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post #1 of 23 Old 03-21-2010, 04:09 PM Thread Starter
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Craftsman vs Kobalt tools

At work I was talking to a person who worked for X company. Forgot the name. Anyway this company is in TX and makes the craftsman tools and kobalt. He also mentioned a few other brands which I don't recall but they were lesser known names at least to me.

My whole life I have used craftsman but with watching NASCAR I see a lot of Lowes and kobalt commericals.

The call took me by surprise since it was just X tool company and I said oh what do you make there. That is when he said they made the tools. Being curious I asked if they were all the same then. The response I got after a delay is they are all made in America. Being I was at work and he didn't seem open for discussion I dropped the conversation and helped him out with his questions.

At the end of the call he threw in that the tools all aren't the same quality. I didn't want to push further but at the end it got me thinking to the which is better or are they close enough question.

I know that craftsman isn't a snap on but for me and what I do it's a good tool and I never had any problems. Where does kobalt fall compared to craftsman? Same? Better? Less?

I'm not looking to turn this into a debate on which is the best and X brand is garbage but it just has me thinking.
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post #2 of 23 Old 03-21-2010, 04:26 PM
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Re: Craftsman vs Kobalt tools

they both have the same warranty, and to ME they are of similar quality. i will say i have broken way more 1/4" Craftsman ratchets than kobalts, but that could be because i have used Craftsman tools for 30+ years and Kobalts only for 5-6 years!

i honestly buy whichever one happens to have the tool i need right then, but i usually check Lowe's first. Kobalts seem to be cheaper priced, Craftsman has started to price some of their tools like Mac or Snap-On made them.

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post #3 of 23 Old 03-21-2010, 04:59 PM
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Re: Craftsman vs Kobalt tools

some of the high end, professional craftsman fully chromed tools are closer to snap on quality. those are the expensive ones. I don't own any but my friends dad loves craftsman. if he brakes it, he walks into sears gets a new one and walks out. my husky tools are holding up pretty good. I think they are better finished than some of the craftsman tools and you get a better deal. Husky lets you return broken tools for new ones to. i like the finish better cause it is easyer to clean the crease of than the craftsman tools with all the casting dimples.

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post #4 of 23 Old 03-21-2010, 05:01 PM
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and X brand is garbage
But, they are! Whenever I've had Brand X tools, they've always let me down! And they're not even New and Improved!


Um, I've never broken either a Sears or Lowes tool... I must not be trying hard enough? For that matter, I've had good luck with most Harbor Freight hand tools also (notable exception: their electrical knockout punch & die set... bent 2 draw bolts in a row ).

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post #5 of 23 Old 03-22-2010, 06:22 PM
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Re: Craftsman vs Kobalt tools

I have a mix of Craftsman, SK, Snappy etc

The snap on wrenches are the best hands down, hey just are nice and thin and fit the nuts perfect. I have had times when the Craftsman wouldnt fit and used a snap on and it did the trick.

I dont care for their screwdrivers or rachets. I like the SK ratchets

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post #6 of 23 Old 03-22-2010, 06:34 PM
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Re: Craftsman vs Kobalt tools

I was born into craftsman tools,Dad,Grand Dad,etc,but I did buy kobalt once and sort of felt bad,anyway it was a impact wrench.I brought it home and tried to use it and it would'nt touch the lugs.Needless to say I took it right back and went to sears and bought one.Well buy the time I got back home my (10 year old) had already changed the tires around,He's 90 pounds.Makes me wonder how much knowledge the person has that rates the torqe rating on kobalt tools.Learnt my lesson,I'll stick to craftsman like the rest of my family.
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post #7 of 23 Old 03-25-2010, 12:37 PM
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Re: Craftsman vs Kobalt tools

This may be old information but I know that Stanley used to make Craftsman and Snap-On used to make Kobalt.

I lived in Kenosha, WI when Snap-On was still headquartered there and had friends who worked there who said that they shipped Kobalt wrenches etc.

Sonce that plant closed, Snap-On may be making their stuff in Borneo for all I know.

My advice is to buy the ones that carry a lifetime-replacement guarantee fromt the store that is closest to where you use the tools.
For example, Starrett makes great drift punches but I had a Sears hardware across the street from my first gunsmith shop. Gunsmiths break A LOT of 1/16" punches. When I first set up the shop, I went across the street and bought a dozen 1/16" punches. Whenever I got down to 2 or 3 left, I would walk the broken ones across the street and get new ones- the clerks HAD to hate seeing me coming across the parking lot.
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post #8 of 23 Old 03-25-2010, 01:05 PM
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Re: Craftsman vs Kobalt tools

I think the point is that even "good brands" sometimes have both "high end" and "low end" tools, with the same brand name. I believe you usually get what you pay for.
I know that sometimes, a manufacturer will make things of "different brands" that are of the same quality. The deal is, that the same "brand" also hires others to make things of different quality (higher or lower). So even though the "manufacturer" tells you the tools are made in the same place, you may find things with the same brand, made elsewhere, with a different quality.

(Geez, I know what I'm trying to say, but this is hard to put into words).

I guess the best way is a made up example:

Brand Z and Brand Y both sell "left handed monkey wrenches".
Factory A and Factory B both make "left handed monkey wrenches", but Factory A makes them of good steel, and Factory B makes them out of pot metal.
Brand Z sells wrenches from both factories.
Brand Y sells only the wrenches from Factory A.
A guy from factory B sees they're making wrenches for both Brands, and says "they're the same quality".
Well, yes, and no.
You buy a wrench from Brand Z without noticing it's the Factory B kind, and since you heard "they're made in the same factory" you expect it to be the same quality as Brand Y.
The wrench breaks the first time you use it.
You decide to go and buy Brand X again, because obviously, Brand Y and Brand Z are junk...

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post #9 of 23 Old 03-25-2010, 01:42 PM
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Re: Craftsman vs Kobalt tools

Snapon makes the only good ratcheting box end wrenches. S-K made the best 1/4' ratchets. (finer teeth) Snapons flank drive box end wrenches have NEVER slipped on anything I've used them on.
Craftsman screwdrivers are fine, Snap on makes the best posidrive screwdrivers.
That's about it for my preferences. Aside from that Craftsman, Snapon, Bluepoint (same as Snapon) S-K, Bonney, Proto, Williams, Thorsen (Snap on style older wrenches) they are all in my tool box. I just steer clear of China, Taiwan, India, Buffalo, Goodwrench (newer), Blackhawk (newer) and the like.
They go in my "Brother" toolbox. You know, the one you loan out.
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post #10 of 23 Old 03-25-2010, 01:43 PM
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Re: Craftsman vs Kobalt tools

Oh, NAPA and EASCO are ok too.
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post #11 of 23 Old 03-25-2010, 03:10 PM
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Re: Craftsman vs Kobalt tools

I always thought Snap On made Craftsman? Did they at one point?. I have an old SK set that was my Dad's. I bought a Husky set about 5 years ago thats not bad. I don't have any Kobalt, My family and friends work for Homer, so visits to Lowes don't happen that often.

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post #12 of 23 Old 03-25-2010, 05:57 PM
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Re: Craftsman vs Kobalt tools

I heard that Snapon made Kobalt at one time, but they don't anymore. Some of the Craftsman ratchets had a similar look to Snapon, the heavy chrome rounded ones, but I doubt they were made by Snapon.

I did go to Sears for a 10mm depwell 1/4" and they were out as usual, I also checked their 3/4" inch lb click torque wrench...$89.

I was PO'd about them being out of the popular size sockets AGAIN, and went to Lowes to buy Kobalt which I really think are comparable..but their same torque wrench was..$89! I bought the socket, but went back to sears for the Torque wrench. Got a plastic fitted locking box with it.
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post #13 of 23 Old 03-25-2010, 06:23 PM
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Re: Craftsman vs Kobalt tools

I see little difference in quality between the current products between the two companies. I have a socket/ratchet set at my place in Idaho that I bought from Lowes (Kobalt), and I recently exchanged three very well-used and worn out Craftsman ratchets (1/4, 3/8 & 1/2") at Sears. It had been a very long time since I had been to Sears to exchange tools, and I had 21 worn out or broken items to swap that day.

The new Craftsman ratchets are not of the same quality as the ones I exchanged. Tolerances and clearance gaps are greater, and although still new and stiff, the mechanisms are less precise feeling. My old ones were worn and polished from 25+ years of handling, but I don't think they were ever as rough-edged as the new ones are.
The Kobalt set from Lowes is very similar in feel and build tolerances and precision of mechanism, but has a better, smoother polished (chrome) finish. We'll see how that equals out in 20 years . . . . stay tuned, I'll get back to you on it.


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post #14 of 23 Old 03-25-2010, 06:36 PM
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Re: Craftsman vs Kobalt tools

personally i like craftsman. thats what is in my toolbox. my work tool box is mainly husky but thats cause other people tend to borrow. all depends on the particular tool though. i have alot of channel locks and ridgid, wouldn't dare go another way on some tools. warrenty, don't much worry about it if its a good tool i'll pay, besides once it breaks on the job a warrenty doesn't help you until you can get to the store. and i'd rather feel confident i can get the job done than well it's got a good warrenty.
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post #15 of 23 Old 03-26-2010, 01:11 AM
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Re: Craftsman vs Kobalt tools

Just a few months ago I had to buy my oldest a set of tools for school. I turned wrenches for a living and have the Snap-On box with a mix of the big three (SO / C-Man S&K) But I too was tempted by the Kobalt. I took a hard look at them, and the new generation of the Craftsman (which is not as good as 10 or 20 years ago) They are close, but the Craftsman still appear to be better with very little difference in cost. We went with the Craftsman set.

I personally like the SK tools for over all value. Far better than Craftsman, but not over priced like Snap-On. And yes, even though I do have quite a few sets of Snap-On tools, they are overpriced.

That said... while the Kobalt tools may be on the higher end of the "generic tool line" I would stay with the Sears stuff. I would toss the ratchets in the the trash pile and buy some nice SK ones though... My word the current generation of Craftsman ratchets are solid junk. I have seen Chicago junk at Harbor Freight that makes them look like cheap tools!

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