Craftsman Tools. Everyone has a Craftsman story, right? You remember your dad or even granddad working in the garage rebuilding the engine to a car you'd kill to own right now while you watched on trying to absorb every bit of knowledge and experience you could. What was likely consistent, was the red toolbox in the background and the sockets and wrenches a fair few still in use today. The major theme seen at this year's Craftsman Launch Event was all about these types of stories, and bringing back the quality and iconic values that Craftsman was all about. So what was the Craftsman Launch Event all about? Read on to get the scoop.
Craftsman Launch Event Overview
So let's start with some honesty. Once upon a time, Craftsman was the brand. Founded in 1927 by Sears with the help of Arthur Barrows. For a while though, it went into a bit of a slump much like the ill-fated Sears stores. When Stanley Black and Decker bought Craftsman Tools in 2017 for nearly a billion dollars we were all sort of waiting to see what was going to happen with it. Stanley Black and Decker have quite a few brands, Dewalt, Porter Cable, Bostitch, Stanley, and Black & Decker, so adding Craftsman to the lineup was perplexing. Where would it fall into the mix?
The event as a whole was amazing and was incredibly well organized. It was very obvious that their goal was to show us their motivation to bring back the legacy Craftsman tools so many of us loved at one point. Not a single detail was overlooked, and the meticulous planning translated to the tools as well. The tools impressed us all, being much higher grade and more creative than we expected.
Craftsman Launch Event -What Did We See?
So what did we see a lot of? Well, 1200 new tools were launched at this event, and while we can't possibly cover all of them, let's jump into the highlights of the launch.
They had a plethora of storage options, including large tool boxes, storage cabinets, and a wall system that you could attach your tools to as needed. We saw storage boxes dubbed the VersaStack that several people compared to the Dewalt Tstaks. Craftsman focused on making their storage systems high quality with good latches and the ability to attach them together. The clear fronts stood out to me on their bit cases as well as some of the other plastic cases, because I am always opening 6 different cases to find the bit set I need. Obviously, I could just label mine, but that would be too easy.
One thing we were surprised by was the cordless tile saw. While this model will have some limitations for the professional given the size restrictions, for the bulk of users this tile saw will serve them well. I know this is something I am eager to get my hands on! Being on a battery seemed to be unexpected, but an incredibly welcomed advancement. I think overall this stood out to me the most of all the tools as the big surprise. Huge thank you to DIY magazine for the awesome photos of me testing out this tile saw. The cordless miter saw was well is a nice addition to the line with sliding capability and 7 1/4-inch blade. During use, it was smooth and easy to use and didn't feel shaky like some have. This is a nice addition to their power tools lineup, as for a lot of beginners this saw has more than enough capacity for common usses.
One of the first tools we saw were drills. Craftsman did a live demo comparing it to their previous model and it was pretty impressive. It had a great feel to it, as did their Impact Drivers and Impact Wrenches as well as their cordless circular saw. There were some more common innovations like brushless motors and LED lights and it does run on a 20V platform. We saw a lot of other cordless power tools as well, from cordless nailers to a random orbital sander. The nailers weren't loaded, so I can't say for sure how they'll work in a real setting, they did feel to be good quality overall and the empty shots were comfortable. The cordless random orbital sander was incredibly impressive. There were minimal vibrations, so it felt comfortable, and the dust collection seemed pretty effective in this small dose. They offered a lot of options in corded tools for the traditionalist as well.
One of the things I was most curious about was the hand tools. Even in the worst lull for the Craftsman brand, their hand tools were still solid and generally well regarded. As well their warranty was one of the best in the business, which we will watch to get full details on soon. I still have my original Craftsman Mechanics set of sockets and ratchets, not to mention a slew of wrenches. Their rachet system was upgraded to include more teeth, with some up to 120, which will be great for mechanics needing every bit of precision and control. Their screwdrivers, hammers, and measuring tapes all felt like great quality, the grips were well formed and comfortable to hold.
Their lawn and garden section is also expansive, both gas and battery operated. Craftsman included a full line of riding mowers that have some interesting features like a 5-inch turning radius and hydrostatic transmissions. The push mowers we saw also had both power forms available, and even some hybrid options. The lawn and garden range also had a full line of cordless outdoor power equipment divided into both 20V and 60V depending on the user, as well as some gas options. One thing that stood out here was the saw blade at the end of the hedge trimmer, its the small additions like that that can make all the difference to the user. Check out more of the Outdoor Power Equipment in one of our videos from the event.
Craftsman Launch Event- What you want to know
We got a lot of questions on Social Media during our coverage of the event, so let's try and cover a few here.
What is made in the USA?- So, the goal of Craftsman is to bring as much manufacturing to the US as possible. A lot of the tools carry the Made in the USA with global parts badging, but I expect this to increase in the coming years. As well there will be tools made exclusively in the US in the near future in our understanding.
Who are they gearing these tools for?- Craftsman is really marketing their tools towards the “Prosumer” or the homeowner/DIYer/entry level pro. With brands like Ryobi and Ridgid this is going to be a tough market to really overtake, but it will be interesting to see how it is received when more tools hit the market. I think this line is still going to appeal to homeowners the most, but we also saw a lot of tools the pros may soon find in their arsenal. Ultimately, only time will tell.
We received a lot of comments about the similarities between the new Craftsman line and both Dewalt and Porter Cable. Being under the same overall ownership, it's easy to see the similarities. I definitely would say they will be marketing to the middle road between the two brands, with some crossover which makes sense given their intended users. We also were asked about pure rebranding, that's something we will have to do a true side by side testing to tell for sure. Regardless, a good tool is a good tool so that is what ultimately matters most.
Check out another video of our event coverage below as well as more about Dan and Erics take on the event and their opinion on the future of Craftsman.
Craftsman Launch Event Final Thoughts
I think we all felt Craftsman put together an amazing event, with some welcomed surprises. Can they get back to the original glory days they once had? Well, only time will tell. I definitely think it's the time to wipe your previous feelings about the brand away, and take this launch for what it is, a rebirth. They definitely have us curious to get our hands on the tools to do more thorough testing and really find out how they perform. A huge thank you to Kruger Construction for allowing us to share some photos of tools we missed to make sure we could share as much as possible with you guys! Keep checking back for more to come from Craftsman! Also, be sure to follow us on Instagram (toolsinaction) and other social media to keep up with launches like this.