How bad are new Craftsman tools?

zanemoseley

Senior member
Feb 27, 2011
513
0
76
#1
I may be buying a basic mechanic set sometime in the next few months. They have good sales with some sets as much as 50% off but I'm a little concerned with quality as I know most of their stuff is imported now. For occasional use will they be ok? I've also been looking at Gear Wrench sets on Amazon.
 

lxskllr

No Lifer
Nov 30, 2004
51,395
263
126
#2
Since you have time, I'd piece together a set from flea markets, pawn shops, and yard sales. You'll get good American made tools at bottom prices. As far as Craftsman goes, I think it's a mixed bag. You have to inspect everything individually. I couldn't give them a blanket recommendation as I used to.
 
Aug 30, 2000
25,805
8
106
#3
IMHO they are on par with Husky/Kobalt. Any of them are fine for the shadetree mechanic.
 

herm0016

Diamond Member
Feb 26, 2005
6,440
17
106
#4
agree with NutBucket. I have a few small sets of craftsman and they are perfectly serviceable just like Husky and Kobalt. I am always watching the thrift stores and auctions for better stuff.
 

zanemoseley

Senior member
Feb 27, 2011
513
0
76
#5
So I'm now also reading about Gear Wrench socket sets on Amazon and they seem to get really good reviews, I get a bit more of a warm fuzzy feeling with them over Craftsman and some of the sets have a wider size range they cover.

Also I went in my local Sears today and that place is definitely getting that same feel as Kmart, the shelves were poorly stocked and there was random crap strewn about.

So Gear Wrench versus Craftsman, which do you pick?
 
Aug 30, 2000
25,805
8
106
#6
Craftsman because it's easier to use the warranty.
 

twinrider1

Diamond Member
Sep 28, 2003
4,094
0
91
#7
Craftsman because it's easier to use the warranty.
For now. Sad to say, but I trust the Harbor Freight (Pittsburgh Pro) warranty to be around longer than Craftsman.

OP, I'd get the money together and keep an eye out for a deal. I haven't checked lately but I think Craftsman still makes some of their stuff here. Kobalt is fine too.
And consider Harbor Freight. Some of their stuff is garbage, but some of it is just fine for anyone that isn't get paid to turn a wrench. In particular, the Pittsburgh Pro stuff is nice. Their impact sockets have been good for me. And their composite ratchets have been awesome. Normally I'd say spend good money on ratchets. Can't go wrong with Snap-On ratchets. But the $10 composites feel GREAT in the cold. Simple stuff like extensions and pry bars are a good deal there too. Also, their stuff is cheap enough you won't mind grinding/cutting them up for special situations.


Spend some time on Garage Forum. Lots of user reviews of tools and heads up on hot deals.
 
Jan 3, 2006
11,860
0
91
#8
I'm all about finding Snap On and Matco tools on CL and yard sales, but my basic set started with Craftsman kit. Nothing wrong with those tools. Some of the deals they have are outstanding. Due to car repair emergencies, I would have to buy a specialized tool at the auto parts store. I have a few of the Stanley's and DuraLast junk too. Those are fine for one offs. But making a kit out of those is pricey and the quality isn't good most of the time.
So yeah, Craftsman kits. Good stuff.
 

Mandres

Senior member
Jun 8, 2011
892
0
91
#9
Craftsman's current made-in-China line is mostly garbage. If you can find the older USA or Taiwanese stuff you'll be much better off. Harbor Freight's Pittsburgh Pro line (Taiwan) is as good as any of the big box brands for less $. The next step up in quality is probably SK/Armstrong stuff.
 

freeskier93

Senior member
Apr 17, 2015
486
0
51
#10
For the sockets it really doesn't matter what you get, I usually go with Kobalt/Husky because they are easiest to find at Lowes/Home Depot.

If you want to spend some money spend it on the ratchet. My main ones are 15 year old Craftsmans, but frankly I tend to use my Husky ratchet more and it's been fine for over 5 years.
 
Mar 9, 2005
13,991
11
136
#11
You know that back in the day sears didn't have the same competiton on them and their tools were of high quality. Once competitive advantage came into play they had to cut corners to keep them affordable. I've looked at the Kobalt line of tools and they seem to be of good quality but for strictly automotive work they might not have the range of sizes that you would find at Snap-On for larger wheel/bearing nuts. I don't have a high end matched tool set myself just some Craftsman pieces here and there of various quality collected over the years but when I needed large sockets I went to the Snap-On truck and got them. The guy was really nice and I would call him in advance and then roll over to his place and he'd open it up for me provided that he had what I needed.

I remember when sears used to have a replacement policy on their tools and if one broke you could just take it to the store and exchange it for a new one. Then they began classifying tools so that some qualified and others didn't. The last time I was there for a tool exchange was years ago and they just handed my father in law a rebuild kit for his ratchet so he could fix it himself.
 
Sep 12, 2001
48,327
12
106
#12
I really like Gearwrench stuff.
 
Mar 9, 2005
13,991
11
136
#13
The only gearwrench tools I have are their serpentine belt tool set which are of good quality.
 

RLGL

Golden Member
Jan 8, 2013
1,337
14
106
#14
Don't knock Gear Wrench, I forget who makes them. They are sold on the Tool
Trucks, Snap-on ,Matco etc. I have some, great tools for the price.
 

HeXen

Diamond Member
Dec 13, 2009
7,768
3
81
#15
I havne't had any problems with Kobalt and if it breaks, no questions asked. Though I use tools so rarely that most of my stuff comes from harbour frieght and they do fine for round the house stuff.
 
Dec 3, 2013
38,755
0
121
#16
I've always liked Husky tools over Craftman, they have went downhill over the years.

Snap-On is good of course, but personally I think Husky is on par with them.

Of course if I have access to a furnace, I will make my own tools as needed, what I have done over time.

What Tool Makers kinda do i guess.

A Bridgeport and A-2 and a furnace you can make a lot of specialized tools, even more so if you access to a decent CNC machine.
 
Last edited:

kn51

Senior member
Aug 16, 2012
406
15
91
#17
For occasional use they are ok. Saddens me I have a ton of USA made Craftsman. Also have a large China made Craftstman socket set that I got a helluva deal on.

With that said there are alternatives that reasonably priced that are better. But yeah, warranty stuff is easier with Sears.

With that said, dump the raised panel ratchets if you do get a Craftsman set and get something else. Hell HF ratchets are light years ahead of them. And, well, in general, I have no problem with HF hand tools. I like their composite ratchets (as well as their other ones).
 

Ns1

No Lifer
Jun 17, 2001
55,398
8
126
#18
n/m
 

iwajabitw

Senior member
Aug 19, 2014
812
10
106
#19
Researched this a few years ago for wrenches, sockets and such...

Craftsman was once made by Stanley for about 50yrs then lost the contract in the 90's to Delmar, who owns many industrial brands like Matco and Channel Lock. Husky immediately picked up Stanley to make the brand. Kobalt was a Snap-on brand, but not the same tool by far. Now both Husky and Kobalt have been recontracted and are made over seas. Daily I mostly use Klein, that as far as I know is still state side and still good quality.

I have an assortment of all of the brands and just grab what's easiest. Unless you make a living and need the Snap-On, Matco, Mac durability all day long, grab what's on sale.
 

JCH13

Diamond Member
Sep 14, 2010
4,925
1
91
#20
I've had great luck with the nicer Craftsman stuff, and I use it hard. Their bottom-end stuff is exactly that, bottom-end, skip it. I spend a reasonable amount of time wrenching, so I like to have decent stuff, and Sears is closest to me.

Edit: I think a lot of the bad experiences with Craftsman are related to the garbage ratchet drivers you get in their socket variety packs. I frisbee those right in the trash (okay... not literally) and use these craftsman drivers instead:

http://www.sears.com/craftsman-3-pc...SellerId=Sears&prdNo=4&blockNo=4&blockType=G4

http://www.sears.com/craftsman-3-8-...lerId=Sears&prdNo=16&blockNo=16&blockType=G16

I have 3x sets of Gear Wrench ratcheting wrenches that I really like too. Hard to recommend them too much, and also available at Sears.
 

monkeydelmagico

Diamond Member
Nov 16, 2011
3,949
0
101
#22
I may be buying a basic mechanic set sometime in the next few months. They have good sales with some sets as much as 50% off but I'm a little concerned with quality as I know most of their stuff is imported now. For occasional use will they be ok? I've also been looking at Gear Wrench sets on Amazon.
For occasional use yes they would be fine. The problem with buying sets is they rarely offer exactly what you need and nothing you don't.

What's your budget? What kind of work are you trying to achieve?
 

WackyDan

Diamond Member
Jan 26, 2004
4,761
1
91
#23
So I'm now also reading about Gear Wrench socket sets on Amazon and they seem to get really good reviews, I get a bit more of a warm fuzzy feeling with them over Craftsman and some of the sets have a wider size range they cover.

Also I went in my local Sears today and that place is definitely getting that same feel as Kmart, the shelves were poorly stocked and there was random crap strewn about.

So Gear Wrench versus Craftsman, which do you pick?
If you got the coin... Gear Wrench. Keep in mind that Gear Wrench makes a cheaper line still under the Gear Wrench name. You typically find those in auto parts stores. Gear Wrench is good shit, and sits below the quality of say MAC or Snap On but better quality than say your department store stuff/big box.

I have a mixed bag of old Craftsmen, coupled with some Husky and even some stuff from Northern Tool (better than Harbor freight). I have a bunch of Kobalt sockets and I think the Kobalt stuff is actually pretty decent stuff. I replaced all my old box wrenches with the Gear Wrench sets and couldn't be happier.

As with any tool, think about what you can afford and what you need it for. Secondly, tools should or can last a lifetime, so splurging on a good quality set of wrenches or something is well worth it over time.
 

Ns1

No Lifer
Jun 17, 2001
55,398
8
126
#24
Well I just bought this today to help with an alternator swap. It's got everything I need for this particular job except a breaker bar...

 

leper84

Senior member
Dec 29, 2011
989
0
86
#25
Good rule of thumb, regardless of brand applies in most cases.

Made in China- one time use garbage.
Made in Taiwan- Decent, affordable stuff.
Made in USA (or other first world countries)- Best of the best, professional grade stuff.
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY

TRENDING THREADS