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.