Craftsman has a social-media marketing campaign going right now where you can suggest ways to stress test the company’s hand and power tools. The above videos are the first two in the series.

Creating these tests was insanely fun — and we’re going to create more. But it would be selfish of us to have all that fun without you. So, we’re inviting you to help us create the next round. Give us a few good ideas, and if we choose them, we’ll shoot them. And you’ll get all the glory. So put your thinking hardhat on and let’s get freaky.

What do you think, readers? Cool idea? Waste of time?

50 thoughts on “Help torture-test Craftsman tools

  1. Let my youngest brother have a crack at them. In short order he managed to break 3 1/2″ ratchets, bend a 9/16″ wrench, and an unknown number of screwdrivers.

    Of course, you could give him a 20 pound ball bearing, and in 10 minutes or less, he’s shatter it…

  2. If you notice in the second video, when the drill bounces the bit is broken off leaving just an inch or so attached to the drill–the when they pich it up off the ground the bit is mysteriously whole again.

    1. Not only did the drill bit magically heal itself, but note that the battery pack stayed inserted (it’s in there right as it makes its final rotation over onto the pavement). Yet when the Jamie-and-Adam-wannabee picks it up, he inserts the battery, and not just reseats it, either. In fairness, I can possibly imagine that their insurance required a dummy battery, since it could start a fire if it got punctured, but the whole effect was spoiled.

      Funny thing is, they could have baked the drill bit for an hour in a self-cleaning oven and it would have become too tempered to break (and getting bent would have been funny). A masonry bit would possibly survive and would have been funnier, too.

      Still, not bad for a wholly-owned subsidiary of K-Mart. :-)

      1. It looks to me like the battery was missing after it hit. Either way your comment about tempering is completely wrong. I doubt you could temper anything in a household oven, much less a plastic drill. BUT – if you could – tempering makes things more brittle. Tempered steel is easier to shatter, but impossible to bend.

        1. @CCTGuy: You are thinking of hardened steel, having gone through (usually) some sort of heating to a critical temperature and then being (usually) rapidly cooled. Tempering is then performed to make the steel less brittle, tougher, more springy, etc. And common high carbon steel can often be tempered in a household oven. I’ve tempered knives forged from auto coil springs in a toaster oven.

  3. I was expecting something more scientific and cool. This seems to be just a marketing campaign.

    Show me why they are better tools! I can take a $5 Harbor Freight hammer and throw it through a car window.

    Make a machine that shows me how these are better tools in terms of durability or labor-savings, not just slick marketing.

    1. Yeah, I’d like to see more real-world tests, e.g.:

      “Poor man’s torque wrench” — rotate the six-lug wheels on a 3/4-ton truck with only a half-inch ratchet and appropriate socket, torque ’em down by having a guy that weighs about the torque spec jump up and down on the ratchet handle.

      “Tight spaces breaker bar” — 3/8″ ratchet + 3lb drilling hammer + rusted-in 1/2″ bolt. Need I say more?

      “Dang, left the 3lb hammer at the shop” — use 1/2″ ratchet to hammer on a chisel to cut the head off the bolt in “tight spaces breaker bar”.

      I assume those are the reasons my half-inch ratchet randomly pops loose and my 3/8″ has to have the direction-changing switch held in place.

  4. I’ve always liked craftsman hand tools, they’re what I grew up with. And if I managed to break something (ratchet, twice) they replaced it without any hassle at all. I’ve heard that they’ve replaced obviously abused tools (breaker bar bent with a cheater pipe for instance) without qualm.

    The idea was that they had to make their tools damn tough to afford the occasional replacement. Now I’m wondering if that’s still true with the manufacturing all in china. I’m not thrilled about that, mostly due to labor abuse and all the shipping involved. The economics are what they are.

    Of course harbor freight is cheaper, but you then have to think carefully about what you expect out of that tool. For a hammer, probably fine. but for something that requires quality construction… dunno. Expect to waste time and energy and money on the occasional piece of crap.

    If snap-on would get their crap together and stop being so difficult with their distribution(chase down a truck? really?), I probably would have gone over to them long ago.

    1. I work for Craftsman Tools, and just wanted to respond to some of the comments here:

      1) We had to do multiple shots and takes of some of the tests in order to get the footage we needed. So while there may be some continuity issues here and there, I can say that all the tests you saw were conducted in the way you saw them, and the results we got were exactly what you saw on screen. We didn’t fake survival for any of the tools.

      2) Robert — our tools are still damn tough enough. Our manufacturing standards haven’t changed a bit!

      1. And sorry dude, your company’s standards might not have changed, but the execution of those standards has.

        As others have commented, the quality control aspects of the tool lines have diminished over the past decade or two.

        Some of the craftsman tools seem to have kept up better than others, but overall the line has taken a hit from cheap manufacturing and price pressure.

        This saddens me, as my father loved your tools (1980’s) and I would like to be able to remember him by having the same tools around now. But he was also pragmatic, so I’ll be honoring his memory with whatever tools I find to work well. If they’re craftsman, great, but if not, so be it.

  5. I wish they’d spend more time making better tools and less time marketing. I have loads of Craftsman stuff from the 1980s which is near-indestructible, but almost half of the similar tools I’ve purchased within the last five years are junk. I’ve broken several screwdriver tips during very normal use (i.e., not prying things with them), had an open-end wrench fracture on me, and had two ratchets just stop ratcheting.

    Yeah, you can always trade in your busted Craftsman tools for new ones, but the new ones are just as bad. Frankly, having a tool break mid-job and having to drive down to Sears for a replacement isn’t my definition of a good time.

    I’m convinced Craftsman now just gets some far-overseas plant to manufacture their hand tools for as cheaply as possible, quality be damned. I’ve stopped recommending their tools and now steer people towards either Harbor Freight (if you buy cheap, you might as well pay cheap) or SK (suck it up, pay the extra money, and have it for the rest of your life).

      1. That’s not true, lots of the hand tools are made in the USA (according to the label on the package). I would be surprised if Sears would put themselves at legal risk by knowingly forging the country of origin on all their packaging. Their power tools are definitely made in China though, as are most other brands. I’m sure you know that most of the power tools for a variety of brands are made in the same factories, and you can often figure out which brand is the OEM for a craftsman power tool. Using that info can help you pick up good deals on power tools when Sears has a sale and you know the OEM is one that makes good products.

        I, too, wish that Craftsman would put more effort into improving the quality consistency across their line. I bought a lot of tools in 2009 and found that many of the Craftsman tools had improved since I last took a look at them, while others were getting worse. Quality and consistency on things storage chests, small air compressors, and sockets were severely lacking.

        As for Harbor Freight tools, I completely disagree with the recommendation to go there instead of getting better quality Craftsman, Kobalt, Ace, etc. tools. Most of the HF tools I’ve seen and used are of obviously lower quality than Craftsman and other big box lines, and do not last under stress or over the long haul. I seriously think they sell all of the factory seconds and out of spec tools that the big brands won’t sell under their own brand names. One could make the argument that HF tools are a bit contrary to the Make ethic of trying to make the best use of materials, making things last, and repairing things when they break. HF tools encourage more of a throw away and replace ethic.

  6. I kinda liked the ads, Compared to the Sears “Don’t just go back to school, Arrive” it’s a HUGE improvement for their advertising. No one likes advertising in general but this is far more entertaining and gets a better point across then most of the mindless dribble we’re bombarded with on TV and Youtube

  7. Yow. It looks like it’s time to start turning the TE labs videos (the pedal powered panzer, the bumper cars, the camera blast shield, etc… all on films.tango-echo.com) into “social media” commercials. We’ve been doing this stuff for free all this time like a bunch of chumps!

    -vin

  8. Would have been better to see them all ride the bike off the roof. Poor bike…to be abused by complete idiots. What a waste of perfectly good things. Only Make would show this crap……and what were they making? Trash? That took a few brain cells and these cats look like they are a few brains cells short of toads.

  9. I worked on an old classic schooner. We used to use Craftsman chain wrenches on the salt-water, corroded 4″ bronze fittings. We’d slip a 3 ft pipe over the handle to get some leverage. For a while, we’d break the chain every week, bring it back to Sears and they’d give us a new one without question.

    Those were the days.

  10. My thought for the first commercial was, that’s a waste of a car that could have been donated to help a family get to work, run errands, go to the beach. I didn’t bother watching the second one. Hopefully Craftsman fixed the car up and donated it.

    1. Isn’t anyone allowed to enjoy a car getting smashed up? Besides, how much money could it possibly have been worth, a few hundred dollarsa?

      1. My family had a quite similar car when I was little — ours was a Ford Fairmont — and this is the best way for it to go out, trust me. We had ours for seven years and went through three transmissions. Some cars are just so epically terrible that to destroy them via hammer golf is a compliment.

  11. I find it interesting that they used a contemporary nude female mannequin to place on the bike while holding the drill and get pushed off the roof. Hope they factored in the misogyny when drawing their conclusion.

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My interests include writing, electronics, RPGs, scifi, hackers & hackerspaces, 3D printing, building sets & toys. @johnbaichtal nerdage.net

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