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Why I Will Keep Buying Craftsman Tools

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Blog entry by dfdye posted 11-05-2010 01:31 AM 1508 reads 0 times favorited 23 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I know the initial reactions to most Craftsman tools from serious wood workers are typically 1) they are overpriced (at least when not on sale) and 2) they really aren’t that great in terms of quality. Most of the time I would agree with those sentiments, but when I buy Craftsman I typically look for closeouts, clearance, or door-buster deals. If you keep an eye out, you can typically find some good deals on Craftsman tools, making them quite reasonable. I will readily concede that the quality of Craftsman tools is not up to the level of some other brands, but many of the Craftsman Professional tools are more than sufficient for my non-professional needs, even if they do need a little tweaking from time to time.

With that in mind, I picked up a “Craftsman Professional 13 planer that had been a floor model for about 1/3 of its original price. Knowing it was a floor model, and that there was a greater chance of it having some problems, I got the service agreement for quite a reasonable price, and brought it home. After testing it out on some scrap 2X4’s, I realized that the planer wasn’t quite right (a situation I had sort of expected—thus the reason I got the service plan). I called up the service center, dropped the planer off at my local Sears, and was told to expect it back in about 3 weeks. Granted, this was a little sad since I was enthusiastic about prepping some stock for a project I had been saving some rough-cut lumber for, but I figured that for the price, I could wait.

Fast forward two weeks: I got a call from the service center saying the cutter head was off and that the base was warped, probably from being mis-handled in the store before I purchased it, and that the replacement cost would be cheaper than fixing it. The shop immediately issued a replacement order, and I was given a brand new planer as a replacement for the floor model I originally purchased.

WOW! What a great follow-through with customer service! Since then, the planer has been working just fine, and I have been more than happy with its performance.

Last night I was cleaning up some pallet boards that I have been planning to use in boxes for Christmas presents (some nice walnut and cherry—I really lucked out with that haul), and I noticed that mid-way through planing, some boards started coming out with a crown. That was odd, but I hadn’t replaced the blades in a while, so I thought the blades just weren’t cutting right (plus, I had noticed a bit of tear out, so I figured it was time to bite the $30 bullet (which is quite a decent price IMHO) and drop a new set of blades in. When I pulled the blades, I noticed the gibs were slightly warped, which seemed to be the real cause of the uneven planer performance.

Today I called the service center asking about buying some replacement gibs. They are only about $9 each, so I figured it wouldn’t be too expensive of a fix, but I figured that I had paid for the service plan (that had already paid for itself!), so it wouldn’t hurt to ask if the gibs were covered under my warranty. After pulling up my service contract, the Sears representative said that they were, and that she would be happy to replace them for free. The representative then asked if there were any other problems with the planer, and I mentioned that the warping of the gibs caused some uneven wear on the blades. She immediately said they would be happy to replace the blades as well since the failure of the warrantied part resulted in damage to the blades.

WOW AGAIN!!

The gibs and the blades would have cost more than I paid for the service contract, not even counting the initial replacement planer that it already got me. Couple that with the fact that it includes a yearly tune up and blade sharpening (in this case replacement) for the life of the service contract, it has turned out to be quite a deal. After I get Christmas presents done, I am planning on dropping the planer in for its one year service to get a new set of blades, a good cleaning, lubrication, and alignment of everything. Granted I could do all of that myself, but I will have a nice chunk of shop down-time, so why not let someone else do it?

I have heard more than a few horror stories about customer service from tool companies lately, so I figured it would be good to share a positive story. I know Craftsman may not be the pinnacle of quality, but from my experience with their customer service, they have tried to follow through to make sure that the tools I have bought from them continue to work right. Customer service matters, and my positive experiences with Sears will keep me buying Craftsman tools if the price is right and it fits my needs.

As a final note, this is the ONLY major problem I have ever had with any of my Craftsman tools, so hopefully that streak will continue in the future.

-- David from Indiana --



23 comments so far

View Abbott's profile

Abbott

2570 posts in 1959 days


#1 posted 11-05-2010 01:40 AM

I have pretty much given up on Craftsman power tools. There are better tools out there that are in the same price range.

-- Ohh mann...pancakes and boobies...I'll bet that's what Heaven is like! ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

View woody57's profile

woody57

645 posts in 2083 days


#2 posted 11-05-2010 01:59 AM

I’m with you abbott

-- Emmett, from Georgia

View brianinpa's profile

brianinpa

1809 posts in 2378 days


#3 posted 11-05-2010 02:05 AM

Nothing wrong with Craftsman tools. You just need to know what you are buying. For me – the older the better.

-- Brian, Lebanon PA, If you aren’t having fun doing it, find something else to do.

View StumpyNubs's profile

StumpyNubs

6192 posts in 1456 days


#4 posted 11-05-2010 02:35 AM

I buy Festool because I like to pay triple the price for that neon green color :)

I have some craftsman stuff that’s well used and well worth the price.

-- It's the best woodworking show since the invention of wood... New episodes at: http://www.stumpynubs.com

View dfdye's profile

dfdye

372 posts in 1693 days


#5 posted 11-05-2010 03:07 AM

Like I said, I completely agree with the normal prices for Craftsman tools being too high for their quality. I shop sales and clearance, and have usually gotten much better deals than their every-day advertised prices. After Christmas returns are especially a great time to look. I’m not really out to convince anyone to buy from Sears, but what keeps me interested is how good their customer service is if something you DO get has a problem. Even with their clearance stuff, they stand behind their products, which is more than can be said for a number of other companies. All that I am really arguing is that Sears’ customer service really followed through on a tool I bought that has had a couple of problems.

Would I like to have an all-Festool shop? Absolutely!!! Their quality is most definitely better, and I am sure their customer service is excellent. There is just no way I can justify the price.

-- David from Indiana --

View Abbott's profile

Abbott

2570 posts in 1959 days


#6 posted 11-05-2010 03:15 AM

Well bringing Festool into the conversation is just a way to try and belittle the Craftsman quality argument. They have to shoot high becuase similar price of better quality tools doesn’t allow for a lesser example. Everyone with enough experience knows that the Craftsman brand is not what it used to be and that a person does not have to shell out the bones for Festool brand to upgrade over Craftsman. Just about any other brand that is carried by Lowe’s and Home Depot is a step up over Craftsman tools except Ryobi which is made in the same factory as Craftsman tools.

-- Ohh mann...pancakes and boobies...I'll bet that's what Heaven is like! ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

View SouthpawCA's profile

SouthpawCA

254 posts in 1889 days


#7 posted 11-05-2010 04:27 AM

I also purchased a Craftsman Professional tool … In my case it is a table saw #22124. I also purchased the service agreement. Everything was fine the first year in my opinion, but they called and said it was time for a yearly checkup. OK, so they came to my home and gave it the once over – free of charge. Everything was still good, but I was there watching every measurement he took. Then he told that the saw I purchased at what I though t was a good price – $899—the last one on the floor before the granite one came out, went for $499. No big deal, I got plenty of use out of mine.

-- Don

View robert triplett's profile

robert triplett

1481 posts in 1760 days


#8 posted 11-05-2010 04:42 AM

I bought a Craftsman Hybrid table saw 6 or 7 years ago to replace a $200.00 Delta table saw that was 15 years old. I have been very happy with the saw. I get glue line quality rips using a freud blade. I do not trust any of the angle or fence indicators. I use other guages for them. I haven’t had to do anything to it except empty the saw dust and have the blades sharpened. That said, I have tried their routers and have had a few replaced. The lower cost tools are not very good. My 20 year old PC router is still my main one. I switched all of my other tools to some other brand as I needed a new one.
Robert

-- Robert, so much inspiration here, and so little time!

View Gregn's profile

Gregn

1642 posts in 1639 days


#9 posted 11-05-2010 06:32 AM

David, Since your post is directed at their customer service. Let me say that I’m glad that you have gotten good service from them and are pleased with them. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for myself and that my experience with them has just been the opposite. Which is why I don’t purchase Sears products anymore. I have gotten much better and prompter service with other tool companies. I hope that things continue to work out for you with Sears customer service.

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

View twokidsnosleep's profile

twokidsnosleep

1063 posts in 1629 days


#10 posted 11-05-2010 06:57 AM

Man, you are stowing some horseshoes somewhere in your body, buy a lottery ticket now!!
Happy for you that the Sears customer service worked in your favor

-- Scott "Some days you are the big dog, some days you are the fire hydrant"

View Russ's profile

Russ

356 posts in 1733 days


#11 posted 11-05-2010 11:11 AM

I have many craftsman tools that I’ve purchased used or had purchased for me during Christmas specials. I’ve been very happy with them. I understand some concerns but some of it can be brand bias IMHO.

-- Russ

View NewPickeringWdWrkr's profile

NewPickeringWdWrkr

338 posts in 1669 days


#12 posted 11-05-2010 03:15 PM

Thanks for sharing. It’s nice to hear a positive story about customer service. Being in the customer service industry myself (at the mgmt level) I despair at the quality of service at many retail/call centres.

-- Mike - Antero's Urban Wood Designs http://anterosurbanwooddesigns.com

View GaryL's profile

GaryL

1077 posts in 1486 days


#13 posted 11-05-2010 03:30 PM

It’s great to hear about customer service that is on the positive side. It is so lacking these days. I think alot depends on the actual person you are dealing and not so much the company. It whether they want to help and do their job.

-- Gary; Marysville, MI...Involve your children in your projects as much as possible, the return is priceless.

View Anthony Finelli's profile

Anthony Finelli

52 posts in 1436 days


#14 posted 11-05-2010 06:21 PM

I love craftsman hand tools but that is where it stops for me…in my personal experience i have found their woodworking tools to be expensive and not worth the money frankly. I have just had better experiences with porter-cable, ridgid, dewalt and in some cases ryobi. I have to say though that i do have a craftsman table saw and router and have had absolutly great luck with them, so, if the tool works for you thats all that matters!

-- Salem, New York "Find something you love to do and you will never have to work another day of your life"

View Dwain's profile

Dwain

323 posts in 2515 days


#15 posted 11-05-2010 09:12 PM

I just bought a router kit for $80.00 on the suggestion of a friend. I am normally not a fan of Craftsman tools, so we will see where that takes me. Hope I receive the same service you did.

-- 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

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