Kobalt Vs. Craftsman (The Two Direct Competitors)

Last Updated on September 19, 2022 by Barry Gray

Kobalt and Craftsman are two fantastic brands of power tools in their own right, but how do both compare against one another?

I love doing this type of comparison between brands as I always find it fascinating when I can spot the similarities or differences between two companies. As a tool enthusiast, it’s interesting to see how they match up, so that’s what I’m going to do right here.

Of course, I’ve picked two stellar names in this instance, and they are probably brands you feel very familiar with already. So let’s dive into both brands and then try to determine which name comes out on top at the end.

Which is Best?

Which brand do I think comes out on top? This is genuinely a tough one to call, and I say that for several reasons.

First, they match up well, but then we are talking about two very direct competitors who were both house brands for some time. When you target the same market, your principles line up together, which has happened here.

However, if I was to choose between the brands, then my pick would be Craftsman, and it’s simply because of the range of tools and accessories that they have available. I just feel I can find what I’m looking for under the Craftsman brand, but I see some additional restrictions with Kobalt. 

But honestly, if someone handed me a Kobalt power tool, then I wouldn’t be too disappointed. I feel they work well enough within their capabilities, and as long as you know their limitations, then they won’t let you down.

Basically, it comes down to what you want out of your power tools when making your decision. Both options perform reasonably well and should do so for years to come without giving you too many problems. 

I always suggest trying to plan ahead and think about the types of projects you will complete with the tools. Make sure they offer enough capabilities for you to complete them without pushing the tool to its absolute limit. 

When you do that, I generally find it easier to identify the perfect tool, and you should have enough options from either Kobalt or Craftsman.

The History of Kobalt

kobalt tools

As a power tool manufacturer, Kobalt is really the new kid on the block as they only really started producing power tools in the 1990s. However, while they do not have the same history as other companies, that hasn’t stopped them from gaining a reasonable foothold in the industry.

Also, their reputation for producing quality tools is not in dispute.

But I need to point out that Kobalt, now part of the actual Lowe’s brand, was launched to directly target the same market as Craftsman. Actually, you could say it was established to directly target the Craftsman brand alongside the market.

That makes this comparison between the two brands even more interesting than it would have otherwise been.

What you will now find is that the Kobalt brand is viewed as the house brand for Lowe’s, and that’s not exactly a bad position to find yourself in as a company.

The History of Craftsman

craftsman power tools

As a brand, Craftsman does have a more extensive history than Kobalt since the company launched back in 1927. At first, they too were effectively a house brand, but this time the Craftsman brand was linked to Sears.

However, that changed in 2017 when Sears gave up control of the brand and then sold it to one of the major players in the power tool industry, Stanley Black & Decker. That means the Craftsman brand was then owned by the same company that produces not only Black & Decker branded tools but also DeWalt.

Kobalt Tools

kobalt tools in store

Kobalt tools already come with a reputation for being a brand that produces some high-quality products. However, they don’t also come with a sky-high price tag attached to them either.

But let’s examine some of their tools and examine why I think the Kobalt brand may appeal to some buyers in the market.

Where They are Manufactured

First, even though the brand itself is American, sadly, the power tools component of the brand is not based in the United States. Instead, most of the power tools under the Kobalt brand are manufactured in either China or Germany.

That is disappointing, as Kobalt has a production line based in Nevada. However, that production line is associated with the development of mechanics tools, but at least if you do end up purchasing a mechanics tool, then you know it’s All-American.

The Quality

Even though they do not come with a high price tag, I don’t think it means the quality of this brand drops accordingly. That’s certainly not the case, and Kobalt does manage to produce some fantastic tools that I feel will work well for the beginner and your general home DIY’er.

This quality can partly be attributed to the fact most will come with a chrome vanadium steel construction. That’s designed to cope with a whole lot of pressure and regular use without feeling as if the tool is weak in some way.

They also tend to feel quite good in the hand. They may not come across as the lightest tool you will hold, but the grip is often comfortable enough to make using the tool quite pleasurable.

Also, one interesting point is how some people openly argue that Kobalt tools did improve in quality when they moved into the position of being the house brand for Lowe’s. The quality comes across as far more consistent across the range.

The Range

Kobalt does produce all of the main types of power tools you would expect to see at a place like Lowe’s. So, while they do not really make specialized tools, you should have no problem finding the correct tool for most home DIY requirements.

However, I do admit that their range is somewhat limited compared to other brands out there on the market. But in saying that, they focus on more of a general market rather than individuals looking for that particular tool to do a specific job.

Why You May Want to Purchase Kobalt Tools

lowe's store

I see there being three main reasons why you may want to go ahead and purchase a Kobalt tool.

The Price

One thing I can say about Kobalt tools is that they are very affordable. This is one of the key reasons people are drawn to the brand, as you get a quality power tool without spending too much cash.

Also, the availability of the brand is another thing to consider. It’s very easy to pick up the tools from Lowe’s.

The Quality

I mentioned this earlier, but the quality does not reflect the price. Actually, the quality is much higher than the price you pay, which is very positive.

I know these tools are not designed to cope with a lot of punishment as you would expect from professional tools. However, that’s not bad as it’s not the market they are targeting with their tools.

Ease of Use

Finally, Kobalt has sought to keep its tools as easy as possible to use, and that’s something I really appreciate. Someone new to operating a particular power tool does not have to then be faced with something complex to use just when starting out.

So, if you want to own a power tool that you can jump into using straight away, then Kobalt could very well be the brand for you.

Craftsman Tools

craftsman tools

Craftsman tools have a longer history, as mentioned earlier, and that’s something that tends to appeal to people over Kobalt tools. They have a tendency to see Craftsman tools as being more established and having spent a considerable period of time developing their tools.

However, that’s not the only reason why I think you may want to possibly own a Craftsman power tool.

Where They are Manufactured

Craftsman tools are primarily manufactured in the United States. However, not every single part that is in their power tool will actually come from the United States.

Actually, Craftsman has recently invested more money into plants in the United States, so production could be ramped up. That’s clearly also a good sign in that people purchase their tools in large enough numbers that they have to expand production.

The Quality

Craftsman tools are viewed by most as being manufactured to a very reasonable quality. They are reliable and will undoubtedly prove to be the perfect tool for people who are either beginners or carry out regular jobs and tasks around the home.

You must remember that they have almost 100 years of experience when it comes to the manufacturing and designing of tools. They have been able to really build their reputation over the years, and that also includes fine-tuning their design and really perfecting their tools.

So, if you are worried about the potential quality of the tools by Craftsman, then don’t stress.

The Range

Thanks to the years they have been producing power tools, Craftsman does have an extensive range of tools for you to choose from. Also, they do produce a number of accessories as well, so you have the opportunity to change the tool slightly to accommodate your needs.

I find that Craftsman has a tool available for every eventuality. That alone is a fantastic thing about the brand, 

Why You May Want to Purchase Craftsman Tools

craftsman accessories

While the three points listed above are a good enough reason to go ahead and purchase Craftsman tools, I do have several other reasons why this could be a great idea.

The Cost

The cost of Craftsman tools is pretty much on a par with Kobalt, which means there’s little difference between the two brands. However, I do feel that the cost associated with Craftsman tools is better value simply because it has a broader range of tools for you to choose from.

But remember that Craftsman is more of a middle-range brand from a price perspective. So, you may find some Kobalt tools work out slightly cheaper than Craftsman.

Availability

Craftsman tools are straightforward to get your hands on. This brand seems to be everywhere, and for a good reason. They produce quality tools.

I find it easy to locate their tools and also their various accessories. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to really be capable of building your tool collection. 

Usability

One thing I’ve always loved about Craftsman tools is how they are just so useful. You can set them up in next to no time, and they are good to go with you having the ability to really push on with your project.

I find they don’t take long to adjust, fix angles, or even vary the speed according to your needs. That’s the appeal of these tools to so many people, and it does come across as a real selling point.

So, if you want a tool that is very easy to use, then Craftsman is undoubtedly one brand I would give some serious consideration to.

Comparing Kobalt and Craftsman

Warranty

I always recommend people take up the offer of a warranty with their power tools, which applies no matter the brand. While modern power tools are substantially better in quality, you should still sign up for any warranty on offer.

Honestly, when you look at the warranties on offer, then Kobalt does win out of the two brands. What you will find is most of their tools come with a lifetime warranty, and I find that exceptional. Actually, it’s tough to think of other brands that can compete with Kobalt in this department.

But that’s not saying the warranty you get with Craftsman is poor. You get a standard 3-year warranty from this brand, but you do need to always read the small print to see what’s covered.

You see, every brand incorporates certain sections into their warranty that allow them to avoid paying out or helping their customers. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I recommend checking out the small print for both brands.

Reliability

While neither Kobalt nor Craftsman would rank number one regarding reliability, they also would not appear at the bottom of the list either. 

I find that both brands are pretty good regarding their reliability, but part of that is due to their tools not really being made for heavy-duty use. You see, as long as you only use these tools for regular jobs around the home, then they can last for an extended period of time. However, they lack the power and ability to handle tougher jobs that professionals generally encounter.

But overall, I see both brands performing quite well in the general sense.

Selection

I’ve mentioned this several times, but when it comes to the selection of tools, there’s only one winner, and it’s Craftsman. However, if you want to purchase the basic tools you see everywhere, then Kobalt still has more than enough options available.

However, I feel that the range of options regarding both tools and accessories is better with Craftsman, so it appeals to a broader audience.

Market

The market is an area where both brands directly compete with one another. Their primary focus is on your average DIY’er or beginner, which is reflected in what their tools can do.

So many aspects of the tools from both names fall into line with one another. You have tools with roughly the same power and capabilities, and also little difference in the cost as well.

However, neither brand produces heavy-duty tools, so if that’s what you want, then best look elsewhere.

Overall Conclusion

Both Kobalt and Craftsman manage to produce some high-quality tools, and they do so without putting too much pressure on your bank balance.

Even though it’s close, I would suggest Craftsman just wins by a fraction. They do offer slightly better tools and have more options than you get with Kobalt. However, if you want the best warranty out there, you would need to go for Kobalt, as nobody can compete with them.

Basically, it’s a tough call between the two, and that should come as no surprise, considering they compete for the exact same market. 

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Barry Gray

Hi, I’m Barry. I’ve loved woodworking and bringing things back to life for more years than I care to remember. I hope my passion for tools comes across loud and clear in everything you read here on The Tool Square.

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