|Product type||Hand tools, power tools, lawn and garden equipment, work wear|
|Owner||KCD IP, LLC
a Sears Holdings subsidiary
|Related brands||Evolv, Craftsman Professional, Craftsman Industrial, Companion, Dunlap|
Craftsman is a line of tools, lawn and garden equipment, and work wear controlled by Sears Holdings. The brand is owned by KCD IP, LLC, a special purpose entity created by Sears Holdings for securitization purposes that also owns Sears house brands Kenmore and DieHard.
The tools are sold in Sears, Kmart, and Orchard Supply Hardware stores, as well as Fastenal, US military Army and Air Force Exchange Service stores, Summit Racing Equipment, Menards, W. W. Grainger and Ace Hardware.
Craftsman also shares a studio space with Kenmore at the Kenmore Craftsman Brand Live Experience in downtown Chicago at 233 W Huron. No tools are sold at this location but there are occasional shows and cooking demos held at this location.
Consumers have ranked the Craftsman brand second (surpassed only by Waterford Crystal) in terms of quality. In 2007, Craftsman was named "America's Most Trusted Brand" and brand with "Highest Expectations". In 2009, the readers of Popular Mechanics named Craftsman their favorite brand of hand tools in their Reader's Choice Awards. Craftsman is the official tool brand of NASCAR and the DIY Network.
The Craftsman trademark was registered by Sears on May 20, 1927. Arthur Barrows, head of the company's hardware department, liked the name Craftsman and reportedly bought the rights to use it from the Marion-Craftsman Tool Company for $500. The brand's early customers were mostly farmers. Barrows' successor, Tom Dunlap, upgraded the quality of the tools and added chrome plating to them as America moved into the automobile age.
Sears' tool line, like many of its other product lines, uses a "good, better, best" pricing structure, with the Craftsman brand as the middle tier and Craftsman Professional or Craftsman Industrial as the highest tier. Craftsman Professional and Craftsman Industrial are marketed as being comparable to brands like SK, Snap on, Proto, Mac, and Matco. The standard Craftsman line is marketed as being comparable in quality to other mid-price brands including UltraPro (NAPA), Westward, Gray, Husky, and Kobalt. Sears also had its "Sears Best" line of hand tools for a time. The ratchets were known for having the finest teeth and shortest swing angle in the business.
The lowest tier was originally branded Sears. The company also used the Dunlap name for its lesser quality tools from the late 1930s until the late 1950s. The Sears tool line was discontinued in the late 1980s and replaced by the Companion tool line. The Companion tool line was itself discontinued and replaced by the Evolv tool line in 2008, with a focus on homeowners and DIYers. Evolv tools also have a lifetime warranty but require that the customer have the original dated receipt to enact it.
Sears has never manufactured Craftsman products itself, instead relying on other manufacturers to make the products for them and then apply the Craftsman brand name. Sometimes, the Craftsman branded items include exclusive features or functions that separate them from the manufacturer's own brand or other brands that that manufacturer produces. Other times, Craftsman products are identical to models of other brands with a different name on them. Beginning in 2010, hand tools manufactured for Craftsman by Apex Tool Group such as ratchets, sockets, and wrenches began being produced overseas (mainly in China although some are produced in Taiwan), while tools produced for Craftsman by Western Forge such as adjustable wrenches, screwdrivers, pliers and larger mechanic tool sets remain made in the United States. Sears still has an Industrial line which is sold through various authorized distributors and these tools are US made. They appear identical to their previous non-industrial US made counterparts, save for the "Industrial" name stamped on them. They are manufactured by Apex on the US production lines that made the previous US made product before production switched overseas to Asia. Tool storage has typically been manufactured by Waterloo Industries, while air compressors were manufatctured by DeVilbiss Air Power (part of Dewalt), and formerly by Campbell Hausfeld.
The hardline mechanic's tools (wrenches, ratchets, and sockets) that make up the core of the brand have been made by a variety of manufacturers over the years, including New Britain, Moore Drop Forging, Stanley, Easco Hand Tools, Danaher Corporation, and most recently Apex Tool Group. Screwdrivers have been manufactured by Pratt-Read but are now supplied by Western Forge, who also supply pliers and adjustable wrenches. Many Craftsman portable power tools have been manufactured by Techtronic Industries. Many Craftsman bench and stationary power tools have been manufactured by Emerson Electric Company and DeWalt. Craftsman-branded garage door openers are manufactured by The Chamberlain Group.
Today, many (possibly most at this point) of the hand tools that make up the core of the Craftsman line such as wrenches, ratchets, and sockets which have since the beginning been labeled "Made in the U.S.A." are being produced in China or Taiwan. With this change has come the expected reduction in quality for which Chinese tools have always been known. The foreign-made ratchet heads are fatter, the socket walls are thicker, and the open ends of wrenches are more bulky. This indicates poorer metallurgy which requires more mass to withstand the loads placed on the tools, and yields a more cumbersome tool. [I don't know how to cite this other than to advise potential customers to Google "Craftsman country of origin" and/or go to Sears and compare the new tools with the old, taking note of the lack of the "Made in the U.S.A." stamp which had until recently been a staple of all Craftsman hand tools. Perhaps someone else can provide some citations for this observed fact. I believe it is important to include this information in the "Craftsman" page, and was rather surprised to find no mention of it here. -Ed.]
Sears hand power tools have also been produced by DeWalt. Some, such as the corded and cordless drills, were indistinguishable, other than the color and decal. Tool chests and cabinets have typically been manufactured by Waterloo Industries. Some tools have codes on them that correspond to the manufacturer that produced the product for Sears (see Alloy Artifacts website reference below). Many major Sears Craftsman items also have a vendor prefix, which is typically the first three digits before the period or dash in the model number. These first three digits correspond to the vendor code, or the actual manufacturer contracted to make the product for Sears.
Most Craftsman hand tools are advertised as having an unlimited lifetime warranty. This lifetime warranty program was instituted by Sears when they began selling the Craftsman line in 1927. This warranty program requires no receipt or dated proof of purchase. If the owner takes the item into a local retail store, it may be replaced or repaired free of charge. In some cases, such as ratchets, the customer may be offered a repair kit with which to repair the item or an already refurbished item.
The full text of the warranty is as follows:
Sears has reduced the warranty in effect on many Craftsman non-powered lawn and garden products including rakes, shovels, clippers, brooms, trowels, pruners, hoses, sprinklers, hose nozzles, and other small gardening hand tools. Previously it was a lifetime warranty which on August 2, 2012, was reduced to 25 years with receipt required. The lifetime warranty does not include precision hand tools, such as calipers and torque wrenches,
Many consumers have also been reporting problems when attempting to obtain warranty repair or replacement on tools that are covered by the full lifetime warranty. Sears' official position is that the warranty should be honored, and much of the problem may lie with the individual sale associates. In some cases Sears no longer sells particular Craftsman tools, (tape measures, and wood clamps are two examples), making it impossible to replace a tool sold with a lifetime warranty with a similar Craftsman tool that will continue the warranty.
Some local store locations institute a 'daily limit' on the number of Craftsman Hand Tools [ wrenches, sockets, screwdrivers, etc.] which can be exchanged per day under the Sears Lifetime Warranty. This issue was addressed in 2009 in an inquiry to Sears Holding by Consumerist.Com. A corporate reply from then VP David Figler clearly stated the Lifetime Warranty was to comply with "complete customer satisfaction- period." His reply went on to state that a 'daily limit is not a valid reason for denying a customers right to exchange their Craftsman tools under the Lifetime Warranty. Despite that letter and his assurance, individual stores currently  have varying policies.
Power tools have a one-year warranty.
After the merger, Kmart began selling Craftsman products and honoring the hand tool lifetime warranty.
Craftsman tools came under fire in 2004 in a lawsuit accusing Sears of false advertising and consumer fraud for questionable use of the slogan "Made in the USA".
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