Starter Tool set - hand tools for professional work?

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775
Location
Herndon, VA
Thread starter
Hello everyone - apologies if this is not the right forum list, but it seemed most appropriate given the question... My son (26) has a new part-time opportunity to perform small-engine repair for a professional shop, but he must furnish his own tools. He currently does not own any tools, so he is starting from the ground up. He also may be doing light repair work/maintenance on pickup trucks as well, with the same tools. Unfortunately, he only has $500 - $600 max to spend on acquiring basic hand tools. So, high-end professional hand tools like Snap-On are way beyond his budget. He's looking at Craftsmen and Kobalt. I have a boatload of craftsmen tools, but most were purchased in the 70's and 80's. Now that craftsman is no longer owned by Sears, I don't know if they are any good or not. Apparently Kobalt (Lowes) has a lifetime guarantee. I suppose used is an option, but I do not know where to look for a complete set of used tools from a quality manufacturer - I looked on Ebay, but mostly what is offered are specific tools here and there (from the major brands). So, hence my questions: 1) What would you all advise for him to acquire an initial set of tools for $500 - $600? 2) Are there any good websites for quality used tools? Thanks for any help/advice from the professional mechanics out there!
 

JC1

Messages
4,499
Location
Oshawa, Ontario Canada
Is he going to be a professional mechanic? Personally if I had to start over, I'd just buy most of my stuff at Harbor Freight (with coupons of course). A lot of the the wrenches have Lifetime warranty. Buying expensive tools, means someone else will be eyeing you stuff and it may walk away (if you know what I mean) quicker than something from HF. I'm not saying where he will be working has dishonest people, but why find out the hard way? You can buy a ton of stuff for that amount of money along with a 5 Drawer tool cart for $169. He can lock up his tools with this cart from day 1. Check out this DB for coupons on whatever is offered. They also have 20% off coupons and other coupons available. HF coupon database IMO, You'll get a better selection of stuff at Harbor Freight. They knock off most of the popular stuff. Look at youtube and you'll see tons of HF tools being reviewed. For instance they have a cheap angle Grinder for $9.99 with coupon. Where the heck else on planet earth can you get a brand new tool for that price? I've bought stuff off Kijiji or Craiglist locally, but a lot of the sellers still want top dollars for tools that may be quality, but where do you go to get the warranty honored? I'm not a mechanic, so I would I pull over a Snap on Truck and say hey warranty this torque wrench for me?
 
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Messages
354
Location
Boise, Idaho
I agree with the Harbor Freight option. I have many tools from them that I use on my weekend work on my vehicles. I am very pleased with them. I also have Craftsman from the 70s and they are still around in my tools. I would just get started and then buy tools as you can afford them. KObalt should work fine too. The idea is to just get some tools to get the job started. I have been very happy with both brands of the tools I have bought over the years. Another place to look is at Pawn shops. I have bought lots of extensions from them over the years. Also sockets have come from pawn shops that I added to my tools as extras that I may have lost or left behind in Pick-a-Part when harvesting replacement parts for my truck. Congratulations on the new job. I hope he does well.
 
Messages
679
Location
Arkansas
I personally would opt for Pittsburgh pro from harbor freight or Husky brand from Home depot also. The Duralast tools from Autozone are also very nice for the price when caught on sale. Especially for small engine work, the tools should be more than satisfactory. If he is working on cars, these tools should serve at least until he has time to spend money on something a little higher up the chain. All three brands offer a lifetime warranty. I have only once had to use a warranty through HF. Never through Husky or Duralast on tools. I work on cars mostly as a hobby and have used them on cars ranging from the early 70s on to current day. All of them have been reliable and all of them have performed the function I needed. I would recommend to grab a small tool chest, a set of 6 point 3/8" sockets, a deepwell set of 3/8" sockets, a "mechanics" tool kit with a 1/4", 3/8" and 1/2" drive just to make sure he has at least the basics to perform 90% of work, one of the composite harbor freight 3/8" and a metal pittsburg pro, as well as getting some of their cheap breaker bars.
 
Messages
6
Location
Virginia
In my life - if I break a tool that's my fault. The most important thing about tools is finding them. I bought a fairly large Craftsman set at a closing Sears mostly for the container - it looked like it would last, was permanently indexed and such. I do like the HF dark sockets - they fill in my large stuff as needed.
 
Messages
4,132
Location
Los Gatos, CA
This is a tough queston. While I love my Snap-On tools I understand they are pricey. I would ask the shop which tools are used most and buy top quality for those. Beyond that, HF or perhaps Tekton will get the job done. They can be replaced as requirements and experience dictates. Good luck.
 
Messages
1,079
Location
Senoia, GA
Harbor Freight Right now you get 20% off one Icon tool (per day). The local HF can't keep the stuff on the shelves. It looks good. I have a mixture of Craftsman, SK, HF, Kobalt and Tekton. Don't have a problem with any of them. As I said, I'd be going to ONE store unless I heard about some serious clearance pricing or discounts - Harbor Freight.
 
Messages
1,143
Location
USA
Kobalt or Craftsman. I think the new ones are actually better than tools of yore on either brand. CNC accuracy and design improvements. Most have adopted the Snap On relieved corners for sockets. That is a much better design than old time pointed corner sockets. At least with these two you aren't supporting one of the tool sellers, HF, who helped in a big way to destroy American hand tool manufacturing.
 
Messages
965
Location
SE PA
I sure hope Craftsman starts making so decent quality tools again, they used to be the best tool for the money.
 
Messages
133
Location
Missouri
Harbor Freight has a dandy 30% off coupon this weekend on tools under ten dollars. it's good for up to nine items, but I've seen them ignore that limit in the past. It might help him get a start with some small stuff. The coupon is here or on their website. PS, don't forget the freebie coupons. [Linked Image]
 
Messages
3,083
Location
Cali
Have him check out Lowes and Home Depot, they have small tool kits and odd and end tools in their main aisles for less than $25. great for those small jobs that pop up. cheers
 
Messages
111
Location
MI
Originally Posted by JeffKeryk
This is a tough queston. While I love my Snap-On tools I understand they are pricey. I would ask the shop which tools are used most and buy top quality for those. Beyond that, HF or perhaps Tekton will get the job done. They can be replaced as requirements and experience dictates. Good luck.
I really like my Tekton stuff for the price and they sent a new socket that I rounded out by my own fault for free. I've got quite a bit from them. Having said that I'm by no means a pro mechanic. Barely amateur
 
Messages
3,988
Location
Central Maryland
I would lean towards Tekton, but he would probably do OK with other sets. The problem with Lowes Craftsman, at least my local store, you have to exchange entire sets, they don't carry open stock. Likewise they have phased out most Kobalt. Can't really recommend either right now because of this situation. Be sure and ask beofre walking out with a set, can they replace an individual socket or ratchet?
 

JHZR2

Staff member
Messages
44,281
Location
New Jersey
With a budget of $5-600, I'd look on Craigslist and pawn shops for craftsman US-made stuff. Yes you can get a ton of HF stuff for dirt cheap, and some is OK, but I'll bet you can do better buying used. Some stuff that counts then I'd look at SK, for quality, American made hand tools at a better price than the trucks. Support American manufacturing where you can!
 
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