Tales of a Hack #2: Brand loyalty: The cocaine of woodworking

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Blog entry by ajw1978 posted 12-10-2014 06:57 AM 2224 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: What kind of day has it been? Part 2 of Tales of a Hack series Part 3: Shop status -- Full. »

As I write this, I’m staring at three sets of drill/driver combination kits and my eyes hurt from scouring the web searching for reviews, pros and cons for each set. I’m torn between fleeting brand loyalty, the thought of what “might be” for me in the hobby, and the stark realization of who I am, what I do and how infrequently I do it.

So, bring a writer by trade and unable to adequately convey to the CEO just how important this decision is and how difficult it will be to reach, I’ve chosen to vent my frustration here, to the good folks of in the hopes of 1) getting all of these idiotic thoughts out of my head 2) getting some clarity on the subject or 3) just giving in and cracking open the case of Schlitz hidden in my desk.

I’m still new to this. I’ve been building my tool collection over the past two years and only this past summer did I really find myself delving into the woodworking hobby. Now I’m finding myself looking forward to and planning more extensive projects for the upcoming spring and, if I remember the word correctly in this barren, frozen wasteland …. “summer.”

Before we continue, here’s what I’m working with:

1) Craftsman C3—Heavy-duty drill with XCP; Compact drill/driver; 1/4-inch impact driver

2) Ridgid 18v Fuego drill-driver; X4 impact driver

3) Milwaukee M12 drill/driver; M12 Impact Driver

First things first; I’m keeping the M12, one way or another. The 12V set is going to become my everyday set and, it’s Milwaukee. I’m a Milwaukee born-and-bred guy so it’s cool having something with such high regard, high quality (and, to boot, just $99) with my hometown’s name on it, sitting in my work bag.

Which brings me back to the problem at hand: which kit, the C3 or the Ridgid do I want to keep? On the surface, there doesn’t appear to be much of a difference. Sure, I’ve heard the reviews and comments about Craftsman not being what it used to be but, to be honest, what the hell is anymore? At the end of the day, the Craftsman line has been around for nearly 100 years and you don’t get that far, even in this day and age, by having somebody in a Chinese factory take a dump in the box and ship it to the United States.

But Ridgid has the warranty. And while I’ve heard horror stories about that, too, the thought of being able to take my kit in sometime in the next few years and get a new battery is appealing to me. I keep thinking that, at my level of experience, I don’t need something fancy like a Ridgid but on the other hand … I feel like that warranty is directed at people like me. Or, it’s just a scam … why would a company need a lifetime warranty if it’s products are so good?

These are the things that keep me up at night.

Along with the Milwaukee, I know for certain that even if I sell the Craftsman kit, I’ll be holding onto the Heavy Duty Drill/Driver with XCP. I actually scored it for just $10 thanks to a web error by Sears (one of many errors on their part … which is why I have started to shy away from then in the first place). I’ll keep that drill and the battery, which I’ll also use on my C3 wet/dry vac and my detail sander.

And once again, back to the ultimate question(s): Is Ridgid that much of a step-up from Craftsman; Is the warranty all its cracked up to be (I know I need to register and it doesn’t cover W&T); and lastly, am I putting way too much thought into a ostensibly pointless topic, considering everything else going on in the world.

I realize I could have just sat tight with what I had and used the money I currently have outstanding to just buy the damn $199 Ridgid table saw I’ve been drooling over for the last two weeks, but that ship, sadly, has sailed.

Thank you, fellow jocks, for allowing me to vent. Feel free to stop by for a Schlitz.

-- May the good Lord help me if I ever actually have a shop, garage or basement.

6 comments so far

View emart's profile


445 posts in 3918 days

#1 posted 12-10-2014 09:15 AM

Avoid the craftsman at all costs. I had one of those drills and it didnt last a year. the batteries are huge and do not hold a charge very long. the batteries also wear out fast.

I have been in the process of removing all my newer craftsman tools because of all the headaches they have caused me over the years. my vintage craftsman stuff still works like a charm but the new stuff is garbage. the only thing left is their wrenches.

-- tools are only as good as the hands that hold them

View camps764's profile


867 posts in 3650 days

#2 posted 12-10-2014 11:58 AM

As an alternative, you could pick up the Dewalt set. Then you’ve got a set for the car, one for the office, one for the shop and one for odds and ends in the kitchen :)

-- Steve

View ellen35's profile


2750 posts in 4723 days

#3 posted 12-10-2014 01:39 PM

Fine Woodworking has a review of these in this month’s issue.
Well worth the read!

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4625 days

#4 posted 12-10-2014 02:21 PM

I’ve had Dewalt for about 2 years and I still love it. It helps that it came with 3 battery packs.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View ajw1978's profile


165 posts in 2712 days

#5 posted 12-10-2014 07:40 PM

I thought about DeWalt, but I’m still on a tight budget and they were just a little out of reach. I think I’m sticking with the Craftsman as my full-power set. It’s worked very well for me so far, I’ve got a good collection of batteries and other tools in the line. I’m guessing the Ridgid package is one that goes on sale rather frequently at HD so if the time comes when my Craftsman craps out on me, then I can upgrade. In the meantime, until I really know what I’m doing in the hobby… the C3 and the M12 kits should do me just fine … I hope.

-- May the good Lord help me if I ever actually have a shop, garage or basement.

View Bigrock's profile


292 posts in 4253 days

#6 posted 12-11-2014 02:09 AM

I just bought my second set of Milwaukee M12 drill/driver; M12 Impact Driver set because they are so tough and my helper keeps then where he is working. I have to get him to bring them back to me 4 or 5 times a day. I think the reason we both like them is they are light weight and they are tough. The lights let you know when the battery is low so you don’t get the sudden stop. As far as I am concerned they are a good tough tool.

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