So you want to know more about Craftsman manufacturing.
The short answer is pretty simple, but if you want to go deep, it will make your head hurt.
Who owns Craftsman?
Craftsman is a brand of tools, lawn and garden equipment, and workwear. Craftsman was originally a house brand established by Sears, but later they sold it to Stanley Black & Decker.
As a house brand, Craftsman tools were not made by Sears and the manufacturing was outsourced to multiple other companies.
Craftsman began selling their first items in 1927 through the Sears catalog and in their retail stores.
After the Sears-Kmart merger, they were also available in Kmart stores and several other retailers.
Sears sold Craftsman in March 2017 to Stanley Black & Decker, although Sears still hold a limited license for Craftsman products.
Who makes Craftsman tools?
As I’ve mentioned earlier, Sears has never manufactured Craftsman products themselves. Instead, they were relying on other manufacturers to make the products for them. Craftsman gave them a design and specifications and received the final product. This process is called white labeling.
Sometimes Craftsman’s products had exclusive features to the actual manufacturer’s line, at other times, they were identical. Just with a different logo slapped onto it.
Where are Craftsman wrenches made?
Mechanic tools such as socket wrenches make up the core of the brand. Over the years, they’ve been made by a variety of manufacturers in:
- New Britain
- Moore Drop Forging
- Easco Hand Tools
- Danaher Corporation
- Apex Tool Group
Where are Craftsman screwdrivers made?
Screwdrivers have been manufactured by Pratt-Read and Western Forge. The latter also supplied pliers and adjustable wrenches.
Nowadays, Western Forge no longer supplies Craftsman.
Apex Tool Group and Western Forge
Hand tools that have been manufactured by Apex Tool Group (formerly known as Danaher), such as ratchets, sockets, and wrenches began to be sourced overseas. You can guess where. If you guessed China, you’d be correct. But to be fair, some were produced in Taiwan.
Tools produced by Western Forge, such as adjustable wrenches, screwdrivers, pliers, and larger mechanic toolsets remain made in the US. Although some of the production is also moving to Asia.
Sears still has an Industrial line that is sold through various authorized distributors. These tools are made in the US, 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-made standard Craftsman product before production switched overseas to Asia.
After the Stanley Black & Decker acquisition
Shortly after the acquisition, they announced the construction of a factory in northern Forth Worth, Texas to bring Craftsman Tool manufacturing to the USA.
Many Craftsman portable power tools have been manufactured by Techtronic Industries, who acquired the prior supplier – Diehl Motor Company (a one-time division of Singer) and Ryobi.
Sears hand power tools have also been produced by DeWalt under the “900” model prefix. Some, such as the corded and cordless drills, were indistinguishable, other than the color and decal labels.
Many Craftsman bench and stationary power tools were manufactured by Emerson Electric Company under the “113” model prefix (previously under the “103” model prefix which was King-Seeley, but Emerson bought them out in the 1960s) and DeWalt. Air compressors were manufactured by DeVilbiss Air Power (formerly part of Dewalt. DeVilbiss is now owned by MAT Holdings who made compressors for Sears under the “921” model prefix), and formerly by Campbell Hausfeld under the “106” model prefix.
Tool storage has typically been manufactured by Waterloo Industries (“706” model prefix), however, as of 2020, Waterloo no longer manufactures tool storage for the Sears line of Craftsman. It is now supplied under the “714” model prefix by Montezuma Tool Storage, but the Craftsman tool storage sold in Lowes is still Waterloo made. The Craftsman-branded garage door openers are manufactured by The Chamberlain Group (“139” model prefix). Hammers have been produced by Vaughan-Bushnell (coded “M” on the tool). Many of the automotive specialty tools such as feeler gauges and gap gauges have been made by A&E Tool Company of Raccine, Wisconsin (these tools will have an “S” logo in a circle). Ullman Devices of Ridgefield, Connecticut makes many of the magnetic pick up tools, picks, and inspection mirrors for Sears.
Some tools have codes on them that correspond to the manufacturer that produceed the product for Sears (see Alloy Artifacts website reference below). For example, on hand tools, codes on them will indicate who made them for Sears. For example, Western Forge sourced tools will have a “WF” stamped on the tool.
Tools produced by Moore Drop Forge/Easco (1968 and after) will have a “V” on Stanley/National Hand Tool will have an “E” or “EE”, and later Danaher made tools (US made) will have a “VV” (carried over from Easco in 1990) or a “VV” (inverted second “V”), upside down “G”, GK, G1, G2, and G2D. Pliers have been sourced by a few vendors including the aforementioned Western Force “WF” tools and Wilde Industries which have a “P” on the tool. Some sockets (notably the ¾ drive US made units) were made by S-K (coded “X” on the tool). Many major Sears Craftsman items as noted above also have a vendor prefix, which is typically the first three digits before the perior 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.
Sourcing of products
You may find different versions of Craftsman products at the different outlets that sell them. After the acquisition by SBD, the outlets can source Craftsman from the suppliers of their own choosing.
For example retailer 1 may be sourcing Craftsman from China and an equivalent model sold at retailer 2 may be sourced from a supplier in Taiwan and so on.
Suppliers for Craftsman under the Sears
Sears has sold outdoor equipment under the Craftsman name for many years. Sears had several suppliers of this equipment such as:
- David Bradley
- American Yard Products
Most of their products are advertised as having an unlimited lifetime warranty. This originated in 1927 when Sears began selling Craftsman.
What’s surprised me, is that this warranty program requires NO RECEIPT or proof of purchase. If the owner brings the item into a store, it may be replaced free of charge.
Warranty under Sears
Sears has reduced the warranty in effect on many non-powered lawn and garden products, including:
- Hose nozzles
- And other small gardening hand tools
Problems with obtaining warranty
Many consumers have been reporting problems with attempting to obtain warranty repair or replacement on tools that are covered by the full lifetime warranty.
Sears’s official stance was that the warranty should be honored, and if there were any problems, they lie with individual sales associates.
In some cases, Sears no longer sells some tools such as tape measures and wood clamps, which makes it impossible to replace with a similar tool.
Furthermore, some Sears stores limit the number of hand tools that you can exchange per day, in an effort to reduce the abuse of the lifetime warranty. But SBD has stated that all previous warranties will be honored.
As of 2018 and onward, some of the packaging on the newer products indicates that there may be a limit on returning warranty tools.
As of February 2019, the “non-Sears” Craftsman doesn’t have “open-stock” in stores as Sears does to replace individual items from a set that may require a warranty.
SBD has indicated that they are working on introducing more individual tools to stores.
Warranty on power tools
Power tools have a 1-year warranty.
Customers can exchange any version of the Sears Craftsman product at the stores that sell such products. Those are:
Stores such as Lowes that only sell SBD Craftsman products will only exchange replacement items at SBD Craftsman supplied stores. For example, you can’t replace a broken Sears ratchet at Lowe’s.