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  1. #1
    New Member
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    Sep 2005
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    Default tools

    Can someone please tell me what they think of the different brand tools. So far, I have craftsman. Is harbor freight worth buying. Is getting all snap-on tools neccessary? Tell me everything that ya'll think about the different name brands of hand tools. I will be a diesel mechanic so I will need all kinds of tools. They will be receiving pretty much use but I will not abuse them. I am still in vo-tech school training to be a diesel mechanic, so I still have a couple of years to gather all my neccessary tools. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Epic Contributor MossRoad's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Posts
    22,520
    Location
    South Bend, Indiana (near)
    Tractor
    Power Trac PT425 2001 Model Year

    Default Re: tools

    Stricktly as a home owner, shadetree mechanic, Sears Craftsman HAND TOOLS are pretty nice. In my opinion, they are well made, work as advertised, and should you break one, they get replaced free of charge( although some people report hassles at exchange time, I've never had any ). The Harbor Freight tools that I have purchased ( a few air tools and electric power tools ) also work well, although I doubt I'll ever give them a workout like a professional mechanic, and I wonder if they would hold up. They seem made for light duty, but do the jobs that I need them to do. And the price was un-beatable.

    I have no experience with Snap On, but have never heard anything bad about them.

    Good luck with your schooling. [img]/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

  3. #3
    Gold Member
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Posts
    417
    Location
    s.c.
    Tractor
    Mitsu D1550 Farmall super A

    Default Re: tools

    Take this for what it is worth,about 2 cents,as one who has made his living with tools for the last 35 yrs. go with Snap-On or Mac the price is outragous but they make tools you will need which no one else has. when I was in school,back in the last century,you could get a real deal through the school.

  4. #4
    Epic Contributor Bird's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2000
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    36,984
    Location
    Texas

    Default Re: tools

    Sawzall, both my brothers have worked as mechanics, have owned Snap-on, Matco, and MAC tools, as well as some of the cheaper tools. One brother was a Matco distributor for about 5 years, and I repaired/rebuilt mechanics' air tools for 3 years, so I've had a little experience in this area. I think most non-professional mechanics would be amazed if they knew how much money good mechanics have invested in the tools of their trade. I'm just guessing, but imagine it's $15,000 to $30,000 for most professional mechanics (a good toolbox alone will cost about $4,000 and up. I know mechanics who have toolboxes that cost $16,000 - not including the contents). For the typical homeowner or do-it-yourselfer, I personally think it would be foolish to buy Snap-on, Matco, or MAC tools unless it's a specific tool you can't find elsewhere or you find a good deal on a used one. Snap-on was probably the first to have the "rolling showroom" trucks calling on the garages, then MAC and Matco (which at one time was all one company before they split), and you'll probably find those three just about everywhere, but now you also have Cornwell, Craftsman, and a number of independent operators in the field.

    The discount tools you find in the box stores may or may not be good enough for you; depends partially on whether you're talking about hand tools ("hard iron" in the trade) or power tools, who made them, how you use them, whether you can get parts if they need repairing, etc. You'll have to decide for yourself.

    Now I don't know enough about all the brands, but I can tell you that as far as Snap-on, MAC, and Matco are concerned, one is no better than the other. They all three sell good tools, and they all three occasionally come up with a "lemon". So, like buying a tractor, the dealer may be more important than the brand.

    There are several reasons that mechanics buy their tools from the trucks that call on the garages (in spite of the fact that their prices are very high):
    1) as has already been mentioned, they will have some specialized tools that you won't find in the stores,
    2) that truck shows up once a week every week - usually at the same time and day each week, so if you have a tool break, you don't have to take it somewhere to get it fixed or replaced, just give it to your dealer (or distributor as most are officially called),
    3) perhaps the biggest reason is that the mechanics usually do not pay outright for their tools. The trucks all run truck accounts (revolving charge accounts) and the mechanics pay X number of dollars a week - another reason you know that truck's going to be there. Whether anyone buys anything today or not, the distributor is going to be there to collect his weekly payments,
    4) "braggin' rights". Let's face it, humans do that. [img]/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img] The guy with the biggest, fanciest, name brand toolbox and the most tools is going to be looked up to by the other mechanics, the shop owners, and the customers. He may or may not actually be the best mechanic in the shop, and
    5) those trucks take trade-ins when you want to trade up to better tools or toolboxes; something you won't find in most stores. You probably won't get a lot for your trade-in, but it's better than nothing. And sometimes, you'll get more than you expected. For example, that tool truck can sometimes sell a used Craftsman toolbox for more than Sears gets for a new one just like it simply because he can sell it to a mechanic who will make weekly payments for 10-20 weeks instead of paying outright for it like he'd have to do at Sears. (Yeah, I know Sears has charge accounts, or you can use a credit card, but the tool truck doesn't charge any "interest" - he just sells high to start with [img]/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif[/img])

    Oops, I've rambled on too long. Good luck in your future profession.

  5. #5
    Veteran Member Mark_in_NH's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Posts
    1,567
    Location
    Moultonborough, New Hampshire
    Tractor
    New Holland TC35D w/ 16LA FEL

    Default Re: tools

    I have to agree with Bird.
    If your making your living with these tools then getting the best possible quality makes sense. If your just the average / general user then Craftsman tools are great and even some of the cheap stuff will last you a life time.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Posts
    110
    Location
    S.W. Missouri
    Tractor
    Century 3045

    Default Re: tools

    I'll have to agree with every one else. If you are going to depend on those tools to make a living get MAC or Snap-On. Just be prepared to pay for them. At one time I had about $1000 worth of MAC tools that I could carry around in one tote tray

  7. #7
    Elite Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Posts
    3,310

    Default Re: tools

    I have known a lot of GM dealer mechanics over the past 35 years and they all swear by "Snapon" tools. Most dealerships have a "Snapon" truck come by about twice a week with mechs. standing in line to buy. Not familiar with "Mac", but "Craftsman" sometimes won't honor waranty if they think you are using them professionally.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Posts
    404
    Location
    garland county arkansas
    Tractor
    Kubota L3000DT

    Default Re: tools

    Bird summed it up pretty good!
    I have made my living working on aircraft off and on for over 20 years. i have more than my share of tools and want more!! [img]/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

    I have snap on , mac , matco, armstrong,proto,craftsman and a lot of other assorted manufacturers. i prefer snap on or mac. why ? quality!
    man i can go on the truck and get it replaced . i have a set of snap on open end angle wrenches that the finish was worn. tool still worked but didnt look good in my box. the snap on guy changed them out.

    Now crapsman ,don't buy any of there ratcheting wrenches pure junk!! but i have there sockets and wrenches in my road box. but i have broke more crapsman than anything else. i just exchanged a 3/8 breaker bar that i sheared. they did it but it was the second in a year. i have a snap on breaker bar i don't why i use the crapsman.

    Anyway just starting out get tools you need to work with. and then add as you go. once you get working in a shop you'll see what's good and whats not.
    And like bird said it's bragging rights. i know guys who have condo boxes. i don't
    i still work out of my crapsman box. it works just fine just full. ( i do need a bigger box)

    Some things really look at like multi meters. my buddy bought a snap on and i have a uei . they are the same except color. mine cost 1/3 of his.
    i would love a fluke but can't justify it now.
    the uei works great.

    Look in some pawn shops. i have bought a bunch of stuff from them for a fraction of cost and you can trade with the truck.
    Now you have to find a pawn shop that will deal.
    example i bought a 1/4" mac mid socket set that cost like 100 buck or so for 30 bucks.
    you just have to shop around and take your time since you ahve a little.

    amp762 gave a good example i am not sure they still do that program but i would sure ask. snap on did it i know.
    good luck.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Sep 2000
    Posts
    1,862
    Location
    The Fabulous Foothills of Northern California

    Default Re: tools

    My tools that I myself have purchased are primarily Craftsman. My Dad left me a wide variety of tools ranging from Proto, Snapon, Thorsen, Blue Point, SK, Plumb, New Britain and others. I do see quality differences in them, the SnapOn are definitely very well made. The sockets are thin walled and very strong, great for getting into tight spaces. Proto are nice, Plumb are too, although their availability is uncertain. I believe Proto can be found at Graingers. The Craftsmen are definitely much better then the inexpensive and cheap ones you can find all over. I have had problems with Craftsmen racthets as someone else mentioned (he called it Crapsmen, but I think thats a bit overstated). I believe their new ratchets are much improved. The value is certainly there. I think you will be just fine with a tool set like Craftsmen or similar. Husky from Home Depot is OK too. Perhaps getting wrenches and sockets from Craftsmen and a ratchet or two from Mac, SnapOn etc would be the ticket.

    Now for the next question, do I buy more standard unit tools or metric unit? I personally am buying more metric all the time. I think it's a matter of time, a long time probably before we go completely metric. Chemistry taught me a great deal about the metric system. It's a great system! Rat... [img]/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Posts
    404
    Location
    garland county arkansas
    Tractor
    Kubota L3000DT

    Default Re: tools

    Rat, the ratcheting wrenches ,like dogbones, need some improvement. i have several rachets and yes i have had to rebuild some but overall the rachets are ok. i like the new professional series . the old rachets are better than the newer ones. i have a 1/4 inch professional series craftsman that i use more than snap on. the snap ons don't have release button and that is kind of nice.

    And crapsman is a term alot of folks call them. heck i have called snap on crapon before. it takes a screwdriver to pry a impact socket off of a blue point impact driver. tight.

    Someone else mentioned that snap on makes tools that noone else makes and this is true. i had to buy a t handle racheting wrench just for removing the firewall bolts on a bell 206 once. like $45 bucks for one tool but nothing would work it does great.
    i also have made some homemade tools. all do . take a 1/4 craftsman and cut it in half , and you have a mini rachet a whole lot cheaper than a snap on. another 206 tool.
    i have cut wrenches in half or more to have small space tools.craftsmans are great cause you can find used ones in every pawn shop.
    you may need to heat and bend some to make that special tool for a special job.
    But i wanted to state that i am not against craftsman,heck i have spent alot of money at sears. but the racheting wrenches are junk. not rachets! [img]/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]


    Oh and the metric thing . you better go ahead and budget for them. you are gonna need them no doubt. so figure to buy sae and metric. i have sets of both . and not just metric wrenches and sockets. allen heads also.
    From cars to planes metric is here.and sometimes they are intermixed ( my gmc truck).

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