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Old 09-02-2014, 01:37 AM   #1
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Craftsman: USA made no more

This came to my attention a few months ago, and i looked it up online. Some of you may know about this, but i thought it was worth starting a thread to express my opinion.
I found a thread from 2012 explaining that many craftsman hand tools are now outsourced. Being 20 and still building my basic tool collection with USA-made whenever possible, i found this to be a devastating blow(Especially as a shop worker who's business battles with overseas competitors).

I went to Sears myself and sure enough, Craftsman wrenches, ratchets, and sockets are no longer stamped with USA. All their new Mach lines that they're pushing are all Chinese metal and plastic garbage as well.
I also have fair reason to believe that their rebuild kits for their ratchets are Chinese steel as well. I have taken a stripped 3/8 ratchet back for a rebuild, and went back home and stripped out the new gearing on the same exact job. I've also taken many broken sockets & extensions back and blindly accepted Chinese junk for an acceptable replacement, as i didn't know at the time about the outsourcing.

In fact, i took a second look at the basic wrench set my parents got me for Christmas last year, and saw no USA markings. I then compared one of mine to my dad's exact wrench from some-20-years ago, and the difference was apparent. You can see the increase in thickness to make up for lesser-metals.


I know Craftsman's power, air, lawn and garden tools and machinery have been made over seas for as long as i remember. That i knew and kinda' wrote off as a lost cause. Honestly power tools are so far gone that it's near-impossible to get a hold of USA made power tools unless you want to take out a loan.
But the fact that they snuck their hand tool lineup over to China under the radar, really bothers me. I've been using my dad's craftsman tools ever since i was a kid and it's always been a name i trusted, just as i assume many people do.

Yesterday i went back to Sears and took a closer look at their tools. It seems some have escaped foreign reign on their production(for now). Their screw-drivers, pliers, hammers and a few other tools are still USA-made. As it stands right now, i'll be filling my tool collection with as much craftsman i can before all the production heads to China. I'll be using them gingerly, trying to extend their life. I also troll garage sales and have picked up a few steals. A 100% complete Craftsman mechanics ratchet set from the 90s for 5$ still remains to be the best and most used 5$ I've ever spent. Besides that, i'm doing my best to read up on all the USA-made brands so i can look out for them at sales and flea markets. That has netted me some USA-made tools on the cheap.

I know a lot of people who wrench with just the cheaper harbor freight and do fine by it. My personal opinion on HF is a mixed bag. I've been burned by them a few times but still go back for more, and because of that I've weeded out a few good tools that serve me well.

On the other hand, i know a few people who swear against brands like HF. My girlfriend's dad's philosophy is "What happens when you break your last ratchet at 11 PM on a Sunday night and you need your truck Monday morning?"
Because of that, he has a wide range of snap-on from the 80s and damn do those tools feel GOOD. I used them extensively as i swapped in my rebuilt 4.0 in their garage, and the ergonomics is truly fantastic and the best you can buy. That is, if you can actually afford to buy them.

Much appreciated for reading my ramblings, especially through to the end! How do fellow Jeepers feel about this? What do you wrench with and how picky are you about your country of origin? What are some of the lesser-known USA brands in your toolbox that you can call out and support?

I personally have become much more of a snob about USA-made in the past few months, and that's something i can say i'm proud I've gotten a wake-up call to. Sure, my savings is a little dryer because of it, but that extra cash is at least going to shopworkers who work their asses off forging only the best.

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Old 09-02-2014, 03:06 AM   #2
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Crap, & I have some wrenches & screwdrivers that I need warranted...,

It's sad that so, so many American jobs have gone over-seas. But then we've been collectively sad about that for a long time. The latest rumblings are that the Chinese worker is beginning to enjoy the good life, and have begun demanding a higher wage. How that works out, who knows, it is a very different world over there.

My hope is that it will lead to a quality American product returning to our country that comes from a competitively based wage earning work force.

It's a weird world.

p.s. & I cannot begin to tell you how many harbor freight tools I've thrown across the shop in anger after they've failed sometime between 11pm and 1am, (that sweet spot of, shut-down for the night and too many beers to care). I refuse to buy anything there anymore.

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Old 09-02-2014, 03:38 AM   #3
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I think that was about the same time Craftsman tools became available at Target stores. I am not sure who really won in that Target Sears merger.
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Old 09-02-2014, 06:45 AM   #4
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I am a retired auto tech and have had both Snap-On and Craftsman tools.
Craftsman tools were not intended for the professional they don't have the feel or durability that is required by someone who uses them constantly day after day. So I kept my Craftsman at home and my Snap-On at work. I now use the Craftsman for runs to the u pull it where I wouldn't mind loosing a tool as much.
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Old 09-02-2014, 07:45 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mowrangler View Post
I am a retired auto tech and have had both Snap-On and Craftsman tools.
Craftsman tools were not intended for the professional they don't have the feel or durability that is required by someone who uses them constantly day after day. So I kept my Craftsman at home and my Snap-On at work. I now use the Craftsman for runs to the u pull it where I wouldn't mind loosing a tool as much.
I agree. Craftsman tools certainly aren't the prime on the market. Even their old wrenches/ratchet are bulky and combersome when compared to other premium brands. And their sockets lack that taper that Snap-on and the sort have to slim them down for those hard-to-reach places.

With that being said, though. Craftsman has(or had) it's place as a reasonably-priced tool brand that is USA-made, obtainable from a department store, and has a good warranty program. Though I have no doubt that they will get rid of their lifetime guarantee shortly after every last tool production is outsourced.

I still choose to purchase craftsman irregardless. It's convenient to go to sears and pick up a tool you need and know it is at least of decent USA-quality. I actually just picked up a 48oz sledge and a pair of wire strippers from there yesterday. The strippers seem to want to cut off some of the copper wires when I try to strip insulation off, unlike my dad's set of Klein tools strippers, which work perfect every time. Perhaps I just need to get used to them and hold the wire differently.

And for the sledge, well how to you mess up a lump of steel attached to a fiberglass stick? Short of the head falling off, it should smack things pretty well.
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Old 09-03-2014, 03:34 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hexiled Razz View Post
This came to my attention a few months ago....

I know Craftsman's power, air, lawn and garden tools and machinery have been made over seas for as long as i remember. That i knew and kinda' wrote off as a lost cause. Honestly power tools are so far gone that it's near-impossible to get a hold of USA made power tools unless you want to take out a loan. But the fact that they snuck their hand tool lineup over to China under the radar, really bothers me. I've been using my dad's craftsman tools ever since i was a kid and it's always been a name i trusted, just as i assume many people do.

Much appreciated for reading my ramblings, especially through to the end! How do fellow Jeepers feel about this? What do you wrench with and how picky are you about your country of origin? What are some of the lesser-known USA brands in your toolbox that you can call out and support?

I personally have become much more of a snob about USA-made in the past few months, and that's something i can say i'm proud I've gotten a wake-up call to. Sure, my savings is a little dryer because of it, but that extra cash is at least going to shopworkers who work their asses off forging only the best.
The company where I've worked 38 years got bought a few years ago by the same conglomerate that bought Craftsman tools. They outsourced Craftsmen tools to China and closed the plants down. Many lost their jobs. They recently sold Craftsman to another firm after they gutted it - only wanted it for the profits.

This is their mode of operation... they buy old American brands that still have US operations, pension plans and decent benefits. They swoop in when the stock price takes a hit for whatever reason and gut the company of their long service employees, freeze pensions and shut down plants. Move it overseas where labor is cheap.

Beware.. This is done intentionally under the radar to old brands that made this country once a great place to work and have decent retirement and health benefits. They have ties to Washington.. were originally lobbyist that became filthy rich and started investing in name brands - quietly moving offshore.

If you buy Matco tools you are funding this activity...

I have a garage full of Craftsman tools and roll-aways from the 70's - considered all vintage stuff. I would only replace my tools with vintage Craftsman tools from Craigslist.

Btw... Sears got bought by KMART and they subsequently sold the Sears catalog and tool divisions. This is when Craftsman tools took a turn for the worst.. sad to see Sears slip into the clutches of KMART brand.

I still see the old Sears building in Los Angeles... end of a golden era. The building will be gutted as well, make room for condos.

Good luck finding American made brands.. I will aways pay more if its American made.

A side note... I attached a photo of an old vintage Craftsman tool box, circa 1940. I collect old unrestored art deco Craftsman tool boxes when I find a good one. This one is worth about $250.

Enjoy..

.
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Old 09-03-2014, 04:18 AM   #7
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Found this out a couple years back when my torque wrench fell apart. Looking for similar experiences, I found out why.
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Old 09-03-2014, 12:51 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m998dna View Post
.....

Btw... Sears got bought by KMART and they subsequently sold the Sears catalog and tool divisions. This is when Craftsman tools took a turn for the worst.. sad to see Sears slip into the clutches of KMART brand.

..........
I didn't know that but it explains why the local K-Mart has a huge Craftsman section. I didn't realize they outsourced either since I don't have much of their brand. Bummer.
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Old 09-05-2014, 12:25 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by m998dna View Post

The company where I've worked 38 years got bought a few years ago by the same conglomerate that bought Craftsman tools. They outsourced Craftsmen tools to China and closed the plants down. Many lost their jobs. They recently sold Craftsman to another firm after they gutted it - only wanted it for the profits.

This is their mode of operation... they buy old American brands that still have US operations, pension plans and decent benefits. They swoop in when the stock price takes a hit for whatever reason and gut the company of their long service employees, freeze pensions and shut down plants. Move it overseas where labor is cheap.

Beware.. This is done intentionally under the radar to old brands that made this country once a great place to work and have decent retirement and health benefits. They have ties to Washington.. were originally lobbyist that became filthy rich and started investing in name brands - quietly moving offshore.
Indeed; the cooperate game is a sick and twisted one that plays with and potentially destroys the lives of the "little guys" that once made this country an industrial giant.
I experience the same mentality with my company; though on a much smaller scale. We used to only have a couple plants that turned a decent profit. But last year when we opened up the plant that I work at, the company got their hands on such a nitch market and the facility began printing money; essentially. Currently ensuing is forced overtime with threats of layoffs with non-compliance, and soon the facility will migrate to a 24/7 operation as per the owner's demands. Once the man with the silver spoon in his mouth gets the taste of the golden one, he will never want to go back.

With that being said; I'm proud of the company I work for and the product I make. Just not of the steaming pile of dung that owns it.

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