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View Full Version : Sears tools - what happened?



David G
12-19-2015, 12:27 AM
From Car Talk, and, Salon --

http://www.cartalk.com/blogs/craig-fitzgerald/sears-craftsman-tools-what-happened-0

http://www.salon.com/2013/12/10/ayn_rand_loving_ceo_destroys_his_empire_partner/ (http://www.cartalk.com/blogs/craig-fitzgerald/sears-craftsman-tools-what-happened-0)

Nicholas Carey
12-19-2015, 01:01 AM
Sears started to die in the late 90, during the Great Dot Com Bubble that spawned Amazon. Sears' failure to recognize that selling on the intertubes is, for all intents and purposes, mail-order with a cheaper catalog will stand as on of the biggest business failures of all time. Consider: in the 80s and 90s, Sears

- Was the undisputed king of mail order.
- Had enormous brand recognition and trust
- had a gigantic network of retail stores,
- supported by the logistics system necessary to support all that, and
- had the experience to make it all work.

If they had any vision at all, and put up a website like Amazon started with at the same time, they would be far bigger than Amazon is now, simply because they didn't need to solve all the problems Amazon didn't even know they had.

Jeff Bezos as much as said that he started with books because (1) they were cheap and easy to ship, and (2) he saw them as the sort of commodity item that would make a good experiment. He was wrong on point #2: books are about as far from commodities as I can imagine: James Joyce's Ulysses is in no way equivalent to, say, Fifty Shades of Gray. Unless you're the sort of mouth-breather that sees books as decor to put on a shelf, like I suspect Bezos is.

The Bigfella
12-19-2015, 02:45 AM
Innovate or perish

slug
12-19-2015, 07:18 AM
Using a craftsman quarter inch ratchet right now. Twenty years old...still going strong.

http://s17.postimg.org/b3z6ay3jj/image.jpg (http://postimg.org/image/jm8mfaa23/full/)
subir fotos online (http://postimage.org/index.php?lang=spanish)
.

GregH
12-19-2015, 07:58 AM
I have my dad's 1/2" Craftsman socket set, that he purchased in the late 40's, along with other assorted Craftsman wrenches, screwdrivers, etc. Sometime in the late 60's, the ratchet mechanism wore out so he took it to our local Sears store, and they replaced it- free! I helped open that store in the summer of '63 after graduating from H.S., before heading off to college. It's been closed & gone (torn down) since the early 90's. Damn internet!!!!

Paul Pless
12-19-2015, 08:01 AM
stopped in sears briefly yesterday while christmas shopping
this is a large sears, in an upmarket mall, in a highly affluent town
first time i had been in a mall or a sears in a couple of years
i was gobsmacked at how badly it sucked

Garret
12-19-2015, 08:08 AM
Sears has indeed gone way downhill. Very sad & it sucks to see yet another company flushed down the toilet by financial types.

A recent thread talked about Craftsman tools quite a bit: http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthread.php?198779-Rebuilding-a-rachet&highlight=Craftsman

L.W. Baxter
12-19-2015, 09:52 AM
The last thing we bought at Sears was a "high efficiency" washer/dryer set a few years ago. (Actually, my wife bought it without checking reviews online). The washer was garbage and they knew it. As an example: about one load out of ten, the clothes on top wouldn't even get wet.

I didnt get around to doing anything about it until more than 30 days had passed. And at that point, they would not return or exchange without a visit from a mechanic. But that model of washer is internet infamous for being a p.o.s.. So I wrote it off, and will never darken their door again.

Norman Bernstein
12-19-2015, 10:14 AM
I rarely shop at Sears, but just last week, I did stop in at a Sears to buy a new socket set, exclusively for the boat (until now, I only had a collection of random sockets and an old ratchet, and was getting tired of looking for the right sockets, since I didn't have an organizer of any sort).

I ended up getting a nice set with 3/8" ratchet, and sockets for both Metric and English in 1/4", 3/8" and 1/2" drive sizes... plus a full set of deepwall sockets in 3/8" drive. Since I had some 1/4" and 1/2" ratchets lying around, I fugire I'm covered.

One thing I did notice, however; although all tools are still covered by the lifetime warranty, they're selling both US-made, and Chinese tools. The more advanced stuff with the cool new features are US-made, and substantially more expensive.... the Chinese stuff is conventional, a little rougher in terms of finish quality, and substantially cheaper. The set I bought was Chinese.... more than good enough for the occasional/intermittent use that I will give them, although if I were a professional, I'd buy the better stuff.

A fellow boater I know owns a specialized machine shop which manufactures carbide parts for industry.... he's been doing it for over 40 years, and now his son is taking over the biz. He tells me that when they buy tools for the business, they buy only top-quality stuff... but if he buys some tools now and then for personal use, on the boat, he shops at Harbor Freight. I easily perceive the difference in quality, but the difference isn't worth the difference in cost, for casual personal use, IMHO. I was able to outfit a complete tool kit for my younger daughter, when she bought a new condo (as a gift) at Harbor Freight, for less than $50.

Keith Wilson
12-19-2015, 10:52 AM
No, Sears ain't what it used to be. OTOH their Craftsman mechanics' hand tools are still good. The nonsense in one of the links about 'pot-metal crap' is just that, nonsense. You can still buy pretty much exactly the same kind of wrenches and sockets and screwdrivers you could buy thirty years ago, and it seems that recently they've made some modest improvements.

Nicholas Scheuer
12-19-2015, 11:00 AM
The problem ain't with Sears tools. The problems are several, not the least of which is Sears' management; they haven't seen anything but brown in years. The fact that one can get decent tools from lots of sources these days is another factor. I like the fit and finish of my Craftsman tools, however, I have a lot of other tools that never break, neither.

bobbys
12-19-2015, 11:46 AM
stopped in sears briefly yesterday while christmas shopping
this is a large sears, in an upmarket mall, in a highly affluent town
first time i had been in a mall or a sears in a couple of years
i was gobsmacked at how badly it sucked
.

If by some chance my shopaholic wife drags me to the mall I take refuge in the Sears tool section..

Course I also can be found in Orange Julius and Victoria has a secret.

Chris Coose
12-19-2015, 12:01 PM
I buy throw away **** at Harbor Freight. Then I expect junk.

Though I threw a 3/8ths, China, Harbor Freight 12 point socket on to a square post to adapt to a impact driver menagerie that I built to remove a 2-1/4" flywheel nut, never in god's name expecting it to hold up. SOB cranked!!

Canoeyawl
12-19-2015, 12:10 PM
It depends on how you use the tools.

Sears mechanics tools will break with serious use. Seemingly not a problem because they will replace the tool, right?

If you are lucky only the fastener will be damaged, but both the tool and the fastener will require a trip to the store with the consequent loss of time (income) when you do that. If you are not so lucky you will be injured with smashed knuckles and broken fingers, the trip to the hospital for stitches will be expensive, you won't be able to work for several days, the customer will sue because his truck can't go back to work and you still have a broken tool.
So in summary, if you are fixing the doorknob on the hall closet they are fine, if you are using them professionally they are a poor economy.

ron ll
12-19-2015, 12:14 PM
Some of the tools I still use regularly in my shop:

http://i1171.photobucket.com/albums/r560/ron_ll/950B17B5-1908-4C37-8D61-80D0221B6CAB-5248-00000527C8F7D492_zps78124dbb.jpg

http://i1171.photobucket.com/albums/r560/ron_ll/CC993837-CF81-41B8-8831-B9CD78B2BF9E-5248-00000527C9363564_zps9d391bcc.jpg

http://i1171.photobucket.com/albums/r560/ron_ll/DEE594B0-B8E9-4881-B435-EFA3A35D3DE4-5248-0000051DC9676C91_zps82a85faf.jpg

http://i1171.photobucket.com/albums/r560/ron_ll/E2B9A7F1-2AA0-4C25-9806-E583A270EFBD-5248-0000051DAFD9F5BA_zpse8c29bd6.jpg

Canoeyawl
12-19-2015, 12:33 PM
Once upon a time sears provided pretty good tools through their Craftsman line. Even the mechanics tools were first quality, made in USA by venerable manufacturers like Armstrong. But... in the same era there were available some of the best tools in the world, ever. Manufacturers like Walker Turner, Oliver, American, and the old Delta line, to name a few.

Keith Wilson
12-19-2015, 12:39 PM
Sears mechanics tools will break with serious use.I've never found that to be the case, but maybe my use isn't serious enough. The only US-made sockets I've ever manged to break by hand were made by Blackhawk. I once spread out a Craftsman 14mm open-end wrench trying to get a very rusted pedal off a customer's bicycle (even with all the usual lubricants and incantations). I took it in to the store; the guy looked at me and said, "How long a cheater bar were you using?" I said "About five feet." He handed me another wrench.

I haven't been impressed with Sears power tools ever.

oznabrag
12-19-2015, 01:39 PM
Innovate or perish

Sears Craftsman regularly receives awards for innovation in their tool lines.

It is sort of odd, but they continue to fund a fairly robust R&D.

Doesn't seem to help much with the perception most maker-folk have of their tools.


Once upon a time sears provided pretty good tools through their Craftsman line. Even the mechanics tools were first quality, made in USA by venerable manufacturers like Armstrong. But... in the same era there were available some of the best tools in the world, ever. Manufacturers like Walker Turner, Oliver, American, and the old Delta line, to name a few.

This is true.

As I'm sure you are aware, Sears never made much of anything, they just had the manufacturer put the Craftsman badge on it, and paint it the appropriate color.

You can do that if you order up a couple months of production.

The Vintage Machinery site has a page for identifying the manufacturer of any Craftsman-badged machine by use of the three-digit model prefix (http://vintagemachinery.org/Craftsman/manufacturers.aspx?sort=1).


I've never found that to be the case, but maybe my use isn't serious enough. . .
I haven't been impressed with Sears power tools ever.

You have to knit your brows, and hold a tight-lipped grimace to break 'em! :d

If by 'power tools' you mean hand-held gizmos that have electric motors in 'em, the model number can reveal some old gems, but Sears seems to have moved away from the re-badge thing, and gone to simply retailing major brands.

I have two bench-top 'Craftsman' drill presses that were made by Walker-Turner, as I recall, and they are NOT for sale.

They feature a 5" stroke in a 75-pound head casting, and to get that capacity in a drill-press today, you are looking at paying well over $1K.

Jim Bow
12-19-2015, 02:35 PM
I was given an early 50s Cftsmn table saw. Had it for years. Then I "upgraded" to a Ryobi cutting system. Among the worst decisions in my time. Ryobi marketed the same under the Craftsman marque.

jack grebe
12-19-2015, 02:44 PM
Don't believe the life time crap. I have had hand tools they
refused to replace because I didn't have the original receipt.
I will never buy another one. Now all my tools come from snap on
and my knuckles thank me.

Reynard38
12-19-2015, 02:56 PM
Used Snap On from EBay.
The Sears near me shut down several years ago.
Adapt or go extinct.

Norman Bernstein
12-19-2015, 02:57 PM
I haven't been impressed with Sears power tools ever.

The only Sears power tool I own is a Craftsman 3/8" reversible drill, bought MANY years ago when I was building a deck for my in-laws. I've abused the hell out of it, but it still runs. My much newer Black & Decker drill? Had to open it up and fix it recently.... never had to do that with the Sears product.

Rich Jones
12-19-2015, 03:15 PM
Bought a 10" Craftsmen radial arm saw 40 years ago and it's still going strong despite being used constantly. I love that thing! Just used it to rip all the strips for the strip plank electric launch I'm building.
The local Sears store closed just a year ago. My son worked for Sears and jumped ship a few years ago when he saw the direction they were headed.

Garret
12-20-2015, 08:16 AM
I have a similar vintage Craftsman Radial Arm Saw. Still works great - though I'm sure it's had less use than yours.

Here's my dad's drill press - which (the drill press, not my dad :)) will turn 80 next year. It does have a replacement motor, but that's it in the way or repairs.

http://i1194.photobucket.com/albums/aa372/garretmott/DrillPressSM_zps4qwkqopz.jpg

In the mess, you'll also notice a Craftsman bench grinder. Not the worlds greatest, but I paid $5 for it at a yard sale 10 or 15 years ago. I figure it doesn't owe me a lot...

And - no, the pulley is not touching the wall.

Nicholas Scheuer
12-20-2015, 09:28 AM
What's wrong with the Craftsman Bench Grinder? A long-shaft motor, two grinding wheels, and a switch, how complicated is that?

Garret
12-20-2015, 09:54 AM
Nothing at all - though the bearings have always been a bit noisy & replacing them would cost more (for just the bearings) than the grinder cost. I'm cheap.

Bill R
12-20-2015, 10:08 AM
In the mess, you'll also notice a Craftsman bench grinder. Not the worlds greatest, but I paid $5 for it at a yard sale 10 or 15 years ago. I figure it doesn't owe me a lot...


I have the same grinder. Think I paid $10 for mine 20 years ago at a yard sale. Just keeps on going.

Nicholas Scheuer
12-20-2015, 10:44 AM
I'm cheap, too, Garret. My bench grinder is a much newer Craftsman. I was walking through Sears to get a filter for my shop vac and saw a grinder marked so low I couldn't leave it behind. It replaced a pile of junk my father put together using an old oversize motor, an antique switch from the 1930's, and a bearing stand having an abrasive wheel on one end and a pulley on the other.

Garret
12-20-2015, 12:24 PM
Is your dad's name Garret? (I'm the 3rd, so dad was Garret, Jr). That sounds like something he woulda done. When my brother & I bought his old 2N Ford tractor, he had a tired 6 volt battery, along with a 2nd one that he tapped a cell off of. He had a toggle (house wall switch) rigged up to give it 8 volts when starting. I removed the held in by baling wire & rope 2nd battery, the switch & about 10' of wiring. Replaced it with a new ignition switch ($6) & a new battery. Started fine for the next 8 years we owned it.

I didn't have the heart to tell him they have (had?) 8 volt batteries for 6 volt systems - but that woulda meant a new battery too! ;)

Upshur
12-20-2015, 12:39 PM
like Mc Donalds ,they lost their formula.

Nicholas Scheuer
12-20-2015, 12:53 PM
Dad's grinder components were all mounted on a hunk of recycled 2 X 10. I didn't have the heart to throw it away; it's still out in the garage. Someday it might serve to illustrate how folks used to do for themselves using whatever was at hand (the payoff for never throwing anything away) instead of going to an internet forum to ask about how to do something.

oznabrag
12-20-2015, 01:57 PM
Dad's grinder components were all mounted on a hunk of recycled 2 X 10. I didn't have the heart to throw it away; it's still out in the garage. Someday it might serve to illustrate how folks used to do for themselves using whatever was at hand (the payoff for never throwing anything away) instead of going to an internet forum to ask about how to do something.

Why the past tense? :cool:

Nicholas Scheuer
12-20-2015, 02:00 PM
Because the work was all done a long time ago? Dun'no

oznabrag
12-20-2015, 02:03 PM
Gee, Nick!

I still do things that way!

All my work is not yet done! :d