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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So back in October some one stole all my hand tools... when I say all, I mean all. All I currently have is a set of staking pliers a #2 philips , and a 6” crescent. They broke j to my Bronco and stole all of it while I was pulling the engine.

So now I am in a position to get a new tool set. Originally I was just going to get me the tools needed to finish reinstalling the engine and a few other tools to make life easier again while adding to the kit later on down the road. But today I was offered a job where I need a full set of tools. 1/4”, 3/8”, 1/2, 3/4” drive ratchet sets ranging from 4mm up to 40mm and 5/32” up to 4” (maybe larger) sockets both standard and deep well. A full set of wrenches up to 2”. Hammers, screw drivers, pliers, pry bars, snap ring pliers... everything. Now in the past I had a decent collection of Craftsman tools mixed with Mac and Snap~On for the larger and specialized tools. I’m looking for ideas of a decent brand of tools that offer a complete professional grade “Master Mechanic” tool set.
My google foo has been returning cheap junk, and Snap~On tools are way over priced for their tool sets and Craftsman tools have lost their quality.
 

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85 Bronco, 309ci I6 w/4bbl, np435, 4" lift, 37" Irok NDs, 4.56 w/ Detroit Locker and tru trac
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I had to do similar when our shop burned down in 2015

I bought mostly craftsman and most of it is doing okay. The ratchets and ratcheting wrenches are junk. Normal wrenches are still good. Sockets not bad as long as you dont use em with an impact.

The other bits are Cornwell and some others. Pops had a lot of snap-on stuff so he replaced with snap-on, Mac, and Cornwell. A bit of Proto thrown in.

I have some larger wrenches and crows feet from Sunex that are great. Summit had them on clearance for mere pennies on the dollar.

Much of Mac is made in Taiwan now. Quality is still good from my experience. The Snap-on and Cornwell stuff is the best IMO. Proto is also top notch. Even their lower Blackhawk brand is good.

I ponied up for a gearwrench torque wrench when my new craftsman broke on the second use. The GW is solid metal and works like a champ.

When I was buying machinist measuring tools, I purchased used top-of-the-line Starrett tools from ebay. When they got replaced from the fire, all new ones were about 4 times what I originally paid. Also consider searching local pawn shops. Consider going to the local tool supply (NOT lowes, menards, etc) and seeing if they would do a discount for a large order.
 

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1982 FSB 302, c6, BW1356 manual, manual hubs, manual windows, 3.00 gears, 31x10.5 Kenda A/T
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I have a lot of SK tools. This started out as just what I could pick up from the local auto parts store but I have been satisfied so far. I have only broken 2 of their tools. 1 7/16 wrench and 1 7/16 socket and that was from very hard abuse (2 foot cheater on a rusted and busted slack adjuster) Both were replaced under warranty.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
@BigBlue 94 you are the second to recommend getting a craftsman tool set and then upgrading as I go... the strength of their ratchets is exactly what I am worried about... especially since I will be working on brand new John Deere equipment, I want/need good tools.

@HarryGnuts I love SK-Tools, and will also be looking into these as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I will probably be going with Proto-Tools or SK depending on who makes the tool for NAPA, I was given permission to use my dad’s ex-business account to buy new tools on under credit.
 

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You dont need to buy nothing under credit. Buy a $100 on sale 1/4;3/8/1/2 tool set from lowes for hand tools. Buy the large Chromoly socket sets from Harbor Freight (sheeit) for impact 1/2; 3/4th; and 1". Buy channellocks plier set. Buy the rest speciality tools used off ebay. 0 debt. All tools that last. Most shops are using cordless milwaukee tools. You can sometimes find them cheap as pallet returns from home depot that people are selling.

 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
You dont need to buy nothing under credit. Buy a $100 on sale 1/4;3/8/1/2 tool set from lowes for hand tools. Buy the large Chromoly socket sets from Harbor Freight (sheeit) for impact 1/2; 3/4th; and 1". Buy channellocks plier set. Buy the rest speciality tools used off ebay. 0 debt. All tools that last.
I need a full master mechanic set by next Friday... right now I have $89.00 to my name for the rest of the month. I need the tools for a job I start on the 15th of February... this is a high end John Deere dealership with an exceptional reputation, not just some small hillbilly used farm equipment shop that repairs junk to resell it. The reason this dealership is so good is because of its exceptional mechanics... This isn’t the first time I have had to start over buying tools... but HF tools don’t work on agriculture equipment... besides closest HF is 3 hours away and again $89.00 to my name at the moment.
Now with one month of working I will be breaking even with a loan on the tools... I’ll be making close to 50/hour... and my resume backs up my paycheck.
 

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I need a full master mechanic set by next Friday... right now I have $89.00 to my name for the rest of the month. I need the tools for a job I start on the 15th of February... this is a high end John Deere dealership with an exceptional reputation, not just some small hillbilly used farm equipment shop that repairs junk to resell it. The reason this dealership is so good is because of its exceptional mechanics... This isn’t the first time I have had to start over buying tools... but HF tools don’t work on agriculture equipment... besides closest HF is 3 hours away and again $89.00 to my name at the moment.
Now with one month of working I will be breaking even with a loan on the tools... I’ll be making close to 50/hour... and my resume backs up my paycheck.
You can also buy it on a low interest credit card if needed or one that does so much time 0% interest. Cheap purchase price; less interest to pay. All the shops get you in telling you need to spend a million dollars on tools; let me tell you a little secret you dont. I have 750 million mega construction fleet shop experience where I showed the mechanics the same thing. They ring you in with big hopes of making money but the guys are in and out of the door very often. The income stops but the debt doesn't.

FYI chromoly HF sockets are same quality if not close to the tool trucks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Ohh and I should rephrase the NAPA account, I’m part owner of the account, it’s a 3 way ownership. My dad, brother, and I agreed that since all three are liable for the account that no charges over $500.00 can be made to the account without consent from the other two. The account is in my dad’s name but all three of us are liable for charges to the account. We were all in business together and we all agreed it would be best to keep a couple of the business accounts open for “Hobby” and shit happens.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
You can also buy it on a low interest credit card if needed or one that does so much time 0% interest. Cheap purchase price; less interest to pay. All the shops get you in telling you need to spend a million dollars on tools; let me tell you a little secret you dont. I have 750 million mega construction fleet shop experience where I showed the mechanics the same thing. They ring you in with big hopes of making money but the guys are in and out of the door very often. The income stops but the debt doesn't.

FYI chromoly HF sockets are same quality if not close to the tool trucks.
Our Napa credit account is 0% interest for 1 year on parts. And lifetime of the account on tools, with major discounts... moving millions of dollars of inventory per year gives you some pretty good perks.

Like I said, I’m not some joe blow off the street that doesn’t know anything... I was wondering what others used for tools... I would love to start off with a brand new Snap-On set... I just can’t afford it... and Craftsman ratchets won’t cut it (the rest of their stuff is ok, but still not great) and Harbor Feieght... those tools are for the hobbiest not the professional tradesman.

I know I don’t need 5,000 worth of tools... priced what I needed at NAPA yesterday and came in at just under $2,500 without tool box... I still have my old beat up craftsman tool box that will work for a few months until I see how the job goes... as for specialty tools, I will get those as needed after my main tool box is set up...
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Again no credit and no cash... I’m not going to put myself in further than I can dig myself out of... I have a $3,000 spending limit at NAPA, that I will keep well below that... at the end of the month I get last year’s tax returns back which by itself will pay for the tools I have to buy, and be a tax write-off for next year...
 

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Theres many alternatives some of the guys used to use pad locked steel cages as a toolbox in a construction company fleet shop I worked at. He worked there many years with barely any snap on tools and did great work and no one was the wiser to not having a expensive toolbox or what brand his tools were. All you need is a tool that doesn't fail. Ratchets are a common failure if you wanted to buy a premium tool there. Pry bars for cman USA was made by mayhew same as the tool truck manufactures. Never seen a non usa one fail either that lowes sellls now days. I built my tool set out of clearance and deal tools. A lot came from sears before their demise. Rest is tools I found over years that I use for a good majority as a junkyard or mobile box.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
@GetBent4x4 i agree with your last statement... like I said a tool box would be nice... and I probably will get a HF box down the road there... (HF as well as Lows Home Depot are three hours away from me, but after I get back into the trade it won’t be a big deal). I am a tool snob... just going to throw that out there. My $2500 wish list can probably in reality be cut down to under $1000 if I skimp on a couple of the want vs needed items I threw in their (like a full torx bit set in 1/4, 3/8, and 1/2” drive both standard and safety torx) and I can probably get by with a 4 screwdrivers instead of the 16 piece kit I threw in. Pry bars... I didn’t even throw those in... I still have my three favorite pry bars, I kept them in storage. Hammers, like ratchets, I refuse to skimp there.

You have given me a lot to think about and appreciate it... I wish I could find the spreadsheet I made 30 years ago when I first started out... I removed starting off with under $500 worth of tools, mostly Craftsman, with Proto ratchets, and a lot of HF junk that got me through the first three months... if time wasn’t of the essence, I would do that set all over again and fill in the cheap tools with what ever NAPA has, or what I can find off of AMAZON/EBay/Craig’s List down the road. Unfortunately I don’t have that luxury at this point in time. I will be looking at my list in great detail and keep myself from going into debt over tools... I have always kept a decent tool budget in the past and don’t expect to go into a debt that my last paycheck can’t cover.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
@GetBent4x4 i do appreciate your insight to my dilemma. You’re making me rethink my whole shopping list and what I actually need right now compared to what I might need right now... and I know that until I push my toolbox into the bay and start spinning wrenches, I won’t know exactly what I need. Thank you for challenging my thinking. I need it from time to time. As I’m scrubbing this list, I might even be able to bring my initial cost down to $500 which drastically increases my first 90 day spending purchases, which can go towards not only tools but PPE that I was otherwise going to put off...

So let’s change the subject a little bit to PPE. I’m required to have steel toed boots... I am a Justin and Ariosto guy, mainly because I have foot and knee problems that make most other brand of boots uncomfortable for me to wear for long periods of time (Danner comes to mind). I have a pair of Justin’s and a pair of Airiots both steel toed that are wearing out, so I am going to need to replace them... I also have special orthopedic inserts that have to go into the boots to add 1 1/4” hight to my right leg. Normally I get my boots at the local western store but as mentioned... there might be a better place to source my boots, and their might even be a brand I haven’t heard of that I could try looking at.
 

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Slim, I wasnt necessarily suggesting to start with craftsman... I like S-K as well.

I really like the Cornwell ratchets i got, especially the high tooth count ones. They can ratchet in like 5° of space. Expensive, but worth every penny to me. My big half inch craftsman ratchet has surprised me with the torque ive applied to it without breaking. I use a 1-7/16 wrench as a cheater in the JY when my impact wont budge the bolt. Thats about 40" of leverage. I just wont trust their smaller ratchets.

Ive beat the hell out of some craftsman sockets as my JY tools. Only a couple have cracked from heavy impact use. And they were both 3/8 drive on a big half inch impact.

My only experience with 3/4 inch drive is some old BOG branded ones i got at an estate sale. And a touch with some old USA craftsman.

Your situation is a tough one. Cant spend too much, yet its not a place to chince out either.

We have a JD 1025R with FE loader and a 825i gator. Gator has the usual clutch issues.
 
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Is this farm equipment or construction? We have a 624K wheel loader and it has been great so far other than the safety software and the parking brake solenoid is very easy to snap off. I am a fan of redwing boots. I wasn't until I was gifted a pair a couple years ago. They do live up to the hype.
 

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I've warrantied out craftsman tools, & a good warranty is great, but I have never broken anything proto, & not broken is better imo. I'd normally recommend shopping ebay for used proto or challenger, but since you're limited on time, it seems like your plan to use the napa account to get the minimum required, then buying the rest once you get paid & are into the actual work is the only option.

As for steel toed boots, I've been wearing them for over 30 years. Here's the 3 standouts:

  • Redwings. They were great quality, but were tough to break in. And about $200 a pair back when I was wearing them. I'd usually get 2 years out of a pair, so the cost was about $100 a year. I really liked them, but the break in period made them less desirable than others.

  • Herman Survivors Wheat Breakers. Not the long lasting quality of the Redwings, but they were comfortable on the 1st day. They were my favorite for 15 years. During covid they changed something, so they aren't comfortable for me on a daily basis. About $50 at Wally's. I'd get roughly 6 months out of a pair, so the annual cost was about $100. I hope they return to the old style. I might try another pair down the road.

  • Wolverine Floorhand. My boss swears by Wolverines. I'm about 9 months into my 1st pair. More comfortable than the current Hermans, but not quite as perfect for my feet as the old Hermans were. Not bad overall. I think I paid $90 for these out of desperation with screaming feet after trying some other bad boots that were painful at the end of every day, even once broken in. It seemed like the Wolverines took awhile to become comfortable, but that may have been because my feet were extremely sore from the prior bad boots when I was 1st wearing the Wolverines. Looks like I'll get most of a year out of these, so they'll probably work out to being $100 a year again. I'll probably stick with these.
For a quick temporary option, they make steel toe slip on covers that can be used over other boots. Online they look to about $30. Probably not the best option, but they might get you started with current boots that you own & know work for your feet while you find a better permanent solution.
 

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Wolverine are the Steel toes I buy. My daily cowboy boots are Double H's.
 

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I usually wear walmart clearance boots (currently herman survivors) for working on vehicles and rough things like the junkyards. All their boots that have been clearanced have something wrong with them. Current pair squeaks as I walk. Sole loose. On the other hand my justin boots are 8 years old and don't have any hang ups. I just don't like wearing them in mud and broken glass and dragging them on their sides on the concrete gravel all day. Essentially if you have to do a lot of sheit work it's good to have boots and clothing you can abuse and not care about. Everytime I wash my junkyard clothing it's so dirty it looks like I should just throw it away.
 
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