Kobalt vs Craftsman Brand Comparison | The Saw Guy

When it comes to mechanics tools, some of the most successful and well-loved tools are private-label brands manufactured for specific stores. Craftsman ushered in this trend many years ago, and since then, companies like Kobalt and Husky have entered the market.

But, which of these private label brands offers the most bang for the buck? Today, we’re going to take a closer look at two major competitors in our Kobalt vs Craftsman showdown.

Company Histories

Both Kobalt and Craftsman are major private-label tool brands that are exceptionally popular.

Kobalt Company History

Kobalt is the younger of the two brands and was incorporated in 1998 by the Lowes Company. Most of their tools are sold exclusively at Lowe’s stores. Their initial offerings centered around mechanics tools and tool storage solutions, and they’ve since evolved to offer a full line of tools, including popular lithium-ion power tools, pneumatic tools, and outdoor tools as well.

Craftsman Company History

Across the way, Craftsman is the older and more established of the two brands. Craftsman was launched in 1927 and was contracted by Sears and several other retailers to distribute the tools. After some time, Sears became the owner and exclusive retailer for this popular brand.

With Sears experiencing tumultuous times that ultimately resulted in the company’s bankruptcy, they sold the Craftsman brand to Stanley Black & Decker in 2017. Today, Sears stores maintain a license to sell Craftsman tools in their stores, but the full line can only be found at Lowe’s stores.

Kobalt and Craftsman Parent Companies

Lowe’s Companies, Inc.

Lowe’s Companies, Inc. is the parent company of Kobalt. They own a few different brands:

  • Kobalt
  • allen+roth
  • Project Source
  • Utilitech
  • Reliabilt
  • Harbor Breeze

Stanley Black & Decker (SBD)

Stanley Black & Decker, also known as SBD, is the parent company of Craftsman. They own a wide variety of brands:

  • DeWalt
  • Black + Decker
  • Craftsman
  • Stanley
  • Lenox
  • Irwin

Product Line Depths

Both Kobalt and Craftsman sell a wide variety of products. Below, you’ll find what each brand’s product line consists of.

Kobalt Product Line

Kobalt sells power tools, outdoor power equipment, air tools, storage, hand tools, batteries, and accessories.

Here are some of the specific types of products you can purchase from Kobalt:

  • Combo Kits
  • Brushless Drills
  • Table Saws
  • Tile Saws
  • Miter Saws
  • Jigsaws
  • Circular Saws
  • Reciprocating Saws
  • Band Saws
  • Impact Wrenches
  • Rotary Tools
  • Multi-Tools
  • Lawn Mowers
  • Leaf Blowers
  • Chainsaws
  • String Trimmers
  • Batteries
  • & More

Craftsman Product Lines

Craftsman sells power tools, outdoor power equipment, lighting, generators, storage, hand tools, batteries, and accessories.

Here are some of the specific types of products you can purchase from Craftsman:

  • Air Compressors
  • Compressor Combo Kits
  • Air Hammers
  • Air Ratchets
  • Batteries
  • Chargers
  • Power Tool Combo Kits
  • Drill Drivers
  • Hammer Drills
  • Vacuums
  • Dust Extractors
  • Angle Grinders
  • Polishers
  • Impact Drivers
  • Impact Wrenches
  • Belt Sanders
  • Orbital Sanders
  • Circular Saws
  • Miter Saws
  • Jigsaws
  • Chop Saws
  • Table Saws
  • & More

Brand Reputation and Cost of Tools

Here we’ll go over the reputations and cost of the tools of each brand.

Kobalt Reputation and Tool Affordability

When it comes to Kobalt tools, people often rate them between average and above average when it comes to quality. This may be surprising to some because Kobalt is not a massive brand. I would like to mention, though, that while most classify Kobalt tools as pretty good, those same people would most likely agree that they’re also nothing special.

Because of this, Kobalt tools are generally marketed towards homeowners, basic repairmen, and DIYers. With that said, you’re not going to see many large contracting companies using Kobalt tools since they aren’t durable enough for heavy-duty projects.

Kobalt is the more affordable option of the two brands. While they do have a range of prices, one of the main things that makes them so appealing is that they offer quality tools for less. On top of that, Kobalt has slightly more expensive products for professionals and inexpensive hand tools for homeowners.

Craftsman Reputation and Tool Affordability

When it comes to Craftman’s reputation, the company is often regarded as one of the highest-quality power tool brands. In 2011, Craftsman received the highest score possible from the Harris Interactive Poll for both Trust and Brand Expectations.

Additionally, not long after, the readers of Popular Mechanics voted Craftsman to be the best brand for hand tools. For those who may or may not know, Craftsman is the official tool brand of both the DIY Network and NASCAR. Regardless of where tools are created, Craftsman’s reputation is that it’s a high-quality tool brand.

The cost of Craftsman tools is very similar to the cost of Kobalt. However, I do feel that even though the cost is the same Craftsman tools are the better value because of the wider range of tools that you are able to choose from.

Warranty Comparisons

Kobalt Warranty

Kobalt has a lifetime warranty on all of its hand tools. If anything goes wrong, you can return the item or items easily. However, it’s important to note that while you can bring it back to Lowes, you will still have to abide by their return policy. A receipt or ID is usually required. If you don’t have a receipt and Kobalt no longer makes the item you’re returning, you’ll be stuck with the lowest dollar amount the product sold for.

Most of Kobalt’s lithium-ion power tools come with a five-year warranty. Other items, such as hedge trimmers, also have anywhere between a three and five-year limited warranty. Their storage units also have a lifetime warranty available.

Craftsman Warranty

Overall, Craftsman does have good warranties. Especially since some of the products come with warranties that are several years in length. However, it is important to note that Craftsman doesn’t have as many lifetime warranties as Kobalt does. Additionally, some warranties from Craftsman hand over the responsibility to Sears, which no longer owns the company. This can be problematic.

Who Are These Tools For?

Both Kobalt and Craftsman manufacture a full line of hand tools as well as many popular power tools. Both brands are moderately priced and are accompanied by strong warranties.

For the most part, both these tool brands are marketed to the same consumers. Anyone who is hoping to purchase high-quality tools on a budget can benefit from the products these two brands offer.

Who Should Avoid These Tools?

On the other hand, both Craftsman and Kobalt are value-driven brands that exist in the middle ground of tools and accessories. Some brands are below Kobalt and Craftsman regarding quality and price, and there are also many brands that produce much higher quality and more expensive products.

Those who are looking for professional quality tools that are made exclusively in America may benefit from looking towards other brands, instead of Craftsman or Kobalt.

What Makes These Companies Different?

With so many similarities, it’s difficult to understand what separates these two popular brands. However, there are some key differences regarding the power tools each brand manufactures.

Kobalt offers a full line of lithium-ion battery-powered tools including saws, drills, and outdoor power tools like line trimmers, lawn mowers, and more.

Craftsman offers some battery-powered options, in addition to corded electric power and outdoor tools and also has gas-powered outdoor tools available.

With so much in common between the two brands, we’ve pitted two of their most popular mechanic’s tool sets against each other to determine the winner in our Kobalt vs Craftsman battle.

Kobalt 19-Piece Standard and Metric Combination 3/8-in Drive Spline Socket Set

This Kobalt tool set is especially comprehensive and provides virtually every hand tool you could ever need.

This 314-piece kit includes a total of 124 different 6- and 12-point sockets, 25 driver sockets, 40 hex keys, and 12 nut driver adapters. You’ll also receive ¼”, ⅜,” and ½” 90-tooth ratchets, four extensions, three drive adapters, six open-ended combo wrenches and a magnetic screwdriver handle with assorted insert bits.

Also included is a quality blow-molded four drawer tool chest which will help you keep your tools well organized and safe when they aren’t in use.

Kobalt’s tools also have some intuitive features that help make your work easier, including laser-etched callouts and color-coded bands to help you easily identify standard and metric tools.

What We Like

  • High-quality 90-tooth ratchets
  • Standard and metric attachments are color coded
  • Lifetime warranty
  • High-quality toolbox

What Could Be Better

  • A bit more expensive than comparable offerings

Craftsman 320-Piece Mechanics Tool Set

Craftsman’s offering includes a few extra pieces and comes in at a significantly lower price point compared to the Kobalt kit above.

This kit includes a total of 152 six, eight, and twelve point sockets as well as ¼”, ⅜,” and ½” ratchets. Four extension bars are also included to make it easier to work in tight spaces.

This kit also includes 40 different allen keys in short and long-armed varieties, eight combination wrenches, a magnetic screwdriver handle with 96 insert bits and a dozen nut drivers, and a blow-molded toolbox.

This kit includes substantially more insert bits, which may come in handy with basic projects around the house. Overall, this kit includes virtually everything you’ll find in the Kobalt kit at a more affordable price point.

What We Like

  • Great price
  • High-quality toolbox
  • Lifetime warranty

What Could Be Better

  • Mediocre screwdriver handle
  • Ratchets aren’t as nice as Kobalt

Final Word

While each kit from these two heavyweight tool companies can certainly get the job done, there are a few areas that separate these kits. In this battle of Kobalt vs Craftsman, our favorite kit is made by Kobalt.

While the Craftsman kit is more affordable and even includes a few extra pieces, the quality of the Kobalt kit is better, and that quality is worth investing in. Plus, given the tumultuous last few years, the Craftsman brand has had given all of Sears’ issues, Kobalt feels like the more trustworthy brand at this point. Who won this showdown? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Kobalt and Craftman the same company?

No, Kobalt and Craftsman are not the same company. Kobalt is owned by Lowes Companies, Inc, which is the parent company. They own a few different brands. Craftsman is owned by Stanley Black & Decker. They own a variety of different brands.

Is Kobalt good quality?

Kobalt is often seen as one of the best tool brands that you can purchase today. They offer both brushless and brushed options, and the quality is great for DIYers and home use.

Are Kobalt tools worth buying?

Some Kobalt tool tests have found that their tools underperform when compared to other top tool brands. However, Kobalt offers incredible value for its tools.

Are Kobalt tools as good as Craftsman tools?

For the most part, Kobalt has several tools that are right on par with Craftsman tools, but Craftsman does offer a wider variety of products when compared to the Kobalt product line.

Is Kobalt better than Craftsman for cordless hand tools?

Craftsman tools are good quality and perform well. Kobalt tools are about the same. The answer to this question is going to depend on your needs. Craftsman offers a wider variety of tools, so Craftsman will be the better choice for you is they have what you’re looking for.

Do Craftsman batteries fit Kobalt?

Although Craftsman and Kobalt are in the same market space, they each have their own accessories, including batteries, to fit their tools. This is how companies ensure customer loyalty.

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