Socket set, wrenches, and screwdrivers: Icon? Cobalt?

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Forum topic by Tower59 posted 05-23-2020 12:43 AM 1675 views 0 times favorited 34 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 622 days

05-23-2020 12:43 AM

Hello! I’m outfitting my dream shop and want to buy some good quality hand tools. I am not a mechanic and will not be wrenching on cars, but do have woodworking and general homeowner tasks in mind. I’m not planning to spend Snap-On kind of money, but otherwise the price is not the primary factor. I’ll be storing them in a nice tool cabinet and plan to build a foam shadow box storage system in each drawer, so plastic boxes that come with the tools are not a factor. I want to build complete sets of SAE & metric, Philips & slots, and have good looking, good quality tools that I can use for the next 20-30 years. Also, the shop’s primary color scheme is blue, so blue accents, though non-essential, are a plus. My dad’s generation loved Craftsman, but its quality has reportedly gone way down hill over the years. So, what do you all recommend?

Thanks for your input!

34 replies so far

View Foghorn's profile


1289 posts in 626 days

#1 posted 05-23-2020 01:19 AM

I really like mine from LeeValley. Wood handles so no blue unfortunately.

-- Darrel

View SMP's profile


4816 posts in 1145 days

#2 posted 05-23-2020 01:22 AM

Craftsman has gone downhill. But still decent. I think about equivalent to kobalt and husky etc. I have a bunch of old craftaman and snap on hand tools and the old craftsman are definitely better than newer stuff I have bought. I’ve actually been meaning to buy some of the USA made wood handled screwdrivers that Chris Schwarz likes because I do like wood handles when doing woodworking. I use my snap on stuff for wrenching in cars.

View Foghorn's profile


1289 posts in 626 days

#3 posted 05-23-2020 01:43 AM

Proto (Mac tools) socket sets made in the USA or Gray, made in Canada would be quality, cheaper alternatives than Snap-on. Westward, made in Taiwan and sold by Grainger would be a good choice as well.

-- Darrel

View woodman71's profile


199 posts in 4564 days

#4 posted 05-23-2020 02:13 AM

I work as a Mechanic if your plan is for not everyday use stay away snap on,Mac tools and Matco. I would not even consider Huskey, Craftsman there pricey to. I would look at Kobalt amazon for any tool that give a life time guarantee. Autozone has nice hand tools that have a life time guarantee and not pricey . IMO dropping money on tools that don’t see ever day use is a waste of money when it comes to mechanic hand tool ,0ne basic low to medium price set is all you ever need

View Madmark2's profile


3093 posts in 1828 days

#5 posted 05-23-2020 02:47 AM

I bought a basic set of Husky combination wrenches that I use a few times a year. Inexpensive (not cheap) is ok for light duty.

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View LittleBlackDuck's profile (online now)


8097 posts in 2061 days

#6 posted 05-23-2020 02:45 PM

... I m outfitting my dream shop...
- Tower59

If you have the shekels… go Fe$tool or just dream about a great shop...

Primarily I recommend you don’t rig out the shop with exotic timber… use plain timber (as good safe storage is a must) and $pend the $aving$ on better tool$.

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

View GR8HUNTER's profile


8975 posts in 1952 days

#7 posted 05-23-2020 03:33 PM

HERE YOU WILL FIND THE LAST SET OF TOOLS YOU WILL EVER BUY as there warranty is the best sorry no blue colors just GR8 tools :<))) MADE IN USA

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN :<))

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

7227 posts in 3733 days

#8 posted 05-23-2020 03:57 PM

Seems to me that if you aren’t going to go with USA made hand tools (Matco, Snap on, S-K, some I can’t remember) you are just as well off with the Pittsburgh stuff from Harbor Freight. Even Craftsman (which was a leading contender for years) has went to Asian manufacture.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Tower59's profile


3 posts in 622 days

#9 posted 05-23-2020 04:33 PM

Thanks for the suggestions! I’ve had some of the Pittsburgh tools from Harbor Freight over the years and have had a couple sockets and ratchets break. I want higher quality than that, though ICON from Harbor Freight is a possibility. Anyone with first hand experience with Kobalt? What about Tekton? Thanks for your help!

View Andre's profile


4733 posts in 3046 days

#10 posted 05-23-2020 04:45 PM

For the wrenches love the Maximum’s from Canadian Tire(Same Lifetime warranty as Snap on or Craftsman). Same style as Snap On.
As for Screwdrivers mostly Lee Valley with the Gracies seperated in the tool cabinet! For use on the Brass screws only! Do have a few cheap open ends for use on special tools, like the shaper collets and drill press table.

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View tvrgeek's profile


2281 posts in 2889 days

#11 posted 05-23-2020 05:59 PM

Current Craftsman are so-so. Just do not buy a ratchet handle from them. I have had two Craftsman ratchets pop lose almost braking my hand once. I have a few Snap On and don’t find them anything special except the price. I have had very good luck with Kobalt, though my very favorite 3/8 ratchet is a $7 plastic one from HF. Husky seems fine too.

Snap-ON, Mac, etc are in business as they drive up to a shop and give as much credit as needed. You are paying for credit and service. Tools are good, but do you need to drop 10K to get started and have it financed?

Look for wrenches and sockets that have the round lobe design, not sharp corners. Used to be only Snap-On and Bonney. Patients finally ended so everyone has them. They put the force further back on the nut so don’t round them off. Most of my wrenches are 6 point, but I find I need 12 point more often. I sure like the push button socket release. It was a Sears unique until the pattents came off.

I also have the ratchet combo wrenches from HF. Use them all the time, more than the nice long handle Craftsman right next to them. I have pulled way to hard with them on rusty junk and never had an issue.

Besides the house and woodshop, I also restore old British cars for fun. ( Yea, I’m really sick)

For screw drivers I have almost completely converted to 1/4 inch insert bits. The better ones ( read the reviews, they do differ) have more grip and the flats are hollow ground so far better for wood screws. I avoid slots actually, using mostly Philips and Torx, but of course in woodworking, with a Kreg we have to use square too. I use power when I can, so buy bits in bulk.

I like my Kobalt tool boxes much better than my Craftsman ones.

Everyone has their favorites. Some almost religious dedication. I just look at each tool and make up my mind. One company makes their combo wrenches with a 90 degree offset. Some smoth, some rough, some colored.

View Foghorn's profile


1289 posts in 626 days

#12 posted 05-23-2020 07:18 PM

Parallel tip screwdrivers like Grace are the best for slot head wood screws or gun screws. Mine even came with a burnisher.

-- Darrel

View AMZ's profile


333 posts in 629 days

#13 posted 05-23-2020 07:26 PM

I have many tools-wat too many tools! Why? Gifts, gifts and more gifts. Anyhow, nearly 50 years ago, I bought 1/4”, 3/8” & 1/2” SK Wayne socket sets, simply superb. My father, who passed in 2004, bought me the same sizes in Craftsmen, and they’re old enough to be decent.

I have a bang around set of Harbor Freight socket sets and box end wrenches (not the real cheap ones), and they’re a real value, well finished and have yet to break or round over. Amazon sells Tekton, and these not only have a lifetime warranty, they are American made.

View DaveM123's profile


110 posts in 534 days

#14 posted 05-23-2020 08:58 PM

I have a Craftsman socket set that I have had for 35 years or so. These have never failed me. I have a Huskey socket set for limited use. The rest of my hand tools are a combination ranging from things my dad had that will never die to some Pittsburgh stuff that I use on occasion. For what it’s worth I thought Huskey was going the lifetime warranty route. The most important thing to is figure out how much and what kind of use you’ll put these tools to. Every day use versus every once in a blue moon makes a big difference.

-- Dave

View JackDuren's profile


1712 posts in 2199 days

#15 posted 05-23-2020 09:32 PM

I’ve bought craftsman metric and standard sets of wrenches, etc. But…......I’ve got SK sets,etc. If I was doing it again I would buy Pittsburg. They have been compared on I believe it’s called the Garage network or something and has had great reviews in comparison…I bought the ICON torque wrench and it wa compared to SK with great results…

If your making money with tools you pay for the best you can afford. When your just supplying tools to do DIY you still buy the best you can afford but within reason.When you get old tools become a one time usage…....

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