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Starter Tool set - hand tools for professional work? #5274436 11/22/19 10:20 AM
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btanchors Offline OP
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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!

Re: Starter Tool set - hand tools for professional work? [Re: btanchors] #5274439 11/22/19 10:30 AM
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JC1 Offline
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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?

Last edited by JC1; 11/22/19 10:39 AM.

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Re: Starter Tool set - hand tools for professional work? [Re: btanchors] #5274461 11/22/19 10:50 AM
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MRtv Offline
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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.


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Re: Starter Tool set - hand tools for professional work? [Re: btanchors] #5274493 11/22/19 11:31 AM
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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.


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Re: Starter Tool set - hand tools for professional work? [Re: btanchors] #5274496 11/22/19 11:35 AM
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JC1 Offline
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If your son uses one 20% off coupon each day, he can stretch his budget even more. There are some exclusions, read the fine print.

HF Percent off coupon link

Last edited by JC1; 11/22/19 11:35 AM.

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Re: Starter Tool set - hand tools for professional work? [Re: btanchors] #5274499 11/22/19 11:38 AM
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Chris142 Online Content
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Check out the ICON sockets @ HF. Also get the plastic coated ratchets as they are great. I use mine every day. See if you can find the Taiwan made Kobalt wrenches @ Home depo.


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Re: Starter Tool set - hand tools for professional work? [Re: btanchors] #5274530 11/22/19 12:00 PM
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tshephard Offline
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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.

Re: Starter Tool set - hand tools for professional work? [Re: JC1] #5274531 11/22/19 12:04 PM
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Mr Nice Offline
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Originally Posted by JC1
If your son uses one 20% off coupon each day, he can stretch his budget even more. There are some exclusions, read the fine print.

HF Percent off coupon link

Yep. + 1000000%

Re: Starter Tool set - hand tools for professional work? [Re: btanchors] #5274538 11/22/19 12:09 PM
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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.


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Re: Starter Tool set - hand tools for professional work? [Re: btanchors] #5274549 11/22/19 12:22 PM
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thooks Offline
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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.

Re: Starter Tool set - hand tools for professional work? [Re: btanchors] #5274551 11/22/19 12:24 PM
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Re: Starter Tool set - hand tools for professional work? [Re: btanchors] #5274574 11/22/19 12:46 PM
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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.

Re: Starter Tool set - hand tools for professional work? [Re: btanchors] #5274575 11/22/19 12:46 PM
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The_Eric Online Content
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Carlyle from Napa is a good value


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Re: Starter Tool set - hand tools for professional work? [Re: btanchors] #5274664 11/22/19 02:58 PM
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diyjake Offline
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I sure hope Craftsman starts making so decent quality tools again, they used to be the best tool for the money.

Re: Starter Tool set - hand tools for professional work? [Re: The_Eric] #5274666 11/22/19 03:00 PM
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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]

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