The Craftsman tool line has been around for almost a century, launching in 1927 as a house brand at Sears department stores. In time, Craftsman became synonymous with quality hand tools at reasonable prices that could be trusted to last, thanks to the lifetime warranty provided by Sears.
“Did you know that the first Craftsman hand tool we sold back in 1927 is still under warranty today?” read the copy on Sears’ “Why Craftsman?” web page in 2002. “So are all the hand tools we’ve sold since. That’s what is known as having confidence in our quality. As the Craftsman Unlimited Hand Tool Warranty clearly states… If any Craftsman guaranteed forever hand tool fails to provide complete satisfaction, return it for free repair or replacement. Period.”
The world has changed since then, though: Sears filed for bankruptcy in 2018, which also happened to be the year after it sold Craftsman, eventually being bought at auction by billionaire hedge fund manager Edward Lampert. So, having divested itself of Craftsman even before the bankruptcy, who’s behind the current version of the brand? And is that company honoring Sears-era Craftsman warranties?
Who’s behind Craftsman now?
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Stanley Black & Decker is the current owner of the Craftsman brand, having purchased it from Sears in March 2017. Two years later, though, shortly after the Sears bankruptcy was complete, Stanley sued Sears over the launch of the Craftsman Ultimate Collection brand.
However, Sears retained a limited license to the brand, giving it the rights to sell its Craftsman tools at Sears, with Stanley being in control elsewhere. Stanley took issue with how Sears marketed the new tools, claiming that the department store was “the real home of the broadest assortment of Craftsman.” Stanley argued that this implied its Craftsman products were “somehow illegitimate.” The suit was quickly settled, and as of this writing, no more Craftsman Ultimate Collection is available on Sears.com.
As for Stanley’s Craftsman tools, the company opened a factory in Fort Worth, Texas, in 2019 to return Craftsman to being an American-made brand after Sears had relocated manufacturing to China. However, due to issues with the machinery that Stanley was using to try to keep costs down, that facility was closed in March 2023, with manufacturing returning to China. Despite those changes, though, Stanley does honor the lifetime warranty on legacy Craftsman hand tools.
Reviews of current Craftsman tools are mixed, as best exemplified by a 2020 ToolGuyd article. The author of that piece explained that while he did not think that Stanley’s Craftsman tools were as good as the older, American-made Sears versions, they were superior to the later, Chinese-made Sears versions.