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I think I'm done with Craftsman

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8 replies to this topic

#1
DHappel

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It's an old story, one I've told before.  Years ago Craftsman was the go-to tool brand for the more serious home mechanic.  The tools were a little more expensive than generic hardware store stuff but in exchange you got a no questions asked lifetime warranty that could be serviced in almost any town in America and generally good quality.

 

Today, not so much.

 

It seems to me to have started about 20 years ago, but they have been on a steady downward spiral.  Where they used to walk the middle ground between tool truck super high quality/price and bottom of the line parts store stuff, as market pressure got tougher they decided the best approach was to go for the bottom end of the market.  To that end they have introduced more and more 'gimmick' tools while discontinuing their higher end offerings.  Even worse, they outsourced most if not all of their production to China with the expectant drop in quality control.  

 

The last hold out was their sockets.  For some time now they have still been US made and of decent quality at decent prices.

 

No longer.

 

I needed to add some redundancy to my tools as I carry stuff in the van, in the Rover, and in the shop and hate having to move things between locations depending on where I'm working.  So with the Memorial Day sales plus a $300 Sears gift card I had on hand I ordered their 299 piece socket set figuring that even though I didn't need all those parts it was easier than piecing together the individual parts I did need.  To my surprise I found the sockets are no longer US made (when I asked, they couldn't tell me where they were made but thought probably China).  2 of the sockets were outright wrong, which they agreed to simply replace no questions asked.  These are the 'laser etched' easy to read sockets and at least 75% of them are nearly illegible though.  This doesn't prevent use as sizes are still stamped into them, but it was a specific selling feature.  The chrome finish is also somewhat spotty with some rough edges that will clearly lead to early rust.

 

It's a sad day - I own hundreds of Craftsman tools but I think this will be the last time I buy any.  Much as I hate to say it, I think Harbor Freight may have caught if not outright surpassed them in hand tools.  OK, I still don't by HF hand tools as a rule, but they seem to get better every year while Craftsman gets worse.

 

The bad part is - what does the home mechanic buy now?  Tool Truck brands are brutally priced new and much of that price is the convenience of having the truck come to your shop every week to service the techs.  I don't have that option.  I do work in an area where a Snap On guy has a regular stop and I suppose I could start buying from him, but I don't want to spend that much for my day to day hand tools since I work in a salt water environment and rust is an every present issue.   I do like the convenience of a local vendor but it looks like I'm going to be forced to mail order from Amazon, Tooltopia, etc.

 

Bye Bye Sears.  It was fun while it lasted.


Don
'07 LR3 HSE/HD - slightly non-stock

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#2
GraemeWare

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Sad but true .... the Chinese don't make Whitworth sizes though ... all of those are still made in the United Kingdom .... well, unless they have a city called "Sheffield" in China, just like the Japanese had "MdUSA" so that they could stamp that on their tools ....

 

Regards,

 

Graeme


Graeme Ware -- San Carlos, CA

1990 Range Rover Classic - LT230 Transfer box, Warn winch, 2" lift, 235/85-16 Dunlop MUD Rovers, "Blue Submarine"
1996 Discovery 1 (R380 Manual Transmission, Ashcroft under-drive, RoverWare rear bumper, 33x12.5-15 BFG ATs) -- we call her "Katrina" -- Fordyce 7.5 mile survivor
1999 Discovery 2 (D1 CDL Linkage, 265/75-16 BFG A/T KO, RoverWare front and rear bumper)
1993 Jaguar XJS convertible; 1971 Triumph GT6; 1959 Morris Minor convertible
other assorted British pot metal ...


#3
DHappel

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The funny thing is Japan has come fully good; where they once stood for the cheapest product their culture drove them to constant improvement and now the 'made in Japan' logo is a point of pride and respect even in the US.  Taiwan sort of took over from them as the go-to cheap manufacturer, but now they are rising as well with China firmly rooted at the bottom.  I have some Taiwanese tools of decent quality; my Grey Pneumatic and GearWrench stuff, while not pro-quality, is respectable.  China, while capable of producing a quality product with enough oversight, seems to have a cultural bent toward cutting every corner and trying to 'get away with it' that is keeping them at the lowest rung of manufacturing.

 

Ahem...

 

Let me now add:

 

Keep of my grass!

You kids turn that music down!

When I was your age....

etc, etc.


  • TomOwen likes this

Don
'07 LR3 HSE/HD - slightly non-stock

'96 D1 - even more non-stock


#4
Timbo

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hadnt noticed the swap, but it seem to have been going on for a while, as my metric set long socket set is China, had this for a good 5 to 10 years, but some more specialist sets purchased after (torx bits) are still USA. The China ones still do the job thought do all my laser engraved ones are legible. - although I did give one a good belting using as a punch to get my busted UJ out! - might try that lifetime warranty

Think you could probably put this down to companies like harbor freight putting a lot of pressure on the traditionals like Sears have been suffering badly. Sears here in San Mateo just closed down, but I see my local Ace has just started stocking them.

Have bought some cheap 60' offset wrenches from Amazon (tekron I think). - not a meaty as my craftsman set, but they do the job, and got them same day with prime shipping!

#5
Timbo

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Sad but true .... the Chinese don't make Whitworth sizes though ... all of those are still made in the United Kingdom .... well, unless they have a city called "Sheffield" in China, just like the Japanese had "MdUSA" so that they could stamp that on their tools ....
 
Regards,
 
Graeme


What u got that needs those? Even my mk1 65 Mgb doesn't use any whitworth that I can find.

#6
GraemeWare

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What u got that needs those? Even my mk1 65 Mgb doesn't use any whitworth that I can find.

 

1969 BSA D14-4S and a 1959 Morris 1000 to start with .... and a 1949 Royal Enfield G350.

 

Regards,

 

Graeme


Graeme Ware -- San Carlos, CA

1990 Range Rover Classic - LT230 Transfer box, Warn winch, 2" lift, 235/85-16 Dunlop MUD Rovers, "Blue Submarine"
1996 Discovery 1 (R380 Manual Transmission, Ashcroft under-drive, RoverWare rear bumper, 33x12.5-15 BFG ATs) -- we call her "Katrina" -- Fordyce 7.5 mile survivor
1999 Discovery 2 (D1 CDL Linkage, 265/75-16 BFG A/T KO, RoverWare front and rear bumper)
1993 Jaguar XJS convertible; 1971 Triumph GT6; 1959 Morris Minor convertible
other assorted British pot metal ...


#7
Timbo

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Oh yes the good old british motorbike industry - traditional to the last!

Has the moggie got semaphores?

#8
El Solis

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I went with the Amazon special tekron for redundant kits but was lucky enough to inherit my grandfathers tools. It's a nice collection of snap on, craftsman, whitworth and other random British sizes and of course, a handful of "Jaguar" stamped tools.
For home stuff I use his tools but for the trail it's the cheapo all they have to do is get me home set.

Chris KK6CQE

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#9
GraemeWare

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Oh yes the good old british motorbike industry - traditional to the last!

Has the moggie got semaphores?

 

I think it did have.  Now has the metal plates over the holes (later models didn't have the holes).  Being a convertible the holes are low on the B-pillar rather than high, so I expect they kept getting knocked off.

 

Graeme

 

 

Graeme


Graeme Ware -- San Carlos, CA

1990 Range Rover Classic - LT230 Transfer box, Warn winch, 2" lift, 235/85-16 Dunlop MUD Rovers, "Blue Submarine"
1996 Discovery 1 (R380 Manual Transmission, Ashcroft under-drive, RoverWare rear bumper, 33x12.5-15 BFG ATs) -- we call her "Katrina" -- Fordyce 7.5 mile survivor
1999 Discovery 2 (D1 CDL Linkage, 265/75-16 BFG A/T KO, RoverWare front and rear bumper)
1993 Jaguar XJS convertible; 1971 Triumph GT6; 1959 Morris Minor convertible
other assorted British pot metal ...





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