Central Machine may be gone

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Forum topic by RussellAP posted 10-29-2012 02:48 PM 2310 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3104 posts in 2280 days

10-29-2012 02:48 PM

There has been a lot of talk and some proof that HF is no longer going to carry the major tools of Central Machine Co. A Chinese company using 50 year old American Die Casts to manufacture tools like BS, joiner, DC.

I don’t think CM has an outlet besides HF here in the states either.

Can anyone provide some accurate info on what’s actually happening?

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

18 replies so far

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2965 days

#1 posted 10-29-2012 04:44 PM

HF supposedly designs their own tools and then sources them from various manufacturers; who ever is cheaper. They have these tools manufactured under several “Brand Names” like Chicago Electric, Pittsburgh, Central Machinery, Central Hydraulic, and Central Forge. Then, according to their web site and in their flyers, they claim you won’t find cheaper prices on “Name Brand” discount tools anywhere. And they are not telling a lie, but they really stretch the definition of “Name Brand”.

They do seem to be shifting their product selection, but the brands never meant much anyway. For example, A drill press that was sold last year will probably still be available today, but not likely from the same factory regardless of the Central Machinery label that is pasted on it. I don’t think there is a factory anywhere with a big “Central Machinery” sign on it.

I got an email from them about a year ago, when I joined their “Inside Track Club”, that explained they were redesigning their whole tool line and striving to make the highest possible quality for the best possible price. It pointed out that they have built a new testing center to do just that. This was probably just a marketing gimmick, but it kinda explained to me why some of the crappier tools seem to be going away.

View Loren's profile


10373 posts in 3642 days

#2 posted 10-29-2012 04:49 PM

They’ll probably try to push into sort of competing with lighter
Grizzly machines by discarding the Central brand, which has a
reputation for poor fit and finish, wobbly accessories and
stuff like that.

View RussellAP's profile


3104 posts in 2280 days

#3 posted 10-29-2012 04:49 PM

I wonder if they are designing their own or just buying up old tool company molds and dies and remaking them? Either way, I’ve had great luck with their tools.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View RussellAP's profile


3104 posts in 2280 days

#4 posted 10-29-2012 04:50 PM

Loren is right about the accessories, although the tool is made well.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View Dwain's profile


524 posts in 3853 days

#5 posted 10-29-2012 04:51 PM

Same quality, different name. I’m not feeling it here. I love HF for a lot of their stuff, router trimmers, acid brushes, nitrite gloves, and other stuff. Other than the 2HP dust collector, I don’t see any great large woodworking tool at HF. Whatever the name, I am sure the quality is the same… and I won’t be purchasing any of those tools.

-- 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 teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2678 days

#6 posted 10-29-2012 05:15 PM

Dwain…aren’t many of the big tools (regardless of the label) made in the same factories? E.g. I can’t see any noticable differences between Delta or Jet other than color.

HF dumping the CM logo is most likely a means of abandoning a name associated with the old “junk” (one bad experience will kill a brand, not only for the person experiencing it but everybody he speaks with).

I’ve never bought anything from HF (I got the bad taste for cheap tools after a few Craftsman experiences). But they seem to have a lot of fans and seem to be growing.

View MrRon's profile


4758 posts in 3237 days

#7 posted 10-29-2012 05:58 PM

I have seen some HF tools that were identical to Grizzly tools, even down to the instruction manuals. I’m sure there are many companies using identical tools. Sears does it, except they change the plastic housing so it doesn’t look like the el cheapo. I’m sure Chinese manufacturers must have a catalog of “generic” tools that Sears, Grizzly, Northern Tool or HF can order from with their own brand name attached. There may also be custom features that can be included and of course, choice of color.

View Knothead62's profile


2584 posts in 2955 days

#8 posted 10-29-2012 08:00 PM

All Sears products are made by a contractor. When the contract runs out, they go out for bid and go with the lowest bidder.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4928 posts in 3954 days

#9 posted 10-29-2012 08:03 PM

“Caveat emptor”.


View dbhost's profile


5708 posts in 3226 days

#10 posted 10-29-2012 08:17 PM

Just look at my shop tour you will know I am not afraid of HF. But you have to be picky about their stuff…

14” band saw was good, a G0555X came up used for less money not long after buying it though. Still kicking myself. #34706 even at full price is tough to beat. Good machine, fair to middling stand. Typical of the Jet 1236 that it copies.
12” SCMS, took some fiddling and a new blade. But it rocks… My only complaint is typical of ANY slider of this general design, it has a HUGE space required for the slides.
Bench Top mortiser. Glad this didn’t cost me actual cash, but I don’t hate it. Much better than a mortising attachment. Just flaky fence design…
2 HP dust collector.

All in all, my shop wouldn’t be even a fraction of what it is now without HF. I am very glad I have the tools I do…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2678 days

#11 posted 10-29-2012 08:26 PM

Bill…I hear you there…but if the only difference anymore is brand and color, price might work as the buying factor. But they don’t tell you all that do they??? Guess my point is that for most stuff, they all come from the same factories…some brands continue to leverage their long term devotion to a particular color.

I’m old enough to remember when “made in Japan” was a bad thing…I think China is going through that same phase and although not quite there yet, they will be the next Toyota/Hondas (which means they will shift production back to the US…labor costs have to be going up as are the costs of moving materials and shipping finished goods back).

just MHO

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4928 posts in 3954 days

#12 posted 10-29-2012 08:35 PM

Thanks teejk.
My point is that ANY manufacturing facility will build to specifications.
Garbage in-garbage out.
I say that while touting the value of my HF DC, nails for my air nailers, and nitrile gloves.
Castings are one element. Machining is another.
I could cast babbitt bearings in a dirt mold. Getting ‘em to fit is another issue.


View Steve Peterson's profile

Steve Peterson

375 posts in 3076 days

#13 posted 10-29-2012 10:19 PM

I think that many of the machines with similar castings are still cheapened when they have the Central Machinery label. The motors and wiring always looks smaller on the Central Machinery compared to the Jet or Grizzly equivalent.

I won’t miss Central Machinery if it disappears.

-- Steve

View bandit571's profile


19956 posts in 2677 days

#14 posted 10-29-2012 10:42 PM

Other than a $.49 set screw I had to get, my $70 five speed benchtop Drill press is doing just fine.

Used the other day, in fact. Had a tote for a plane to drill, counter-bore, and even a couple Forstner bit holesto ease cutting it out

The only gripe? I hate that little plunger on the chuck key. That sticker everybody hates? well, it is flaking off now, I’ll just let it fall off into the trash. Might even re-paint the drill press a “white” colour, and draw “FOX” on it with a sharpie…

Also just picked up a small $10 “Dremel” style tool, part of an 80 pc set. Not a “real” Dremel by any means, but it still does the jobs I need done, plus, any real dremel acc. will fit this tool just fine.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View ruel24's profile


79 posts in 2287 days

#15 posted 10-31-2012 01:17 AM

Knothead62, you’re correct. I met a woman a few years back who worked for Sears and her job was to get bids for making tools for Craftsman. To say the lease, that very practice is how they’ve become synonymous with crappy tools. The lowest bidder isn’t always the best or wisest choice…

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