Pros: Economical, Vertical, good ol' Sears
Cons: Noisy...but it's not a surprise
My father-in-law still swears by the Craftsman name. He was raised as part of a generation accustomed to corner hardware stores and Sears--usually in that order. Trips to the mall were interesting only because of the Sears tool department (this remains true in 2002), and most major tool purchases were done at Sears working with a salesman (sorry ladies, no women in the tool departments back then) who knew exactly what he was talking about.
Call me nostalgic, but sometimes I truly wish I could do all my tool shopping in that fashion. And at Sears, no less. Unfortunately, this is more often than not, impossible. Too many salespersons have never actually built a house let alone used a power drill, and prices are generally higher than at other tool sources. That said, when it's feasible to do so, I'm more than happy to give Sears a little business.
This is where my Craftsman 30 gallon, six horsepower compressor comes in. There were other brands I could have gone with, others with the same specs in terms of capacity and power. Even the fact that this one stands vertical wasn't unique to Craftsman. Campbel Hausfeld being the primary brand that jumps to mind along with Porter Cable's own compressors. Yet I went with Craftsman. Here's why:
Price Perhaps at one time a guy paid for the Craftsman name. Not really the case anymore. In the case of my compressor purchase, I would have paid a premium for the two aforementioned competitors. In fact, a smaller capacity and horsepower Hausfeld compressor was about $50 more.
And before you start dreaming of the cost of shipping, if you live near a "full service" Sears, most items are available for pick-up in store. Thus was the case with this. I had the ability to get it myself so I saved on the shipping to my door.
Compressing It's not a high precision job we're talking about, when speaking of a compressor purchase in light of tool usage. Since I'm a woodworker and in the construction trade my use is limited to air tools (as opposed to the mechanic who is using his compressor for a different line-up of tools). I need to get air pressure to my guns. It needs to be consistent, and I prefer high power. Power is governed by your horsepower, consistency is governed by quality. (That, and knowing how to actually use a compressor and air tools---but that's not a factor of compressor, it's a variable based on the user.)
The Craftsman has proved itself consistent in all regards, and the tank has certainly lived through some rough times (including a leaking roof in my shop).
Convenience Two wheels and one handle across the back allow for movement. That said, keep in mind that it still weighs about 150 pounds. It's still portable as compared to a stationary model bolted firmly and not on wheels, and if you're used to working with heavy tools the fact that it's on wheels makes you laugh at the idea of "150 pounds" being heavy. For the weekend user, this may be too much of a good thing. You probably can get by on both less capacity and fewer horsepower and end up with a lighter unit.
Oil free maintenance is a blessing. It just means one less item to place on a maintenance schedule. You'll probably find "oil free" in relation to compressors more often than not. It's not a special feature, but more and more a common feature.
But most important for many, this big ol' compressor is not going to require an electrician to come out and re-wire your home. It runs on the very typical 120 volt.
Finally back to Sears
You know what else I love about Sears? If I decide I don't like this compressor, if it's not all I dreamed it would be, if after a week of using it I get the bill and decide I should not have spent my $340 on it, Sears will take it back. No questions asked, no problem. Even with a few scratches, a dent...they're going to take it back. It amazes me to this day that they offer this, yet their clearance center is a testament to this fact. Something of that old time, hometown hardware store still exists within the walls of Sears.
So, I'm not a loyal tool buyer at Sears, I'm not even a big fan of the Craftsman tools of today (although find a really good quality one from years back and it can probably do the job as well as anything you'll find today). But when it comes to compressors you can't go wrong. The quality is there, the price is right, and the service great.