Is the Craftsman line of woodworking equipment worth trying

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Blog entry by Tem posted 04-06-2008 09:34 PM 1196 reads 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I am just starting out; I have limited funds and limited space (I am in a wheel chair sometime). I have purchased several Craftsman (Sears) items for what was a really good price, now I hear that Craftsman is “no good”, or is bad quality through and through…has anyone had any good experiences with Craftsman…is the equipment at least good enough to start with?
Thanks for your feedback

13 comments so far

View Al Navas's profile

Al Navas

305 posts in 3293 days

#1 posted 04-06-2008 09:41 PM


I used Craftsman brand tools in the shop for many years – they did the job I asked them to do. From time to time I had to spend a little extra time making sure everything had stayed in alignment, but it was all I had at the time. Many years later I decided to start upgrading – did it slowly and methodically, to where I am today.

At times it does seem like the Craftsman brand has been beaten to a larger or lesser extent. Some may have been warranted, as the brand experienced some problems. I cannot tell you where they are today, as I have not had the brand for quite a few years. I am sure others will share their thoughts with you.

-- Al Navas, Country Club, MO,

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3186 days

#2 posted 04-06-2008 09:57 PM

well now its all stuff from China really. And I’ve heard that they change their manufacturer every 5 years so if you have a tool for over five years and you need parts for it its hard to get them. A company i really like though is Steel City. there tools look great and i have yet to hear a single bad thing about them. Also Jet is a very good and consistent brand. if you have the extra money too and you want a lathe for spindles look at Laguna they have a 47/18 lathe. really if buying big tools you want to stick with those big brands in my opinion.

View GBS's profile


30 posts in 3125 days

#3 posted 04-06-2008 10:41 PM

In my experience Craftsman is a fine brand. I have a Craftsman table saw, its a middle-of-the-road contractor saw and it works well. The fence is reliable and with 1.5 HP you can make most cuts easily. I made the dust collection pretty good by adding an over-arm dust collection hose that I made at home. I have a couple of craftsman nailers that I use for trim work that I clean and oil religiously. Plus Im sort of partial to the brand because I use all Craftsman hand tools because of the warranty and the fact that they are almost all made in USA. There’s a sears nearby my house. The power tools are asian, but its not easy to find one that isnt now!! IMO Craftsman is a fine choice for tools and if you feel the need to move up someday, nobody’s going to stop you

View nitpicker's profile


4 posts in 3158 days

#4 posted 04-06-2008 11:06 PM

I doubt that thare is not a single person on this site that hasn’t bought , used, and cursed Craftsman tools. Yes, of course they are good enough to start with. Some may not last as long as you want them to, and the warranty on electrical woodworking tools is iffy, but they will do the job. Case in point. Twelve years ago I bought a honk’in Craftsman 2 1/2 horse router for a router table. My intention was to replace it with a bigger name later when it got sloppy or broke down. Twelve years later it’s going—every day with all manner of bits from 1/2” to panel at 2 1/2 ”. Tem, although Craftsman has changed its philosophy with their tools over time opting more for lower cost than lifelong performance, don’t let anyone tell you they won’t do the job. Now, that being said. Sometimes the gears are sloppy or noisy or nylon instead of metal. They (for the most part) won’t run under heavy load all day, every day (electrical—not their mechanical which are quite good). Their tolerances are exceptional to start, but they deteriorate over time and the repair costs are exhorbitant. But I can name several brands (Ryobi, Harbor Freight, Stanley,Skil, Bosch) for example that are perceived to be better or equal quality but with me at least have a worse record. As you develop more skill you will find two things. You will find, use and purchase electrical tools that work, are easy to handle, “feel” right under power and load. You will likely gravitate to not the most expensive tool but best value (not cost—VALUE). Secondly, the more you learn and do, the fewer power tools you’ll use for presentation work because your skill with hand tools that are tuned and much more easily controlled actually beats the output of the electronic tool. In the case of dovetails—unless you have need for tens of identical items, it’s actually faster for a Master to cut them by hand. You will get more satisfaction from knowing how it was made too!!! Don’t get suckered into the higher price is better value argument. It can be true but also false. Bessey and Festool, Powermatic are examples for me. These companies make excellent products, but the Jet clamps and DeWalt, Porter Cable, Jet, Milwaukee brands, while not cheap, will serve you just as well. Everybody puts down Chinese tools. It’s pure BS. For precision tools the Chinese are making tools just as precise, reliable, hard duty as anyone in the world and the cost is less. You may have other objections for purchasng them, but accuracy is not the limiting factor. This is getting long so I’ll cut it short. When you are starting out the tool is not the more limiting factor. The more important factor is you. Hand eye coordination, “feel”, sharpening skills, tuned tools, design, “tricks” is what you need to learn. If you can deal with yourself and have the desire to do it right, the rest will come more easily. A Craftsman tool can do the work. It’s your satisfaction that will determine if it is as you want it to be.

View motthunter's profile


2142 posts in 3217 days

#5 posted 04-06-2008 11:24 PM

If you asked this 20 years ago, they were a fine choice. Besides socket sets and screwdrivers, I avoid Sears like the plague They always seem to sacrifice quality for price.

-- making sawdust....

View kevinw's profile


189 posts in 3157 days

#6 posted 04-06-2008 11:51 PM

Cannot comment on current Craftsmen tools, but I have an old (probably at least 50 years) table saw and an ancient (probably 30-40) 12” planer and they get the job done for me. Recently bought a 15 years old used Craftsman lathe, but don’t know enough yet to have an opinion. Seems OK to me. I like old tools as you can see. I have less than $300 in all three and surely have gotten my money’s worth.

-- Kevin, Blue Springs, MO

View Tem's profile


4 posts in 3120 days

#7 posted 04-07-2008 12:22 AM

I can’t thank you all enough for your responses to my posting. I must admit I was a little worried with all the negative stuff that I’ve heard.
I intend to stay very active here on LJ, and I hope the old adage that “no question is a dumb question” still holds true. Based on my experience today I truly feel that I have found the best place possible to learn and expand my newfound hobby, and will try and get your collective opinion and guidance on all my efforts to become the best “Woodworker” that I can be.
Thank you all! and May God Bless

Tem, Centreville, VA

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 3406 days

#8 posted 04-07-2008 01:45 AM

I have heard a lot of bad things about Craftsman in the past few years. Why take the chance when you don’t
have to?

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View joey's profile


396 posts in 3322 days

#9 posted 04-07-2008 01:46 AM

If you want Craftsman tools check out craigs list there are always lots of used craftsman tools on there cheap. and the older ones are really sometimes the better tool, this might save you some money till you are ready to upgrade. and you might fine some better tool there also, just a thought

-- Joey~~Sabina, Ohio

View northwoodsman's profile


242 posts in 3164 days

#10 posted 04-07-2008 03:39 AM

From what I have been told by several people (including someone I know who has worked in the tool dept. at Sears for 25 years), and what I have read in blogs, many of the older sears tools were made by the company that now makes Rigid for HD (Emerson). I have a few Craftsman tools from the 70’s and early 80’s that are workhorses. In the last 10 years I gave away or sold very cheaply every Craftsman tool that was under 20 years old (2 routers, jointer, belt sander, 3 drills, grinder, industrial grinder, air compressor, 2 pneumatic nailers and pneumatic stapler, table saw, power miter box, bandsaw, jig saw, circular saw, stationary sander, dado blade, 2 orbital sanders, and more). Too many plastic parts breaking, constantly needing adjustment depending on the time of day, nothing tracking straight. I now have Delta, Jet, Porter Cable, DeWalt and Powermatic. What a difference!! It’s nice to be making things instead of fixing and adjusting tolls. I would lean towards Rigid for entry level pricing but excellent quality tools.

-- NorthWoodsMan

View Praki's profile


197 posts in 3415 days

#11 posted 04-07-2008 04:12 AM

Tem – I have very little experience with Craftsman tools. However, just yesterday I bought a Halogen Workshop Lights from Sears. After assembling it, I tried to unlock the tripod stand to adjust the height and probably used a tiny bit more force than I was supposed to. The plastic thingy that locks itself in the center support, just broke.

From this limited experience, what I see is the lack attention to critical detail and compromising on important details. I expect a tripod’s locking mechanism to be used quite lot and be sturdy enough to last. Needless to say, I was very disappointed.

It may not be as bad with older Craftsman tools. The cheap plastic part syndrome may not even be unique to the Sears brand. You just have to evaluate each tool more carefully and make a good buying decision.


-- Praki, Aspiring Woodworker

View Dadoo's profile


1789 posts in 3408 days

#12 posted 04-07-2008 07:38 AM

I’ve had pretty good luck with Craftsman and no, I’m not Bob Vila! They have a 19.2 volt drill/impact set that’s really nice (heavy but powerful) and it’s $99.00! Hand tools and sockets are very good. Check them out. The price is right until you’re ready to improve.

-- Bob Vila would be so proud of you!

View SteveKorz's profile


2134 posts in 3132 days

#13 posted 04-07-2008 03:17 PM

I bought a 12” contractor series planer 14 years ago from sears. I’m on my second set of blades, and it just keeps milling lumber. No tracking problems, nothing broke, accurate widths every time. I have a craftsman 6” jointer I bought 14 years ago at the same time. Original blades still, no problems. I have an 11 year old 2 1/2 hp contractors table saw that just keeps eating lumber, no problems with the fence, motor, or miter fence. I bought a much better blade tho. I also have a drill set (combo) that is two years old, but I’ve barely used it. I usually burn a drill set up about every two years (I put’em thru murder tho). I can’t tell you how many hundreds and hundreds of board feet of lumber that planer and jointer have milled, and thousands for the table saw (with no problems). OH—- I did replace the bearings on the jointer two years ago, cost me 8 bucks and three hours, the originals started to squeal. I have a craftsman 2hp (I think) router that I’ve had no problems with. It’s 5 years old… still plowing thru lumber, no problems. I’ve made all kinds of finger, dovetail, and cabinetry joinery with it with no accuracy problems.

I would love to say that I have some big name brand tools, but I can’t justify spending the extra money right now just to say I have them until the craftsman brands break down. So far, they haven’t. Now, that being said, most of these tools were purchased over a decade ago. Quality may have changed since then, I haven’t bought anything there recently, I haven’t had to. I would check your local tool reviews in some of the mags, or online.

Good luck- Steve.

-- As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17) †

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