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Sockets and Drive Tools

Sears had a long history of supplying socket sets for automotive service, even from well before the introduction of the Craftsman brand. In the 1910s Sears offered early pressed-steel socket sets by Mossberg and other makers, and when pressed-steel sockets were replaced by stronger machined sockets in the 1920s, Sears was ready with socket sets from Duro Metal Products, Hinsdale, and others.

These early socket sets helped Sears develop its marketing expertise in this area, preparing the way for the 1932 introduction of Craftsman branded socket sets.


C-Series Sockets and Drive Tools

The C-series line of sockets and drive tools was first offered in the fall of 1932, based on the listing in the 1932 Sears Fall and Winter catalog. The 1932 introduction makes these the first socket tools to bear the Craftsman name.

The C-series tools can be recognized by the open-style ratchet with a knurled handle and by the distinctive angled knurling around the base of the sockets. Currently examples are known in the 9/32-, 3/8-, and 1/2-drive sizes.

We've called this the C-series line because of an unusual feature: the tools were marked with a model number with a "C" prefix! Although this may not seem highly significant, consider that it wasn't until the late 1960s or early 1970s that Craftsman hand tools were universally marked with model numbers.

The C-series tools were still being offered in the 1935 Sears catalog, but must have been phased out soon after this, as the more familiar "BE" and H-Circle models became the standard socket and drive tool line.

The C-series socket tools are less common than the "BE" and H-Circle line, due to their limited production period, but we've been able to acquire a number of examples for the figures below.


Craftsman C-97 1/2-Drive Ratchet and Drive Plug

[Craftsman C-97 1/2-Drive Ratchet]
Fig. 135. Craftsman C-97 1/2-Drive Ratchet, with Insets for Reverse, Side View, and Marking Detail, ca. 1932-1936.

Fig. 135 shows a Craftsman C-97 1/2-drive open-style ratchet with its drive plug, stamped with the Craftsman block logo and model number on the shank.

The overall length is 8.5 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished faces.

The drive plug has a circular end cap, a style popular with some makers but which requires that the plug be removed to changed directions, rather than simply pushed through to the other side.


Craftsman C-92 1/2-Drive 18 Inch Speeder

[Craftsman C-92 1/2-Drive 18 Inch Speeder]
Fig. 136. Craftsman C-92 1/2-Drive 18 Inch Speeder, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. 1932-1936.

Fig. 136 shows a 1/2-drive Craftsman C-92 18 inch speeder, stamped with the Craftsman block logo and model number on the shank.

The overall length is 18.2 inches, and the throw is 4.2 inches. The finish is chrome plating, with some losses due to wear.

The knurled end piece has two grooves for decoration.


Craftsman C-93 1/2-Drive Flex-Head Handle

The next figures show two examples of the Craftsman C-93 flex-head handle, with a significant difference in the construction.

[Craftsman C-93 1/2-Drive Flex-Head Handle]
Fig. 137. Craftsman C-93 1/2-Drive Flex-Head Handle, with Inset for Detail, ca. 1932-1935.

Fig. 137 shows an earlier Craftsman C-93 1/2-drive flex-head handle, stamped with the Craftsman block logo and model number. The knurled handle is equipped with a cross-bar hole, but the end is not broached for use as an extension.

The overall length is 14.9 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

Note that this tool is designed with the fork on the flex head, rather than with the fork on the shank as is more commonly seen today. In addition, the detent ball has an unusual placement near the end of the shaft, rather than in the base of the fork. If you examine the photograph closely, the hole for the detent ball can be seen on the lower side of the flex head.

The forked head and the unusual placement of the detent ball were probably done to avoid infringing the 1921 Eagle patent #1,380,643, which would have been in effect for the presumed early to mid 1930s production of this tool. The Eagle patent was overturned in 1935 (see our discussion of the Eagle Lawsuit for more details), after which all tool companies were free to make flex handles with the fork on the shank.


[Craftsman C-93 1/2-Drive Flex-Head Handle]
Fig. 138. Craftsman C-93 1/2-Drive Flex-Head Handle, with Inset for Marking Detail, 1935.

Fig. 138 shows a later Craftsman C-93 1/2-drive flex-head handle, stamped with the Craftsman block logo and model number. The knurled handle is equipped with a cross-bar hole, but the end is not broached for use as an extension.

The overall length is 14.6 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

This tool was acquired as part of the Craftsman C-Series 37-Piece Set shown in a later figure.


Craftsman C-96 1/2-Drive Sliding Tee Handle

[Craftsman C-96 1/2-Drive Sliding Tee Handle]
Fig. 139. Craftsman C-96 1/2-Drive Sliding Tee Handle, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. 1932-1936.

Fig. 139 shows a 1/2-drive Craftsman C-96 sliding Tee handle, stamped with the model number and Craftsman block logo.

The overall length is 10.0 inches, and the finish is polished chrome.

The handle bar provides a center groove for convenient operation as a Tee-handle, and the sliding head has cutout slots to allow movement to the extreme end of the bar.


Craftsman C-90 1/2-Drive 5 Inch Extension

[Craftsman 1/2-Drive C-90 5 Inch Extension]
Fig. 140. Craftsman 1/2-Drive C-90 5 Inch Extension, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. 1932-1936.

Fig. 140 shows a 1/2-drive Craftsman C-90 5 inch extension, stamped with the Craftsman block logo and model on the head (see composite inset).

The overall length is 5.1 inches. The original finish was chrome plating, but most has been lost due to rust.

This tool was acquired as part of the Craftsman C-Series 37-Piece Set shown in a later figure.


Craftsman C-91 1/2-Drive 10 Inch Extension

[Craftsman 1/2-Drive C-91 10 Inch Extension]
Fig. 141. Craftsman 1/2-Drive C-91 10 Inch Extension, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. 1932-1936.

Fig. 141 shows a 1/2-drive Craftsman C-91 10 inch extension, stamped with the Craftsman block logo and model on the head (see composite inset).

The overall length is 10.1 inches. The original finish was chrome plating, but most has been lost due to rust.

This tool was acquired as part of the Craftsman C-Series 37-Piece Set shown in a later figure.


Craftsman C-24 and C-26 1/2-Drive Double-Hex Sockets

[Craftsman C-24 and C-26 1/2-Drive Double-Hex Sockets]
Fig. 142. Craftsman C-24 and C-26 1/2-Drive Double-Hex Sockets, ca. 1932-1936.

Fig. 142 shows two 1/2-drive Craftsman C-xx sockets, marked with the model numbers and Craftsman block logos. The models and sizes are, from the left, C-24 (3/4) and C-26 (13/16).

The sockets have a distinctive knurled band of slanted lines without cross-hatching, an uncommon decorative pattern known only with this series of tools.


Craftsman C-36 1/2-Drive Double-Hex 1-1/8 Socket

[Craftsman 1/2-Drive C-36 Double-Hex 1-1/8 Socket]
Fig. 143. Craftsman 1/2-Drive C-36 Double-Hex 1-1/8 Socket, with Inset for Broaching, ca. 1932-1936.

A more detailed view of a C-Series socket is provided by Fig. 143, a 1/2-drive Craftsman C-36 double-hex 1-1/8 socket marked with the Craftsman block-letter logo.

The inset shows the cold-broached construction of the socket, with a relieved area below the broaching.


Craftsman C-0xx 1/2-Drive Double-Square Sockets

Although less commonly found, the Craftsman C-Series tools also included 8-point sockets, as the next figure will show.

[Craftsman 1/2-Drive C-Series Double-Square Sockets]
Fig. 144. Craftsman 1/2-Drive C-Series Double-Square Sockets, with Inset for Broaching, ca. 1932-1936.

Fig. 144 shows a group of five 1/2-drive Craftsman C-0xx 8-point sockets, all marked with the Craftsman block-letter logo. The models and sizes are, from the left, C-016 (1/2), C-018 (9/16), C-020 (5/8), C-022 (11/16), and C-024 (3/4).

These 8-point sockets show the same slanted knurling and tapered walls seen in the 12-point sockets, and the inset shows the standard cold-broached construction of the sockets.


Craftsman C-Series "37-Piece" Socket Set

The C-Series tools were offered in socket sets of various sizes, and this next figure will show the largest of the sets, the "37-Piece" model.

[Craftsman C-Series 37-Piece Socket Set]
Fig. 145. Craftsman C-Series "37-Piece" Socket Set, 1935.

Fig. 145 shows a Craftsman C-Series "37-Piece" socket set in its hip-roof toolbox, consisting of a generous selection of 1/2-drive tools and sockets, plus a complete "Midget" set of 9/32-drive tools in its own box.

The tools in the removable tray consist of, from bottom to top, a C-93 flex-head handle and cross-bar, a C-96 sliding Tee handle, a C-97 ratchet and drive plug, a C-91 10 inch extension, and a C-90 6 inch extension.

The C-92 speeder is shown resting on the lid, along with the "Midget" set of 9/32-drive tools. (The speeder is normally stored in the bottom of the toolbox.)

The 1/2-drive sockets in the set include 13 double-hex and five double-square sockets, shown along the top edge and right side of the tray. The double-hex models and sizes are, from the left, C-14 (7/16), C-16 (1/2), C-18 (9/16), C-20 (5/8), C-21 (21/32), C-22 (11/16), C-24 (3/4), C-26 (13/16), C-28 (7/8), C-30 (15/16), C-32 (1 Inch), C-34 (1-1/16), and C-36 (1-1/8). The double-square models and sizes are, counterclockwise along the right side, C-016 (1/2), C-018 (9/16), C-020 (5/8), C-022 (11/16), and C-024 (3/4).

The 9/32-drive tools in the set form a complete Craftsman 11-Piece "Midget Set", shown resting on the top lid. This set is described more completely in a separate figure and consists of a sliding Tee handle, an extension, seven double-hex sockets, and two double-square sockets, all contained in a small metal box. The "Midget" set was acquired separately from the rest of the tools and is of somewhat earlier production.

This set was acquired as a reasonably complete group of 1/2-drive tools, and a few missing sockets have been filled in from inventory for the photograph. The cross-bar for the flex-head handle is an unmarked replacement.

The production date for this set can be estimated rather closely due to a change in the design of the flex-head handle. A close look at the C-93 Flex-Head Handle shows that the fork is at the end of the shank, rather than on the flex head itself. Earlier models placed the fork on the flex head to avoid infringing a patent used by Plomb, but in 1935 the patent was overturned.

The Sears 1935 Spring and Summer catalog actually illustrates the flex handle in this "inner head" style, with the fork on the shank, whereas the illustrations in previous catalogs show the fork on the flex head (the "outer head" style). Since by the fall of 1935 the C-Series sets were being replaced by the "BE" series tools, we can place the production of this set in 1935 with reasonable confidence.

Some readers may have been counting up the listed tools (24 in 1/2-drive and 11 in 9/32-drive) and wondering about the "37-Piece" count. It appears that Sears has counted the ratchet drive plug and flex handle cross-bar as separate tools in reaching the 37 piece total.

[Top View of Craftsman C-Series 37-Piece Socket Set]
Fig. 146. Top View of Craftsman C-Series "37-Piece" Socket Set, 1935.

Fig. 146 shows a top view of the hip-roof toolbox for the Craftsman "37-Piece" set, marked on the front with a badly worn "Craftsman" decal.

The dimensions of the box are 18.8 inches wide by 6.0 inches deep by 5.6 inches high.


Summary of 1/2-Drive C-Series Sockets and Tools

Model Description Size Examples and Notes
C-016 Double-Square Socket 1/2 C-016 Socket
C-018 Double-Square Socket 9/16 C-018 Socket
C-020 Double-Square Socket 5/8 C-020 Socket
C-022 Double-Square Socket 11/16 C-022 Socket
C-024 Double-Square Socket 3/4 C-024 Socket
C-14 Double-Hex Socket 7/16  
C-16 Double-Hex Socket 1/2  
C-18 Double-Hex Socket 9/16  
C-19 Double-Hex Socket 19/32 Not included in later ("37-Piece") sets.
C-20 Double-Hex Socket 5/8  
C-21 Double-Hex Socket 21/32  
C-22 Double-Hex Socket 11/16  
C-24 Double-Hex Socket 3/4 C-24 Socket
C-26 Double-Hex Socket 13/16 C-26 Socket
C-28 Double-Hex Socket 7/8  
C-30 Double-Hex Socket 13/16  
C-32 Double-Hex Socket 1 Inch  
C-34 Double-Hex Socket 1-1/16  
C-36 Double-Hex Socket 1-1/8 C-36 Socket
C-90 Extension 5 Inch C-90 5 Inch Extension
C-91 Extension 10 Inch C-91 10 Inch Extension
C-92 18 Inch Speeder N/A C-92 Speeder
C-93 Flex-Head Handle N/A C-93 Flex-Head Handle
C-96 Sliding Tee Handle N/A C-96 Sliding Tee Handle
C-97 Ratchet and Drive Plug N/A C-97 Ratchet

Although the Sears catalogs didn't provide model numbers for the C-series tools, we've been able to gather enough examples to build a list of the models. The table at the left shows the C-series models available in the 1/2 drive size.


Craftsman 3/8-Drive CF-87 Ratchet

[Craftsman 3/8-Drive CF-87 Ratchet]
Fig. 147. Craftsman 3/8-Drive CF-87 Ratchet, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1933-1936.

Fig. 147 shows a 3/8-drive Craftsman CF-87 ratchet, marked with the Craftsman block-letter logo.

The overall length is 6.5 inches.

This open-style ratchet is similar in construction to the 1/2-drive model shown above, but is reversible using the side shift lever.


Craftsman 3/8-Drive CF-16 Double-Hex 1/2 Socket

[Craftsman 3/8-Drive CF-16 Double-Hex 1/2 Socket]
Fig. 148. Craftsman 3/8-Drive CF-16 Double-Hex 1/2 Socket.

Fig. 148 shows a 3/8-drive Craftsman CF-16 double-hex 1/2 socket, acquired with a mixed set that included the CF-87 ratchet above. The socket is marked with the Craftsman block-letter logo, and features a slanted knurled band around the base.


Craftsman [5868] C-Series "Midget Set" 9/32-Drive Socket Set

The 1933 Sears catalog offered a "10-Pc. Midget Set" available both as part of the largest C-series socket set and as an individual item, the latter under catalog number 5868. (In later catalogs the number changed to 6113.) Although the catalog didn't specify the drive size of the midget set, the list of contents exactly matches the set in this next figure, and the drive size turns out to be 9/32-drive.

[Craftsman 5868 Midget Set 9/32-Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 149. Craftsman [5868] "Midget Set" 9/32-Drive Socket Set, 1933.

Fig. 149 shows a Craftsman [5868] 9/32-drive C-series "Midget" socket set, consisting of a C-94 sliding Tee handle, a C-95 extension, two double-square sockets, and seven double-hex sockets.

The tools are marked with "Craftsman" in block letters plus model numbers of the form C-xx. The sockets and the base of the extension have a band of slanted knurling, as seen previously with the 1/2-drive C-series sockets.

This set matches the illustration and description for the "10-Pc. Midget Set" listed as item number 5868 in the 1933 Sears catalog. Although the heading states ten pieces, the description lists the same eleven pieces (nine sockets and two drive tools) present in this set.

A former owner has scratched the note "9 Sizes 1933" in the top, providing a helpful clue for the manufacturing date. Since 1933 fits within the known production period of the C-series tools, we'll accept this as the probable manufacturing date.

[Cover Decal from Craftsman 5868 Midget 9/32-Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 150. Cover Decal from Craftsman 5868 "Midget" 9/32-Drive Socket Set, 1933.

Fig. 150 shows a closeup of the decal on the top cover of the "Midget" set. Though only in fair condition, the text is still legible, with "Craftsman Tools" in the center and "Guaranteed Highest Quality" visible around the border.


Craftsman C-94 9/32-Drive Sliding Tee Handle

[Craftsman C-94 9/32-Drive Sliding Tee Handle]
Fig. 151. Craftsman C-94 9/32-Drive Sliding Tee Handle, 1933.

Fig. 151 shows the 9/32-drive Craftsman C-94 sliding Tee handle from the "Midget" socket set.

The overall length is 4.5 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.


Craftsman C-95 9/32-Drive 6 Inch Extension

[Craftsman 9/32-Drive C-95 6 Inch Extension]
Fig. 152. Craftsman 9/32-Drive C-95 6 Inch Extension, 1933.

Fig. 152 shows the 9/32-drive Craftsman C-95 6 inch extension from the "Midget" socket set.

The overall length is 6.0 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.


Craftsman 9/32-Drive C-Series Double-Hex Sockets

[Craftsman 9/32-Drive C-Series Double-Hex Sockets]
Fig. 153. Craftsman 9/32-Drive C-Series Double-Hex Sockets, 1933.

Fig. 153 shows the seven double-hex (12-point) sockets from the "Midget" set, all marked "Craftsman" in the original block-letter logo. The models and sizes are, from the left, C-7 (7/32), C-8 (1/4), C-9 (9/32), C-10 (5/16), C-11 (11/32), C-12 (3/8), and CM-14 (7/16).

Note that the 7/16 socket is marked with model number "CM-14" instead of the expected progression "C-14". The likely explanation is that the 1/2-drive C-series sockets included a 7/16 size, which had already claimed the C-14 model number.


Determining the Manufacturer of the Craftsman C-Series Tools

Having examined a number of examples of the Craftsman C-Series tools, the important remaining question is to determine the maker of the tools. We have known the identity of the maker for some years now, but have been waiting patiently while gathering the artifacts needed to present a convincing case. The paragraphs below will present evidence based on the design and construction of the flex-head handles and open-style ratchets.

The most significant feature of the flex-head handles is the use (in the earlier years) of a design with the fork on the flexible head instead of the handle. We'll refer to this as the "outer-head" design, borrowing a term from P&C tools, a maker of both outer-head and inner-head flex handles. There is an interesting history behind these design alternatives, with the outer-head design being intended to avoid infringing the 1920 Eagle patent covering the inner-head design. Eventually a patent infringement lawsuit was brought against a maker of inner-head flex handles, but the court decision in 1935 found in favor of the defendant and overturned the patent. Additional details can be found in the section on the Eagle Patent Lawsuit.

Of the companies making flex-head handles prior to 1935, those using the outer-head design included Cornwell, Duro/Indestro, P&C, and Snap-on. Other companies used the inner-head design exclusively, including Armstrong, Blackhawk, Herbrand, Hinsdale, New Britain, Plomb, S-K, and Williams. (Plomb was the licensee of the Eagle patent mentioned previously.)

Refer now to the early Craftsman Outer-Head Flex Handle, and note that the handle terminates rather abruptly in a square stud where the flex-head is attached. Compare this with the Snap-on Outer-Head Flex Handle, and note the similar construction at the handle end. Note also that both of these examples have the drive stud on the flex end oriented at 45 degrees from the plane of the flex motion.

Now refer now to the later Craftsman Inner-Head Flex Handle, with the fork on the end of the handle as is found on most modern flex handles. This tool design is illustrated only in the Sears 1935 Spring and Summer catalog, shortly before the C-Series line was discontinued, making this variant of the flex handle one of the less common examples of the line. (The tool in our collection is the only example we've ever seen.) This can be compared with a Snap-on Inner-Head Flex Handle of somewhat later construction (1944). A review of the Snap-on catalogs found that the 1936 edition was the first publication to show the use of the inner-head design. Since Snap-on catalogs were prepared in the fall of a calendar year, this would imply that the change to the inner-head style would have occured sometime from late 1934 through mid 1935.

We'll now turn our attention to the open-style ratchet design provided with the C-Series tools. The laminated construction used in this style of ratchet made them relatively easy to manufacture, and a number of different tool companies made similar ratchets at some point in their history. However, one company's ratchets provide a nearly identical match to the Craftsman models in both features and construction details.

Referring first to the Craftsman CF-87 Open-Style Ratchet, note the use of a round knurled handle, the transition with the shank becoming wider and thinner, the use of four rivets to secure the plates, and the small shift lever projecting from the side. For comparison we can examine the Snap-on PF-87 Open-Style Ratchet, where we find a tool with nearly identical dimensions, features, and construction. The final confirmation comes from the close similarity of the model numbers, with an obscure "PF-87" becoming a "CF-87". Model numbers for Craftsman tools were not required in this era and were seldom marked, so the chances of a different manufacturer just happening to chose something close to a Snap-on number would be remote indeed.

Based on the above evidence, we can conclude that Snap-on was the maker of the Craftsman C-Series tools. Although some readers might be surprised to find that Snap-on was supplying tools to a mass-market retailer, in the context of the 1930s economy it would have made good business sense. For many companies 1932 was the nadir of the Great Depression, and Snap-on (like many other companies) was looking for new sources of revenue. The large retail market controlled by Sears allowed the company to buy in volume and to make deals with companies like Snap-on that normally sold through other channels.


Craftsman Vanadium Socket Tools

The next several figures will show examples of the Craftsman Vanadium line of sockets and drive tools. These tools are currently known only in the 3/8 and 9/32 drive sizes.


Craftsman Vanadium [5872] Transitional "9-Piece" 3/8-Drive Socket Set

This next figure arrived as a mixed "set" of 3/8-drive Craftsman tools in a metal box, but it turned out to be a veritable box of riddles. There were three distinct styles of sockets, two of them marked Craftsman, the other unmarked, but matching a different set of sockets that came in a Hinsdale box. Along with the flex-head handle breaker bar was another drive tool, the Craftsman CF-87 Ratchet shown with the C-series sockets above.

All in all a very interesting collection, but it has taken several years to unravel the mysteries. We can now present it as a transitional example of the model 5872 3/8-drive socket set, first offered by Sears under the Hinsdale brand in 1933, and later branded as a Craftsman Vanadium set in 1934. (The C-Series tools were likely added by the former owner.)

[Craftsman Vanadium 5872 Transitional 9-Piece 3/8-Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 154A. Craftsman Vanadium [5872] Transitional "9-Piece" 3/8-Drive Socket Set, ca. 1933-1934.

Fig. 154A shows a Craftsman Vanadium [5872] transitional "9-Piece" 3/8-drive socket set, consisting of a flex handle and eight sockets in a metal box. The set is marked with "Craftsman Vanadium" on the flex-handle and two sockets, but any original decals or other markings are no longer present.

The socket sizes are, from right to left, 7/16, 1/2, 9/16, 19/32, 5/8, 3/4, 13/16, and 7/8. The sockets have a mix of production and marking styles, with two of the original pieces having straight walls with "Craftsman Vanadium" and the fractional size stamped on the base. The other five original sockets have tapered walls with a thin band of knurling and are marked only with the fractional size. (The 1/2 socket is a replacement in the "Craftsman Vanadium" style.)

The dimensions of the box are 8.2 inches wide by 2.3 inches deep by 1.0 inches high.

This set was identified as a model 5872 by descriptions in the 1933 and 1934 Sears catalogs, and by its resemblance to an earlier Hinsdale 3/8-Drive Socket Set and to a later Craftsman Vanadium [5872] Socket Set. In the Hinsdale example, all of the sockets have tapered walls with just the size marking, matching the tapered sockets in this set. In the later Craftsman Vanadium set, the sockets have straight walls with "Craftsman Vanadium" markings, matching the two straight-wall sockets in this set.


Craftsman Vanadium 3/8-Drive Flex-Head Handle

[Craftsman Vanadium 3/8-Drive Flex-Head Handle]
Fig. 154B. Craftsman Vanadium 3/8-Drive Flex-Head Handle, ca. 1933-1934.

Fig. 154B shows the 3/8-drive Craftsman Vanadium flex-head handle from the Craftsman Vanadium [5872] Transitional Socket Set. The tool is stamped with the Craftsman underlined logo and "Vanadium" on the shank.

The overall length is 8.0 inches, and the finish is a thin plating, possibly nickel.

The knurled handle is equipped with a cross-bar hole.


Craftsman Vanadium 3/8-Drive Double-Hex Sockets

[Craftsman Vanadium 3/8-Drive Double-Hex Sockets]
Fig. 155. Craftsman Vanadium 3/8-Drive Double-Hex Sockets, ca. 1934.

Fig. 155 shows two 3/8-drive Craftsman Vanadium 12-point sockets, acquired as part of the Craftsman Vanadium [5872] Transitional Socket Set. The sockets are marked "Craftsman Vanadium" with the fractional size, but without a model number.

The sizes are, from the left, 5/8 and 13/16.

The socket construction appears to be cold-broached, based on the chatter marks visible upon close examination, and there is a bored recess below the broached area.


Craftsman Vanadium 3/8-Drive 13/16 Double-Hex Socket

[Craftsman Vanadium 3/8-Drive 13/16 Socket]
Fig. 156. Craftsman Vanadium 3/8-Drive 13/16 Socket, with Insets for Broaching and Marking Detail, ca. 1934.

Fig. 156 shows the 3/8-drive Craftsman Vanadium 13/16 socket from the Craftsman Vanadium [5872] Transitional Socket Set in greater detail. The socket is stamped with "Craftsman Vanadium" and the fractional size along the base, as shown in the composite inset.

The right inset shows the interior of the socket. The construction is cold-broached with a relieved area below the broaching.

Note that this socket has straight walls, in contrast to the tapered upper walls found on the Craftsman C-Series sockets. Note also the slightly recessed band around the base for the markings.

This socket is nearly identical in design and construction to the Hinsdale 3/8-Drive 13/16 Socket shown in our article on Hinsdale tools.


Craftsman Vanadium [5872] "9-Piece" 3/8-Drive Socket Set

[Craftsman Vanadium 5872 9-Piece 3/8-Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 157. Craftsman Vanadium [5872] "9-Piece" 3/8-Drive Socket Set, ca. 1934.

Fig. 157 shows a Craftsman Vanadium [5872] "9-Piece" 3/8-drive socket set, consisting of a flex handle and eight sockets (one is missing) in a metal box. The set is marked with "Craftsman Tools" and "Guaranteed Highest Quality" embossed on the lid, and all of the tools are marked "Craftsman Vanadium".

The socket sizes are, from right to left, 7/16, 1/2, 9/16, 5/8, 11/16, 3/4, and 13/16, with a space at the left for the missing 7/8 socket. The sockets are stamped with "Craftsman Vanadium" and the fractional size on the base.

The set as acquired was missing the 13/16 and 7/8 sockets, but we were able to provide the correct replacement for the Craftsman 13/16 Socket from our inventory.

[Top Cover of Craftsman Vanadium 5872 9-Piece 3/8-Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 158. Top Cover of Craftsman Vanadium [5872] "9-Piece" 3/8-Drive Socket Set, ca. 1934.

Fig. 158 shows the top cover of the Craftsman Vanadium [5872] "9-Piece" socket set. The lid is embossed with "Craftsman Tools" (using the underline logo) in an oval, with "Guaranteed" and "Highest Quality" on the top and bottom.

The dimensions of the box are 8.0 inches wide by 1.9 inches deep by 1.3 inches high.

Currently our only catalog reference for this set is the Sears 1934 Spring and Summer catalog, which lists a Craftsman 9-Piece Wrench Set under catalog number 5872 that matches this example. Similar listings (with the same catalog number) go back to a "Hinsdale 9-Piece Set" offered in 1933, providing good evidence for Hinsdale as the maker of this set.

An example of a somewhat earlier Hinsdale equivalent set (with tapered sockets) can be seen as the Hinsdale 3/8-Drive Socket Set. A later Hinsdale example with straight-wall sockets is available and will be displayed in the future.


Craftsman Vanadium 5868/6113 "Midget Set" 9/32-Drive Socket Set

[Craftsman Vanadium 5868/6113 Midget Set 9/32-Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 159. Craftsman Vanadium 5868/6113 "Midget Set" 9/32-Drive Socket Set, ca. 1933-1935.

Fig. 159 shows a Craftsman Vanadium 5868/6113 "Midget Set" 9/32-drive socket set in a metal box, consisting of a sliding Tee handle, extension, seven 12-point sockets, and two double-square sockets (with one missing). The tools in the set are marked "Craftsman Vanadium", with the exception of the unmarked sliding Tee handle.

The double-hex socket sizes are, from the left, 7/32, 1/4, 9/32, 5/16, 11/32, 3/8, 7/16. The double-square socket sizes are 3/8 (missing) and 1/4.

The overall length of the box is 6.2 inches.

This set is functionally equivalent to the Craftsman 5868 C-Series "Midget" Set shown in a previous figure, but with differences in the construction and markings of the tools and box. The Sears catalogs listed these sets initially under catalog number 5868 and later as 6113.

This socket set is similar to the Hinsdale 11M Socket Set shown in our Hinsdale article. As with the 11M set, the box for these tools has a raised shelf with holes sized to hold the sockets and tabs to restrain the drive tools. The boxes for the sets are also similar, with raised panels on the lids, and with the hinge formed by rolled tabs on the lid and body.


Craftsman "BE" and H-Circle Socket Tools

Around the same time that the Craftsman Vanadium line of socket tools were first offered, Craftsman also introduced another line of sockets and drive tools, identified by their distinctive band of cross-hatched knurling and bearing a "BE" manufacturing code. These "BE" series socket tools (and the nearly identical H-Circle tools) became hugely successful, and helped make the Craftsman brand a respected supplier of mechanic's tools.

Because of the importance of the "BE" series socket tools (not to mention our ability to positively identify the maker), these tools are covered in a separate article on the Craftsman "BE" and H-Circle Tools.


Other Early Craftsman Socket Tools

In addition to the C-series, Craftsman Vanadium, and Craftsman "BE" lines of socket tools, a few examples of tools with other manufacturer's codes have been identified.


Craftsman "K-Circle" 1/2-Drive Universal

The early Craftsman 1/2-drive socket sets did not include a universal joint, a popular accessory that many other makers did offer with their sets. At some point Sears may have offered a universal joint as a separate tool, as suggested by the next figure.

[Craftsman K-Circle 1/2-Drive Universal]
Fig. 160. Craftsman K-Circle 1/2-Drive Universal, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. Mid to Late 1930s.

Fig. 160 shows a Craftsman "K-Circle" 1/2-drive universal, stamped with "Craftsman" in block letters, and with a K-Circle manufacturer's code.

The overall length is 2.3 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

The K-Circle marking has been identified as the manufacturer's code for S-K Tools, based on their distinctive 3/4-drive tools produced for the Craftsman brand. This is currently the only 1/2-drive Craftsman tool known from S-K Tools. If any of our readers have seen other examples, please let us know via email.


Craftsman "BT" 1/2-Drive Reversible Ratchet

The next two figures show examples of the Craftsman "BT" 1/2-drive reversible ratchet.

[Craftsman BT 1/2-Drive Reversible Ratchet]
Fig. 161. Craftsman "BT" 1/2-Drive Reversible Ratchet, with Insets for Reverse and Side View, ca. 1936-1937.

Fig. 161 shows a Craftsman "BT" 1/2-drive reversible ratchet, marked with "Drop Forged" forged into the handle, and with "Made in U.S.A." forged into the reverse. The head is stamped with the Craftsman block logo, and the small "BT" manufacturing code is (faintly) visible between the two screws at the bottom of the head.

The overall length is 9.6 inches, and the finish is plain steel, with extensive pitting due to rust.

This ratchet has a rather unusual arrangement for the shift lever, in which the lever arm passes through a hole in the forged body so that it can be actuated from the opposite side. Readers familiar with the Vlchek Tool Company will recognize this immediately as the Vlchek WSSR10 Reversible Ratchet, and a comparison of the photographs shows that the tools are basically identical except for the markings.

Apart from the unusual shift lever, the ratchet is a well made but conventional dual-pawl design with a 28-tooth drive gear.

[Craftsman BT 1/2-Drive Reversible Ratchet]
Fig. 162. Craftsman "BT" 1/2-Drive Reversible Ratchet, with Insets for Reverse and Side View, ca. 1936-1937.

Fig. 162 shows another example of the Craftsman "BT" 1/2-drive reversible ratchet, marked with "Drop Forged" forged into the handle, and with "Made in U.S.A." forged into the reverse. The head is stamped with the Craftsman block logo and a small "BT" manufacturer's code.

The overall length is 9.6 inches, and the finish is nickel plating, with losses due to wear and rust.

This "BT" ratchet was first listed in the 1936 Sears Spring and Summer catalog as item number 6155, with a $1.98 price. Sears later included this model as the standard ratchet in otherwise all "BE" style socket sets.


Craftsman 3/4-Drive Heavy-Duty Socket Tools

By 1936 Craftsman was offering a line of heavy-duty 3/4-drive sockets and drive tools. The manufacturer of these tools can be positively identified as S-K, based on the catalog illustrations of the distinctive dome-shaped sockets and round-head ratchet characteristic of the S-K 3/4-drive line. S-K continued to make Craftsman 3/4-drive tools until at least the late 1940s, after which the line was superseded by "V" series 3/4-drive tools. (See our article on S-K for additional information on S-K 3/4-Drive Tools.)

The 1936 Spring and Summer catalog first offered a modest set of 3/4-drive tools, consisting of a sliding Tee handle, 8 and 16 inch extensions, and seven double-hex sockets from 1-1/16 to 1-5/8 inches. The set was furnished in a sturdy steel box for an $8.95 price.

The later Craftsman catalog from around 1938 offered the 3/4-drive tools in a larger selection, consisting of a ratchet, a sliding Tee handle, 8 and 16 inch extensions, and twelve double-hex sockets from 1-1/16 to 2 inches. One set of tools was available, with the sliding Tee handle, two extensions, and seven sockets from 1-1/16 to 1-5/8, furnished in a sturdy steel box for a $10.95 price.

The Craftsman logos for the 3/4-drive tools have been observed in three forms: the block logo, underline logo, and the double-line ("=Craftsman=") logo. The block and underline logos are presumed to represent production from the mid 1930s up to about 1945, with the double-line logo indicating production in the Craftsman "Modern Era" from about 1945 onward.

The Craftsman 3/4-drive tools were typically marked with one of two manufacturer's codes, either a K-Circle logo or a "BM" block letter code. (The "BM" code may be a mnemonic for "Brazil Manufacturing", a reference to S-K's Brazil Stamping division.) Some 3/4-drive sockets have been found without a code marking, which likely are early production before the manufacturer's codes were established. (See the section on Manufacturer's Codes for further discussion.)


Early Craftsman 3/4-Drive 1-1/2 Double-Hex Socket

[Early Craftsman 3/4-Drive 1-1/2 Socket]
Fig. 163A. Early Craftsman 3/4-Drive 1-1/2 Socket, with Inset for Broaching, ca. 1936-1937.

Fig. 163A shows an early 3/4-drive Craftsman 1-1/2 socket with a knurled base, stamped with the fractional size and Craftsman block logo.

The finish is chrome plating.

The inset shows the interior of the socket, illustrating the cold-broached construction. Note the relieved area below the broaching.

The socket has tapered and polished upper walls and a band of finely cross-hatched knurling around the base, a design easily recognized as S-K production. An example of a similar S-K socket can be seen as the S-K [47148] 3/4-Drive Socket.

This socket is not marked with a manufacturer's code, suggesting an early production date around 1936-1937.


Early Craftsman 3/4-Drive 1-5/8 Double-Hex Socket

[Early Craftsman 3/4-Drive 1-5/8 Socket]
Fig. 163B. Early Craftsman 3/4-Drive 1-5/8 Socket, with Inset for Broaching, ca. 1936-1937.

Fig. 163B shows an early 3/4-drive Craftsman 1-5/8 socket with a knurled base, stamped with the fractional size and Craftsman block logo.

The finish is chrome plating.

The inset shows the interior of the socket, illustrating the cold-broached construction. Note the relieved area below the broaching.

The socket has tapered and polished upper walls and a band of finely cross-hatched knurling around the base, a design easily recognized as S-K production. An example of a similar S-K socket can be seen as the S-K [47148] 3/4-Drive Socket.

This socket is not marked with a manufacturer's code, suggesting an early production date around 1936-1937.


Craftsman "K-Circle" 3/4-Drive 1-1/4 Double-Hex Socket

[Craftsman 3/4-Drive 1-1/4 Socket]
Fig. 164. Craftsman "K-Circle" 3/4-Drive 1-1/4 Socket with Knurled Base, with Insets for Broaching and Marking Detail, ca. 1938 to Early 1940s.

Fig. 164 at the left shows a 3/4-drive Craftsman 1-1/4 double-hex socket, stamped with the Craftsman block logo and a K-Circle manufacturer's code.

The finish is chrome plating.

The right inset shows the interior of the socket. Note the cold-broached construction with a relieved area below the broaching, to allow for chip removal.

The socket has tapered and polished upper walls and a band of finely cross-hatched knurling around the base, a design easily recognized as S-K production. An example of a similar S-K socket can be seen as the S-K [47148] 3/4-Drive Socket.


Craftsman "K-Circle" 3/4-Drive 1-5/16 Double-Hex Socket

[Craftsman 3/4-Drive 1-5/16 Socket]
Fig. 165. Craftsman "K-Circle" 3/4-Drive 1-5/16 Socket with Knurled Base, ca. 1938 to Early 1940s.

Fig. 165 at the left shows a 3/4-drive Craftsman 1-5/16 double-hex socket, stamped with the Craftsman block logo and a K-Circle manufacturer's code.

The finish is chrome plating.

The socket has tapered and polished upper walls and a band of finely cross-hatched knurling around the base, a design easily recognized as S-K production. An example of a similar S-K socket can be seen as the S-K [47148] 3/4-Drive Socket.


Craftsman "BM" 3/4-Drive 1-1/8 Double-Hex Socket

[Craftsman 3/4-Drive 1-1/8 Double-Hex Socket]
Fig. 166. Craftsman "BM" 3/4-Drive 1-1/8 Double-Hex Socket with Knurled Base, ca. 1938 to Early 1940s.

Fig. 166 shows a 3/4-drive Craftsman 1-1/8 double-hex socket, stamped with the Craftsman underline logo and a "BM" manufacturer's code (see lower composite inset).

The finish is chrome plating.

The right inset shows the interior of the socket. Note the cold-broached construction with a relieved area below the broaching, to allow for chip removal.

The socket has tapered and polished upper walls and a band of finely cross-hatched knurling around the base, a design easily recognized as S-K production. An example of a similar S-K socket can be seen as the S-K [47148] 3/4-Drive Socket.


Craftsman "K-Circle" 3/4-Drive Fine-Tooth Ratchet

[Craftsman K-Circle 3/4-Drive Ratchet]
Fig. 167. Craftsman "K-Circle" 3/4-Drive Ratchet, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail, ca. Mid to Late 1940s.

Fig. 167 shows a Craftsman "K-Circle" 3/4-drive fine-tooth ratchet, stamped with "Pat. No. 2188846" and the Craftsman double-line logo, with a "K-Circle" manufacturer's code at the right.

The overall length is 17.7 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

The patent notice cites patent #2,188,846, filed by T. Rueb in 1938 and issued in 1940, with assignment to the Sherman-Klove Company.

The Craftsman double-line logo and chrome-plated finish on this ratchet suggest production in the mid to late 1940s.

An example of this model marked with the S-K brand can be seen as the S-K 47170 3/4-Drive Ratchet.


Craftsman "BM" 3/4-Drive Sliding Tee Handle

[Craftsman BM 3/4-Drive Sliding Tee Handle]
Fig. 168. Craftsman "BM" 3/4-Drive Sliding Tee Handle, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. 1938 to Early 1940s.

Fig. 168 shows a 3/4-drive Craftsman "BM" sliding Tee handle, stamped with the Craftsman underline logo and a "BM" manufacturer's code on the sliding head.

The overall length is 18.0 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

The sliding head is fitted with two friction balls on the drive stud, plus an interior ball to hold the head in place along the bar.


Later Non-Craftsman Socket Tools

Sears continued to offer other brands of socket sets even after the successful introduction of the Craftsman socket tools. One of these alternate brands was Fulton, and an example can be seen as the Fulton 1/2-Drive Socket Set.


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