they are somewhat popular with fishermen. $45 for a pair of pliers is high, but I was happy to find them.

CheCha54
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Re: Alternatives to Craftsman Tools

Post by CheCha54 » Tue May 26, 2020 11:35 am

"I buy German made tools online for quality tools. The brands I've tried are all great quality.

For tools I'm not particular about, Harbor Freight is surprisingly decent and cheap."

+1 The Icon brand is good quality. I also favor Gearwrench when I can find them on sale.

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