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Mechanic's Tools: Anything and Everything

wtd44wtd44 Member Posts: 1,211
As an overall statement, I can say that I take considerable pride in the tools I have brought together over the years, including the roller cabinetry in which I store them. I strongly prefer high quality American manufactured tools with my quest for superb metal work being tempered by price, as I seek the optimum point where art, function, patriotism, cost, and availability intersect. If you have to ask why anyone would want to buy the highly polished, beautifully gnurled, precision made Allen brand 3/8 ratchet rather than the no-name offshore wrench that could be thrown off a cliff without leaving a detectable mark on it, well, you may not want to post in this thread. I would think that this is even more esoteric and obsessive than even the World Class synthetic lube conversation!


  • adc100adc100 Member Posts: 1,521
    Snap-On, Williams(not sure if they still make), Craftsman. In that order. Its hard to talk value. These are the toold I used in the working world. It pays to use good there. But for Joe six-pack at home. It makes no sense to buy Snap-On from a strictly financial standpoint. You could make an argumment for safety, but I'd have a hard time buying that. Craftsman is a good compromise here.
  • wtd44wtd44 Member Posts: 1,211
    You are getting right to the core of what I have been thinking. Now that Montgomery Wards has closed and has taken their previously wonderful guarantee program on POWRCRAFT (sic) Tools away with the company, that leaves only Sears CRAFTSMAN. By that, I mean that the only REAL lifetime guarantees have been offered by those two companies on VERY fine and durable tools. The others, such as SnapOn, "play" at the lifetime guarantee. The key here is replacement policy versus not-necessarily-satisfactory repair.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,350
    Most tools are broken as a result of abuse. The best warranty is the one you never have to use.

    Craftsman hand tools are O.K. quality although you won't find many professional mechanics suing them.

    A "lifetime" warranty does not necessarilly relate to quality.
  • wtd44wtd44 Member Posts: 1,211
    It certainly doesn't mean that you can expect the quality of guarantee from the VERY expensive brands that routinely comes with Craftsman hand tools, as I found out recently dealing with a "guy in a truck" that hawks tools to professional mechanics, as he meanders around on his route.
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastMember Posts: 1,712
    Craftsman hand tools are O.K. quality although you won't find many professional mechanics using them.

    Got to disagree with that. I have quite a few Craftsman tools in my service truck. Some have outlasted my Snap-On and Mac tools. Granted, the largest percentage of my hand tools are made by Armstrong, but I've never broken a Craftsman wrench either. Ratchets are a different story, but I've broken just about every brand I've ever had.

    I rarely deal with Snap-On or Mac for my tools. Usually, the only tools I buy from them are specialty tools. And alot of the professional mechanics I know have Craftsman in their toolboxes. Most mechanics that will only buy Snap-On, Mac or Matco are young pups who are single and think that they have to buy only the "best" for their image. The older, wiser guys realize that the "advertised quality" is not worth the great cost that they charge for having that name on their tools.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    I don't buy Snap On anymore because they are ALWAYS taking a walk!
  • wtd44wtd44 Member Posts: 1,211
    I contacted a local SnapOn man by phone, and to acommodate him, I met him on the road in front of one of the repair shops he solicits for business. He looked at my defective SnapOn 1/4 inch ratchet. I explained that the gearing/mechanism seemed worn out. He agreed. In fact, he declared that the wrench was too old and worn for his liking, and he squirted some oil in it and handed it back to me. Bottom line? To me it appears that wearing out a SnapOn tool is not one of the reasons for warranty! Lifetime warranty-- I don't think so. At Sears, had that been a Craftsman, I would now be sporting a brand new replacement. And to boot, the Craftsman would have cost about 25% of the SnapOn when each was bought new. This little episode destroyed the reverence I once held for SnapOn. Has anyone out there ever seen the text of the SnapOn guarantee? Perhaps I was wrong to think that they have had an unconditional lifetime guarantee on their tools... For a fact, Sears does!
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,350
    The warranty is only as good as the dealer.

    Since you weren't a regular "customer" it sounds like he blew you off. Too bad since you will always remember and will tell others.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,350
    Trust me...Sears does NOT have an "unconditional lifetime warranty" on their hand tools.

    Usually though, they will replace tools without exception.

    They guys on the trucks will often eat something to keep a loyal customer happy. an example is a chrome socket that has been used on an impact gun.
  • wtd44wtd44 Member Posts: 1,211
    It's really not a matter of blind trust extended to anyone, but rather a matter of practical experience. Sears backs up their hand tool warranty beyond reasonable expectation. It helps to make them the top volume retailer of hand tools in the nation. No one currently matches them for performance and reputation. There are lots of other excellent tool makes on the market. Some have fairly decent warranty histories. Craftsman has trumped them all.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,350
    You are preaching to the choir. As a former manager for Sears I was the guy who approved the
    warranty demands.
  • wtd44wtd44 Member Posts: 1,211
    I'll add that about fifteen years ago I purchased a MAC 3/8 ratchet with extended length handle. It is superb. I have found it to be the most utilitarian ratchet I've ever owned. My Craftsman 12-point sockets work perfectly with it. (;^|
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,350
    Mac builds probably the best ratchets. Your 12 points will work just fine. They do have a tendancy to round off fasteners a bit and they don't grab as well as a six point. That's why the pros don't like them as well.
  • julusjulus Member Posts: 26
    One of the first things that happens to a young, novice, mechanic before he gets his feet on the ground is the SnapOn or Mac salesman leads them deeply in to debt. In a few months the young mechanic moves on, unable to make a living as he had hoped. Part of his problem, of course, was the tool payment. The next thing that happens is the tool salesman approaches me, the owner of the business, as if I was a part of his problem. This happened enough times that I no longer allow the SnapOn or Mac salesmen to enter my store. Sears does a good job and the mechanic buys a tool when he needs it, not because of a slick sales pitch.

    Now, my personal tools are a different matter. I buy only select, foreign made tools of the finest quality ... I do not recall the brand name but, "Made in China" rings a bell. There are several advantages to buying such tools. You do not have to skimp on lunch to buy them, they never get stolen, they never wear out since I may use each socket once in two years, they rust to a better fit, I never have to fret over the lifetime warranty, they are real time savers for the shop since if one should drop into an engine they are not worth the time to retrieve, free replacements are so easily found under the trunk lining of used cars that you will find yourself throwing away the surplus sizes and keeping just the choice ones, there is no need for maintaining both SAE and Metric sizes since there is always one that fits just about right. Can some of you real "cool tool guys" add to this list?
  • mastermechanicmastermechanic Member Posts: 31
    S-K tools are good too for the shade tree repair. However, you may have a hard time returning anything under their lifetime warranty if you cannot prove that you bought the tool there.

    Craftsman tools are my best deal. They only warranty the mechanics of a tool. So if you have a torque wrench that goes bad in the calibration, you have to pay. I was told that ratchets are warranted in the head, although I never had to replace a ratchet though. The craftsman tools that I did break, were years old and not from abuse. All that pressure over time will take its toll on anything.

    I had to go out and buy a 1-y/x inch crowfoot from Snap-On because I needed it NOW, and no one else had it. A crowfoot is the only thing I could use to torque tie-rod ends to a rack. I have found that Snap-On specifications in sockets and wrenches are a little bigger than the their competition. I also have a few tools from Fleet and Husky. Those will wear away


  • wtd44wtd44 Member Posts: 1,211
    I loved your posting. How evocative your TRUTHS really are! I have been thinking about using Asian sockets as ammunition for my "wrist rocket" sling shot. It might be cheaper than buying mouse traps for the shop. Would you recommend it?
    mastermech: How'd your graphic get next to my text? Hmmmmmm!
    I hear tell that the Cobalt(?) brand tools at Lowe's are in large part made by SnapOn.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    I have a hodge-podge of tools in a 3-stacker chest. I'm not really too picky about what I use except in certain items. My hand wrenches have to be of very good quality, as open end wrenches that are cheap will spread under stress and slip. Also the torque wrench has to be excellent, as I do not want to be replacing studs in Alfa Romeo aluminum parts. I can live with home-grade screwdrivers and sockets.

    What are some of your favorite tools in your chest? I really like these:

    3 lb stubby hammer (when you tap something, it MOVES)
    dental pick
    mechanic's mirror (extendable)
    mechanic's stethoscope
    Snap-On curved starter wrench (fun to look at but gets in tight places)
    Snap-On gasket scraper
  • wtd44wtd44 Member Posts: 1,211
    I can just stand there and stare in awe at the superb DANAHER ratchet wrenches I've got: a 3/8 drive NAPA and a 1/4 drive Allen, as well as a "hinged" neck long handled 3/8 Allen. The fit and finish on these are incredible! They are so nice, I wouldn't consider bruising the chrome on some nasty old fastener! lol-----------
    I like my Craftsman stud remover, also. I had to trade in the one I wore out in only thirty years of use-- yep, I got the new one free under the only remaining TRUE lifetime warranty still on the market.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,350
    I would probably buy a Craftsman tool box. They have some upscale units that are much better than what they used to sell.

    For wrenches and sockets I would probably buy SK. These are first class product and sell for half or less than the mobile guys charge.

    To me, the warranty isn't a big deal. Unless the product is cheap junk it's usually abuse that causes breakage. Also, I don't mind paying to replace something that I have simply worn out after many years of use. Not a big deal.

    There are many special tools that Sears and others do not sell. These items are usually expensive but can save literally hours on difficult jobs. Julus, you might want to think about that before you throw the tool guys out!

    julus is correct. The price of professional tools is downright scary. A smart tool dealer won't try to overload a new mechanic with payments he can't afford. Those who do this usually get burned when the guy loses his job and skips town.
  • wtd44wtd44 Member Posts: 1,211
    Years ago, I had no choice but to replace the middle timing fiber gear in a Renault Dauphine. To make matters worse, there was a blizzard raging, and I did not have a garage (college student). I had to find a tool to remove the special hand cranking nut on the crankshaft extension. the SnapOn guy had a drag link socket that would just slide into the notch! I had to go in the apartment about every twenty minutes and change boots while warming up a bit. I got the job done. Now that's an awful memory! (:^]The majority of my tools then were Powrcraft from Montgomery Wards. I've still got 'em and they are as good as any you can buy anywhere (wore out one of the ratchets a while back).
  • wilcoxwilcox Member Posts: 584
    One of the best tool buys I made was at Big Lots. You know, the store that buys bulk items, odd lots, and sells dirt cheap.

    This tool I got was a caliper. A measuring device. It can take inside dimensions, outside dimensions, and depth dimensions. It looks and functions very much like a low end Starret or other name brand but it is made out of plastic. They sold for ninety nine cent.

    It has been very useful. I just have to be mindful not to measure anything extremely hot with it. And be careful not to scrape it on sharp metal surfaces. If it accidently gets biggie!

    Thank goodness tolerances on cars are not as exact as aircraft.
  • wtd44wtd44 Member Posts: 1,211
    Great price!
    I got a very good dial caliper gauge from Harbor Freight Tools for about $20. Mostly metal, the adjusting wheel was plastic. It broke off its stem one day, under normal use. I returned it for consideration for warranty replacement and they did it in a heartbeat! They gave me the upgraded more recent model that was identical except for the adjusting wheel-- now metal. Obviously, it is a good company. Try 'em, you'll like 'em.
  • wtd44wtd44 Member Posts: 1,211
    Anyone have a current line on Fleet Tools?
  • astrolann1astrolann1 Member Posts: 8
    I have mostly Craftsmen tools and never had a problem returning them for a replacement. Three years ago I got a Metwrench set. These wrenchs will grip on the flats of nuts and bolts, will never strip off and will remove nuts that are already striped. Has anybody else tried them?
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastMember Posts: 1,712
    What are you looking for?
    I get fleet sales catalogs all the time.
  • wtd44wtd44 Member Posts: 1,211
    Too many years ago, I picked up a pretty good tool set that happened to be FLEET brand. Over the years, I've come to recognize them as essentially as good as tools ever need be. I recall that the prices waaay back then were fully inline with other quality tools from stores (not priced at the truck sales level of the stratosphere). I'd love to get a web address for Fleet, or a snail address to request a catalog. Can you provide? Thanks...
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastMember Posts: 1,712
    Fleet brand was a property at one time of Ken-Tool.
    They were bought out along time ago.
    At one time, I thought they were a property of Williams tools, but I think Williams is now gone too.
    I guess that's the price of progress.
    I get sales catalogs for all kinds of different tools for fleet maintenance.
  • wtd44wtd44 Member Posts: 1,211
    I presumed that Fleet was a defunct name. Thanks for the info, however.
    I mentioned (way back in the thread, #19) that I had some superb Danaher tools. Want a treat? Go to:
    and click on hand tools. Or click on anything else! It is a very entertaining web site. They claim, "We are the largest manufacturer of mechanics hand tools in the world." {:^> WOW!
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastMember Posts: 1,712
    Danaher is a manufacturer of some of the best tools on the market. The produce tools for Armstrong, Allen, Matco, Craftsman and several other companies.
    Almost all of the tools that they make and design are sold under another name. Most of those names are high quality tools.
    Armstrong is one of the leading Industrial tool companies.
    About 70% of the name brand tools on the market are produced by Danaher.
    SK, Snap-On and Mac are some of the few name brands that aren't produced by them.
    If you want an extremely high quality tool for a reasonable cost, check out Armstrong tools.
  • spokanespokane Member Posts: 514
    I was once given responsibility for a maintenance group that included ~110 millwrights. We provided their tools and the standard toolbox included many of the same pieces that an auto technician uses. For years, Snap-On had been the standard but, due to cost and high loss rates, I changed to Craftsman. We continued to need some specials, of course, that were obtained from Snap-On and others. The only significant complaint that I recall was that some Craftsman sockets had a wall thickness greater than that of Snap-On. Even with this high-dollar account, the regional Snap-On manager would provide very little price break. If I recall correctly, most Snap-On items were 250% to 300% of the Craftsman price. Durability of Craftsman tools was very near that of Snap-On.

    Kobalt tools, recently introduced by Lowes', are reportedly made by Snap-On and many are priced to compete with Craftsman. It will be interesting to hear how owners rate this brand in comparison with Snap-On.
  • wtd44wtd44 Member Posts: 1,211
    I will attest that my DANAHER socket wrenches are absolutely superb pieces of metallic art. But I guess I already did that back at #19! I seem to recall that MAC TOOLS are the premium line of the Stanley Works. Indeed, my pair of ratchets by Mac are the best of breed. Years ago, I bought some PROTO box end wrenches on Tchoupitoulas Street in New Orleans, after previously buying a few Proto sockets in Oklahoma City. I recall these pro grade tools were made by Stanley until the name was discontinued. I just don't recall ARMSTRONG. Can anyone elaborate a bit?
  • picturethispicturethis Member Posts: 16
    I use Craftsman tools for several reasons:

    1)I don't use my tools often enough to wear them out (strickly a "weekend warrior").

    2)The price is right for us poor boys.

    3)You cannot beat the return policy, and there is a Sears in almost every city in the USA.

    BTW, what do you guys think about Black-and-Decker and DeWalt tools?
  • wtd44wtd44 Member Posts: 1,211
    I understand that DeWalt is the upscale version of Black and Decker (BD). I think there is a considerable overlap between the lines, and that careful shopping can at times get you a money savings by buying BD instead of DeWalt. Not always, of course. Some years ago I bought an Industrial grade BD reciprocating saw. I can't imagine it being actually inferior to ANY brand of such saws.
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastMember Posts: 1,712
    Armstrong is Danaher's industrial tool line. They are made from the same standards as Matco tools.

    Allen, Craftsman, NAPA and KD-Tools are then line down.

    The only difference btween Matco tools and Armstrong is the name and cost.

    Armstrong is available at most industrial supply stores. Places that carry welding supplies and hydraulic supplies probably carry the Armstrong line.

    Here are a couple links to some info on them.

    Armstrong tool sales

    Another one

    Armstrong's Homepage Although, I couldn't get it to come up today.

  • mastermechanicmastermechanic Member Posts: 31

    With Black and Decker drills, I hate the detachable power cord, because it has the habit of detaching on its own. The B&D power tools that I used, do not seem to be able to handle heavy jobs. I now use a Craftsman 1/2 drill.

    Besides, where do you go for service with B&D tools?

  • wtd44wtd44 Member Posts: 1,211
    Amazing, good sites! I see that Proto is STILL around. I had heard they disappeared...
  • wtd44wtd44 Member Posts: 1,211
    I can't answer the service question, but can say that I have a BD 1/2 inch drill that a locomotive couldn't hurt, and I've already bragged on my Industrial BD reciprocating saw. Then, I've got one of those plastic BD power sheet sanders with the unplugable cord. I'm not bragging on it.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,350
    Is barely around if at all. Proto was bought out by Stanley years ago whu basically killed them off.
  • oldharryoldharry Member Posts: 413
    Almost any brand I've seen, I have a couple. Every manufacturer has a little different shape to his tools. There are some nuts or bolts that a Snap-on will not reach, but a Mac will. I find I need the cheap set too. I normally cannot bring myself to grab the torch and reshape the forty dollar Snap-On combination wrench, but the two dollar Chinese special will do the one time only job with a little reshaping. After a little over forty years of buying tools, I have two stacked up roll aways full of the good stuff, and a bunch of cheap stuff on shelves in other parts of the shop. If I worked for someone else, I am not sure just what I would take to the job.

    Someone mentioned twelve point vs six point sockets. Six point are the best until you get some of these *&%(##%^ Fords or Jeeps (and a few others) with twelve point bolt heads. The six millimeter ones that hold the anti-lock brake sensors on the Ford vans are the worst. I ordered a few sockets from the Mac man, as they don't work when worn, and it's awfully hard on the cheap 1/4 inch sockets to pound them on the six millimeter bolt, something I did on the first one I needed to remove. No one in town had a twelve point six mm in stock.

    I have one 3/8 drive ratchet that I would like to find more of the brand and type in other sizes. It is "RADIAN DRIVE". There and no teeth, it has a sprague inside, and you push the square drive to the other side to reverse it. It has no slack, if you can move the handle you can turn the bolt. I got it as a promotional gift from Perfect Circle chassis parts about twenty years ago.

  • wtd44wtd44 Member Posts: 1,211
    "Almost any brand I've seen, I have a couple."
    I've got tool boxes and even some roller cabinet drawers full of old, collectable tools-- okay, junk if you must. Some of the old American brands are really something. There were certainly a lot of companies making tools many years ago.
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastMember Posts: 1,712
    Quite a few o the bolts on larger diesel engines are 12 point bolts.
    So the theory according to "old Harry" that 6 point is best is a little shaky. Granted, the 6 point sockets are generally stronger, there are reasons for the 12 point.
    Anyone who only buys 6 point sockets is going to find themselves in a bind sooner or later.
    Personally, I don't care for Mac or Snap-On.
    I have broken too many of their tools in the field and when your 30 miles up in the mountains, it gets expensive to carry replacement tools. I do carry multiple sets, but when you need 2 of the same specialty wrench to do a job and one breaks, you go looking for the snap-on or Mac tool man to replace it. I once broke a Snap-On roll pin punch, it just shattered, a little one, not like you could hit it hard or anything, Snap-On refused to replace it. I told the tool guy, Fine, get out of my shop and never come back.
    The Mac tool man sold me a wrench, didn't have my check book, so put it on my account, 3 months later, he came back screaming about taking me to collections, I handed him the check that had been sitting on my desk for 3 months.
  • wtd44wtd44 Member Posts: 1,211
    You've said a mouthful, and I see no way a reasonable person could fault you! There are some exceptions to all rules, I guess, so in fairness let me relate one. I found a MAC truck man in Oregon some years ago that was a superb guy. I inquired as a never-before-customer if he ever accepted trade ins, fully expecting a negatory response. I ended up giving him several good tools, and I took away a couple of long handled MAC socket wrenches that I wanted. He stated that he usually had young, beginning mechanics on his route that he encouraged to buy his non-MAC trade-ins rather than getting themselves into heavy debt before they got much experience on the job. Now, this protected the beginning mechanic, and the MAC franchise man as well.
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastMember Posts: 1,712
    Well, he definitely wasn't from the Northwest corner of Oregon. LOL! The guy here has almost been run into the Columbia River by a few mechanics. I just ignore him now. His loss.
    Funny that some of these tool salesmen fail to realize that some mechanics spend a large amount of money on their tools and that money will get spent on tools at one place or another.
  • wtd44wtd44 Member Posts: 1,211
    The attitude of the tool truckers we don't appreciate seems to be one of grab the big buck sales and forget the lesser deals, especially warranty claims. I would be interested to know just how the prestige tool brand companies interface with their truck franchise operators when it comes to fulfilling warranty claims. Are the franchise holders just greedy and lazy, as they often appear, or are they being financially victimized in warranty claims situations by the tool companies they represent?
  • julusjulus Member Posts: 26
    I have a premium, Kennedy, three high, tool chest. Dark brown in color. It is equal to any chest I have ever seen. I have had it for many years and do not know its origin. Did Kennedy make tools?
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,350
    Were mainly for machinist tools. They tried to expand their boxes to the automotive line but didn't do too well.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,350
    Most smart guys on the truck will often "eat" a warranty tool just to make a customer happy.

    That's just smart business.

    Many times, however, an abusive customer can try their patience.

    It seems like some mechanics never break anything while others walk out to the truck every week with a broken tool in their hand.

    Chrome sockets that have been impacted to death, drill bits that are worn out or blue from heat.

    You name it, I've seen it!
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    Anyone remember Herbrand tools? Used to buy from them because their route dealer was more dependable than the Snap-On dealer, the tools were good quality, and the prices were WAY more competitive. Except for their screwdrivers. They were made from hardened peanut butter. The very best screwdrivers I've ever owned were Snap-On. Several former customers now have very good quality screwdrivers with only minor underhood/under back seat damage ;o)
  • oldharryoldharry Member Posts: 413
    All the professionals must know this one. When a vehicle comes in with VERY tight lug nuts, to loosen them without breaking the studs, I use a fairly long extension on a heavy socket, and rest the extension on a jack stand at the end away from the stud. Then the "T" handle with the cheater pipe give more twist and less bend than a long breakover bar directly on the socket. I did break a Snap-On extension about two weeks ago on a Caddy. A piece of the female end of the extension flew over forty feet (it was warm, the doors were open).

    Can we still buy "T" handles. Mine (1/2 and 3/4 drive) are about thirty years old. I haven't noticed them on the tool trucks in a while.

  • wtd44wtd44 Member Posts: 1,211
    I sure remember the Tbars for sockets. I figured they were for the "rough stuff" when you didn't want to risk damaging your ratchet wrench. I don't think I've seen a new one for sale in many years, now that you mention it. Your story reminds me of a few years ago when I was using a pair of Crescent brand sidecutter/wirecutter pliers to cut poultry fence. My hands got tired pretty quick from the strain (I didn't have bolt cutters available) so I started using my boots to "press" on the grips. they finally snapped. We had a Crescent dealer in town, who heard the story, and yet still volunteered to replace them for free, under warranty. the only hitch was that he gave me Channellock brand, not having any Crescent in stock. I've had them for 15 years now, and they are still great.
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