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Craftsman, Kobalt, and Husky: A survey


Conductor562

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For many tool users store brand tools like Craftsman, Kobalt, and Husky offer the best solution for their needs. With the convenience of the many store locations, lifetime warranties, competitive prices, and vast selections, it's understandable that many homeowners, DIYers, and even professionals invest in these lines. I invested heavily in Lowe's Kobalt line back in the late 90's. I loved the tools. They were manufactured for Lowe's by the J.H. Williams division of Snap-On and they were great quality, American made tools. Sometime in 2003 or 2004 the contract was picked up by Danaher and while I started seeing some import tools, the core tools like ratchets, sockets, wrenches, etc. were still American made. Over time all that changed and today "American made" and Kobalt don't even belong in the same sentence. The same is true of Husky. Husky was founded in 1924 and changed hands several times over the years. Home Depot began selling the brand exclusively in 1992 under contract with Stanley works and these days the only American thing about them is the sales tax you pay when you purchase them. Craftsman still offers many American made tools but even they have outsourced many of their non-core tools. I never had many Craftsman or Husky tools but I do feel there has been a drop in quality of the more recent Kobalt products. I still cherish my old Kobalt stuff but I've quit buying it turning instead to higher priced brands like Proto, Klein, and Channellock for my needs. The following survey is a product of my desire to know how others feel about these tools and weigh my own thoughts against the thoughts of others. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section.

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Some of my first tools were hand me down Craftsmans, they were kind of course but they did get the job done. Their tape measures were the hot ticket a while back, before Stanley took over the market, the lifetime guarantee was one of the strong selling points back then. One of the reasons I think Craftsman tapes are getting hard to find now. I think Craftsman/Sears is not honoring/offering their warranty like they once did. I don't believe I have any Kobalt tools other than a utility knife. I don't believe I have any Husky tools, although I have bought unbranded tools from Home Depot before. I have one of their florescent work lights that I am rather fond of, Of course they have discontinued it now.

I do have some other commodity tools, like Stanley and Crescent sets that I pick up as disposable/beater tools or for tools that will do things like sit under the seat of my truck for on road emergencies.

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  • 5 months later...

My whole tool box is kobalt. The oldest tool is a year old. I have not had any problems with them and love them. If I do have a problem I am 5 minutes from lowes to get my replacement. It is to bad they are outsourced but the stuff I have reminds me of American quality.

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My whole tool box is kobalt. The oldest tool is a year old. I have not had any problems with them and love them. If I do have a problem I am 5 minutes from lowes to get my replacement. It is to bad they are outsourced but the stuff I have reminds me of American quality.

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Kobalt is really nice quality and IMHO is the best of the store brands. I have mostly turned to Proto and Blackhawk for my hand tools. Proto is almost all USA made and Blackhawk is a mix. Most of my Blackhawk stuff is sockets which are still USA made. Craftsman finally made the jump to China and you'd be hard pressed to find a USA tool at Sears. If you do it's likely NOS that hasn't been sold yet. Taiwan made is better than China made. Don't let anyone tell you it's not. I've always been a hand tool kinda guy. I love power tools, but hand tools are my real passion. I'm chin deep in Proto, Blackhawk, Channellock, and 1st gen Kobalt stuff. In todays market going all american for hand tools (while possible) is really hard to do. I try my best. If I were starting over today I'd probably look to SK Tools. Ideal bought them a couple years ago and built a new factory in Illinois about an hour out of Chicago. Their tools are 100% USA made and the quality is great. They carry a lifetime warranty and while they're going to be more expensive than the store brands, they're cheaper than most of the other pro grade brands in most cases. For someone looking to start a nice quality collection they're certainly worth a look. I'm still all Proto at heart though, lol.

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HAHA amen to that! The guys who work in the electrical department try really hard to tell people how to do things and what to use and its most of the time really work so I feel really bad for the people and end up helping them out so they dont have to redo everything and buy new stuff. I have thought about working there to help them.

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  • 3 months later...

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