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If your budget for new tools isn’t an infinitely renewable resource, you might want to hit up Sears for a couple of your need-to-have power tools. Their ever-expanding C3 Ni-Cad line includes over 20 tools that don’t cost much cash when compared to others of their class.

We’re not sure how handy the battery-powered RC truck is, but the drill, recip, and circular saw look like decent deals. They aren’t the best money can buy, but Ni-Cad power is better than nothing and easy on the budget.

Most tools in the line are well under $100 and readily available at the local Sears — no shipping or waiting required. If you’re hunting for a cheap power tool that might actually last a few years, this is a good start.

Craftsman C3 Line [Sears]

 

22 Responses to Cheap-Ass Tools: Craftsman C3 Line

  1. Maureen says:

    I sense a Christmas list item coming up… 😀 I’ll most likely get something that I don’t necessarily need but TOTALLY want to try out. Clicking on that link now…

  2. Adam R. says:

    Has anyone figured out if the C3 is interchangable with the Ryobi cordless line?

  3. John Doe says:

    I’ll never buy Nicad again. I’ll go without before I’ll buy nicad tools.

  4. Chris Byrne says:

    Its good that you buy them all with lithiums too then isn’t it.
    \
    Oh and get replacement lithiums as well… and cheaper than any other brands lithiums.

  5. Kris says:

    I would guess that these are not interchangeable with the Ryobi as they are 18v and the C-Man is 19.2v.

    I’d caution anyone thinking that they can get a cordless tool for under $100 that these tools seem to be setup along the lines of the Ryobi – purchase battery and charger separately and use on several tools.

    In looking at the Sears website it shows the battery and charger as accessories – but the good news is that they are listed as Li-Ion.

  6. James says:

    Hey guys, I’ve been looking for a nice cordless drill, cordless set. However, I don’t want to get bent over on batteries that don’t last and cost half of the tool when I need to replace them.

    What do you recommend for a cordless set that will last a while and replaceable batteries are decently priced?

    James

  7. Maureen says:

    I would recommend a Skil 14.4 V battery for an average cordless drill, that won’t set you back multiple paychecks and you can find a replaceable battery without much difficulty. Here they are at Sears: http://www.sears.com/shc/s/s_10153_12605_Tools_Portable+Power+Tools_Drills#viewItems=21&pageNum=1&sortOption=ORIGINAL_SORT_ORDER&&filter=Brand|Skil&lastFilter=Brand

    Skil is a reliable brand for DIYers, but if you need something with more power, I’d recommend some of the higher-end Craftsman and if you’ve got disposable cash or want your drill to last forever, some of the Bosch drills. However, you have to be cautious with some of the Bosch cordless drills because the batteries *are* expensive, but they’re VERY reliable.

  8. James says:

    Schweet!!!

    Thank you Maureen for the info and the link. I’ll read some of the reviews of the brands and hit my wife up for a couple of dollars. 😛

  9. Pablo says:

    The Ryobi One+ system is superior for several reasons: It’s less expensive, and theres a several year history with a recent Li-ion battery system which is backwards compatible.

    Craftsman cordless power tools seems to change every year with no backwards compatibility and there are a bewildering number of models. By contrast, the Ryobi line has been very stable.

  10. Maureen says:

    No problemo, James, anytime. Good luck with the upcoming negotiations. 😉

  11. Zathrus says:

    It’s pretty much a draw between the Craftsman C-3 line and the Ryobi One+ line. They’re made by the same company, including the batteries (the Craftsman even has the same “power guage” as the Ryobi). No, they’re not interchangable — if you look at them closely you’ll see that they have very different plugs; that said Sears is lying about 19.2V — that’s simply not possible. They’re 18.0V too.

    For pricing, Ryobi is cheaper for the individual tools (by a little; $5-10 ea) and the NiMH batteries (by a lot). Craftsman is cheaper for the LiIon batteries (by a little — $10 per).

    Tool lines are pretty similar (see above), but Craftsman has a standard 7 1/4″ circular saw available, while Ryobi only has the crappy little 5 1/2″ saw (which you also get in the Craftsman kits). No idea what the runtime is on the bigger model, but remember — batteries are cheap.

    Personally, I have far more Home Depots near me than Sears, so I prefer Ryobi. But either one make for good weekend warrior or even moderate commercial use (I’ve seen a number of workers at our office using Ryobi One+ tools; I’ve asked how they like them and the responses have been positive).

  12. Brau says:

    “I’ve been looking for a nice cordless drill, cordless set”

    I have the Craftsman 19.2V line for home use and find it very affordable and able for most tasks. I bought a 1/2″ drill set complete with a cordless 3.2v screwdriver, two batteries and a charger, on sale for $100, including a case and a bunch of bits. I have since bought their cordless jigsaw for $79 (no battery incl.) and cordless planer for another $79. I have no complaints about the tool quality level and they have replaced all my corded tools for the most part (Still need my corded 1/2″ hammer drill now and then). I’ll buy the cordless recip saw next based on my positive experience with the rest of the set.

    Batteries: I have noticed it is much cheaper to buy a whole new drill set rather than to buy replacement batteries: Separately they cost as much as $95 each, whereas you get two with the $100 sale deals when they come up. I haven’t seen any other tool brand who has been able to offer prices as good.

    Re NiCad vs Lithium: What kills NiCads is frequent partial use and subsequent recharging. If you make sure not to leave your NiCad batteries in the charger after reaching full charge and make sure to fully drain them before charging them again (use the flashlight attachment until they go dark), NiCads can last a very long time. My NiCads are still going strong after 8 years of very regular daily use.

  13. Kevin says:

    To Zathrus:

    “if you look at them closely you’ll see that they have very different plugs; that said Sears is lying about 19.2V — that’s simply not possible. They’re 18.0V too.”

    Incorrect. Craftsman branded tools of TTI design (That’s the company that makes Ryobi, not Ryobi itself.) that fall in the 19.2 volt range actually have a single extra charge cell in the battery pack. This represents a spec increase of 6.66% power above the 18 volt. It is, however, the same motor which means the motor in the Craftsmans runs at 106.66% output which is considered within standard overvoltage constraints. (Generally set at 7 or 8% before it effects the power or longevity of the tool.)

    It is an insignificant amount of power and does not effect the results of using the tool at all however 19.2 is indeed an accurate rating for these tools so Sears isn’t lying about it.

  14. Asbestos says:

    There are several places online that will re-cell your beat batteries for about $40. Many will use cells that are of higher capacity then the ones that came with it.

  15. KMR says:

    I bought a pair of Craftsman replacement 19.2V batteries last Black Friday for $40 for the pair. I can’t recall if they are C3s or not, but they work in my 19.2V drill that I bought nearly five years ago.

    I stopped buying Ryobi tools a long time ago because they were not durable enough to use in the shop. Among the dead Ryobi count were two corded reciprocating saws (used for cutting apart parts cars) and two corded angle grinders (used for general shop work). I went with Hitachi for the replacement reciprocating saw, works great, totally durable to date. Harbor Freight ran a special about two years ago where their decent 4 1/2″ angle grinders were on sale for $5.99/each. I bought three, all three still work… vastly outlasting the Ryobis. I would have been happy to get 6 months out of each of the HF grinders, but they’re still kicking after about three years.

    As for my Craftsman 19.2 drill. I couldn’t be happier with that purchase. I paid about $100 five years ago for it. It sunk every screw during my home remodel and expansion, including all new drywall in every room of this 2200sq ft house. Once the house was done, it found its way over into my shop where it gets used daily including for tough tasks like priming engine oil systems by driving the oil pump driveshaft. It takes a lot of power to turn an oil pump at decent RPM to build good priming pressure, and the Craftsman 19.2 does it without complaining.

  16. Z says:

    Until my tools where stolen, I was happily using the C3 impact driver and the drill. Yes, they are basically the same as the Ryobi tools and they are surprisingly good. The impact driver has pretty good balance and I never had a problem with short runtimes or lack of power. The drill, well, it’s a drill, it works fine. I had originally received these tools in a kit, with a recip saw and 5 1/4″ saw. The circular saw is a complete piece of s**t, and the recip is usable, but has zero speed control and the blade fence stinks on it. The most surprising useful tool I found in the kit is their fluorescent work light, that thing would last for days on a charge!

    So when my tools were stolen again, I was seriously considering replacing them again with the C3 line. Unfortunately, I don’t think their pricing is very competitive anymore, or it’s only seasonally competitive and if you hunt around you can find better deals on better tools. I ended up with 10.8V Bosch Lithion impact drill and driver, and though they don’t have the same power as the C3, they’re half the weight, twice the quality, and the lineup is expanding rapidly.

    So my verdict is, if you already have the C3 stuff, keep buying it as they’re good tools, but if you don’t have any of their stuff, I think you can find better from others.

    Z

  17. Z says:

    I forgot to include in the above post that Toolbarn has a smoking deal, IMO, on the Makita 10.8V combo kit, $190: http://www.toolbarn.com/product/makita/LCT203W/

    Again, I’m not sure that the price differential is enough to make me buy a C3 kit again.

    Z

  18. James says:

    You guys ROCK!!!!

    Thank you!!!

  19. Dano says:

    I agree with never buying Ni-Cad again. Li-Ion just holds the charge longer for in between uses. Sometimes I don’t touch the tools for weeks or months. Li-Ion will hold the charge. Its also lighter. My latest Sonicare toothbrush is Li-Ion. More power, last longer on a charge than my old Sonicare and its lighter.

  20. apotheosis says:

    I have the 19.2 set that included the drill, sawzall, circular/trim saw, and fluorescent light. I purchased the jigsaw separately.

    The drill and sawzall have been very useful and reliable. The circular saw is capable enough, I suppose, so long as it’s not tasked with cutting anything denser than trim. The jigsaw…meh. The blade’s off-kilter and I haven’t seen any simple way of re-aligning it, so I just hold the whole thing at an angle to the direction of cut.

    They’re not fabulous, they’re not terrible. A pro would get frustrated with their limitations in a hurry, but for odd jobs around the house they’re a good buy.

  21. kyle says:

    I have the drill the recip saw the flouresent light and the inflator and I have had great luck with all of them next I will be get ing the impact driver and spiral saw

  22. Walter says:

    I own several Craftsman C3 tools and the cordless jigsaw with laser actually is one of my favorite. I’ve never used the blades that came with the saw. Instead, I use Bosch t-shank blades and they work great. The blade fits fine, doesn’t come loose cuts well. I used the jigsaw to cut a 4 inch wooden post in half for building a dog pen that I couldn’t do with a circular saw.

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