How to Date a Craftsman Tool Box

Some vintage tool boxes hold value as today’s antiques, including the Craftsman brand. These metal toolboxes with double hinged lids and pull out trays were particularly popular from the 1950’s to 2000’s. The value of tool boxes increases according to brand and material. The metal Craftsman have an established brand name and are made from material that lasts well. To find out how to date your craftsman tool box, you need to locate the manufacturer’s marks, date codes or stampings.

Serial or Chronic Number 

Locating the Product Identification Label will enable you to find the tool box serial number, which sits on the left hand side of the label. The serial number will be up to eleven numbers or letters or combination of both with the letters CM included. 

Decoding a Craftsman tool box serial number

  1. Find the first six-digit row of numbers.
  2. The first two numbers (01 – 12) represent the month it was made. 
  3. The second two numbers signify the day of the month (01 – 31)
  4. The third number pair is the year of manufacture. 

Date code

If you are unable to locate the chronic or serial number on the production label, the drawer of a Craftsman tool box will have a date code which is two letters and a number. The date code will be stamped into the metal, located on the bottom of the drawer towards the front. The format is two letters and a number such as DC10 which can be decoded with a Craftsman toolbox date code chart, found online. 

A little bit of Craftsman history

The Craftsman brand trademark was registered by Sears, Roebuck & Co. and Simpsons-Sears / Sears Canada May 20, 1927.  Sears employee, Arthur Barrows, wanted to create an easily distinguishable brand name for Sears hardware. He liked the name Craftsman, already in use by Marion-Craftsman Tool Company so he bought the rights to use the Craftsman name for $500.00. Central Specialty Co started making products for Sears in 1932, with the source code -103. This company was acquired by King-Seeley in 1932. The model prefix -113 indicates the first models manufactured by Emerson Electric Company who bought out King-Seeley thirty years later in 1962. At that time all design patents, tooling and parts for their designs including Craftsman were obtained by Emerson. The brand is now owned by Stanley Black & Decker who purchased it in 2017. 

Dating Craftsman tools

Tools manufactured by Craftsman have different types of marks depending on when they were made and by which company. If a serial number cannot be found, other information can help date the tool such as oPP which means recycled steel was used for manufacturing and oHU which is proof of testing by Underwriter’s Laboratories. Matching these symbols with Craftsman dates of ownership and manufacturing can provide a clue to the production date.

Dating your Craftsman Tool Box is the best way to find its value – and help you decide whether you should put your tools in it or march it down to your local Antiques Roadshow.  


For more tool box information and advice, consult the experts at RSOnline  

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