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Tool quality question

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by jtatknox, Mar 2, 2013.

  1. jtatknox

    jtatknox Adventurer

    Jun 26, 2012
  2. It'sNotTheBike

    It'sNotTheBike Banned

    Jul 20, 2011
    A guarantee doesn't help much if the tool breaks during a job
    and you need the tool in working order so you can finish the job.
    I like Snap On tools because I do business with several Snap-On tool truck
    guys and I can call them on the weekend and drop by their house to get a
    replacement tool if the need for the tool is urgent.

    Also, a tool which breaks can cause personal injury. I know people
    who have been permanently disabled by tools failing under load.
    Poor quality tools make such events more likely.

    Craftsman are decent for amateur use, but in my experience the Allen
    bits sold by Craftsman don't fit fasteners as precisely as the bits sold by Snap On,
    Hazet, Stahlwille, or other high quality manufacturers. Sometimes when the fit
    of the bit is not as tight as it could be in the head of the fastener, the result is a
    damaged fastener which can no longer be removed using the "correct" tool, and that
    may then lead to a time-consuming hassle removing the fastener and finding a
    replacement fastener.

    High quality tools are a lifetime investment. High quality tools work
    better, and they can always be sold to get some money back out of them
    if circumstances require it.

    Buy the best tools you can afford. If money is tight, check out your local
    Craigslist ads, sometimes you can get deals on used high quality tools on
    Craigslist. The Snap On man will replace a tool when it breaks whether
    you bought the tool new or used. Same goes for Sears ( Craftsman ).

  3. the_gr8t_waldo

    the_gr8t_waldo Long timer

    Feb 28, 2006
    tacoma warshington
    unless, if your making a living with these......you already know what's the "smart investment" is. as with any tool use, the user HAS to use the tools in a safe manner- never put youreself in a position where you'll hurt yourself if the tool slipps or fails! blaming a tool for an injury is the perview of the amature. - and i have the scars to prove it!
  4. gsweave

    gsweave Yinz, blinkers are on, JACKWAD!

    Apr 2, 2005
    The Paris of Appalachia
  5. rpet

    rpet Awesometown

    Aug 7, 2010
    El Lay
    check out Wiha brand bits too.

    I prefer to buy single bits rather than allen bit sets... you don't get as good of a "deal" but on the flip side I see very little need for 2 and 3mm allens on my moto. Do you even need all those sizes or will a $6 folding allen key multi-tool fulfill your 2mm and 3mm needs twice a year?

    Same for socket sets - how many sizes does your moto even use?

    That said, I have used a set of Craftsman allen sockets on my bicycles for about 5 years and none are very stripped. It was about $50.

    Generally when choosing between levels of tool quality, I decide - is this a 1 time use item? Like the security torx bit I used to remove the helmet lock from my DR. I will probably never use that bit again. I bought the cheapest I could find on ebay w/shipping.

    OR - is it a trail use item? Do I need to be damn sure this screwdriver or allen bit, or wrench will NOT break when I'm in the backcountry. If the answer to that is YES, then I drop the real $.

    And for another generalization: German, Japanese and USA made tools are the only ones I will trust for heavy or backcountry use.
  6. Stan_R80/7

    Stan_R80/7 Beastly Gnarly

    May 12, 2012
    And to add even more indecision, here are industrial socket hex bit choices: http://www.mcmaster.com/#hex-bit-sockets/=lpy44h

    All things considered these 3/8" drive hex bits cannot take that much torque and if you have something that really needs > 50 ft-lbs of torque, then plan on hurting yourself. Personally, I would consider buying two sets of the $10.00 bits and find out which ones are critical then replace them with the higher quality bits. Alternately, figure out what bits you need - order a cheap set for the case - and buy the industrial versions in the sizes needed.

    Unfortunately, I don't think anyone can help you make decisions like these. YMMV.
  7. Beezer

    Beezer Long timer

    Oct 26, 2004
    Anchorage, formerly Spenard (hub of the universe)
    Williams was always a really good brand though not well known. I don't know the other guys. Craftsman has gone down hill in the last few years.... their Phillips screwdrivers are particularly bad.... terrible. anyway, think about going to the pawn shops.... plenty of tools to choose from
  8. ktm360mx

    ktm360mx Woof

    Dec 2, 2009
    North Alabama
    I suppose either one is fine and good points are raised about quality and such. The thing I wonder is - how do you have a broken tool replaced if you bought off of the internet. Don't get me wrong, I buy a lot from Amazon, but they don't replace broken stuff after 30 days.

    Have you considered Kobalt at Lowes? I bought some for Allen and Torx and they work well, plus if one breaks, I can run down to Lowes, replace it, and get back to work. Haven't broken one yet. That's a plus!

    I am looking for a new brand to replace Craftsman. They haven given me a hard time about replacing stuff lately. I figure, if they won't honor the warranty, then I don't need to buy their stuff....
  9. HapHazard

    HapHazard Waiting for Gudenov

    Dec 30, 2009
    Central CT
    +1. Sears is shooting themselves in the foot (again) with refusing or making warranty replacements difficult. That, plus the quality of many of their tools has gone down. This is driving away customers they need to keep the doors open and the lights on.

    DUNDERHEAD Been here awhile

    Jan 6, 2010
    I haven't been to Sears for some time, but stopped by the other day to fill in some missing sockets and wrenches in my tool chest. HOLY CRAP. The quality of their tools has really gone down hill. Some wrenches look like they were forged and sized by hand. There were a few I'm sure wouldn't fit a nut or bolt !
    Sad to say but Harbor Freight tools in comparison are twice the quality. And one fourth the cost !
  11. hugemoth

    hugemoth Long timer

    Sep 6, 2007
    In the TARDIS
    I have quite a few Snap-on, Craftsman, Industro Super, tools, bought and inherited. I like them but nowadays would choose Harbor Freight which also have a lifetime warranty. My Snap-on 13/16 deep socket broke about 10 years ago and I haven't taken the time necessary to track down the Snap-on truck and get a replacement. If it were a HF socket I could run down to the store and get a quick replacement.
  12. kantuckid

    kantuckid Long timer

    Nov 29, 2007
    Kentucky-Eastern that is!
    Back on bits. When I worked as an industrial mech. I used lots of hex bits and when it fit I used an Apex bit holder with SAE bits as the machinery was mostly SAE. They are hard steel and unlikely to break. Other bits like shown with insertion & made from 2 pieces are sort of expendable tools so a lifetime warranty is nice but if like said your making a living with them failure is not cool. Hex bits are not nearly so "fiesty" as Torx bits which easily fail esp in the smaller sizes like 15T. I've seen much better service from name brands in Torx bits but see no hard reason to go for them if a casual wrencher.
    At the time(1960's) I was an apprentice, the tools given to us were Williams and good stuff/USA made then. FWIW, my 1 st set of Globemaster metric 3/8ths sockets are still alive & well-made in Japan which was considered crap at time I bought them.
  13. jar944

    jar944 Been here awhile

    Aug 2, 2010
    Chantilly VA
    I have a set of craftsman hex sockets and 2 sets of HF that I picked for a travel boxes (didnt care of they were stolen)

    The HF is as every bit good as the craftsman, sad but true.
  14. LuciferMutt

    LuciferMutt Rides slow bike slow

    Aug 19, 2008
    New(er) Mexico

    You always get what you pay for with tools.

    The cheap ones will be too soft, and will not hold up to repeated use, and may also outright break. The Williams set (great brand) will last for the rest of your life under normal use.
  15. tundradirtbiker

    tundradirtbiker Been here awhile

    Aug 5, 2009
    Oregon City
    Cheap bits are not reliable for torque wrench settings. They tend to strip and round out, or they are brittle and break.

    I bought the cheap set, good for occasional use, and individual quality bits- for cap screws needing a torque setting.
  16. das ist gut

    das ist gut been there done that

    Mar 1, 2013
    working on the bucket list @ 6400 feet
    Through years of experience, I have found that while Craftsman does guarantee a lot of their tools, those smaller items will wear out quickly AND they replace them with the same type item, that also wears quickly or breaks.

    AND through years of experience, I have developed a rule when it comes to my personal tools:
    Rather than buying "the best you can afford", I now prescribe to this idea - instead of buying the best you can afford, stick your money back in your pocket and go work a bit more overtime, or go make a couple more sales, or go come up with another solution to reducing costs.

    And then take that extra money you made the last few weeks and go out and buy that next step up in quality of tool you were previously considering.

    A good tool will last for a good while, like a lot of the Craftsman line.

    BUT A GREAT TOOL will last a lifetime or two!:wink:
  17. bomber60015

    bomber60015 Anatomically Correct

    Sep 11, 2008
    Used tools can be great bargains . . . there was a time when Craftsman made outstanding tools, and at affordable prices . . . . . if you find a cache of 30 year old Craftsman on eBay or Craigslist for a good price, grab em . . . . . .
  18. ttpete

    ttpete Rectum Non Bustibus

    May 13, 2009
    Dearborn, MI
    Apex tools are used extensively in production. There are two grades. The first is meant for use with impact tools. The second is much harder and meant for use with power nut runners. They are more brittle than the impact ones but last much longer. I have a set of Apex hex bits and they are better than any others I've used.
  19. perterra

    perterra -. --- .--. .

    Sep 6, 2010

    Only you can answer if you want excellent quality, or just good enough. I have wrenches that are excellent quality, and I have good enough. The good enoughs I have several of every size.

    The brands for excellent dont have to be well known, I bought some Husky from home depot that have been pretty darn good. I'm still using tools my Dad gave me (auto and heavy equip mechanic) that he bought in the early 30's thru the 50's. 9/32 drive snap on sockets, ratchets and break overs (9/32 is pretty rare, was dropped in the 40's), Plombs (not plumb) and Vlchek wrenches. Bunch of Proto, Williams, Craftsman and others.
  20. ttpete

    ttpete Rectum Non Bustibus

    May 13, 2009
    Dearborn, MI
    Cornwell tools are very good. They make tools for industrial use and aren't real common in the retail market. They turn up used every so often.

    If there's a used tool store nearby, it can be a real gem. I've bought a lot of serviceable used quality tools, and the prices can be very attractive. I don't mind pawing around in boxes of sockets for the one I need, especially a big one for that once in a lifetime job.

    Don't buy 12 point sockets unless you need one for a 12 point headed bolt. They wear out too quickly and are weaker.