What brand of mechanic's hand tools do you use/recommend?

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dud

Diamond Member
Feb 18, 2001
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I've had my current set for almost 20 years and am considering buying new as they wear out. Please let me know what you currently use, if you are happy with them and make any recommendations you see fit.

I will not be spending large sums on Snap-on, etc. as I have had pretty good luck with Craftsman and even Harbor Freight tools.

Thanks ...
 
Sep 7, 2009
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If you don't want to go snap-on/matco/mac, then your best bet is to get a couple of decent ratchets (cornwell isn't bad on a budget) and fill the rest of your set with 6 point craftsman socket sets.

There's also home depot/husky, and lowe's/kobalt. I place these a step lower than craftsman simply because husky and kobalt seem to change oems often.. So they may not have the same quality stuff in a few years, and if it breaks there's not much they can do other than swap it for potentially lower quality tools. That being said, one of my favorite ratches is a low profile husky that's no longer made.

Harbor freight stuff isn't terrible but you have to keep an eye on the quality. I've found their torque wrenches to be off by a decent amount, especially at the upper and lower ends of their range.

We've had a couple of really good threads on this, you may want to search a bit as well.
 

natto fire

Diamond Member
Jan 4, 2000
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Never had too many problems with the various craftsman tools I have had. Even when I did, it was a matter of swapping it out for free at a Sears store. Haven't had too much experience with Kobalt, but I know the drawers on their tool chests are junk. Plus if you catch a good sale at Sears, it is easier to replace an entire collection instead of piecing it together.
 

MotF Bane

No Lifer
Dec 22, 2006
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My father's best tools are a handful of old Snap-On pieces from when he worked as a mechanic 25 years ago. The vast majority of the tools are Craftsman items, but even those are mostly 10, 15, or 20 years old - except for the occasional broken piece that gets replaced.

So, you say 20 years, and wearing out... but are they actually wearing out? Good tools, if they aren't abused, last forever.
 

jlee

Lifer
Sep 12, 2001
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I have mostly Craftsman and Gearwrenches - I'm satisfied. I typically use Harbor Freight for hammers and stuff that I don't plan on using too hard/often (or don't mind replacing).
 

KentState

Diamond Member
Oct 19, 2001
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Have just the basic assortment of Craftsman tools and they do a good job.
 

Raizinman

Platinum Member
Sep 7, 2007
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I have a mix of tools from Snap-On, Matco, Craftsman and yes, also Harbor Freight.

In buying tools I don’t run to the Snap-On or Matco truck and spend $40 for each screwdriver. Instead, I decide the quality needed in the tool, and the frequency of usage. For example: I don’t do a lot of heavy truck, but do occasionally, perhaps once or twice a year. Having a one inch drive socket set through Snap-On would easily cost me $2000. The Craftsman set was only $600 and came with more sockets. This suits me just fine. On the other hand, if I was doing heavy truck every day, I would probably opt for the Snap-On or Matco quality. This is how I purchase all my tool and thus my tool box is a mix of all different brands. I do not feel it necessary to have a loyalty to any single tool manufacturer, as manufacturers have different design tools and different warranties that suit me differently. Even Harbor Freight. I don't do much battery work, but needed a battery carrier. The $6.95 battery carrier at Harbor Freight did just fine for the one or two times I need such a tool.

When I was teaching automotive; Snap-On offered my students a very very heavy discount on tools and boxes. They were trying to lock in my students to their brand of tools early in their mechanic life. Not a bad idea, I even picked up a few tools this way. Most colleges have this type of arrangement with a tool company. Almost worth taking an automotive class just to get the tool discount.

I feel that 'overall' for a box and good assortment of tools, you can’t beat Craftsman. If you start calculating the price compared to Snap-On, Matco, and others, you will see that you get the biggest bang for your buck at Sears, not to mention Sears credit and better warranty on their tools. Yes, Snap-On and Matco also have lifetime warranty, but the difference is that Snap-On/Matco guy will stand there and argue with you about a cracked socket, claiming you used it on an impact gun, or something else, often denying your warranty. The lady at the Sears register will happily exchange your socket for another all day long. Purchases and exchanges are much easier at Sears, especially if you work on weekends and holidays. Many Snap-On/Matco route drivers take weekends and holidays off leaving you without tools until the next work day.
 

Jeff7

Lifer
Jan 4, 2001
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How about torque wrenches? I glanced around Amazon, and while there are plenty there with decent overall review ratings, a lot also have a few 1-stars that are things along the lines of "Didn't click, and it damaged my motorcycle" or "torque setting can't be adjusted by hand" or "wrench was missing parts" or "torque setting didn't work, bolt snapped right off."
Stuff like that. It's this kind of thing going on.;)
The problem of course is that I don't know the skill level of these people. Morons can find innovative ways of screwing up when using a simple device. (Or maybe they're newbies to it, like me.:$)
 

alkemyst

No Lifer
Feb 13, 2001
83,967
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I like the craftsman micro-torq / digi-torq line. Reasonably priced and work well. Beam types are indeed more accurate, but not as easy to use.

When using a torque wrench I always torque in stages...but i have had even ultra expensive ones not click at times. Usually due to not having enough of an arc to swing the wrench in.
 

SuperSix

Elite Member
Oct 9, 1999
9,873
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I have mostly Craftsman and Gearwrenches - I'm satisfied. I typically use Harbor Freight for hammers and stuff that I don't plan on using too hard/often (or don't mind replacing).
This!!!

I worship my Gearwrenches = got a new flex set for Christmas this year - w00t!
 

Bartman39

Elite Member | For Sale/Trade
Super Moderator
Jul 4, 2000
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As some know I'm all about Snapon but I work with mine for a living so its just a choice of need...

But for most weekend warriors and home project joe's just about anything from Craftsman to Harbor Freight will do the job... But if you find yourself in a bind that a cheap tool just wont cut it then go with a pro grade tool but be prepared for a price ($$$)... Otherwise cheap is your ticket...:thumbsup:
 

dud

Diamond Member
Feb 18, 2001
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My father's best tools are a handful of old Snap-On pieces from when he worked as a mechanic 25 years ago. The vast majority of the tools are Craftsman items, but even those are mostly 10, 15, or 20 years old - except for the occasional broken piece that gets replaced.

So, you say 20 years, and wearing out... but are they actually wearing out? Good tools, if they aren't abused, last forever.



My intent was to pass on my old sets to my youngest ... who is also in a 2 year automotive program at the local college. With my luck he will be offered that killer deal on Snap-on tools ...
 

Raizinman

Platinum Member
Sep 7, 2007
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In what I do, Torque Wrenches are very important. Not everyone needs a torque wrench with angle built in, but I do. The GearWrench is probably about the best digital electronic torque wrench with built in angle on the market today for the average consumer. Their list price is about $300 for the ½ inch and $240 for the 3/8 inch. The feature I like the best is the ability to ratchet while doing an angle and toque to yield specs (+/- 1%). Napa sells the same torque wrench under their name, but it is actually the same GearWrench. Actually Craftsman has an electronic digital torque wrench that appears to look just like the GearWrench (and probably is) and they sell theirs for $215 for the ½ inch and the 3/8 inch for $198. Not a bad deal if you need such a fine instrument. If you don’t Sears has the old fashion beam style torque wrench for $27.
 

USA Tool Supply

Junior Member
Aug 23, 2013
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That's a great question. I look at it this way. Harbor Freight is the cheapest. Best for tools you use a few times a year and might get lost or stolen. May not be the best hand me downs to your kids. Quality mid range, Wright, Armstrong & Sk among the best. USA made. Lifetime warranty and I see them in most industrial shops I go to.
For the profession mechanic, they like the " tool truck guy " but 'ouch' on the price.

Almost 2 year old necro thread needs to die in peace...

AT Moderator
Bartman39
 
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slag

Lifer
Dec 14, 2000
10,473
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While I'm cognizant of the date of the posts, I want to chime in here that I use my hand tools all throughout the week. I'm what you might call a "shadetree mechanic", but that doesn't mean that I haven't rebuilt a transmission and several engines in my garage as well as pretty much everything else on anything with an engine.

That said, I primarily use craftsman tools that I purchased in the 90's. I have also started to purchase the pittsburgh tool line at harbor freight and for all intents and purposes, they are basically the same thing at 1/2 the price with the same warranty. I don't have a need to buy snapon or Sk tools. Good quality, but overpriced for what my needs are as what I use works great. If I relied on my tools for a living, I might think differently.
 

JCH13

Diamond Member
Sep 14, 2010
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I would higly recommend a good breaker bar (craftsman is great IMO) a 3-4lb engineering hammer (turn your wrenches/breaker bar into an impact driver!) and a light-duty electric impact gun. Great for spinning stuff on and off quickly while doing the real loosening/tightening with a wrench/ratchet.

I have mostly Craftsman and Gearwrenches - I'm satisfied. I typically use Harbor Freight for hammers and stuff that I don't plan on using too hard/often (or don't mind replacing).
x2

I have normal 6-point and 12-point craftsman sockets (12-points have their use, albeit limited) with the top-end craftsman ratchet drivers. Do not try to save money with your ratchet drivers. For example, I cracked axle nuts loose with my 1/2 ratchet driver and a hammer/cheater bar with no detectable damage to the ratchet.

I also have at least one of every gear-wrench set (flexed, angled, and straight with ratcheting open end). Worth every penny.

Highly recommend 6-point open end wrenches too.

Weird tools and occasional-use tools I'll cheap out on and get HF.

How about torque wrenches? I glanced around Amazon, and while there are plenty there with decent overall review ratings, a lot also have a few 1-stars that are things along the lines of "Didn't click, and it damaged my motorcycle" or "torque setting can't be adjusted by hand" or "wrench was missing parts" or "torque setting didn't work, bolt snapped right off."
Stuff like that. It's this kind of thing going on.;)
The problem of course is that I don't know the skill level of these people. Morons can find innovative ways of screwing up when using a simple device. (Or maybe they're newbies to it, like me.:$)
I really like my craftsman clicker torque wrenches. Never had any issues with them. They can be had for 1/2 off occasionally.

Just remember to zero them out every time and to not over-drive them.
 
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