I just got back from Sears headquarters in Chicago, where I served as an “outside voice” for an in-depth symposium on Craftsman tools and products. As the Tools Editor of the world’s largest woodworking magazine, I shared my experiences from tool tests and general everyday use of Craftsman tools, as well as discussed trends in tools and woodworking and where the future might take us. It was an interesting twist, because I’m typically the journalist interviewing tool-makers and reporting on their newest product launches. But this time I was on a five-person panel of experts sitting in front of a roomful of Craftsman representatives who asked the questions. It was a spirited discussion, very enlightening for the content as well as the experience of being on the “other side.” My hope is that this experience will eventually result in Craftsman producing products and tools that will help woodworkers, homeowners, DIYers, and anyone who takes a notion to be better at what they do.
Earlier in the day I got to see some of the newest tools that will soon launch, but by agreeing to keep it all confidential I’m not allowed to show photos or give specifics. The Craftsman leaders also revealed some new concepts they’re playing with for tools and products. Some of them are pretty cool, others not so much. But I give them a ton of credit for constantly striving to create innovative, unique products that can be brought to market at affordable prices. I also got a tour of Craftsman’s testing lab, where they put tools through rigorous tests to substantiate claims (or sometimes debunk them) and determine their lifespan. Always on the lookout for testing methods I can incorporate into our own tool reviews at WOOD magazine, I managed to pick up some ideas based on what I saw. As new Craftsman products come to market, I’ll keep you all posted through my blog, our newsletter, and our magazine.