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#1
Old 09-17-2006, 11:03 AM
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Are Snap-On tools as good as their reputation?

Every mechanic or auto dealer I've ever been to seems to use Snap-On tools. I've always assumed that they were the gold standard for quality in that business, but in another thread it was implied that you could buy better tools for less money.

So, what tool manufacturers (if any) are considered to make higher-quality tools than Snap-On?
#2
Old 09-17-2006, 11:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Absolute
Every mechanic or auto dealer I've ever been to seems to use Snap-On tools. I've always assumed that they were the gold standard for quality in that business, but in another thread it was implied that you could buy better tools for less money.

So, what tool manufacturers (if any) are considered to make higher-quality tools than Snap-On?
I don't own a set of them however I've been told that part of what you're paying a premium for is service - if you run a mechanic's shop you can't afford to take time off during the day to go buy a new set of whatever, with Snap-On you call the guy and he drives it out to you.

Craftsman and Husky hand tools have always been good for me but I'm not a mechanic. I've never had one break, the quality seems very good and everything has a no-hassle lifetime warranty (heck, Home Depot will honor the Craftsman warranty and replace with Husky brand).
#3
Old 09-17-2006, 11:39 AM
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Since you're looking for informed opinions, let's move this to IMHO.

samclem
#4
Old 09-17-2006, 11:50 AM
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"Pops" Mercotan worked for Snap-On for a time. And he worked with lots of professional mechanics. As a result, he had an opinion.

Basically they are superior if/when you're using them day in and day out for your livelihood. They fail less often, they're better engineered ergonomically so there's fewer skinned knuckles, carpal tunnel syndrome, and general wear and tear, and the service is generally better on them too (or was when he worked for them).

If you're a weekend handyman, then they're probably not worth the extra cost to you. As Pops used to say to professional mechanics: "Craftsman is a fine tool. Lots of farmers use Craftsman". This line was especially useful in getting the mechanic to buy Snap-On.

All the above is IMHO of course. Snap-On laid the foundation for Stately Mercotan Manor and helped put me thru med school, so it's possible I could be biased.
#5
Old 09-17-2006, 12:06 PM
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Snap-On has a larger variety of specialty tools and really hot posters of women holding their tools. They'll drive their truck to any site that has a mechanic and give anyone a line of credit on their first day on the job (many mechancics owe Snap-On until the day they die, its impossible to get on one of their trucks and walk off without something).

Craftsman tools are as good, they an instant no questions asked replcament guarantee but you've got to go to Sears to get them.
#6
Old 09-17-2006, 12:12 PM
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I've misused and broken many tools in my life and Sear's never asks any questions, hand them the broken tool and go get a new one. I once ran over one of daddy's wrenches with a lawnmower and Sear's replaced it.
#7
Old 09-17-2006, 12:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hlanelee
I've misused and broken many tools in my life and Sear's never asks any questions, hand them the broken tool and go get a new one. I once ran over one of daddy's wrenches with a lawnmower and Sear's replaced it.
"Pops" always told his mechanic customers that they wouldn't have to take time off of work to replace their tools if they bought Snap-On, because Snap-On was much less likely to break.

And I've got a basement full of Snap-On Tools, which I've abused the hell out of, but have never managed to break one myself.
#8
Old 09-17-2006, 01:09 PM
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I'd say Snap-On tools are better. I work on wells and water pumps. Tools rusting is an occasional nusance. The Snap on wrenchs and sockets my father bought 25 years ago have never rusted or broken. I've broken craftsman wreches a couple of times. I've also broken craftsman sockets. When I worked for Home Depot I never had a Husky wrench come back but did get broken sockets back. I've had both sears and HD refuse to exchange rusted adjustables.

I'm not likely to buy another Snap-On set. I have enough tools around that one breaking isn't the end of the world. The Snap-On guy never visits me so I doubt it would be any easier to locate a snap-on guy then stop by Home Depot. With the prices you pay for Snap-On tools its only worth it if you really need them to last forever.
#9
Old 09-17-2006, 01:47 PM
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I have about 50 union mechanics working for me. They all seem to use Snap-On. Does it for me.
#10
Old 09-17-2006, 03:58 PM
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A good friend of mine won a set of Snap-On tools when he appeared as a contestant on "Monster Garage". He says it's the same assortment as in his Husky mechanic's set but whereas he spent about $200 at Home Despot, the Snap-On set was valued (for tax purposes) at about $4000. He uses and abuses his Husky set all the time and hasn't broken one yet. The Snap-On set is stored away someplace as a memento.

I can see that for a professional mechanic not having downtime while someone runs to the store is valuable, but for folks who have used both premium and "consumer" level tools, is there really that much of a difference in the strength of the steel, tolerances, ergonomics and overall durability/quality? I'm not talking about the difference between the bargain-bin $1 wrench and the $8 Craftsman one, but here's a $95 set of 5 Snap-On screwdrivers:

http://buy1.snapon.com/catalog/item....re&dir=catalog

Compare this to the $20-$30 I'd spend for a large assortment of Sears or HD screwdrivers (I've never had one of those break). What is that extra money actually buying? If it's buying peace of mind against a rare breakage I'd think you could buy two (or three, four, five...ten) sets and have zero downtime plus more flexibility (since tools can be shared out).
#11
Old 09-17-2006, 05:02 PM
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It's not so much the materials but the ergonomics. Cheap tools feel wrong. They don't sit right in your hand, and their balance is iffy. The higher the quality, the more comfortable they are to use.
#12
Old 09-17-2006, 05:19 PM
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The only Snap On tool I have is this ratcheting screwdriver and I have to say I LOVE it! I found it on the side of the highway and have been using it on a near daily basis for ~5 years. It feels right, works flawlessly and in general I love it. I'd love to get more but can't afford them
#13
Old 09-17-2006, 06:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by silenus
It's not so much the materials but the ergonomics. Cheap tools feel wrong. They don't sit right in your hand, and their balance is iffy. The higher the quality, the more comfortable they are to use.
Like I said, I can certainly tell the difference between El Cheapos and Pretty Good, I'm just wondering how much of an ergonomic improvement the vast increase in price actually buys you with Snap-On or other premium brands. Is there really that much room left to improve the ergonomics of a socket or a ratchet?

I've been browsing the Snap-On online catolog and the prices stagger me. A 48 piece socket set in 3/8" drive (that's sockets, some extensions, ratchet, speed bar and a few other odds and ends) for $1200.

http://buy1.snapon.com/catalog/item....re&dir=catalog

$1200? If you get it with a metal toolbox (that's a plain toolbox with a tray) the price goes up to $1350 - that'd better be a helluva toolbox for $150!

That money will buy you a 540 piece mechanic's tool set from Sears - again, this is Craftsman stuff which IMHO is pretty decent, not "finest cast zinc" or something like that.

Putting together an identical 48-piece kit would cost one or two hundred bucks, tops. Tool boxes are pretty inexpensive as well.

I really need to go handle my buddy's S-O set but looking at those costs makes me think of $100/ft speaker cable...
#14
Old 09-17-2006, 06:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chefguy
I have about 50 union mechanics working for me. They all seem to use Snap-On. Does it for me.
That can be so misinterpreted!
#15
Old 09-17-2006, 06:58 PM
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If you make your living with them, and all you do every day is use those tools really hard....they're worth every penny. For me.....not so much.
#16
Old 09-17-2006, 07:33 PM
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Snap-On seems to be preferred at work.
I don't have a personal preference... well, I prefer the tools that have no identifying marks on them but their size and alloy composition... but I'm weird.
#17
Old 09-17-2006, 09:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Valgard
I really need to go handle my buddy's S-O set
Wow, that must be a damn good friend. Only Mrs. Mercotan gets to handle my set...............

Seriously, I inherited so many Snap-On tools that they get used for unlikely things. I've got a Snap-on Tool chest in its original box, being used to prop up one end of a shelf in the garage, because the three chests I have in the basement pretty much hold the rest of the tools.
#18
Old 09-17-2006, 09:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Qadgop the Mercotan
Wow, that must be a damn good friend. Only Mrs. Mercotan gets to handle my set...............

Seriously, I inherited so many Snap-On tools that they get used for unlikely things. I've got a Snap-on Tool chest in its original box, being used to prop up one end of a shelf in the garage, because the three chests I have in the basement pretty much hold the rest of the tools.
Aim for brevity, wind up with smut :-)

Tell ya what, in the name of science I will be happy to take all those extra unused Snap-On tools off your hands, if they're just sitting around gathering dust. I promise to report back asap on how they compare to my Husky tools.

He said "Husky tools". Huh huh huh.
#19
Old 09-17-2006, 10:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Valgard
Aim for brevity, wind up with smut :-)
Hey, you try growing up with Snap-On Tool signs and posters all over the damn home, hearing the same old joke about Billie Jean King being their spokesperson, and see how you turn out!
#20
Old 09-17-2006, 10:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by silenus
It's not so much the materials but the ergonomics. Cheap tools feel wrong. They don't sit right in your hand, and their balance is iffy. The higher the quality, the more comfortable they are to use.
I discovered this basic fact after using Boker and Camron electical tools for the first year I was in the trade. The first time I picked up a pair of Klein sidecutters, it was like having unexpected sex.
#21
Old 09-17-2006, 10:35 PM
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I wonder how much peer pressure plays a role in the popularity of Snap On with mechanics.

Would a thrifty mechanic be laughed out of the shop if he showed up to work with Craftsman tools?
#22
Old 09-17-2006, 10:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by qwest
Would a thrifty mechanic be laughed out of the shop if he showed up to work with Craftsman tools?
Probably not. But after a while he'd end up ostracised for borrowing the other guys' Snap-On stuff all the time.

Or so Pops claimed.
#23
Old 09-17-2006, 11:19 PM
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Snap-On was one such company but there was also Mac Tools (regarded by some as being of even better quality).
#24
Old 09-17-2006, 11:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chefguy
I discovered this basic fact after using Boker and Camron electical tools for the first year I was in the trade. The first time I picked up a pair of Klein sidecutters, it was like having unexpected sex.
Klein is a world of difference. With cutting tools you can easily identify the better tool. When I was making chain maille and had to cut an endless amount of stainless steel wire the Kliens were the only set of cutting dikes that I could use to do so without standing on the handles(and bending) of cheaper brands.
#25
Old 09-18-2006, 09:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by qwest
I wonder how much peer pressure plays a role in the popularity of Snap On with mechanics.

Would a thrifty mechanic be laughed out of the shop if he showed up to work with Craftsman tools?
It's total brand-worship. Makes me disgusted. Me with my Calvins, Bare Escentuals, Vans, Hanes and Levis. My husband actually WAS laughed at when he brought in his big new rolling box from Costco. Those big Snap-On boxes are like $3k+ and we got his for under a thousand.

Ridiculous, says I. I get pissed every time he comes home saying he has to have another freakin $100+ tool. Even though we can use the deductions at tax time, I find it hard to believe that he absolutely has to have a tool EVERY TIME the driver comes. Bullshit.

I just now asked him and he gave some pathetic excuse that Sears only honors the lifetime warranty on a handful of tools, but Snap-On honors it for EVERYTHING. Hmmm, I think I'm gonna ask him to buy a rechargeable battery and see if it works.

FONT=Comic Sans MS]i hate snap-on![/FONT]
#26
Old 09-18-2006, 09:25 AM
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Valgard says he will take the tools off your hands, Dr. Qadgop. Well, I'm not one for charity so tell you what, I'll drive up and fix your shelf in exchange for the tool chest!

How's this Saturday look?
#27
Old 09-18-2006, 09:39 AM
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Memories!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Qadgop the Mercotan
Hey, you try growing up with Snap-On Tool signs and posters all over the damn home, hearing the same old joke about Billie Jean King being their spokesperson, and see how you turn out!
I remember during the 50's and 60's going with my Dad to get the car serviced or inspected and spending what seemed like hours studying the mechanics dusty poster collection. Ridgid had a pretty good set (insert lecherous smiley face here!) but Snap-On was the best without a doubt.
#28
Old 09-18-2006, 10:51 AM
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The Garage where I worked back in the day was 1/3 Craftsman and 2/3 Snap-on. The Craftsman guy drove an family car and worked hard to take care of his kids, the Snap-on guys were A) Mr. Fancy hair gel driving the new sports truck and his son hated him guy and B) Mr. Skim the till to support his cocaine habit man. Kind of influenced how I felt about Snap-on (that and the comment "Only thing worse than a snap on tool is a padded bra").

Snap-On certainly knows their ergonomics, I bought the most popular sizes from them (1/2, 9/16, 5/8, primarily) and the rest of my stuff from Craftsman. Craftsman, the company who replaced a deep well socket I shoved on an impact wrench because I was in a hurry. Direct violation of their warranty, but they don't ask.

I don't even know where a Sears is, so I now have tools from Home Depot
#29
Old 09-18-2006, 11:07 AM
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Colfax and Kipling-ish.
#30
Old 09-18-2006, 12:04 PM
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Not sure about Sna-On, but please be aware that those Chinese-made $4.99 socket sets are crap-I nearlt broke my neck using one-the socket snapped in two! Craftsman tools are great-mine NEVER break!
#31
Old 09-18-2006, 02:49 PM
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I made my living with Snap-On, MAC and Matco tools for a lot of years.
Snap-On used to advertise There is a difference. IMHO this is 100% correct. Two stories:
On Volvos I used to have to take off the 4 10 mm nuts that held the fan clutch on. These nuts would over tighten themselves from the rotation of the fan. You could not use a socket or a box end wrench, only an open end. About once a week you would wind up rounding off the corners on at least one of the nuts, and had to use a chisel to remove said nut. This wasted time, and cost me money (flat rate technician I got paid the same if the job took me 45 minutes or 1 hour).
Anyway SO came out with a wrench called Flank Drive Plus which puts the stress from the wrench on the flanks of the nut and not on the corners. Twenty eight freakin dollars for a 10mm wrench!
I have not rounded on a nut since I started using that wrench. Not one. Works for me. That $28 dollar wrench probably saved me from wasting $500 removing rounded off bolts.

I worked with a guy that had the worst luck ever. One Tuesday he lost his 10mm 12 point socket. He was bummed. On Wed. a car came in and he found a brand new shinny Craftsman 10 mm 12 point socket. He was like a kid in a candy store. You would have thought it was Christmas.
On Thursday he had to torque/angle torque some rod bearing bolts on an engine in the car. The bolts have a 10 mm 12 point head. So he grabs his Craftsman socket. He torques the bolts and then goes to angle tighten them the additional 90 degrees. On the second bolt the socket breaks and his hand travels at approx Mach 3.2 across the bottom on the engine, and hits the stainless steel heat shield for the exhaust. It became stained with his blood. Lots of it. 9 stitches worth of blood. Lost 3 days work. I finished the job while he was at the emergency room with my SO socket.
So beyond ergonomics there is a functional difference in quality. You will also notice that professional wrenches tend to have smaller heads to allow them to get into spots that consumer wrenches won't. They can do this because of the better grade of material used.
quest I have known lots of mechanics that either used Craftsman only, or had Craftsman and then replaced them with higher quality stuff. we never laughed at these guys, as long as they fixed cars. We laughed at the guys that couldn't fix cars.
#32
Old 09-18-2006, 05:29 PM
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I always presumed those ubiquitous air-conditioned Snap0n Tools trucks around town were actually disguised police surveillence vehicles.
#33
Old 09-18-2006, 09:53 PM
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Further notes from the field

Discussed this with my friend who was on Monster Garage. He had a Snap-On wrench break while working on that show, FWIW.

He did say that the S-O tools were nice and he feels that they are "better" than his Husky set, but he doesn't feel that they are worth all the extra money.
#34
Old 09-19-2006, 12:00 PM
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OK guys, nobody but me and the younger Mercotette is getting their hands on all that Snap-On stuff. *shakes fist* As soon as I move into a bigger place...

I like to talk to auto mechanics about Snap-On. If I see they've got Snap-On posters or stickers or toolboxes, I'll tell them about how my grandpa sold Snap-On... and use the opportunity to bounce strategically.
#35
Old 09-19-2006, 03:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick
...
quest I have known lots of mechanics that either used Craftsman only, or had Craftsman and then replaced them with higher quality stuff. we never laughed at these guys, as long as they fixed cars. We laughed at the guys that couldn't fix cars.
I met a scruffy looking guy in a bar once; he said his name was "Mike McCbbn." I asked him where he worked, and he said he was unemployed, but he was a self-employed mechanic.

I squinted. "How can you be self-employed and unemployed?"

"Ah cain't fix nothin'."
#36
Old 09-19-2006, 05:05 PM
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I've formed an opinion using years of 'more than your average home mechanic' experience.

Snap-on, Matco, etc are all GOOD tools. They're just not BETTER tools for 98% of what a hobbiest does. I only have one exception: everything on the Corvette was torx. I went through three t-55 sockets before hunting down the Matco tool guy. That socket is still perfect.

Now, as a hobbiest, if a tool breaks, I've gotta leave the garage whether it's Craftsman, Matco, or NAPA. In the case of Matco, I've got an 12 mile drive to the guy's house. I'm not on a route, and I can't get tools during the work day. I generally buy NAPA parts because they've got a similar warrantee, and they're just down the street.

You can pay $8, $30, or $300 for a socket set. The $8 set isn't worth the cardboard box it came in. The $30 set will be pretty good, and the $300 set will be worth $75. You can't buy a $75 set, so what do you do?

I've also found that, even though I don't earn a living working on cars with my tools, I don't bark my knuckles anymore. There's something about using the right tools for the job and not getting in a hurry that keeps my skin intact.

There's been a time or two I had to limp along when Snap-on had a tool to do xactly what I needed ( http://tinyurl.com/mveh3 ) but it's been exceedingly rare.
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