At one time I would have said that CRAFTSMAN was a perfectly acceptable, homeowner grade tool brand. Fair quality and an excellent warranty made them fine for most people. Professionals and other people that depend on their tools on a daily basis would want something better but for most people, most of the time, CRAFTSMAN was adequate and easily available. I’ve completely lost faith in the brand though. I tried to pick up a couple of items at the hardware store yesterday and they just felt like cheap garbage to the hand. I don’t see any point in buying junk.
What tool brands do you like? I was specifically looking for a decent wire stripper/crimper but hand tools of all kinds interest me. What’s in your toolbox? What would be there if money was no object?
The first 25 years of my career repairing trucks I bought almost nothing but snap on and other professional grade tools. The last 15 years I found many types of tools would give me just as good of performance for much less money. Wire crimpers were one of the tools I stuck with Snap on or Mack for, bad crimps can be a nightmare in an electrical system. Harbor freight is usually fine for most of your screwdrivers of all types, sockets, hand wrenches, allen wrenches etc. Not so good for Drill bits and I never cared for their adjustable pliers or pliers of any types.
sometimes it depends on what sort of work you’re doing. I have a $50 Chicago electric impact wrench/drill I got at harbor freight. It is noisy as heck, not really that powerful compared to DeWalt or a Ryobi or Porter Cable brand, but it has a enough power to assemble/disassemble furniture and I’ve built a couple of fences with it.
For wrenches and the like, I used to go with Snapon or Mac, but these days, Stanley or Kobalt mostly what I use, sometimes Irwin. Craftsman has declined too far in quality these days.
ETA the best screwdriver/drill bit/socket set kit for use in a drill was a cheapo $10 set that had everything from masonry bits to barrel sanders and emory paper rings, I’ve had it for 20 years and use it almost daily at work. American Heritage or something like that (the thing is locked up at work right now so not sure what the label is)
Expect Craftsman quality to decline. Sears sold the brand for about $900 million. In the old days, that would mean that Sears sold their factory for producing Craftsman tools, but today it is not like that. It is all about the brand. Just have some factory in China slap a Craftsman label on whatever it produces. Remember, that 900 mil needs to be recouped somehow, with interest, and you can bet it will be in reduced quality.
I own two Craftsman circular saws, one bought 30 years ago, and the other a year ago. HUGE difference in quality. Same with the two Shop Vacs I own. The old one has a steel bucket, the new one is cheap plastic. The old motor housing and the attachments are made of a Bakelite-type thermosetting plastic, and the new one is a soft thermoplastic material. Real junk.
So these shell companies solicit bids from manufacturers in China to build a tool to their specs and this is what you get. China, of course, is capable of building world class stuff, but when they tell US Shell Company Inc. “For an extra fifty cents, we can use ball bearings rather than sleeve bearings”, ShellCo executives see that as depressing earnings and the stock value.
I can imagine that companies like Milwaukee, Porter-Cable, an DeWalt will be under pressure from Wall Street vultures to take a similar path. Stay tuned.
Rigid makes good, high quality tools at a cheaper price point than others of comparable quality. Every power tool in the garage is Rigid, with the exception of a Ryobi string trimmer that met my needs so well it was worth the second set of batteries and charger.
With tools you usually get what you pay for. The manufacturers produce versions of their to fit the price requirements of the demand, contractors will pay more for tools that last longer but they get disappointed often just like the home use consumer.
I have had good success with Makita, Hitachi, Ryobi, and DeWalt. Porter Cable is usually good in price/performance but some of their tools are made only for consumer use. There’s a Porter Cable service center nearby me so I’ll take more of a chance with their tools.
When it comes to hand tools you definitely get what you pay for. If it’s a cutting tool it’s going to cost you a lot more than the cheap models you find at regular retail outlets if you want it work well and last.
Harbor Freight was mentioned above and I have a couple of very well valued tools from their. A pair of electric metal shears that were about 40 bucks have worked great, and I have an impact hammer/drill that has worked fine too that I probably won’t ever use enough to find out how long it lasts. Generally I’m leery of any tools from that will be used heavily or need to produce precise cuts. Some of their old metalworking tools are pretty good. Most of their stores each have one unsold combination metal shear, brake, and slip roll that is well worth it’s price should you need a 300 lb. hunk of steel in your shop with limited capabilities. They frequently go on sale for just $299 which seems less than the metal is worth.
The adage is that “cheap tools will cost you money,” especially in the long run. With a few exceptions, it still rings true. There will come a time when you have all the tools you’ll ever need. I reached that point years ago, but I still keep an eye out for clever innovations. Sometimes, the clever one is worth it, sometimes not. For example, the Craftsman Robo-Grip looked like an improvement over Channellock arc-joint pliers, but it was a disappointment. I still have the Robo-Grip, in two sizes, but i can’t remember the last time I used them.
If you have two tools in your chest that do the same task, you’ll use the better one every time.
My sister used to manage a Harbor Freight, and she would frequently tell customers who were annoyed at the crap quality of the inexpensive tools “We sell cheap shitty tools. What did you expect?” I do own one of their tap and die sets that was cheaper than buying a single tap from a better maker, and one of their air compressors that I fire up about once a year.
I tend to over-buy power tools, with a Milwaukee angle drill and a Bosch hammer drill. In both cases, they also have crap consumer lines, but the Bosch drill is built like a tank. It’s taken everything I can throw at it, and will outlive me.
Stanley is normally mediocre, but I have a 3/8" socket wrench from their Professional line that I absolutely love. Every other socket wrench has a knob style reversing control, or a tiny little lever. But this lovely device has a switch, and you can operate it with thick gloves on. It’s ideal for installing satellite dishes or any job where you have to frequently change direction.
Knipex makes the best value adjustable wrench and adjustable pliers.
Wiha makes the best screwdrivers I’ve ever used.
Woodpeckers makes some great measuring stuff but is quite expensive.
I still use craftsman ratchets and sockets that I was given as a kid a couple of decards ago. No praise, but they all still exist and look brand new after 20 years or so of use & abuse.
I have Ryobi, Milwaukee, and Bosch 18 and 12 V power tools and I prefer Milwaukee by a mile for larger stuff and Bosch 12 V for everyday use, although Ryboi 18 V isn’t bad at all. It’s actually pretty good but in a different league than the Milwaukee stuff as far as power is concerned.
My guilty pleasure is hammers; I have one full SST of nothing but hammers. I’ve got some that I still use that go back a hundred years or more and I still find myself looking at every new design and brand that comes along. Most end up disappointing me in some way – I’ll use it now and then but not on a regular basis. The exception is Dead-On.
It started with a simple Exhumer ages ago, then an Annihialator, and now I have most of the non-gear things they have made. Many from clearance sales and eBay but some at full retail as well. Two cousins have dibs on splitting them between them once I’m gone, and trust me when I say they will still be as good as new no matter how I beat them over the remaining years. I use them wrong sometimes; one Annihialator has been used for everything from splitting wood to ripping cars open. But I still haven’t found a way to break one yet.
There has been a display stand of Wiha screwdrivers on the counter at Electronic Supply Company ever since I started shopping there as a teen some 40 years ago. I’ve never been able to justify buying them, no matter how good they feel in my hand. I don’t drive, so every tool that goes into my bag is carefully considered, knowing I’m going to have to carry it on the bus.