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Craftsman was born in 1927 when Sears decided to create a superior brand of tools; the tools would have to meet the most rigorous set of standards to earn a place in the Craftsman line. The brand first appeared on a line of saws. 

Origin of the Craftsman name

In 1927, Sears hired Arthur Barrows to head the company’s hardware department. Barrows knew hardware and wanted to create a brand name for Sears that distinguished it from other manufacturers. Barrows liked the name Craftsman used by the Marion-Craftsman Tool Company and reportedly offered Marion-Craftsman $500 for the rights to use the Craftsman name on Sears products.

From farmer to the mechanic

When Sears promoted Arthur Barrows to West Coast Manager, he hired Tom Dunlap to take over the hardware department. Dunlap immediately upgraded the quality of the tools. America had moved into the automobile age and Dunlap recognized that Sears needed a line of high quality tools to meet the new demand. He threw out the big, clumsy, cast-iron hammers and wrenches, and the soft screwdrivers leftover from the days when farmers were the company’s biggest customers. 

Tom Dunlap understood the pride mechanics took in their tools and how they meticulously cleaned them each day. To improve the look of Craftsman tools, he added chrome plating to improve the finish, color, and trim on wrenches and sockets. He also added high impact plastic handles on screwdrivers. Dunlap’s former boss, Arthur Barrows did not think it made sense to chrome plate a tool that someone would “slug the hell out of”, but Dunlap’s persistence paid off when sales of the full-polish, reliable, good-looking, and easy-to-clean tools increased six times the next year.

While the brand has evolved constantly to expand its offerings, incorporate new technologies and feature ergonomic designs, the original purpose remains the same: Craftsman tools are the standard bearers of quality. As proof, an independent consumer survey in 2001 rated Craftsman No. 1 among all American brands in quality.

Craftsman chronology

View a detailed chronology of the Craftsman brand.

Craftsman today

Read some basic facts about Craftsman today or visit for more information and to purchase products.

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