Author Topic: Wrenches and Screwdrivers?  (Read 51515 times)

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Offline John Russell

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Wrenches and Screwdrivers?
« on: October 21, 2007, 07:49 PM »
I am at a point where I would like to have some quality metric and a few imperial wrenches and quality screwdrivers. I have an assortment of wrenches and drivers that have appeared over the years and I find them of mixed quality, so I am on the search and I thought folks here might have some ideas.

I am thinking of either Facom or Snapon metric wrenches and a set of Snap-on screwdrivers plus a quality ratcheting screwdriver, Snap-on or other.

I know there are strong beliefs about Craftsman, SK and other tools, but am I on the right track with the Facom or Snap-on wrenches and drivers?
Thanks,
JR

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Offline Greg in Memphis

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Re: Wrenches and Screwdrivers?
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2007, 08:52 PM »
I tend to lump all drop forged wrenches, ratchets, and sockets together. Craftsman, SK, and Snap-on fit this category. They are all tough, and will usually outlive the owner.
I don't have any experience with Facom. If they are drop forged, I am sure they should hold up well.
For me, I'm kinda partial to Craftsman just because you can replace a broken tool at any Sears with no hassle at all.
Snap-on wrenches and sockets are great products, but their ratchets IMO are not as good as SK. I have never seen a broken SK ratchet.

hope this may help

Greg
« Last Edit: October 21, 2007, 08:53 PM by Greg in Memphis »

Offline Eli

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Re: Wrenches and Screwdrivers?
« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2007, 01:08 AM »
I'm with Greg. They're all pretty good after a certain point. Before I left the states I noticed Costco pretty regularly had fantastic deals on sets that had everything. Imperial (I've learned Americans are the only ones who call them "standard"), metric, screwdrivers, pliers, etc.

Do nothing, stay ahead.

Offline Corwin

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Re: Wrenches and Screwdrivers?
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2007, 01:58 AM »
I've had Craftsman wrenches since I was 17.  At 18 I bought a 240Z -- needed to add metric.  Still have 'em.  And the roll-away.  Wow, 17 was a long time ago.  But they've lasted me 35 years, so you should do alright.

Now Sears carries Gear Wrench in addition to their Craftsman stuff.  Both brands have lifetime warranties.  AND both are available in combination wrenches with an open end and a ratcheting box end.  These are hard to beat.  

Offline polarsea1

  • Posts: 294
Re: Wrenches and Screwdrivers?
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2007, 02:53 AM »
The plating peels off the newer Craftsman stuff. The wrenches aren't particularly strong - I've had the jaws stretch and walls of sockets break. Free replacement is good though.

Here's a little set of wrenches everyone needs; I used them when I repaired high tech manufacturing machinery and also carried a set on motorcycle adventures - very high quality:

W.F.M.C. Mini-Ratchet Tool Sets


Offline John Russell

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Re: Wrenches and Screwdrivers?
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2007, 12:05 AM »
Thanks for the replies. My life experience is not in tools and it is taking some time to sort out what tools make a difference. One of the reasons that I have invested in Festools is that some of them REALLY make a difference to my work style and habits. The sander, the saw, the routers are especially useful and just seem to allow me to get things done without the tool being in the way or generating new problems I don't have time to solve.

The more I use hand tools, the more I started thinking about what wrenches and screwdrivers might make a difference or maybe it is one of those things that for most folks those types of tools are interchangeable without much difference among the major brands. But each time I round off a nut or strip a screw head I wonder if there is a worthwhile difference in quality wrenches and drivers and in fact what is a quality driver?.

A little web research suggests people seem to think that Snap-on drivers and wrenches are one place where their tools are worth the premium price, just like some of us feel as if the Festool sanders and other tools are worth the premium price.

I guess the only way to know is to buy them and see if it makes any difference in my work ...
Thanks!
JR

Offline Eli

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Re: Wrenches and Screwdrivers?
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2007, 02:42 AM »
Snap-On are premium wrenches. They are nice. Likely if this was a mechanic's forum you'd get the same purchase "suggestions" you get here for Festools. The only things I'd add is that usually the problem of rounding a nut is using the wrong size wrench, not the tool. A standard screw head strips just by waving a screwdriver at it, the guy who invented those should have been drawn and quartered. And if you use a PH1 (phillips) on a PH2 screw, you'll wreck it. It took me twenty years to not wreck things consistantly, and everybody slips in the course of natural impatience.

"Use makes master", as they say.
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Offline Dave Ronyak

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Re: Wrenches and Screwdrivers?
« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2007, 01:43 PM »
I tend to lump all drop forged wrenches, ratchets, and sockets together. Craftsman, SK, and Snap-on fit this category. They are all tough, and will usually outlive the owner.
I don't have any experience with Facom. If they are drop forged, I am sure they should hold up well.
For me, I'm kinda partial to Craftsman just because you can replace a broken tool at any Sears with no hassle at all.
Snap-on wrenches and sockets are great products, but their ratchets IMO are not as good as SK. I have never seen a broken SK ratchet.

hope this may help

Greg

Facom tools (made in France) are used by the Ferrari F1 team.  Do you think they would use anything less than what they perceive as the best when their annual budget is >$300 million?

Wiha tools makes some excellent products, including hex keys.  See http://www.wihatools.com/indexes/indxhex.htm

Heyco used to be OEM supplier of tools provided by BMW with their cars (back when they expected owners to do some of their own maintenance and repairs).

My father was a professional mechanic, and semi-professional gunsmith.  He preferred Proto (formerly Plumb and both, I think, now defunct) over Snap-On because they honored their free replacement guarantee no matter what the abuse whereas Snap-On was harder to deal with - and somewhat more costly.  (When the 3/8" drive socket or wrench you have is the only one that fits on that rusted fastener, that's what the mechanic will use.)  Wright and Mac also make high quality tools.  Craftsman is OK, but the wall thickness of their sockets often interferes or prevents their use in certain situations.  Even some of the Chinese/Taiwanese wrenches are OK for general use

Be very careful in regard to driver bit (inserts) for use with certain screws.  You need bits that actually fit the screws to do your best work.  If you have messed with any of the Torx head screws on a Festool TS 55 saw, you probably already realize that correct fitment of the bit relative to the (little screw) is important to avoid damaging the head of the fastener.  There are a lot of bit manufacturers (and screw manufacturers) who don't seem to understand the importance of getting the dimensions correct, including tolerances.  A quality bit of the right size and style will grip the fastner quite well and be far more resistant to camming out when applying torque (or otherwise bung up the screw).   A very simple example is use of the off-brand deck screws sold by the big box stores that allegedly fit a #2 or #3 Phillips head driver, depending on the size of the screw.  The fit of nearly any brand of Phillips driver bit into those screws will be rather poor and susceptible to camming out compared to the fit of a genuine Phillips brand bit into a genuine Phillips brand screw of the same sizes.  The fit of the latter is so good that a 3 1/2 inch deck screw will hang on the bit, even when pointed somewhat downward.  I have a set of Chinese bits which I go to only if I cannot find a bit to fit in my better tools  The powder metallurgy molded bits seem to be generally quite good.

Dave R.
Friends, family and Festools make for a good retirement.  PCs...I'm not so sure.

Offline Greg in Memphis

  • Posts: 80
Re: Wrenches and Screwdrivers?
« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2007, 07:43 PM »
I'd really like to know if those Facom ratchets are drop forged or not.
I checked out the Facom website and could not see any info on the metallurgy or the manufacture process. 
Nice to know they have a gig with Ferrari.
I may be going out on a limb here, but I would not recommend them.

Greg
« Last Edit: October 23, 2007, 08:52 PM by Greg in Memphis »

Offline Emmanuel

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Re: Wrenches and Screwdrivers?
« Reply #9 on: October 23, 2007, 08:53 PM »
Not talking from experience my budget didn't allow at the time but when I was living in France Facom was considered high end a little like how Festool is regarded now for hand held power tool.


Offline Woodenfish

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Re: Wrenches and Screwdrivers?
« Reply #10 on: October 23, 2007, 09:36 PM »
I am at a point where I would like to have some quality metric and a few imperial wrenches and quality screwdrivers. I have an assortment of wrenches and drivers that have appeared over the years and I find them of mixed quality, so I am on the search and I thought folks here might have some ideas.

Thanks,
JR
Some friends of mine who specialize in German auto repair always spoke highly of Stahlwille tools.

Offline brandon.nickel

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  • Currently Peoria, IL - Eventually back to CO
Re: Wrenches and Screwdrivers?
« Reply #11 on: October 23, 2007, 11:41 PM »
I don't have any experience with Facom or SK, but like many I started my collection with Craftsman tools.  I used to work at Sears (long ago), so I'm very familiar with their products (and I got some great deals).  I started buying Snap-On about 8 years ago.  There is definitely a difference, but most people wouldn't care enough to pay the 3x increase in price.  I have both in my toolbox, but I always reach for the Snap-On first.  In the case of the things I abuse, I stick with Craftsman because they don't argue about the warranty.  Snap-On dealers will tell you "We sell prybars.  This is a screwdriver."  Sears doesn't care.

So, if you can get a deal on Snap-On or similar, I'd go for it, especially with open-end wrenches.  Sockets to a lesser extent.  I actually prefer my Craftsman ratchets because it's almost impossible to remove the socket from the Snap-On one with greasy hands.  I guess that's the downside of tighter tolerances.
TS55, MFT1080, Domino, OF1400, LR32, RO150E, DTS400, Trion, CT33

Offline Eli

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Re: Wrenches and Screwdrivers?
« Reply #12 on: October 23, 2007, 11:44 PM »
whatever you do don't get any of those monster garage type signature black chrome sockets. I had a friend who got some.Try finding one of those things on the floor under the car.
Do nothing, stay ahead.

Offline greg mann

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Re: Wrenches and Screwdrivers?
« Reply #13 on: October 24, 2007, 02:13 PM »
I understand 'using what you have' but, with all due respect guys, do you blame Snap-On for telling you that you used the wrong tool? We can do things with our Festools that will void the warranty. Why should anyone else not be able to have that caveat in their programs? Sears stands behind abused items because they have to. A large part of their market doesn't know one end of the screwdriver from the other. When anyone of us sophisticated enough to appreciate Festool abuses the wrong tool to the point of failure shame on us to want someone else to bail us out.
Greg Mann
Oakland, Michigan

Offline Daviddubya

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Re: Wrenches and Screwdrivers?
« Reply #14 on: October 24, 2007, 02:58 PM »
I own an entire rolling box full of Craftsman hand tools.  They seem to last forever, and replacement of one once in a great while is easy.

I used a friend's Snap On hand tools many years ago.  They are more than just a pretty name.  These are very high quality tools, and worth the added cost, just as Festool products are worth the added cost.
David W. Falkenstein
in Cave Creek, AZ, USA

Offline Dave Ronyak

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Re: Wrenches and Screwdrivers?
« Reply #15 on: October 24, 2007, 03:36 PM »
I understand 'using what you have' but, with all due respect guys, do you blame Snap-On for telling you that you used the wrong tool? We can do things with our Festools that will void the warranty. Why should anyone else not be able to have that caveat in their programs? Sears stands behind abused items because they have to. A large part of their market doesn't know one end of the screwdriver from the other. When anyone of us sophisticated enough to appreciate Festool abuses the wrong tool to the point of failure shame on us to want someone else to bail us out.

Sorry, I have no intention of offending anyone.  My points are that sometimes what you may view as abuse is the only possible way to try to remove a rusted or overtorqued fastener, and that Snap-On was less liberal in replacing broken tools than many of its competitors.  My TS 55 saw came misadjusted with toe-out. The torx headed screws that hold the base to the upper portion of my saw were very tight.  The only way I could see to loosen to those screws was to insert the itty-bitty torx bit driver, then tap them with a hammer, then twist.   They came off, but not before I had considerably wound up the torx key.  Generally, I expect the fastener to break before the tool (unless the tool was made in China, etc.)

Dave R. 
Friends, family and Festools make for a good retirement.  PCs...I'm not so sure.

Offline brandon.nickel

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Re: Wrenches and Screwdrivers?
« Reply #16 on: October 24, 2007, 11:49 PM »
I agree with Dave.  I don't condone willfully "screwing" the manufacturer, and I try to match my tools with their intended purpose.  I also expect the fastener to break before the tool used to turn it (see my old rant about the adjustment set-screw on my Domino stripping out).  The Snap-On wrenches grip tighter than the Craftsman.  There is no debate for me on this one.  Even if you can't get a perfect grip using an open-end wrench, the Snap-On will grip and turn when the Craftsman just slips off.  I've seen this many, many times in my own hands.  That being said, for the vast majority of jobs and people, the Craftsman is more than adequate and appeals to a much broader market by means of their incredibly low pricing.  Only those willing to shell out the extra cash are likely to appreciate the differences (like those of us who buy Festools).
TS55, MFT1080, Domino, OF1400, LR32, RO150E, DTS400, Trion, CT33

Offline greg mann

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Re: Wrenches and Screwdrivers?
« Reply #17 on: October 25, 2007, 09:28 AM »
Maybe I overstated my case a little. To clarify a bit, I have been in the same circumstances you guys have for sure. If any of us have a rusted fastener or whatever that requires us to go to extraordinary means to loosen we do what we are forced to do. I guess the difference for me is that I view many of these tools as perishable. Let me explain. I work in an industrial environment where we purchase Torx drivers and hex wrenches at least a dozen at a time, almost always Wiha brand which are head and shoulders above any others we have tried and the brand most often suppied by good  cutting tool manufacturers worldwide. We still wear them out pretty quickly. No one here expects them to last very long because they are in constant use. My point is that the Snap-On socket, which I also agree is significantly better than a Craftsman socket, is a perishable item and we hasten that process when we push it to its limits. Yes, they have a lifetime guarantee, and most all companies from Sears on up the chain will replace their products quite liberally, beyond normal wear and tear, but using a tool beyond its limits is a choice we all make at one point or another and its failure at that time is something I feel we should take responsibility for. If you don't agree, that's fine. It is just my personal philosophy.
Greg Mann
Oakland, Michigan

Offline Eli

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Re: Wrenches and Screwdrivers?
« Reply #18 on: October 25, 2007, 10:28 AM »
So, John, a few definite differences in opinion on quality. I think your original question has been well addressed. No question the consensus is you wouldn't go wrong buying Snap-ons. You could get away with Sears or Craftsman if you're an occasional user. My own set is Crescent (for just over $100AUD for the full set I couldn't just leave them sitting there all lonely, now could I?). I've got some Wiha hexes that are quite nice. Another thing I'd add to my earlier tips is don't bear down hard on a ball hex driver, you could end up snapping off the end of it in the fastener head. That's the definition of a nightmare.
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Offline John Russell

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Re: Wrenches and Screwdrivers?
« Reply #19 on: October 26, 2007, 07:58 PM »
Yes Eli, these are all good observations and comments that have helped. I am going to order a set of either FACOM or Snap-on metric wrenches and then a set of screwdrivers of the same brand just to make ordering life simple. Either should be a good choice for me. Thanks again for the thoughtful replies.

Offline Dave Ronyak

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Re: Wrenches and Screwdrivers?
« Reply #20 on: October 26, 2007, 09:23 PM »
If you have decided to go "top shelf" also consider that Snap-On dealers are pretty much everywhere around USA, and thus may be easier to contact if you want to add to your collection, or need something special.  They certainly offer many special application tools, and are often the first or the only maker to offer a special tool for a particular application, e.g. when the automotive designers decide to use a new fastener style or to require a special tool to fit some adjustment mechanism.

Dave R.
Friends, family and Festools make for a good retirement.  PCs...I'm not so sure.

Offline Eli

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Re: Wrenches and Screwdrivers?
« Reply #21 on: October 27, 2007, 05:52 AM »
Or if you work a big jobsite, the Snap-on 'candy' truck comes around pretty often. ;D
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Offline ScooterX

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Re: Wrenches and Screwdrivers?
« Reply #22 on: October 27, 2007, 08:34 PM »
The difference between the Snap-On tools and the Craftsman is the same as the difference between Festool and Craftsman.

If you are a hobbiest, it will depend on how much you  use the tools, and how much money you have.

If you are a professional, the Snap-On tools will increase your productivity and decrease hand fatigue. Craftsman makes wrenches with slightly rougher edges on the handle (where you grip) to help you when your hands are greasy. This is great for a shade-tree mechanic changing his oil. If you use them all day your hands will feel sore and cut up. The Snap-On are smooth, balanced, stronger, thinner (so they can sometimes fit places other tools wont) and a joy to work with.

Both have a lifetime guaranty.

That said, a 1/4" drive ratched and 6-sided metric sockets will put you back $249... the same thing from Sears is probably $59.

Offline Dave Ronyak

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Re: Wrenches and Screwdrivers?
« Reply #23 on: October 28, 2007, 12:55 AM »
Thinner sockets (and some of the wrenches) enable you to work some fasteners that a Craftsman socket (or wrench) cannot.  That is exactly why my father bought Snap-On and Proto brand tools.  Some of the Craftsman sockets and box wrenches are visibly uneven in wall thickness around their circumference.  Guess where they break?

Dave R.
Friends, family and Festools make for a good retirement.  PCs...I'm not so sure.

Offline Eli

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Re: Wrenches and Screwdrivers?
« Reply #24 on: October 28, 2007, 04:26 AM »
MAC are pretty good too aren't they? I've only had a very few things from them, so I can't really comment, but I was pleased, and they're a bit cheaper than Snap-Ons (depending on what you buy, I think some things are actually dearer). But there is only one Snap-On, that's why every entry above has a reference to Snap-On, no matter what tool we're actually talking about.
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Offline Dave Ronyak

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Re: Wrenches and Screwdrivers?
« Reply #25 on: October 28, 2007, 08:22 PM »
Yes, they are, and so is Cornwell.  They both have distribution systems similar to Snap-On. 

Dave R.
Friends, family and Festools make for a good retirement.  PCs...I'm not so sure.

Offline Paul Farrar

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Re: Wrenches and Screwdrivers?
« Reply #26 on: October 30, 2007, 01:44 AM »
Most mechanics tools in the US, except for Chinese cheapies, are made by only three companies: Stanley, Danaher, and Snap-On. Each makes several quality levels (pro, hobbyist, and Wal-mart), though not necessarily all levels. They also make different brands for different labels and distribution methods.

Stanley
   Pro-industrial: Proto (except Proto Blackhawk, which is Wal-mart level), Facom, S-K (Facom[French] bought S-K and was then bought by Stanley, S-K is a mix of original S-K, Facom, and Stanley)
   Pro-dealer truck: MAC
   Hobbyist and Wal-mart: Stanley
   Store label: old Craftsman, HD Huskey
Danaher
   Pro-industrial: Armstrong, Craftsman, Allen, others
   Pro-dealer truck: Matco
   Store label: Craftsman
Snap-On
   Pro-industrial and truck: Snap-On
   Hobbyist: Blue Point
   Store label: Lowes Kobalt (make them, but they are not relabeled Snap-Ons)
There is also the small truck-distributed Cornwell.

It's all pretty confusing, with industry consolidation, contracting out, relabelling etc. I probably got something wrong.
   

Offline Garry

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Re: Wrenches and Screwdrivers?
« Reply #27 on: October 30, 2007, 01:52 AM »
Just to throw fuel on the fire, I have a set of Husky (Home Depot's house brand) sockets (with a few other 1/4" hex drive accesories), that I use daily for everything from mounting TV's with a drill (driving a socket) to dropping transmissions. I've had this set for about 5 years, and I haven't suffered even a broken phillips bit from that set, and they offer the same lifetime warranty that Sears does on Craftsman.  The set  has 1/4, 3/8, & 1/2" drive, metric and standard, regular and deep well sockets from very small (1/4") up to 1 1/4" (with metric equivalents), with wrenchs from 3/8 to 1", and I think the whole kit (with a case) cost $149.

Please understand that I am not promoting that you shop at Home Depot, but I've been pretty pleased with this set.
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Offline Eli

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Re: Wrenches and Screwdrivers?
« Reply #28 on: October 30, 2007, 01:54 AM »
Thanks Paul. That's good info. I had no idea.

I have some Husky stuff too Garry, a set of sockets I think? They're good.
Do nothing, stay ahead.

Offline Jim Dailey

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Re: Wrenches and Screwdrivers?
« Reply #29 on: October 30, 2007, 08:19 AM »
For high end (spendy...) screw drivers & pliers I'd add the German Wiha brand. 

Once you try them...  a Stanley or Craftsman doesn't feel comfortable in the hand.  The electricians pliers & screw drivers are coated to take a 1,000 amps....  I hope I never do something to where I'll need that protection, but it's nice to know it there.

jim
Life is just a series of projects...