Tool Buying Guide

Show us the specialized tools you use to make maintenance easier.
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Tool Buying Guide

Post by SpeedRacerOnline » Fri May 06, 2016 9:50 am

User hdwrench99 at the Z71Tahoe-Suburban.com forums posted this today. I thought it would go in Random Funny Pics first, but then I read through it, and it's actually fairly accurate. This is kind of how I decide between expensive, average, and cheap tools, so I thought I'd share it here.

(For credit's sake, clicking the picture will take you to the original post on the Z71 forums.)

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Re: Tool Buying Guide

Post by arnehulstein » Mon May 16, 2016 11:34 pm

:)

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Re: Tool Buying Guide

Post by predrag80 » Wed May 18, 2016 5:50 am

Do not agree with above. If you have money you should always buy profesional tools. It doesn't matter how many times are you going to use them. The thing is you can always rely on them. If you don't have enough money, sleep over night, make some more and buy profesional tools. If you can't make more money, well then you should ask somebody else to do that job for you. Risk of not having good tools is that you make worse damage than you already have! From my experience, every time I bought a non profesional tool, I had more or less problems.

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Re: Tool Buying Guide

Post by arnehulstein » Wed May 18, 2016 6:02 am

I see your point. Even though I appreciate professional tools a lot of my tools are not in that price league. I still do a lot of wrenching on my own stuff. But I know at what point I am more likely to destroy a bolt/nut/screw than get it out. And that is when I stop and borrow more serious tools.

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Re: Tool Buying Guide

Post by SpeedRacerOnline » Wed May 18, 2016 2:07 pm

I've been wrenching for a lot of years, and most of those on much bigger stuff than motorcycles. I grew up on a farm fixing all manner of huge equipment, was an Army mechanic working on everything from small generators to big rigs, ran a hot-rod shop out of my garage for a few years, have been an auto mechanic at several different shops, service tech for a diesel fleet, and even had a hobby bicycle repair business for awhile. I now work at a Tech Center helping teach high school students how to wrench, and run a hobby computer sales & repair business from home. My motorcycle wrenching experience is my weakest point, only working on my own rides for the last few years.

Looking back on all those experiences, I still find this chart to be pretty truthful. When I can, I definitely do prefer to buy the "professional" tools. However, it's not all that often that I can afford that, and jobs still have to get done. Plus, lets remember that there's definitely a difference between the words "professional" and "name-brand". I've seen name-brand tools that were less "professional" than Harbor Freight tools on occasion. "You get what you pay for", is not always an accurate statement. Better tools do cost more, but more costly tools are not necessarily better.

There's no one side to this debate. More expensive tools are not always better, or even worth it sometimes. Cheaper tools are not always reliable, or even worth it sometimes, either. Thus, the chart. "Professional" tools are usually better, but there are times that the cheaper tool is a better value. It will do the same job just as well, and doesn't require another extension on your mortgage. If money is never problem for a person, it sure wouldn't hurt to go ahead and always buy the professional tools (though I'd still compare because like I said, more expensive is not always better). The rest of us, though; we buy what we can with what we've got, try to get the best deal we can to get the job done and still be able to eat dinner, too.
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Re: Tool Buying Guide

Post by GettingOld » Wed May 18, 2016 6:38 pm

I think SpeedRacer nailed it. It's all about value, and everyone has a different perception of that.
If money were no object, I wouldn't need "tools". They would be "toys"

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Re: Tool Buying Guide

Post by predrag80 » Wed May 18, 2016 10:44 pm

By profesional tool I newer meant a tool in some price range. Profesional tool is usualy a tool which respects some standard in its field. Depends though what tool you need and for what job. I'm not a profesional. But, I do find profesional tools more easy to work with and get job done. I always tried to buy profesional wrenches. But also, I never bought a profesional hammer. Don't see the use of it. Also, there are many profesional brand tools. Some of them known better some of them not. For example: don't have Unior, Gedore but I did prefere Wiha, Yato, IusMob and some Proxxon. In mechanics I found that it is better not to mess with non pro tools. Some other fields are definitely more permissive. And, if pro quality is not enough, there are always industrial quality tools. My point is, look always at the respected manufacturing standard and not at the price.

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Re: Tool Buying Guide

Post by SpeedRacerOnline » Thu May 19, 2016 7:22 pm

Those are good points I can sure understand. Ya know, it's very possible there's a big difference in our way of thinking based on what's available to us, too. The only brand name you mentioned that I recognize is Yato, and I've never even actually seen a Yato tool in person; only online. It may be that there's a more extreme gap between professional and cheap tools with the brands you have. Here, we have a pretty full spectrum of tools from:

(Just a few examples of my opinions from my experiences)

"Better than they need to be high-end" - Klein Tools
"Pro-grade" - Snap-On
"Semi-pro" - SK Tools
"Really good and/or good warranty" - Craftsman (USA made)
"Mostly trustworthy" - Kobalt
"Works in a pinch" - Major parts store brands (Napa, Husky, etc.)
"Use only when nothing else is available" - Stanley
"Complete waste of time" - Hundreds of names none of us have ever heard of before (aka: "dollar-bin specials" and "home repair tool kits")

Some of them don't neatly fit in any one of those categories, though. Harbor Freight is a good example. They make a tool for just about everything; so many varieties that they fall under the old adage, "Even a broken clock is right twice a day". 90% of HF tools are pretty low quality; not junk, usable, but not good. A lot of those are pretty bad, and many are just plain useless junk. However, they do make some tools that are pretty darn good; not very many, mind you, but a few.

Either way, I still respectfully disagree with your point of view (not that yours is wrong; it's just not how I see it). Like the chart suggests, most of the time you should spend the money and get the good tool, but there are some times where it's not justified. I think of an die grinder I bought once.

A coworker and I both got tired of the lousy shop die grinder always having problems, so we both bought our own that week. He got his off the Matco tool truck (pro-grade tools you can't buy in regular stores) for about $150. I got mine from a local store that specializes in selling super-cheap tools (like Harbor Freight, but a bit more trustworthy). Many of their tools are el-cheapos, but some of them were good quality, just from companies you've never heard of before. Knowing that I didn't use it that often, and would never be completely stuck if it failed on me, I bought the cheapest die grinder that didn't look like total junk (that, and I didn't have $150 anyway). I paid $20 for an "Astro-Pneumatic" die grinder that seemed pretty solid upon inspection. Over the course of time, I found that since I had my own die grinder, I used it a lot more than I expected I would, and it never failed me. That was 7 years ago, and I still have that same $20 die grinder working just as well as it ever did today. Of course, my coworker may still have his, but he paid $150 for it compared to my $20. Even if it had failed on me, I could have bought a new one every year from then until now and still would have only spent $140. Hands down, I got the better value out of that purchase.

My point is, never disregard the respected manufacturing standard, but price absolutely is a factor, too.
(Again just a different point of view, though; no disrespect meant as we're all entitled to our own opinions. :thumbsup: )
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Re: Tool Buying Guide

Post by predrag80 » Fri May 20, 2016 1:15 am

I have Yato and Proxxon tools and I am very happy with them. Strange that you haven't heard about other that I mentioned. German and French tools, I think.

Respect your opinion and even tried to apply it. But every time I came back buying a Makita or Bosch blue. Last time I bought an angle grinder that from Lidle. After 5 cuts, I took it back. It ran nice and probably it would be long lasting. But, after those 5 cuts I couldn't feel my hands from vibrations. I ordered a Bosch blue for twice money. Huge difference. Another example: bought a no name power hammer in order to brake some concrete. Finished with renting a bosch hammer and finished the job in no time. Usualy when I buy a tool I am avare that I will not use it on it full potencial. But when I need it, I know that I can get my job done. With cheap no name there is always this mistrust.

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Re: Tool Buying Guide

Post by RDC » Fri Jun 10, 2016 12:22 pm

I have a lot of SK, Craftsman, Kobalt, and some other brands. I also own harbor freight tools. It really depends on the individual tool or it's use that will determine its lifetime LOL

Due to the way we manufacture things now, just about nothing is reliable except for the top-tier brands like Klein and Snap-On. Bought a new Craftsman torque wrench and it broke after one, 26-ft-lb bolt. Harbor Freight one wasn't accurate. Ended up buying the Craftsman beam style torque wrenches because they guarantee them for life, whereas they don't with their normal torque wrenches any more. Ended up inheriting my dad's ~1985 Craftsman torque wrench (with a lifetime warranty) and the build quality and function is way better than the new stuff.
So for me, usability is important, but I also want a good warranty. Kobalt has a lifetime on everything I've bought from them and they've been the most reliable tools I own.

I've broken tools labeled "Craftsman" and had Harbor Freight stuff last the longest, so I would say it has a lot to do with build. And that flow chart is majorly correct in "Does it require precision?" because that's a big divider. 6 point wrenches from HF will torque a bolt and loosen it just as well as SK's. But how tight? Buy better stuff to find out.

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