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The Crapsman Legacy is a Farce

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Blog entry by Bob Kollman posted 04-04-2011 08:01 AM 4942 reads 0 times favorited 27 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Craftsman-Sears, is like Charlie Sheen, either you love them, or you hate them. But I fall into a category that I
think many fall into: The quiet MAJORITY. We know what we want, can afford, and can live with. Each time I get a new tool, I increase my productivity and ability to overcome problems with workable solutions because I have the tooling that allows me to use alternative techniques. As a new woodworker, with only six years experience, Craftsman, has been a big part of my wood working experience, and I have done well with there products. Not all of there products lived up to my expectations, but even then the tool added to my woodworking capabilities even thou it may of had limitations. When I buy a tool, it is usually when I know I’m going to run it into the ground
starting on day one. Giving me the opportunity to return it to the store for an exchange or refund. Sears, has always treated me fairly.

Every wood worker wants reliable tools to work with. Not every craftsman tool has been that for me, even
with the failures I have gleaned a little bit of usefulness. My craftsman jig saw at best can rough cut holes, but I know it is way past time to replace it, the most disturbing thing about this jig saw is that it doesn’t blow the dust off the cut line. 3 seconds into the cut and your pencil line is buried under a heap of dust.

As a start up shop price is always important. Craftsman tools always has scratch and dent, 50% off, and sales with the proverbial incentive to buy. With few exceptions, no matter who I buy from I always look for these deals.
Craftsman tools always have some good price going on. Today I was working on book cases that I’m building
for a guy, my biscuit joiner I bought from Sears 4 years ago at 50% off. What’s a biscuit jointer but
a miniature circular saw blade. I paid 65 bucks for it and it works great.

the biscuit jointer was an outstanding purchase and has paid for itself in time and in need!!!!

I needed the ability to cut shapes, and on a very rare occasion maybe re saw. I purchased this band saw with 7” re saw capability for under $300.00 bucks tax included.

Over this past 4 years of ownership, the saw has only needed a switch replaced on it. I bought the new switch from sears on line and it was delivered within 5-7 days. I have dozens of hours on this saw, and use it very often. The largest re saw it ever did was 5” max, but I bought it mostly for quick cuts and cutting shapes and even with the craftsman blade it has given me exceptional results when you considered what I paid for it.

Many new wood workers have to live with the fact of there budget will only allow so much. But the ability to add new tooling and increase productivity is still central to their work. I have 19 volt drills, sanders, circular saws, clamps, strait edges, and routers, all craftsman that work as good or better than I hoped or expected.

Craftsman, Harbor Freight, and the big box stores, have given a lot of options to the wood working community. Without them there may not have ever been a Lumber Jocks Web site. These are places you can buy your tools, and if they don’t work you can get your money back now!!! If they do work you can create and grow your skills in wood working. I am not very fond of the term Crapsman, because I feel they
have brought so many good tools to the woodworking community. I consider Sears and the other stores as a building block for working yourself up to better more high quality tools in the future. And with many of the craftsman tools I own, I find no reason to upgrade or change what I have.

-- Bob Kenosha Wi.



27 comments so far

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

15024 posts in 2398 days


#1 posted 04-04-2011 08:16 AM

I have no complaints with them either. They have a toll in every one’s price range. just need to be aware of what you are buying. Probably not the place to go for production tools ;-))

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2072 posts in 1362 days


#2 posted 04-04-2011 09:32 AM

I have many Craftsman tools including the bulk of the C3 19.2 volt collection. Very few of those fail to perform.
The trim saws are like baby worm gears and I love them with a good blade. Battery life, you say? I got more batteries than God so I swap whenever i need to.

Off the woodworking path, but the new line trimmer, blower and shrub trimmer exceeded my expectations.

My corded Craftsman belt sanders, palm and random orbit sanders, planer, reciprocating saw, portable router table with router, bench grinder, bench top belt and disc sander, etc. are all champs for my purposes.

Even Dewalt (Black and Decker with yellow paint) has some dog offerings: Their compressors are not what they used to be. Their 18 volt stuff is pretty good if you can afford the batteries. Their miter saws are the industry standard in my opinion.

Yes, you are right. Craftsman serves a purpose. You win a lot and lose a few, but like you said: It’s easy to get a refund or a replacement if it’s a dud. I can usually tell if I have a dud sooner rather than later.

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

View Sarit's profile

Sarit

492 posts in 1862 days


#3 posted 04-04-2011 10:20 AM

Sears basically subcontracts other manufacturers to make everything they sell. Sometimes its an identical unit that’s just cosmetically changed to make it look like one of their brands. Other times, they actually spec out something that’s different. In the end, the quality is dependent on who the manufacturer was. Since I feel like i’m playing roulette when I buy craftsman, I choose to avoid them and stick to brands where I know the quality I am getting. That being said, I buy from HF and Ryobi when I need a cheap tool that I don’t expect to use often. I put craftsman into that category because even though they do have some good tools, the hit or miss nature of it forces me to discount it.
I will say that those old all metal craftsman tools that your father or even grandfather used are the tools that the Craftsman brand was built on. They literally lasted a lifetime.
That’s just my 2 cents.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

15024 posts in 2398 days


#4 posted 04-04-2011 10:52 AM

What would America be if their hadn’t been a Sears and Roebuck ?

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View amateur's profile

amateur

91 posts in 1380 days


#5 posted 04-04-2011 11:01 AM

Great topic! I am no expert, run no production, and have a very limited woodworking budget, but am finding that just like in everything else, you get what you pay for. With Craftsman I can honestly say I have usually gotten a little bit more.
Thank you for posting.

View americancanuck's profile

americancanuck

152 posts in 1332 days


#6 posted 04-04-2011 11:54 AM

When I started my apprenticeship as a machinist over 40 years ago the master that I worked under gave me a rusty file and a dull hacksaw and told me when I could learn to use these tools I could move up. Of course these tools had some severe limitations but it did force me to learn to rely on my skill rather than the tool. Now my hobby wood shop is populated with Sears and Ryobi tools and my skill is increasing by the day. If I were a professional shop that needed to do production work I would have pro quality tools

View GuyK's profile

GuyK

356 posts in 2802 days


#7 posted 04-04-2011 12:29 PM

My home shop is full of Craftsmans’ tools. They have built some great projects. Just look at my projects photos, all built with Craftsmans’. They have been getting a bad rap for a long time but for those of us on a limited budget they are great.

-- Guy Kroll www.thelandsathillsidefarms.org

View BobG's profile

BobG

172 posts in 1684 days


#8 posted 04-04-2011 01:56 PM

Craftsman tools are great! You just have to be aware of what you are buying there. if you can’t spend a lot of money buy the 15.95 jig saw. It has a 90 day guarantee! Or choose the $75.95 Pro quality Jig saw, it also has a 90 day guarantee. Either one will “run forever or, if you work it hard enough, crap out before the guarantee is expired.

I have many craftsman tools, one in particular is a 21 year old 3 1/2 HP variable speed plunge router that has had 3 new sets of brushes and is my choice for a table router. I’ll put it up against any other for power and control. I also have a cordless drill driver that is the “pro” version of their series. It is about 2 years old and will twist your wrist until it hurts if you aren’t careful!

What more can you ask? Granted not all of the craftsman line is perfect but, neither is delta, porter cable, or dewalt.

-- BobG, Lowell, Arkansas--------My goal in life is to be the kind of person my dog thinks I am! Make more saw dust!!

View Tedstor's profile

Tedstor

1443 posts in 1355 days


#9 posted 04-04-2011 02:31 PM

Ha! Just look at my avatar LOL!
Here is my table saw:

Still works great even after 50+ years of service. Maybe its the license plate motor guard LOL.
And that “bench saw” was designed with homeowner use in mind.

Craftsman does indeed get an undeserved bad rap. Some people assign expectations to thier product line that is pretty unfair. Take a jigsaw for instance. If I ask some people for their opnion on a craftsman jigsaw, they’ll say
” steer clear of that garbage, buy a $179 Bosch. It’ll cut 12/4 Hickory to 1/128” tolerance and will last 100yrs even with 24/7 use”.
Well thats swell…...except…...I don’t need a jigsaw to perform to that level. Indeed I’ve owned an Craftsman Evolv jigsaw for over a year now, have used it a dozen or so times, and it has yet to fail me. No reason to think it will eithier. I think I paid $30 for it. Sears sold a tool that met MY needs.

I also bought a 10” craftsman miter saw with stand about 18 mos ago. It was ~$100. I bought it to do a hardwood floorig project. It worked fine for the purpose even with the stock blade. And I’ve used it a bunch since then, again, with good results.
Plenty of the craftsman hand tools are good too. Some people claim craftsman hand tools can’t stand up to daily use. BS! I had plenty of CM tools in my toolbox when I worked as an auto mechanic. I had snap-on and matco stuff too. None of it ever failed. I have a CM $20 flex head ratchet that I like 100X more than the $75 snap-on flex head I also had.

Oh that biscuit fointer you mentioned is definitely on my shopping list. It gets great reviews and looks like it’ll meet my needs just fine. And I’ll probably also buy a craftsman drill press….....IF the current one in my shop ever finally dies. LOL. (Its been properly mounted and restored since this pic)

View rivergirl's profile

rivergirl

3198 posts in 1561 days


#10 posted 04-04-2011 03:43 PM

What a fun and interesting thread!

-- Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

View Bob Kollman's profile

Bob Kollman

1797 posts in 1913 days


#11 posted 04-04-2011 04:09 PM

Ted, that’s quite a table saw. Nice avatar!!!!

-- Bob Kenosha Wi.

View Bob Kollman's profile

Bob Kollman

1797 posts in 1913 days


#12 posted 04-04-2011 04:18 PM

Bob, and David, you bring up a good point about the failures of other tool lines. Porter cable, bosch, and
delta in my experience have had a loser or two yet they don’t seem to get the bad rap that craftsman
sometimes gets.

Topmax: “What would America Be if there hadn’t of been a Sears Roebuck?” A good observation, because
they were around during the building years of this country.

Thanks everyone else, it seems I’ve found a lot of Die Hards on LJ’s today.

-- Bob Kenosha Wi.

View Gregn's profile

Gregn

1642 posts in 1706 days


#13 posted 04-04-2011 04:34 PM

There is no denying Craftsman’s brand revolutionized the tool industry and once was a brand highly recommended by our fathers, grandfathers and great grandfathers. Like any tool company today they have their share of good and bad. While I do have some Craftsman tools most of which are older tools the newest being my 6 1/8” jointer planer. My problem with Craftsman isn’t so much to do with the quality of their tools as it is in their customer service and support when it comes to their tools.

For me they have become one of the hardest companies to deal with when it comes to customer service and support. If they respond at all they are very slow and offer very little information. Trying to get parts has led me to look else where to repair a tool. Their reluctant to even tell you who the original manufacturer is to be able to contact for information on parts. I had to wait over a month for parts for my scroll saw. They had to special order parts for my 18 ga. brad nailer and couldn’t give me a estimated delivery date. Say what you want about HF but at least when I have contacted Central Machine I have had good customer service and support.

Since customer service and support are my first priority when buying a tool, Craftsman is at the bottom in my decision making process in that purchase. So when Craftsman comes out with a new tool I don’t get excited because the manufacturer of the tool will generally have a spin off of it under their brand. Which is generally a company that is easier to deal with.

In the area of customer service and support in my opinion Craftsman lives up to the legacy it has been given. As to quality, like any other tool you buy you get what you pay for.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View Shopsmithtom's profile

Shopsmithtom

780 posts in 2917 days


#14 posted 04-04-2011 04:44 PM

Nicely done commentary, Bob. Over the years I’ve had many Craftsman tools and they have all served me well. I think we can all agree that the line has changed in recent years, but that can be said for all the other brands as well. It has to be a tough job today to try to sell a reasonably priced product that will provide any level of reliability. -SST

-- Accuracy is not in your power tool, it's in you

View Verna's profile

Verna

202 posts in 1496 days


#15 posted 04-04-2011 04:50 PM

When I started woodworking in the late 70’s, early 80’s, I only knew of one name brand of tools—Craftsman. My father had a Craftsman Radial Arm Saw, a Craftsman metal 1/2 sheet sander, Craftsman metal hand-held drill, and a Craftsman metal jig saw, and he bought them in the 50’s. He got rid of the Radial Arm Saw years ago, but he won’t give up the hand tools.

The first stationary tool I bought was a 12” Craftsman Bandsaw. I have used it, maybe abused its abilities, and (knock on wood) I’ve only replaced blades, the tires and the key in the motor (that may not be the correct terminology…the little rectangle piece of metal…..it’s been a while since I replaced it). I’ve had it set up to use 1/8” blades for well over 25 years and it will stay that way.

I bought a benchtop Craftsman drill press in the mid 80’s. I had to replace the chuck key that was lost during a move. I have gotten more than my original investment from just these two tools.

I sold two Craftsman routers a few years ago to a former co-worker. He wanted them for parts for his Craftsman routers. I told him that he may reconsider when he got them….one of them was barely used and I had gotten it from a garage sale. The other one had been purchased by me in the 80’s and just needed new brushes. I do miss the lock on that router—now I have to use two wrenches to change bits on my PC routers.

I was very sad when my Craftsman 7 1/4” circular saw quit a few years ago. I did go back to Sears for a replacement, but things changed in the many years I had my circular saw. They went to a safety feature of having two buttons to hold down in order to use the saw. Being a female with smaller hands, I was unable to use most of the saws Sears had on display because I couldn’t reach both buttons at the same time….except for a Skilsaw. So, I have a Skil saw….another one of the lesser expensive name brands that gets a bum rap a lot of time, too.

So anyway, as BobG mentioned, all name brands have had their problems. Some of us wouldn’t be in this hobby if it wasn’t for the Craftsman name.

-- Verna -- Indianapolis, IN

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