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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My toolbox is full of random bits and pieces I've scavenged over the years. I've decided to start slowly assembling a collection of actual name-brand tools in something resembling a complete collection.

Let's say I wanted to buy a 'standard depth' 6-sided socket that would allow me to drive 3/4" bolts. (nothing specific about that size, it just makes a good example). At Tekton.com (again, just an example, nothing particular about that company) I can buy any of the following:
3/8" drive, chrome "hand driven"
3/8" drive, black impact-socket
1/2" drive, chrome "hand driven"
1/2" drive, black impact-socket
3/4" drive, chrome "hand driven"

Why so many options, and how do you know which to choose?
I was going to go with 1/2" drive, because it seems the most flexible, and the black impact-socket in case I ever get an impact gun... but I'm kind of pulling that out of my ass.

any suggestions?
 

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The Tennessee Warden
96 XL, 5.8L, E4OD, BW1356, 4.56 gears
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For me, 3/8” drive is most common for everyday stuff and a lot of automotive work. The 1/2” drive stuff is better for larger applications, with bolts/nuts of 9/16” up to, say, 1-1/4”. Anything with a 3/4” drive is for huge stuff - backhoe/dozer/semi truck type stuff.

If you want a good selection of sockets and ratchets to cover 99% of your needs, get a large 3/8” drive selection of sockets, some 1/4” drive sockets for little stuff, and a small selection of 1/2” drive sockets to get the big stuff. If you’re using an impact for anything, just get 1/2” drive six point impact sockets.

Oh, and don’t forget to get about a dozen 10mm sockets std and deep well - those things go missing like crazy!
 

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If it is not a Bronco, it's just not worth driving.....
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I know this may sound peculiar, but I would suggest the Pittsburg brand from Harbor Freight or the Klutch brand from Northern tools. They are on the cheaper end of tools but they have the same lifetime warranty the Kobalt or Craftsman tools has. I know that if you are a professional these brands wont do and Snap-on or equivalent would be needed, but for a backyard mechanic like me, those brands work well. So far I haven't had any failures with my tools yet. Just my 2 cents worth.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Most of my power tools are from harbor freight. They've been good to me so far...
 

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96 XLT, 5.8, E4OD, Auto 4x4, Mile Marker, 4in lift with 35's
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I know this may sound peculiar, but I would suggest the Pittsburg brand from Harbor Freight or the Klutch brand from Northern tools. They are on the cheaper end of tools but they have the same lifetime warranty the Kobalt or Craftsman tools has. I know that if you are a professional these brands wont do and Snap-on or equivalent would be needed, but for a backyard mechanic like me, those brands work well. So far I haven't had any failures with my tools yet. Just my 2 cents worth.
I had some snap-on ratchets from my days at McCafferty Ford years ago that didn't work anymore and when I saw the snap-on guy at an auto parts store he wouldn't repair or replace them with out a receipt. These tools are at least 20 some years old so lifetime warranty is bullshit with snap-on. I agree with you on the Pittsburg brand with what I am doing today. I broke a socket took it back to Harbor Freight no muss no fuss was told go get another one.
 

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I have as many 3/8” drive chrome sockets as 1/4” and 1/2” drive combined. Agree that 3/8 is the most versatile in a home garage.

I do have a 3/8”-1” deep impact set that sees some use. I can borrow larger sockets from work when needed. If memory serves the differential yoke nuts and RA bushings are in that 1 1/16 to 1 1/8” range. Can always purchase as needed.

Buy some adapters, extensions, and swivels, and you should be able to tackle most jobs.

Most of my sockets are Craftsmen before Stanley but I’ve got Teckton torque wrenches, flare nut wrenches, and other odds and ends and been pleased with them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Agree - pick up a 3/8” drive u joint and a few extensions, and a 5/8” spark plug socket (with the rubber washer inside that grabs the plug ceramic).
I actually have a small set of those made by Craftsman, bought years ago when I used to do my own tune-ups on our early-90's Ford Escort and Bronco II in our newly-married-no-money times.

They are fantastic... you install the spark plug, and then the rubber insert stays in the engine when you pull out the socket with perfect regularity.

The medical forceps I have to use (every time) to get the rubber part back, I got from a family member who worked in a hospital. :)
 

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The Tennessee Warden
96 XL, 5.8L, E4OD, BW1356, 4.56 gears
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I actually have a small set of those made by Craftsman, bought years ago when I used to do my own tune-ups on our early-90's Ford Escort and Bronco II in our newly-married-no-money times.

They are fantastic... you install the spark plug, and then the rubber insert stays in the engine when you pull out the socket with perfect regularity.

The medical forceps I have to use (every time) to get the rubber part back, I got from a family member who worked in a hospital. :)
Lol. I never had an issue with the rubber piece coming out of my socket. It keeps the plug secure but stays in its home where it should. I don’t know what brand mine is - my dad gave it to me probably 25 years ago.
 

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1987 Bronco 351W, C6
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I actually have a small set of those made by Craftsman, bought years ago when I used to do my own tune-ups on our early-90's Ford Escort and Bronco II in our newly-married-no-money times.

They are fantastic... you install the spark plug, and then the rubber insert stays in the engine when you pull out the socket with perfect regularity.

The medical forceps I have to use (every time) to get the rubber part back, I got from a family member who worked in a hospital. :)
I couldn't figure out why I couldn't get a coil back on my 99 F-150 until I saw the little black boot from my new Craftsman spark plug socket. Always been a Craftsman guy, but will probably go Harbor Freight next time.
 

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3/8” drive would be great for 75% of the stuff you do on the Bronco. 1/4” drive for about 15% of the stuff, while 1/2” drive would be about 8% and 3/4” drive would only be around 2%.

3/4” drive sockets are generally needed for the Pinion Nuts and the Wheel Bearing Retaing Nuts on the front axle. Although a 1/2” adapter would work just as well.

1/2” drive for engine assembly parts.

3/8” drive tools for all the accessories, and pretty much anything over 3/8” socket size up to 13/16” socket. 1/4 drive for 7/16”and down along with most specialty bit drivers.
 

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Why so many options?
Chrome don't rust corrode like impact socket, usually harder metal. Easy to clean and 12 point so you don't have to rotate as much to get on the fastener. Much thinner wall thickness to get in tight areas. Will sometimes crack/split with impact use. Come in shallow, mid, and deep lengths. 6 and 12 point, sae and metric which our trucks have both.splined sockets are useful too and warranty is advised. Most of the body bolts are metric and engine is sae. "most".........

Impact sockets are just that. Softer metal to take the abuse without breaking, much thicker wall, usually 6 point because 12 point can strip a fastener under heavy impact use and just don't last as long as 6 point. Just go to a tire shop and look at what they use....you will fing some chrome deep 12p sockets for custom rims where impacts are too fat to get into but mainly all impact. They do rust and corrode if not cleaned and oiled due to the metal.

1/4, 3/8, 1/2 are just smaller and bigger sizes to take more force before they break and to get into tonight areas and are matched by the size fastener your removing. A snap on 1/2" ratchet is capable of I think 700 foot pounds before it breaks and is designed for 100% duty cycle.
Then you get into teeth the ratchet has, take a cheap stanley or craftsman "lower line" and turn them to see how far you have to turn the ratchet before you get to the next click, which you'll find is very handy in tight areas where you don't have room and lets face it. everything we usually have to fix is in a hard to reach area. High end ratchets are usually 88 teeth and higher so you don't have to rotate the handle as far on each turn. High end ratchets are usualky very strong, I think the snap on 3/8 is around 250 food pounds before it breaks and has 88 teeth or more.

Just go watch a bunch of you tube vids of socket and ratchet tool reviews to see what brands take the most abuse. Then outweigh how often are you really gonna use that tool and can you justify the steep cost? Do you do it for a living? Are you tired of broken tools? Are you tired of busted knuckles? Are you tired of stripped bolts?

I own lots of brands cheap and expensive and have put the test to them all for over 30 years as a professional mechanic who uses them daily. I have spots for cheap and expensive in my box"s".
You'll start to see the icon tools look exactly like snap on s older line of tools. I've been testing them lately. Don't get lost in reviews and think you need the winner of the showdown lol. Most times your not putting the tool to it's limits........"most" times....

cheap sets like to skip sizes too. they take out a lot of not so common sizes to keep cost down. ive got some of my very first socket sets i bought as a teenager that i still have to this day, or at least the ones left my ex's havent given away.

i got made fun of when i got my first mechanic job as a jet ski mechanic in my late teens. they made fun of my stanley's, popular mechanics and craftsman tools.....lol.....and yes, i found the limits of those tools very quick. but some of them have lasted and i still own to this day. i have a very rare popular mechanics 22k gold plated socket set that cam in sae and metric, all 12 point with a ratchet and extension and two popular spark plug sockets, and it cam with a very very rare size socket you never see anymore which i still have which is a 19/32.......
177455
 

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Addicted to Junk
85 Bronco, 309ci I6 w/4bbl, np435, 4" lift, 37" Irok NDs, 4.56 w/ Detroit Locker and tru trac
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Best tools ive used are Cornwell. Proto and Snap-on and old MaC are right there too.

I cant recommend just one size set. You need em all: 12 and 6 pt, deep and standard, metric and SAE, 1/4, 3/8, and 1/2" drive, and adapters.

If you have a bunch of sockets already, but want a good set, a 6pt 3/8" drive deep and shallow set would be my choice.

If you use an impact, you need those sockets too, deep well are usually all you need. Ive broke lots of cheap hand power sockets with impacts in the JY.
 

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I worked in the hardware dept.at Sears back in the 90s when Craftsman stuff was still made in the U.S., and every socket set that came back missing pieces so it could be sold, I bought for basically cost plus $1, so I built up a pretty good set of tools over time (for non-pro use at least). Best bet for finding decent tools is pawn shops and garage sales. It takes some time, but a lot of pawn shops just have a mixed tote full of sockets for one price, and if you're willing to spend some time digging through, you can often get pro-grade tools for next to nothing - same with garage sales. As far as sizes, just like everyone else said, 75% time I use 3/8" drive, maybe another 15% 1/4", and 10% 1/2". Thing is, percentages don't mean much because when you need a certain size, you just plain need it, so it doesn't matter if you don't use it that much (at least that is what I tell my wife...). One other tip, you can often find all those funky special Ford tools for real cheap on ebay, and some of that stuff can be a real lifesaver.
 
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Addicted to Junk
85 Bronco, 309ci I6 w/4bbl, np435, 4" lift, 37" Irok NDs, 4.56 w/ Detroit Locker and tru trac
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One other tip, you can often find all those funky special Ford tools for real cheap on ebay, and some of that stuff can be a real lifesaver.
Ive gotten some old snap-on stuff at estate sales that are specific for old Fords. Usually just in a tote full of stuff for 5 bucks. One is some suspension tool for mid 50s fullsize cars. Others I cant find any info on lol.

I have gotten many old tools, drill bits, and taps at estate and garage sales for cheap. I probably have 300 used taps, that i spent about 30 bucks on. And some 3/4"drive BOG (@schwim approved!) brand sockets.

I barely ever use 1/4" drive. Only when i dont have a 3/8s drive small enough. I use half inch much more often.
 
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lol...buckle up and get ready for the widest variety of opinions you've ever seen. hand tools (and tools in general) can be an extremely personal thing.

i think you kind of have to decide if you want to buy USA made or if you're ok with imported.

i would power rank countries of origin like this:
1) usa
2) taiwan or japan
3) china

If you're looking to get started on building a good tool collection that will last the rest of your life, i recommend this set:
proto J52203

6 point sockets, 3/8" drive, chrome, USA made

or...

you might look at SK tools. they have an SK club thing that you pay to join, but you get discounts as well as various sockets in the mail every month. if you're basically starting from scratch, that might be a great option.

so if you do go imported, i would look for tools from either stanley/black and decker or apex.

i like kobalt better than husky

i've broken too many harbor freight hand tools to recommend them, although their newer lines "look" nicer than they used to.

and be sure to look at cripe distributing. i've bought so many tools from them you wouldn't believe it. they have a website and ebay store. sometimes the inventory is different between the two. i've found you can call or message them and they'll list what you want, give you a great deal on shipping, and you can start stocking your toolbox.

 

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this would net you a pretty nice ratchet and probably most of the SAE sockets that you would need.

 
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