How to Date Craftsman Tools?

Craftsman tools are a symbol of craftsmanship and the American Dream. They represent hard work, diligence, and quality. The Craftsman brand is known for its hand-crafted goods that are built to last. 

We are going to describe how to date a Craftsman tool from its serial number. From the 1920s until 1950, these tools were made in the USA (you can read more about this on Wikipedia). 

Sometime after that, Craftsman was sold to Stanley Black & Decker, and they started making their tools in China. You can find out if your craftsman tool is made in China by looking at the packaging.

At times, you may have a craftsman tool without a serial number or with an incomplete serial number. This doesn’t mean that your tool isn’t authentic; it just means that the manufacturer did not stamp all of their tools with a serial number. 

It also doesn’t mean that the tool is any less effective than another Craftsman tool. So, don’t fret!

How to Date Craftsman Tools- Using Different Methods

 

Estimated cost needed to date your craftsman tools: $50

Tools needed: magnifying lamp, magnifying glass

To date your craftsman tools, you need to look at several different parts of the tool. Each part has a certain number, which tells you when your tool was made. Here are some ways you can do so:

Look at the Markings On Its Handle

Most of the time, these tools have no date stamped onto their metal handles or other parts of their bodies. However, many older tools feature certain markings that may help you date them:

  • oPP > indicates that the manufacturer used recycled steel during crafting. 
  • oHU > indicates it has been tested by Underwriter’s Laboratories. 
  • MADE U S A > provides information regarding registration of trade mark. 
  • R PATD > indicates that it is patented 
  • 29.9 > signifies tubing size (in decimal) 
  • A G D = American Gear & Machine Co., Inc. 

You will see other markings on Craftsman tools, but these are the most common and provide clues as to the dating of the tool.

Look for The Origin

Check for a “Made in USA” stamp on the tool’s packaging.

While this does not necessarily mean the tool was made in America, it is a good indication. If you find your Craftsman tool was purchased outside the US, you can check for a “Made in China” stamp on its packaging.

Check If It Is Made in China

If your craftsman tool is made in China, then it will have an incomplete serial number or a missing serial number on its packaging. 

For example, if your craftsman’s tool packaging says “made in China” or has no serial number on it, then the tools inside are most likely made in china.

How to Date Craftsman Tools – The 1940s to Present Day

Tools from the 40s through today are easy to identify because they all have two unique IDs stamped onto them: A model number/company ID and a part number /serial number. 

The model and company IDs look similar to this: R8100318LH, for example. These numbers were used until Craftsman was bought out by Sears Roebuck and Co..

Since that time, new tools have had an additional 4 digit code added after the part numbers, so any tool produced by Sears Indianapolis has the following code stamped into them: R8100318LH0000. 

If you have a set of tools with no part or model number/company ID somewhere on it, check the packaging for one of these codes. If neither are there, your craftsman tool is most likely made in China.

If you Can’t Find the Origin, Look at the Markings

Many of these tools are not stamped with information about when they were manufactured and where they were crafted. 

However, the tool’s handle is stamped with information about where it was crafted and when looking at other markings on the tool. These “other” markings may be a sign that your craftsman hand tool might be several decades old.

To help you date craftsman tools, here are some examples of what you will find inscribed or marked on the body of the hand tool.

The Craftsman symbol can be found underneath their nameplate and is the most reliable way to determine when a tool was produced. 

For example, if you see the craftsman symbol followed by an ‘S,’ this could mean that your hand tool is from between 1954 and 1972. 

Different Marking Signifies When Your Tools For Many Different Models Produced In Years Past:

  • GX – between 1926 and 1940
  • GW – between 1941 and 1948
  • KW – between 1949 and 1954
  • KS – between 1955 and 1962
  • KX – between 1963 and 1967
  • LW – between 1968 and 1974
  • LX – from 1975 to 1979. 

The CT Markings

The CT markings on hand tools mean that they were made in Taiwan. 

If you are questioning the age of an old craftsman tool, there are a few more things to consider:

Some craftsman tools are not marked with their place of origin. 

The Craftsman company used different methods to stamp data on the handle or body of a tool. For example, some tools use raised nubs, and others are engraved into the wood or molded/cast in it. Depending on how your model was made, it could be easy or difficult to read. 

Using a loupe (magnifying glass) may help you determine if the letters on your craftsman tools are raised nubs or engraved into the wood or molded/cast in it.

The casting, molding, and engraving were done by hand, and while they took great care to create your craftsman hand tool, they might not be perfect. 

If you find an error or missing information on your older craftsman hand tool, it should not diminish its value.

 Remember that no two tools can ever look the same, and over time there may have been errors in casting, molding, and engraving of tools, whether it’s a new hand tool or an old one.

If you are interested in learning more about craftsman tools, you may want to look for resources to give you the specific details of when your model was produced and where it was crafted.

Here Are a Few Things That you Might Want to Look For

– The Craftsman Book (1944) – about the history of this company, some model descriptions, and their place of origin. 

Tools of the Trade Magazine (various years) included more detailed information about tool manufacturers and their products. 

– Sears Roebuck Catalog

Compare Your Craftsman Tool to One of Their Tools With a Known Date

If you have a hammer and it has no markings, compare it to other hammers stamped with a year. The year that is stamped on the other tools will most likely be the same as the year your hammer was manufactured.

Search Online for Information About When Craftsman Tools First Introduced This Particular Model

Search online for information about when Craftsman Tools first introduced this particular model. 

You can find a lot of old craftsman tools for sale, just about anywhere you look. Check out some of these great resources to compare your hand tool with others like it.

Check the Patent Date Stamped on The Ratchet Head

Take a close look at your ratchet head and check for a patent date. If it is there, find out how old the patent is to determine when your tool was manufactured. 

Most Craftsman hand tools manufactured between the 1930s and 1950s have patent dates in the early 1940s, so this will be your best bet.

If there is no date, search for a “D” (diamond) mark followed by a number. The number refers to a catalog from that year when the tool was introduced by Craftsman Tools.

Look at Pictures of Old Craftsman Tools From Before 1950

Seeing what they looked like and how they were marked differently than modern-day should be the first thing you do if you are wondering how to date craftsman tools. 

When you see pictures of old antique tools, look at the markings on them and try to find something that looks similar on your current set of hand tools.

FAQs

What If There is no Date Stamped on The Ratchet Head?

If you have an old Craftsman hand tool without any discernible patent date, search for a “D” (diamond) mark followed by a number. The number refers to a catalog from that year when the tool was introduced by Craftsman Tools.

What does a D with a serial number mean?

The “D” is actually an abbreviation for diamond. The year the tool was listed in this catalog will be followed by its corresponding Diamond Number, such as “D-300.” This tells you when your tool was introduced to consumers by Craftsman Tools.

What does a Patent date on my ratchet head mean?

Most Craftsman hand tools manufactured between the 1930s and 1950s have patent dates in the decade of 1940, so this will be your best bet if you don’t know what date it is stamped with and want to determine how old your tool might be.

Final Words

The process of dating a craftsman tool is not an easy one, but fortunately, there are some things you can do to narrow down the date your ratchet was first manufactured. 

If it has no patent or D-Diamond number stamped on the head and all you have to go by is its age (which we assume from this blog post), take a close look at pictures of old craftsmen tools before 1950 that were introduced in that year’s catalogs for help with identifying what type of markings yours may bear.

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