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OT: Tools


SuiteSuccess

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Ok, like several on this forum I'm a tool nut. My dad was an old time auto mechanic and I inherited some Snap-On wrenches from him as well as a tool box. Snap-On very pricey, Matco pricey, Craftsman moderate. I have some of all three brands. I also own a fair amount of Kobalt ratchets and ratchet wrenches. So my question in standard wrenches and ratchets etc. are we comparing a Rolex (Snap-On) to a Timex (Kobalt) as far as true quality or is this basically brand loyalty that drives the pricing?

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Carl, I am no mechanic by any means but in the old days,I would have said Rolex to Timex, but the guys at the shop here say that Snap-on used to rarely break and Snap-on always replaced the rare broken tool. Now they say Snap-on breaks as easily as anything else, it is just that the truck rolls by on a regular basis making it easier to replace/exchange all the broken stuff.

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This should be an interesting topic.

 

I wrenched for too many years and I have a tool collection that is primarily Snap-On and Matco. However, I have a lot of other manufacturers as well, including Craftsman. I think it depends upon the tool and the number of times you reach for it in any given day. I'd pay absolute top dollar for my combination wrenches because I knew a less expensive wrench would flare and slip off a nut at the worst time. Don't forget, the top shelf tool manufacturers have return policies that are second to none, in some cases, 0% financing and the truck comes to you. Someone has to pay for that kind of service/convenience and it will surely be you. My SOP was to have at least two of my primary tools. The second set would more than likely be Craftsman or MIT. If I was going to use it once, I'd make a trip to Harbor Freight and take my chances.

 

And like Suite, my boys are looking forward to one day adding my tool collection to their own. And they're going to have to wait a long time before that's going to happen.

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I still have the full Craftsman 1/2" drive socket set that I bought in 1963, along with a full set of Craftsmen box wrenches. None have them have failed me through a short career as a line mechanic; a longer one as an aerospace tech; and much much longer as an active hobbyist (once I got a job that kept my hands clean!). Nothing else would feel right in my hands after all this time.

 

That said I have no problems with Mac, Snap-on or Kobalt. The simple fact is I have not had to purchase many hand tools for a very long time. When I started turning wrenches Craftsman and Snap-on were pretty much the only way to go and a toss-up as far as quality.

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My favorite 3/8 Ratchet with a swivel head I bought from Snap On in 1976. Used it for almost everything. It was long enough to really get some power behind it, too much for the ratchet mechanism some times. Had it replaced many times at no charge while was still in the "Gas Station". Carried it around many places for years later as I traveled and finally the last time the mechanism broke again and after 20+ years I got a brand new 3/8 Swivel head ratchet from a Snap On truck for no charge. Certainly worth the $20 I spent on it back a year out of High School. Still also have a few Screw drivers from Snap On. Never did get to buy a full set of Snap On and it's too late now.

 

Rod

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Carl,

 

I'm not a tool slave, but I have a fair amount of the above mentioned brands. Most of my older tools are S-K, which have served me well. But now, when I need another tool, I typically go for Kobalt. Seems pretty good, so far, and not too pricey.

 

I see a tech session where we torque down nuts with various brands of open end wrenches and see which ones spread. ;)

 

I can tell you that if I'm trying to remove hydraulic lines, I'll go for the Snap-Ons first.

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I have a mixture of Craftsman, Snap-on, and Mac. Depending on what I'm doing is what I reach for. Driving in a new bearing race on the side of the road, I'll beat on the Craftsman socket before the Snap-on. Working on the truck where busted knuckles are going to hurt, I'll use the good stuff.....unless I put the cheater pipe on, then its usually back to the cheap.

Snap-on and Mac used to have a 3-4 step hardening process that made their tools better than the rest. If they went overseas then I doubt its the same quality steel to begin with.

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Thanks folks. Just the information I was trying to get. I like to browse Craigslist and the occasional flea market and it just seemed the prices for Snap-on were three times what other tools were and was just wondering if those prices were justified. As Phil said, maybe the older ones were Rolexes.

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My Dad was a mechanic, and I was raised in a "junk yard" back in the days when we sold used fan belts, sealedbeam headlights, generators, starters, motors, transmissions, etc. I am a certified "Dr. of motors", but that happened back when we had points, and condensers. When I graduated from "trade school" as they called them back in 1961, I received a set of S-K tools that I have and use today. Many of my Fathers tools we stolen from my business, but I still have a few, and one is a Snap-on 1/2" drive break-over bar that I snapped the drive on, doing something stupid. The MAC truck still comes to my old business I sold to my son, and I wanted to send it in for a repair. Can't happen! :angry: Susan(wife) said just J-B weld it and I'll hang it on the wall at our S&B along with the sign from the garage. Now I use many Craftsman, S-K, old Montgomery-Ward, NAPA, and sad to say some Harbor Freight tools when I might use them just once. I can't tell you how good it fells to wrap my hands around the handle of a good S-K or Snap-On. Things change, but sometimes people don't. :wub: Dick T

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I tend to stick to American made hand tools--even among Craftsman stuff, I think there's a pretty big difference in quality between the USA-made and Chinese-made stuff. It used to be that only their "evolve" brand stuff was Chinese, but it's becoming a lot more common across the board. That's not to say you can't get good tools from China, just my very anecdotal observation with the tools I carry. I know I can put a Craftsman 1/2-to-3/8" adapter on my impact wrench without issue, but I've had a two-piece adapter real quick with several other brands.

 

Of course, if the quality of Craftsman tools falls off, what's going to keep the lights on at Sears and Kmart? Especially now with other places (Summit Racing, Ace Hardware, and others) now carrying them...

 

I'd be curious to know where each of the brands are actually made in China. Are Craftsman, DuraLast (AutoZone) and Kobalt (Lowe's) comparable? They all have lifetime warranties, so it's all a question of how easily they break.

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I have a friend who's last name starts with "D" as in K-D tools. Yup, he was a partner until a few years ago when he retired. He told me that when he went to China to get pricing on tools, the Chinese were delighted that someone from America actually came to them asking for quality. Most Americans went there looking strictly for price.

 

Second, while warranties are good, what I really want is a tool that will never need that warranty. When I'm out in the field, or along the road, it's not very comforting to know that the ratchet that just broke will be replaced for free, next week. I'd gladly pay twice as much for a tool that would never break in the first place.

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Snap On is a global company, it bought tool making companies in Europe to enter that market, it does have lots of factories making its tools all over the US, Sun is its electronics tools arm. They do have "budget" line or "entry level" tools, don't know what it means or where these are made. Obviously they have maintained a quality position in the market and are able to command premium price for their tools.

"Outsourced" manufacturing, or "Chinese" manufactured products are not necessarily sources of junky products, how many of you have problems with Apple products, Apple couldn't build the factories it requires to blanket the world with iPhones in the states. The permitting process, bureaucratic garbage, impact studies, environmental crazies would never allow it. One of the companies making Apple products has 15 factories occupying over square mile employing over quarter million workers. Imagine Apple Chairman having discussion with Gerry Brown proposing something like that in Cupertino California.

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Hard chrome at my shop is almost all Snap-on. I used to buy Mac tools back in the 70's but Mac now stands for Mostly Asian Crap.... Matco is almost as bad.

 

Cornwell also makes all of their hard chrome here in the USA and I do have some from them as well all Stahlwille from Germany. I used to turn wrenches for a living in dad's garage and still have my play toys and work on the family cars. I am a toolaholic and I need help......

 

The son-in-laws are hoping I die soon to divide the spoils.

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Rick,

 

My 600 ft/lb torque wrench is a K-D tools. I use it only occasionally to check the truck tires. It was very reasonably priced and so far has performed well. When I looked at Snap-on and others they were upwards of $1000. Just couldn't justify that for once or twice a year use. Some people may say I wasted my money. Time will tell. Tell your friend I'm a happy customer.

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Disregard the metal project. I have this snap on Mr.Big box jammed full of snap on and blue point tools.

Mr.Big.jpg

mr.big%202.jpg

 

 

I also have an old craftsman box with a lot of old craftsman and SK tools. Having the snap on makes me appreciate the craftsman and SK tools. I have never rounded over so many stuck bolts as I have the with snap on. The snap on wrenches are hard on the hands as the handle is flat and narrow. The ratchet handles are round and smooth making it difficult to rotate when an extension in on and your hands are greasy.

 

So why buy that box and tools? Because it was less than the cost of the box alone. And no, it is not stolen. Some of the snap on qualities are nice like the sockets and screw drivers. I also like the lighter weight of some of the air tools.

 

I am a farmer. I do not wrench for a living. But when I need to wrench, I cant just set things up in a nice climate controlled shop with all the light and hoists around, and go home at 5. I have to get to it in whatever conditions and stick to it till done. Knurled ratchet handles are a must for me. Perhaps not for a professional tech. I did break a 25" breaker bar from snap on. Finished the job with a cheap 26" titan ratchet. The titan held up better, but snap on did replace the end of the breaker free and quickly. Titan? I dont know yet, but I doubt I will get any results should I ever break one. Which is fine. I can buy 10 titans for the cost of one snap on.

 

IMO.

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I have Craftsman tools that I purchased in high school because my dad worked for sears. I am now 57. I also have a craftsman 1/2 in ratchet and 3/4 in drill that are older than I am. I buy Snap on when I need a specialty tool. I do know the current Craftsman is mostly junk now.

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Deezl,

 

Nice box......makes mine look like a midget....This was right after moving into the new shop when everything was nice and clean. I would be embarrassed to show a picture of it now under a mound of tools, towels and gear. I'm right in the middle of an engine/tranny rebuild on my 64 Fairlane while the body is getting painted and my shop is a mess.....

 

My kids used to call it "Kermit"....don't know why.

cart_2.jpg

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Deezl,

 

Nice box......makes mine look like a midget....This was right after moving into the new shop when everything was nice and clean. I would be embarrassed to show a picture of it now under a mound of tools, towels and gear. I'm right in the middle of an engine/tranny rebuild on my 64 Fairlane while the body is getting painted and my shop is a mess.....

 

My kids used to call it "Kermit"....don't know why.

cart_2.jpg

 

The snap on quality of the tool boxes is awesome. Love that color. Nice side cab. Never seen one that size before.

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One of my best friends (happens to be a snap-on dealer....) and I are close on a deal for a Mr Big with a top box on the right, a workstation top on the left and side lockers on each end. That might get all of the tools out of the current box, two carts and 3 storage cabinets filled with boxed tools and get them into one place. I am looking at gunmetal grey with Platinum trim. I also agree that no one can beat a Snap-on Master series or Epic box although a Matco 6S will come close....

 

By the way, I have rubber and chrome handles Snappy rats, the chrome ones work great with a cheater pipe.....

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That will be one of the worlds coolest tool boxes when you get it set up. Hope to see pictures of it.

 

When we first got the box, we started selling a few of the tools we will never use. Still have a ton of engine specific stuff to sell. But we were not sure about this drawer of wrenches.

snap%20on.jpg

 

I forget the value just now, but I think about 3500 for the set? Glad we kept them. I have used near every one several times. Not the kind of wrenches you want to use over head very much. :)

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That is a strip tillage row unit for conservation farming practice. I have made 8 of them, but had to put them in the barn for now as I made a last minute change and went to 15" spacing, so I needed 12 row units and did not have time to make 4 more at that time. SO I bought a system out of Texas.

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