View Full Version : Zen and the art of garage stocking

05-13-2003, 03:22 AM
Reading the Metrinch posts got me to thinking. Which tools ar the best? What does everyone use? I currently don't even have a garage so price is no objective, all this is academic. Personally, I am leaning toward the Facom. I like idea of the tighter ratchet clicks and the handle looks comfortable. Meanwhile if Granddad were alive he would smack the back of my hand with a Craftsman, so I know there are a wide range of opinions. So what does everyone want/use? Why?


05-14-2003, 02:19 AM
(Long post, ignor at will)

Yes, like your grandfather I have had Craftsman tools for decades with no problems. I started with a very complete set of open end, box end, and sockets as a gift about 50 years ago. I was a very young lad at the time! Since then I've bought more advanced rachet handles but the original sockets have worked well. I have added to my socket collection, however.

My basic philosophy is to buy good tools, but not the absolute best, at least as defined by the cost criterion. I have no desire to test my tools to the max, so I don't have a clue which are the absolute best, and I don't care to pay to find out. (Maybe the British Car Forum could get a grant from Consumer's Report and launch a research project.)

The money I save is used to buy more specialized wrenches such as short wrenches, long wrenches, thinner wrenches, deep sockets, u-joint sockets and whatever. Since I am not likely to break my tools, even working on British cars, I concentrate on having just the right tool to enable me to get at that stubborn, rusty, hidden nut with a wrench that is least likely to damage the nut and my knuckles.

I like the Craftsman tools also because they have a wide assortment, frequently are on sale, the store is close, the catalogs are convenient, my wife thinks their stuff is cheaper, and the quality is more than adequate for my amateur applications. That takes care of the American and metric tools.

As far as Whitworth tools are concerned, I bought anything I could find on a trip to England several years ago. Some of them are obviously cheapo stuff, but again, none has ever broken. I do take pains not to overload them because they would be a nuisance to replace.

I have bought a few air-powered wrenches, but for some reason I rarely find an application for them. In part it's because I don't want to break a bolt since you never know when you might have to reuse it in a pinch.

A good set of taps and dies in American, metric, and BSW sizes has saved me a lot of time having to locate replacement parts. They're expensive but have been a good investment for me in terms of resurrecting slightly damaged parts.

The bad tools I have bought have come from swap meets and those auto parts stores that are open at 6am on Sunday and midnight on Friday.

I'm glad you asked the question. I've never had a chance to explain my tool-buying philosophy. I've assumed no one cares; maybe they still don't.


05-14-2003, 05:14 AM
Actually you make a lot of sence. Even considering I was preferring the ergonomics of the Facom, the economics you mention are very important. The sockets will work regardless. As long as they aren't total potmetal, there is no reason to pay for Facom sockets. If I had to the Facom wrench handle would work with Craftsman sockets without causing a major rift in the space/time continuum.

Cool, keep 'em coming.


Rick O.
05-14-2003, 01:47 PM
I must confess that I have a 'Craftsman Tool Club' card in my wallet. However, for those odd low-tech tools that aren't used much (e.g., seal puller, ball joint fork, soldering iron, etc.) I buy el cheapo stuff from Harbor Freight. Nothing better than average quality, but it gets the job done (at least once) and I use the $$ saved for the sophisticated stuff like dial indicators and torque wrenches. Now if I could only remember where I put all that stuff . . .

05-14-2003, 08:58 PM
Great thread! I have the Facom socket wrenches, and find them very comfortable and easy to use. In addition, the chrome bezel rotates, allowing palm pressure on the critical part of the tool. I showed them to a Toyota mechanic friend, and he went out and bought the 1/4" drive wrench. I don't have the sockets, but instead I use what I already have.

I also have a set of Armstrong sockets, very high quality, craftsman wrenches, and various other tools of varying quality.

My ideal garage would have to have a compressor, and a lift. Add plenty of windows and plenty of lighting, a painted or tiled floor, heat, and a few extra tools, and I would be set.

05-15-2003, 01:06 AM
Yeah, I keep drooling on the lifts I see here and there. The compressor won't be hard to justify, we will probably build for ourselves, and you just can't beat an air nailer. Plus, my wife is an artist and has been interested in trying air brushing for a while. And twisting the head off of a bolt isn't a big fear, I have already done that about 6 times on one engine (Buick 430 v-8)when I was young. So I already know it is going to happen.


[ 05-14-2003: Message edited by: MattP ]</p>

07-22-2003, 06:49 PM
Every time I have a project come up that's unscheduled, ie., another car towed home from college, I just look at it as another chance to buy another Tool for the kit. It's easy to justify when you compare it to today's labor charges at your local garage! graemlins/hammer.gif

07-22-2003, 08:57 PM
Like so many others I bought into Craftsman young and have been using them ever since. Good tools reasonably priced, easily available but not heartbreaking if they “wander” away. The FACOMs are very cool. The idea of buying their ratchets and using less costly, but still excellent quality, domestic sockets, etc. is appealing.

One thing Craftsman did that really erks me is that they made that route less cost effective a long time ago. Once upon a time they had “add-on sets”. They were just sockets, wrenches, keys and more sockets and wrenches and keys. The idea being that if you already had the ratchets and such you wouldn’t need to buy them again but you still got a big package discount. When I was a poor student I bought a full set with ratchets, screwdrivers, etc. that had lots of inch sized tools but had relatively few metric. I figured I’d save up for a while and then buy the huge metric add-on set. Well, they stopped selling the add-on sets. Now I have to buy the tools one at a time at individual prices. Arrrrrgh! images/icons/mad.gif

If I was starting from scratch today I’d seriously consider another brand. For example, Home Depot’s Huskey brand tools are also guaranteed for life, reasonably priced and easily available.

One thing to definitely steer clear of is the Craftsman line of power tools. A couple are good. Most are mediocre. many are junk.

For those who don’t have room for a 10hp upright compressor there are a few little 1hp units available that are very useful. They won’t run an impact wrench, sandblaster or full size spray gun but they are great for filling tires and using a tough-up gun, air brush or brad nailer.


tony barnhill
07-22-2003, 09:05 PM
Craftsman for me also...except for the one time u se tool or the seldom use tool....then its Harbor Freight...probably have most of Sear's tools....get the Craftsman tool boxes with roller bearings, definitely....everytime I go to Sears, I buy at least one tool...their floor jack is very good & comes with jack stands...then go to HF & match your Sears jack stands - can't have too many of them....oh, HB for "skates" - 1 under each tire & you can push your car anywhere in garage....
...so many tools, so little time!