Wrenches and other tools

Discussion in 'Workshop Tips and Secrets / Tools' started by cdlwingnut, Dec 11, 2017.

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  1. Dec 11, 2017 #1

    cdlwingnut

    cdlwingnut

    cdlwingnut

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    My project isn't at my home but at the airport where I work. I am not a mechanic but I do enjoy helping them when the airplanes i fly need maitenance. I have found that a lot of my home tools have migrated to the airport and have bought a few for the project. I have nice tools at home some were my grandpas that I really don't want migrating to the airport. I've been looking at the harbor freight pittsburgh pro line thinking i may get a socket set, and an SAE and a metric wrench set to accompany the screw divers and such that have already migrated. I know the tools aren't top line maybe not even middle line, but to for this purpose to leave where after the project is done to use to maintain it and use on other once in a while jobs. The mechanics are good about letting me borrow their snap on/ mac tools, but they need them to do their jobs and i try to stay out of their way when I'm not helping them. Also every dollar spent on tools now is a dollar of my "allowance" i can't spend on building materials. So i figure when the plane is done I can buy the wrenches and sockets i use the most off the mac truck when I've saved my "allowance" back up.
     
  2. Dec 11, 2017 #2

    Derswede

    Derswede

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    Check out yard sales, etc. Bought 4 5 gal pails at a yard sale for $5 a pail a couple of years back, all filled with tools. Ended up with a couple of 1/2" ratchets, two good 3/4" and a new Sears click torque wrench, plus one bucket of nothing but sockets....both metric and SAE. Lots of Craftsman and Mac wrenches, etc. Bought a 2hp air compressor that needed a good cleaning as well for $20. Half the sockets were Snap-ons and Macs....old Macs and Craftsman, back when they used real steel for them.

    In the pickup for travel, I have bought some of the Lowe's Cobalt brand tools....most seem decent and at a good price esp if you catch a sale.

    The Harbour Freight stuff I use for "disposable tool" jobs, ones where there is a chance of losing tools or damaging them, though I have yet to kill one of their impact wrenches and my cheapie saws-all is still going after 3-4 years. Guess I am a tool junkie.....

    For decent "second" wrenches, do look at the Cobalt line. I have some that have survived for years of work, and most seem to be better than the HF stuff.
    Oh, impact sockets from HF are also good, have yet to damage one, and they get used heavily, esp. when I have a container loading.

    Derswede
     
  3. Dec 11, 2017 #3

    TFF

    TFF

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    Just go get some Craftsman. No real need for mac or snap on unless you like petting tools. I have plenty of all of them, and I tend to reach for the craftsman first and if I have problems I will grab the Snap on. They are all in the same box. Get some gear wrenches if picking and choosing. Also I dont feel bad grinding on a Craftsman is I need to modify. I go to the local harbor freight store every week, mostly just looking. The tools are getting better. The tool boxes are pretty decent actually.
     
  4. Dec 11, 2017 #4

    Winginit

    Winginit

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    Well, this is the right time of year to be buying some tools on sale. If you just want some basic stuff and money is tight, you can get some good buys on Craftsman sets.....or even their "Companion" brand. Nothing really wrong with the "Companion" brand and they are really inexpensive. I bought some to use for making "special" wrenches. You heat them with a torch and bend them to clear some obstruction. I have a "special" drawer that I put all my "special" wrenches in. They can even be reheated and rebent if necessary. Beyond that, I have recently developed a liking for the Kobalt brand sold by Lowes. There are a lot of brands that are just fine for what you want to do.
    I know I lot of people swear by their Mac and Snap/On tools, but my personal opinion is that they are way over priced. You will seldom find anything on an airplane thats going to put any well known brand into peril. If you are working on heavy equipment or something the Mac/SnapOn will probably be valuable, but for your needs most well known brands are just fine. I do think some of the Craftsman 1/4 inch ratchets are junk but all the other sizes have served me well.
     
  5. Dec 11, 2017 #5

    Little Scrapper

    Little Scrapper

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    Buy tools for life. All my tools, regardless of quality, I've had for 30+ years, some 40 years. I can say with honesty I love high quality tools like my Snap On's. They do not compare to Craftsman. But, I assembled them slowly over time.

    Of you're on a tight budget just buy the minimum and buy used. It can be a lot of fun finding used old tools.
     
  6. Dec 11, 2017 #6

    Little Scrapper

    Little Scrapper

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    Buy tools for life. All my tools, regardless of quality, I've had for 30+ years, some 40 years. I can say with honesty I love high quality tools like my Snap On's. They do not compare to Craftsman. But, I assembled them slowly over time.

    Of you're on a tight budget just buy the minimum and buy used. It can be a lot of fun finding used old tools.
     
  7. Dec 11, 2017 #7

    Swampyankee

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    Craftsman’s never got rid of the “forever” warranty on its hand tools, so the reason most of the techs I used to work with bought the brand remains. The also bought Snap On because they needed to deal with 12-point bolts and nuts
     
  8. Dec 11, 2017 #8

    Dana

    Dana

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    My son in law has found some great deals on used Snap-On wrenches on ebay. OTOH, some of the toolmakers at work have been buying Harbor Freight tools and they actually look pretty decent. Their idea is that little is lost if something gets borrowed and never returned, and unlike fixing your car where you can get hurt if a wrench breaks when trying to loosen a stuck bolt, the machines we work on (and our airplanes) rarely have anything that tight.

    My Dad was a tool junky, and he only bought the best, I get that from him... since he died and I inherited all his tools, I now have doubles and triples of almost everything. Enough for a set at home, a set at the cabin, and a set of most things at the hangar.

    Dana
     
  9. Dec 11, 2017 #9

    BJC

    BJC

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    Sending my home address by PM.


    BJC
     
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  10. Dec 11, 2017 #10

    TFF

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    One thing that can help having different brand on wrenches is the heads all have slightly different angles so the can be "different." I once had to replace a landing gear valve in the middle of the night at a strange airport. To remove it without gutting the nose gear well, my buddy and I had to rotate three brands of 3/8s wrench to turn one mounting bolt, the hard one. Something like snap-on, then craftsman , back to snap-on flipped, to mac; repeat 40 times off and 40 times on. You have two hands, so I try and equip each hand equally. That's why you end up with 6-8 sets of tools sometimes. You have to handle any combo.
     
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  11. Dec 11, 2017 #11

    gtae07

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    I'm going to go against the grain and say that honestly, I've been pleasantly surprised by the HF "Pro" line of hand tools (ratchets, wrenches, etc.). I have a Craftsman socket set my parents got me at 15 and it's my go-to, but increasingly I find myself using the stubby HF 1/4" ratchet because of its higher tooth count. It honestly feels better made than the Craftsman one. My open/box wrench sets are also HF because I typically don't use them often. Really, I've been surprised by most of their stuff, as long as it isn't the barrel-bottom items and I get a good "feel" of it in the store.

    But then, my stuff sees pretty light usage. I'm not depending on these tools to earn a living.

    I'd also be a little leery of Craftsman at this point, basically because Sears is in its death throes. I've heard the Craftsman line is being picked up by someone else but I don't think they're what they used to be. The Home Depot and Lowe's house brands have a pretty decent reputation at this point, and in many ways they've pretty much supplanted Sears in this market. Plus, they're established companies with good business outlooks and many more locations.
     
  12. Dec 11, 2017 #12

    BJC

    BJC

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    Ace hardware here now has the Craftsman brand. Unlike the box stores, Ace also services what they sell.

    Does anyone have a value judgement on the Northern Tool wrenches?


    BJC
     
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  13. Dec 11, 2017 #13

    Winginit

    Winginit

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    While I feel I'm not an elitist that must have a certain brand just to fit my ego, there are certain times when you want the best because they will be used for a long time (lifetime). I don't buy Mac or Snap-on except when they have something that generally is a specialty tool and probably not available from other brands. I recently bought a set of Snap-on stud removers that grip a stud and allow you to remove it without ruining it. I bought them used off Craigs list for $100. They probably cost several hundred dollars new, and I would not have paid that unless I needed them in a job that I was paid to do. So I have some sporadic Mac/Snap on stuff like spark plug wire pullers and extended needle nose pliers....all bought used.
    I also have some Harbor Freight items that for the most part I'm happy with. There are times when you need a tool to perform a one time task and HF has some things that work just fine. The point to me is that most experienced wrench turners realize that you don't need to spend excessive amounts just to have a set of "Matching" tools. That said, if you are going to work on airplanes and their engines, I think your peers may get a bad impression of you if you show up with a plethora of Harbor Freight stuff. Its kinda like picking up a date and driving a Yugo. It creates an impression (deserved or not) among your peers. Overkill of showing up with a massive toolbox full of high dollar tools and not really knowing how to use them well tends to create an impression too. My suggestion is Craftsman and/or Kobalt and then fill in with some Mac or Harbor Freight if needed later. I think if you look in most toolboxes, you will find thats how they are populated.....even among many people who make their living with wrenches.

    I do think the Harbor Freight toolboxes are pretty decent.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2017
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  14. Dec 11, 2017 #14

    TFF

    TFF

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    Northern tool is above HF. Not bad. I buy the really big sockets of theirs because they are a 1/4 price of a Snap-on. They also have some name brand stuff in the stores too. NT is one mile from HF so on a really non productive day I can start out at the Hobby Shop, swing across the street to the Northern tool, Bargain Hunt next door, drive a block to the used hot rod parts store, then to the Harbor Freight, and a block away is Auto Zone store #1. Then I will grab some Kristals and hope to not have bought anything I need to explain. Lowes is close to the Kristal. They tore down the Sears of my childhood this summer.
     
  15. Dec 11, 2017 #15

    akwrencher

    akwrencher

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    I love snap on wenches and such but haven't bought one in 20 years. I did however look hard a couple years back for some good used mac/snap on screwdrivers on ebay. I have probably 4 or 5 brands of wrenches at this point. One set of metric came from a budget auto parts store 18 years ago and still sees regular use. Not to hard to find decent wrenches these days. Screwdrivers I will spring for quality. BIG difference. Never did like craftsman ones. For a budget screwdriver, Klein are not bad. Have some at work and they do a good job. If I was still turning wrenches 8 hrs a day I would by Snap on or mac screwdrivers. Craftsman makes a darn good ratchet if you don't get the cheep ones. My good 3/8 drive is fine tooth and paid 40 bucks at sears. Bottom line, it depends on what you need. I would not pay for name brand wrenches, but certain tools you will find sub par, and you can replace those with better individually when you know what they are. Couple years ago I got a pretty good deal on craftsman sockets etc. On ebay, new stuff, no boxes. I can say with certainty they are not the quality they once where, very big difference compared to my older ones. I don't know if they maybe are knockoffs or just going the way of everything else. They work fine. But the fit and finish are not there. Things change fast these days and it's hard to keep up.
     
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  16. Dec 11, 2017 #16

    Winginit

    Winginit

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    Here are a couple of USED Snap On toolboxes that are available .

    Snap on 1.jpg OR Snap On 2.jpg

    Other than something like a Nascar or Red Bull racing team, it boggles my mind that any individual would buy something like this.
     
  17. Dec 11, 2017 #17

    BJC

    BJC

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    A former co-worker has a COMPLETE set of Snap-On tools in Snap-On chests. He got it for pennies on the dollar from his friend. I’ve never found such a deal, but they must be out there.


    BJC
     
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  18. Dec 11, 2017 #18

    TFF

    TFF

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    Skydol melts the Craftsman normal screw drivers. Yuck. CNC machining is bringing down Craftsman and up the other brands. Old sockets and wrenches were machined, today many are water or laser cut. Just not the same. You can see it in the tooling marks. A friend just bought a spare box of tools for $1000. Mac box, older, good size. Filled with some decent tools. 2/3s top brands. It was not a primary box for the original owner as he kept it for moonlighting at a GA airport, but I am jealous of the catch. You could do 80% of anything out of it right now, which means most peoples 100%+.
     
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  19. Dec 11, 2017 #19

    Swampyankee

    Swampyankee

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    I believe the Craftsman line was bought by Stanley Black & Decker.
     
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  20. Dec 11, 2017 #20

    Little Scrapper

    Little Scrapper

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    Yes. Stanley owns Craftsman, black and Decker, DeWalt, ..........and wait for it......MAC tools.

    MAC has a division called "Expert" which is the Taiwan version of MAC that use to be sold in Europe.

    I recently bought a 13mm Expert from the MAC dealer, it was $12. A 1/2" MAC box wrench is $28. The MAC is longer and thicker but both are great.

    I personally don't worry about cost because over a lifetime of usage a few hundred dollars to own premium sockets and wrenches is just not a big deal for me, I mean, I'm building a airplane so let's put this is perspective. It's not as if your buying a Ferrari for $400,000.

    10 awesome wrenches for under $300 and have them for life and they feel awesome? Worth it for me. People spend a $1,000 a month on cigarettes after all.

    Bluepoint is to Snap On what Expert is to MAC. A budget version of a nice tool.

    I recently bought Craftsman 1/4 drive socket set from Ace hardware. For my Plumbing truck. Worst crap I ever bought and I get a discount because my daughter works at Ace (high school job). The ratchet is the worst ratchet I ever bought so I returned it.

    If you just want to build one airplane and are not really a "work on stuff" kinda guy I wouldn't buy anything premium I guess.
     

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