|Product type||Hand tools, power tools, lawn and garden equipment, work wear|
|Owner||Stanley Black & Decker|
|Introduced||May 20, 1927|
|Related brands||Evolv, Craftsman Professional, Craftsman Industrial, Companion, Dunlap|
Craftsman tools were first sold in 1927. They are not manufactured by Sears, but by various other companies under contract. The tools are sold in Sears, sister retailer Kmart, and several other retailers.
In March 2017, Stanley Black & Decker acquired the Craftsman brand from Sears Holdings. Sears maintains the right to manufacture and sell tools using existing supply channels under the Craftsman name for 15 years after the deal closed.
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 marketed a "Sears Best" line of hand tools for a time.
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 make a claim.
Craftsman tools are sold in Sears and sister store Kmart, as well as US military Army and Air Force Exchange Service stores, Summit Racing Equipment, Blain's Farm & Fleet, Menards, W. W. Grainger, Ace Hardware, Montgomery Ward, and Orchard Supply Hardware.[additional ]
On January 5, 2017, Stanley Black & Decker announced its intent to acquire the Craftsman brand in a deal with a total value of $900 million (with an up-front payment of $525 million, and a payment of $250 million after three years). Sears will hold a royalty-free license to the Craftsman brand for a 15-year period after the completion of the sale, and will receive a royalty on all new Craftsman sales over this period. Afterwards, Sears will pay Stanley Black & Decker a 3% licensing fee. The deal was closed on March 9, 2017. Sears maintains the right to manufacture and sell tools using existing supply channels under the Craftsman name for 15 years.
Sears has never manufactured Craftsman products itself, instead relying on other manufacturers to make the products for them following Sears designs and specifications, and then applying 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. At other times, Craftsman products are identical to models of other brands with a different name on them.
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.
Beginning in 2010, hand tools manufactured for Craftsman by Apex Tool Group such as ratchets, sockets, and wrenches began to be sourced 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; these tools are US made, appearing 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 previously produced the US product before production switched overseas to Asia.
Many Craftsman portable power tools have been manufactured by Techtronic Industries. 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 labels. Many Craftsman bench and stationary power tools have been manufactured by Emerson Electric Company and DeWalt. Air compressors were manufactured by DeVilbiss Air Power (part of Dewalt), and formerly by Campbell Hausfeld. Tool storage has typically been manufactured by Waterloo Industries, while Craftsman-branded garage door openers are manufactured by The Chamberlain Group.
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.
In 2007, a Harris Interactive poll gave Craftsman the highest score for both "Brand Expectations" and "Trust". 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.
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 individual sales 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.
Sears stores limit the number of hand tools that can be exchanged per day, in an effort to reduce the abuse of the lifetime warranty. After Stanley Black & Decker's purchase of Craftsman in 2017, they have stated all previous warranties on Craftsman products will be honored.
Power tools have a one-year 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".
From 1995 to 2008, Craftsman sponsored the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, a deal which began with the inception of the Truck Series. After the 2008 season, Craftsman withdrew from sponsoring the series and was replaced by Camping World. In 2016, Craftsman returned to motorsports sponsorship, serving as the title name for the World of Outlaws, renaming the Sprint Car Series and Late Model Series to the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series and World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series, respectively.