It used to be that Sears Craftsman was always the go to tool supplier for the hobbyist, but maybe not for much longer. I was reminded of this again today, when I found a need to purchase a new ratchet. Normally this would just be a trip to Sears, but you and I may not have that option soon. Sears Holding, the parent company of Sears and Kmart, is a dead man walking. I know this from following the financial news, and this death has been a long time coming, and for now they keep holding on while losing millions of dollars a year. That linked article tells of plans to license the Craftsman and Kenmore brands out to other retailers. The article speculates that this is a final step in selling the family jewels before going out of business (my words, not Forbes), and Forbes says it would be a good idea for Home Depot or Lowe’s to buy the Craftsman brand outright when Sears finally goes kaput. Pictures are worth a thousand words, so you tell me if Sears looks healthy to you.
An Alternative to Craftsman
There are two alternatives to Craftsman for mechanic hand tools and they are Husky and Kobalt. Kobalt tools are available at Lowe’s and Husky at Home Depot. In my research I’ve not been able to find any significant differences between the three brands, and since I have an arrangement with Home Depot as an affiliate advertiser I’m going to focus on the Husky ratchet wrench. Disclosure: if you click through and buy something from Home Depot that I advertise or review, I get a very small commision from Home Depot to keep the lights on at Best Tools For Men. Plus for your convenience any online purchase can either be picked up at the store or shipped directly to you.
The features to look for in a ratchet wrench are fairly simple. The first one is grip comfort. The bar style grip is less comfortable than the rounded pipe style grip when applying a lot of force to tighten or untighten a bolt or nut. These three below have the rounded grip. The two functional features are tooth count on the ratchet head and swivel heads. These are 72 tooth heads which means you turn the ratchet about 5 degrees before the ratchet action catches again versus 100 tooth heads which gets the wrench turn down to 3 degrees before the ratchet action catches. This can be a big deal in very tight spaces, but the feature I’m find most useful is the swivel head. The 3/8ths and 1/2 inch drive ratchets below are 72 tooth swivel heads which I think is a nice trade-off.
Eating my own dog food
I actually bought these three ratchet wrenches below by linking through to Home Depot. I opted for in store pickup since I live close to a Home Depot. Total cost was just over $70. Really convenient. Just a tip, I bought all three and it opened three tabs, but in adding to my Home Depot cart, the final tab still showed all three items in the cart.
If you use Husky or Kobalt hand tools let me know how you think they stack up against Craftsman in the comments below.
Follow up: Within about 90 minutes of ordering these ratchets online for in-store pickup, I received a text saying they were ready at the customer service counter. That was on a Monday morning so your experience may vary. Great service Home Depot!