Craftsman Launch Event: Meet the New to You Craftsman – UPDATED
The Craftsman Launch event just wrapped up in Baltimore. We had the chance to see a glimpse at what the brand is going to be all about under the Stanley Black & Decker umbrella.
At first glance, it looks like they’re going to let Craftsman be the brand many of us grew up knowing Craftsman to be. A look at their wall highlight shows that they intend to touch nearly every major category.
- Corded power tools
- Cordless power tools
- Pneumatic tools and compressors
- Cordless nailers
- Hand tools
- Gas lawn care equipment
- Battery-powered lawn care equipment
First Impressions from the Craftsman Launch Event
There is some obvious rebranding. For example, the cordless nailers are clearly Porter-Cable models. We expected that, though. In our original article about SBD purchasing Craftsman, we threw out the possibility that Porter-Cable makes its exit to make room for Craftsman.
We still have some questions to ask. One of the big ones is where the brand will fit into the group once the Craftsman Launch event is over and it’s time to start selling tools.
On the surface, it looks like it’s going to sit in that mid-level to serious DIY category and perhaps reach into entry-level Pro. That makes it a prime candidate to compete with Ryobi.
Lowe’s and Ace will be the major brick and mortar retailers and you will also see a push on Amazon. That’s a big deal for the upcoming group of tool users that spend more time reading and watching tool reviews online than going to stores to put their hands on a tool before making an online purchase.
At the moment, it looks like Craftsman will be a pretty complete brand from top to bottom that homeowners can genuinely be excited about. As we learn more about the quality of the tools and if there are any gaps in the line, we’ll let you know.
Everyone has a Craftsman story, now let’s see what story Stanley Black & Decker is going to write for Craftsman.
Update 8/17/18 – Now That We Know More…
Top 10 Tools and Takeaways from the Craftsman Launch Event
#10 – 60V Cordless Chainsaw (and other cordless OPE)
Craftsman will deal with two cordless lines: light-duty 20V Max for smaller yards and a more powerful 60V Max line for larger properties.
The 60V Max line will start with 2.5, 5.0, and 7.5 Ah batteries. To get an idea of what to expect, Tim made some cuts in oak with the 60V chainsaw. It has pretty reasonable power, but it’s not something Pros need to consider at this point.
#9 – Cordless High-Torque Impact Wrench
“High-torque is relative with the 20V Max impact wrench. Its 350 ft-lbs of torque don’t reach the lowest numbers from Shop Tool Reviews’ High-Torque Impact Wrench Shootout.
If the Craftsman cordless line looks compelling to you, this wrench has enough power to tackle most anything you’ll need in your home garage. This one isn’t really a good option for Pro use.
#8 – Cordless Miter Saw
Craftsman is claiming their 20V Max miter saw is the current weight loss champion at roughly 21 pounds. The 7-1/4” blade slides to give you an 8” cross cut capacity. Craftsman internal testing delivers 250 cuts in untreated 2 x 4 with the 4.0 Ah battery. Not bad considering this one doesn’t sport a brushless motor. We expect the kit price to run $229 on this one.
Craftsman sees some potential Pro use here, but it’s likely going to see more DIY sales in my opinion.
#7 – Cordless Tile Saw
Craftsman’s 20V Max tile saw focuses on making cuts while containing the mess better than most. With the cuts we made, it did a very good job there, but we noticed some chipping on the back end. A close look shows that this is essentially the Porter-Cable 20V Max model.
We’ll have to withhold judgment on this one until we get some more hands-on time, but first impressions lead me to believe this is going to be primarily a DIY tool.
#6 – Lawn Tractors
Craftsman’s gas-powered lawn equipment is still a big part of the conversation with several lawn tractors and a ZTR. Some adjustment in the wheel base give some of their tractor models just a 5” turning radius.
These are clearly consumer-level mowers and there’s nothing to suggest the quality of the build is changing from what homeowners are used to.
#5 – Brushless Drill
400 unit watts out (here we go again) is a reasonable amount of power from Craftsman’s 20V Max brushless drill driver. The overall design is very Porter-Cable-esque. While it looks a little bulky, it’s lighter weight than you might think.
Suggested pricing is $159 and that comes with two 2.0 Ah compact batteries and a charger. This is a model that going to creep into the entry-level Pro market and be a no-brainer for serious DIYers.
#4 – Brushless Impact Driver
The 20V Max impact wrench shares a lot of the same characteristics as the drill: it’s essentially the Porter-Cable footprint and is lighter than it looks.
1700 in-lbs of torque is solidly at the Pro level and the two-battery kit will be just $10 more than the drill at $169. These two tools are begging to be a combo kit. The question we have is whether Craftsman will do it at the $199 price point.
#3 – Storage Solutions
The majority of Craftsman’s metal storage is still going to be an easy sell into the Pro market. Soft-close drawers and their sheet steel choice should make it a popular choice in garages and shops across the board. Some of the smaller metal tool boxes are a bit thin and will be a better fit in the DIY category.
Additional plastic storage is coming in the form of VersaStack – an interlocking combination of tool boxes and cases with a large rolling box as its foundation.
The radio that fits on the system is worth considering. It has pretty solid sound quality and while the footprint is different, it’s reminiscent of DeWalt’s Tough System Music+ that has about the best sound quality currently available in the tool industry.
#2 – VersaTrack
VersaTrack is a pretty ingenious alternative to adding pegboard to just about anywhere. Most Craftsman tools will have a design that locks into it by default and you can also buy hooks, shelves, and other accessories to customize it to your needs.
A starter set with a variety of accessories and two 5-foot tracks is $80 and individual 5-foot tracks are $10 each. That makes it more expensive that basic pegboard to install while offering potential savings over some of the metal options. However, you can install it against any wall material (with the appropriate fasteners) and it can hold 75 pounds for every foot of track.
#1 – Brand Focus
The biggest takeaway is understanding Craftsman’s brand focus. With a mission of making “quality tools at a great price,” homeowners and DIYers are in for a treat with an incredibly comprehensive lineup that only has a few major gaps currently (plumbing, electrical, and some woodworking, for example).
With Craftsman’s heritage, there’s some brand trust that’s already in place that will help build confidence as users look to add tools to their collections.
Pros will want to exercise some patience and see what all rolls out and how it performs on the power tool side. It looks like most of Porter-Cable’s cordless lineup is sporting the Craftsman brand now and there’s no word currently if the batteries will be compatible with each other (probably not). Those have been more entry-level products and I don’t expect that to change.
On the other hand, storage is one area you can go ahead and pull the trigger.