Sears Roebuck and Monkey Wards Explained

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Blog entry by DeLayne Peck posted 07-16-2012 02:06 PM 7444 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Saw a comment by a much younger LumberJock to the effect, “Older guys seem to favor Craftsmen Tools.”

My first reaction was, “Huh?” “But, well, my oldest tools are Craftmen.” Then it dawned on me. That was pretty much all we had to choose from back in the day. No internet. No woodworking boutiques. I don’t recall getting competing tool catalogs. Hardware stores had common, smaller stuff. If you really wanted to see and lay hands on woodworking equipment – Sears or Montgomery Ward. Most small towns, like the one I grew up in, had one or both.

So there you go, young wood-aroo! And that 40 year old Craftsmen router is still playing middle linebacker, between my big DeWalt plunge and a DeWalt compact.

-- DJ Peck, Lincoln Nebraska. Lord, keep your arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth.

6 comments so far

View AUBrian's profile


86 posts in 2668 days

#1 posted 07-16-2012 02:16 PM

Of course, Craftsman used to be a much different company…lifetime gurantee on all tools, with or without a receipt. And they were made solid. I also remember one of the first things that quit being guranteed were the tape measures. I guess it got too expensive, but there was a time when most people would pay a little more for quality. Now people just want the best deal.

View oldretiredjim's profile


206 posts in 2382 days

#2 posted 07-16-2012 02:54 PM

Once returned a ratchet with obvious pipe cheater marks on the handle. Got a new one no questions. About 1968 to a Sears catalog store. No Wards or Sears retail store but the catalog from the catalog store
was a prized possession. Young people probably don’t know what a Sears or Penney’s catalog store is. I still think the older pre-80’s stuff is OK. Maybe because that is all I can afford.

View Dwain's profile


524 posts in 3856 days

#3 posted 07-16-2012 04:25 PM

AUBrian, I disagree with you on one point. I think most people would pay a LITTLE more for quality, but not as much as companies like Festool are charging. That is why Bosch and Milwaukee do well. I would gladly pay for a Festool if my needs justified it, but I can’t justify those prices when I am out in the shop two or three nights a week.

Another thing, Sears used to have other manufacturers build their stuff. I have a 1938 Craftsman planer (built by Parks). It is a great piece of equipment that can plane more than today’s lunchbox planers.

Times are changing. Sears has had a few good products, but mostly their stuff is sub par.

-- When you earnestly believe you can compensate for a lack of skill by doubling your efforts, there is no end to what you CAN'T do

View Bluepine38's profile


3379 posts in 3082 days

#4 posted 07-17-2012 01:51 PM

When my father wanted a tablesaw in the 1940’s there was no store near Sidney, Mt that handled one, but
the Sears catalog was there and his old Craftsman table saw is still going strong. My Craftsman shaper has a
King-Seeley plate on its side and will still do a good job, even it looks small and puny next to my buddies big
Delta commercial shaper with its powered feeder, but I agree that their tools are not the quality they used to

-- As ever, Gus-the 79 yr young apprentice carpenter

View dbhost's profile


5710 posts in 3229 days

#5 posted 07-17-2012 07:17 PM

Even in bigger urban areas, Sears and Monkey Wards used to be pretty much it for the longest time. I worked at both in my youth, Sears had a MUCH better tool dept…

Craftsman tools used to be quite different from the stuff they are kicking out the door nowadays. Back in the day even their junk was better than a lot of companies premium stuff is these days…

In many ways, tools aren’t made the way they used to be. A lot of things aren’t. In some areas that is a good thing, in some areas that is a terrible thing…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View Emma Walker's profile

Emma Walker

560 posts in 2108 days

#6 posted 02-23-2013 10:19 PM

I just made an assumption here on lumberjocks a few days ago that older Stanley hand planes were made better back in the old days… but I was corrected. I made this assumption because of a video I watched about having to tune a brand new plane. I was outraged at the idea of having to tweak a new tool that came from a reputable Co. such as Stanley. I assumed that this was do to todays companies having more concern with prophets than with quality. I was surprised when I was corrected, it seems that Stanley has a long history of cutting corners to save a few bucks… It kinda hurt my heart when I heard that. It’s like hearing that your grandmother has been using canned pie filling when after all this time you thought she was making her pies from scratch.

-- I'm a twisted 2x4 in a pile of straight lumber.

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