: Mechanic starter tool set?



gta3mobster
07-11-07, 02:49 PM
I was wondering if any members that are mechanics have any recommendations on tool sets/what to buy in regards to tools.

Sears sells large sets for $600-$3000, but I doubt that it has everything required.

Are there any tools you have purchased before and never used?

The reason I ask is because my dad is a mechanic and has spent tens of thousands of dollars on tools (snap-on). I'd like to have the tools required to do a complete engine overhaul, transmission overhaul, and basic suspension projects, but I don't want to spend that much money on tools.

Any feedback is appreciated :)

dkozloski
07-11-07, 03:05 PM
Guys who are too cheap to buy from Snap-on go to Sears. They make good stuff guatanteed forever. They don't have the selection of specialty stuff that Snap-on has.

malcolm
07-11-07, 04:02 PM
I was wondering if any members that are mechanics have any recommendations on tool sets/what to buy in regards to tools.

Sears sells large sets for $600-$3000, but I doubt that it has everything required.

Are there any tools you have purchased before and never used?

The reason I ask is because my dad is a mechanic and has spent tens of thousands of dollars on tools (snap-on). I'd like to have the tools required to do a complete engine overhaul, transmission overhaul, and basic suspension projects, but I don't want to spend that much money on tools.

Any feedback is appreciated :)
hmmm, if you have the skills to perform a complete engine overhaul I would think you would know something about tools. My vote is for Snap-on. Very comfortable in the hand.

danbuc
07-11-07, 05:03 PM
Snap-On or Mac. I've had equal luck with both. I buy from both and haven't seen any real difference in quality. I've got a Mac Impact gun, and a Snap-On Air Hammer/Chisel. I've got Mac Sockets and Snap-On sockets. One thing you have to realize, is that you will Always need more tools. You'll either loose them (which happens often), or you'll have to do something that requires a tool that you don't have. Tools aren't cheap either. I just bought a 1/2" Deep Universal Impact set from Mac which set me back about $300 if I recall correctly. Not cheap at all, but necessary unfortunately, for some of the work I was doing. Snap-On, and Mac credit can be your friends as well. If you have a half decent credit score, they can usually get you a credit line of at least $2000 or so. The payment are reasonable, and fair. Example, I currently owe $4200 on my Mac card, but the payment are only about $150 a month.

As mentioned before, Craftsman is 'okay', but they aren't REAL tools. I would first Speak with the local Mac or Snap-On representative in your area, and see if you are available for a credit line. You can always just buy a Craftsman box, and fill it with better tools. I say this, because Snap-on and Mac boxes can get EXTREMELY expensive.

Also, don't buy tools you don't need, or even think you MIGHT need. You never know when you might need that money for another tool that you really DO need. Also, determine whether or not the majority of the vehicles your working on will be Metric, or Standard. It will cut your costs in half. The only standard size tools I have, are a Deep/Shallow Snap-on Socket set. I have only used the 7/16 socket...and that was only one time.

Anyway, just be careful and spend your hard earned money wisely. The bill racks up a lot quicker than it goes down.


The last and final comment I will make is in regard to your statement about wanting the tools necessary to do a complete engine overhaul, but not wanted to spend a lot of money. I've got the necessary tools, but I have spent almost $10k in the last two years on my tools....and I've only been in the business for 1 and a half. I'm just now to the point where I can get a car, and be pretty damn confident that I have any tool I may need at my disposal. It takes a lot of money to get to that point. I still find myself borrowing from other techs when I don't have a particular socket, or whatever, but ti's a rare occasion now. You will have to make a serious investment if you plan to stay in the business for a while.....even if only for a few years. Most techs will only lend you a tool so many times, before they tell you to buy your own. The general rule of thumb seems to be 3 times or so from what I've seen, heard, and experienced first hand. Once that thrid time comes around, you'd better start saving.

Anyway, good luck with career as it were, and don't get too worried. I know I may have come off a little strong, but I only intend to help. I saw too many friends who I went to school with buy tools they didn't need, and rack up huge bills, which ended up hurting them in the long run. Just be smart abou tit, and you'll do just fine.

DILLIGAF
07-11-07, 09:51 PM
Your goal is a little unrealistic,you will have to spend alot of money.Specialty tools are high dollar,but are made to last a lifetime.Your dad sounds like the perfect person to help you get started in the right direction.I'm a machineist and can't remember not paying for something every 2 weeks.My advise,do the Mac or Snap on, just like I go the Starret route with my tools.You will also have better resale if you decide to change careers.

Spyder
07-11-07, 10:01 PM
I dunno guys...he doesn't seem to be wanting to get into the business. From what I read it seems that he only wants to have the tools around the garage that he will need. If THAT is the case, Craftsman will work just fine. I have mostly Snap-On stuff with a lot of craftsman fill-in and replacements for things I've lost or loaned and never had returned...which I will not do anymore for anyone other than my dad.

Deep, shallow socket set, the biggest one they have, in both metric and standard, 3/8 drive. 3/8 ratchet. Full set of combination wrenches in both standard and metric. Hammer, dead blow hammer, set of punches, good pliers both needle nose and regular. Channel locks. Couple sets/styles of vice grips. Screwdrivers. Torx bits... That's what I can think of off the top of my head.

I've probably got 8 grand worth of tools myself, and have never worked as a professional mechanic. I DO however stop at a lot of yardsales and buy used tools for cheap. Anything thats craftsman, snap-on, mac or any of the other "free replacement, no questions asked" brands, buy it for cheap. Many many many times I've bought a wratchet or wrench or whatnot that was broken or bent for a buck and returned it to the snap on guy for a free exchange...Watch for tweakers selling crap out of their vans on the side of the road...I've gotten some GREAT deals like that too!

:)

DILLIGAF
07-11-07, 10:10 PM
Tweakers LOL!

Meth monkey yard sale.

I think I have bought every tool I own twice,trying to cheap out the first time around.

Dead blows,pry bars,chisels,drill bits,pliers,ext.I buy the cheap shit at Harber Freight all the time,if it breaks gets lost no biggie.

Spyder
07-11-07, 10:35 PM
My "truck tools" used to be the cheapy ones...then after breaking down a few times I realized that the tools you want to have with you in the rain at night inthe dark on the side of the road should be the GOOD ones...now I don't have any cheap tools that'll piss me off. :)

gta3mobster
07-12-07, 01:24 AM
"One thing you have to realize, is that you will Always need more tools. You'll either loose them (which happens often), or you'll have to do something that requires a tool that you don't have. Tools aren't cheap either."

This is exactly why I am asking ;)

I don't need to buy tools for a job, I want to be able to work on engines during my free time. I don't know how to do a complete overhaul, just mostly basic stuff that doesn't take days. I'm going to be working out at a friend's shop during my free time so I figure I'll pick up knowledge/experience from there and then be able to apply it to my projects. It seems like Craftsman is the consensus if you aren't hardcore serious about tools.

I would ask my dad, but he's actually my step-dad and isn't very friendly towards me. Especially when it comes to asking to use his tools (even though I return them cleaner than they were). He's a city mechanic now so they have toolchests in the garage already... But his personal set has his name engraved on almost every single piece (wrenches, sockets, etc). I guess tool theft is a serious issue. Especially when you spend all of your earnings on tools...

I appreciate the feedback.

ewill3rd
07-12-07, 08:02 AM
I am not sure I'd buy a starter set.
Most sets I have seen from any tool company contain all kinds of crap you don't need and are missing crucial items.
You are better to compile a list of what you need and limit yourself to that and just buy them.

I have had equal luck with MAC and Snap-On lately, which is NONE.
MAC tools are garbage since they got bought out, I have a box full of cracked and worn out sockets, broken pliers and destroyed adapters. Our local MAC distributors can't find someone smart enough to drive a truck and collect money for tools either.
Most Snap-On guys are unjustifiably arrogant, don't carry what I want and charge 3 times what the tools are really worth just because of the brand name. I can buy tools with the same warranty that work just as good for at least half the price and be happy with my purchase. I don't have to brandish some fancy brand name to show off in order to get the job done.

I have gone to buying tools at an online site, but I rarely need to buy tools these days. I did spend 10 years paying 50 bucks a week or more though.
If you tell me what kind of work you want to do I might be able to come up with a guide for the tools you will need for sure. It really varies from car to car.
At the website I buy my tools from I can buy 20 tools that I need for what Snap-On would charge me for just one, and if I want I can throw them away and order new ones without worrying about it, and yes you lose stuff.
Also the place I buy from has no shipping charges on orders over $100 except of course for large items that require special freight.

There is nothing wrong with Craftsman tools for the home DIY-er but they don't hold up well in a shop environment. They are good starter tools but they also make some pretty cheap junk. You can stay away from it if you know what to look for. The warranty makes them okay if you live near a Sears. I am close to 2 of them actually.

I have probably spent close to $60,000 over the years on tools so I guess I might think my opinion is worth something.

I actually prefer Cornwell tools and SK if you can find them.
SK makes some really great hand tools and sockets, but no one pays attention to them. They are some of the best tools around and that website I keep bragging about carries them also! I have SK sockets and wrenches I bought from an independent tool guy about 14 years ago and the ones I lost broke my heart.

dkozloski
07-12-07, 12:45 PM
I still have tools that I bought in a "Caterpillar Serviceman's Toolkit" in 1956. The tools were Blackhawk brand and the company went out of business years ago but they were indestructible. Since that time I've spent tens of thousands on tools. My Dad had a saying about buying tools, "If you always buy second best, never in your entire lifetime will you ever own anything worth a sh!t."

RunningOnEMT
07-12-07, 01:24 PM
I've spent about 3500 in tha past year not including a new toolbox and i can do just about anything with my toolset now

the only thing that i havnt dropped money on yet is a compressor for home... so no air tools.

I have a Snap-On account just because we have a guy that comes here to the shop and he's actually pretty cool

but like Ewill said the tools are WAY too expensive for some things

I pay the premium for the warranty, and i know where rob is going to be every week from 930 to 1100 every thursday so if something breaks yeah i can get it .... and usually if you're a good customer he'll meet you somewhere or stop by the site on his way home to help you out.

I had a problem with a ratchet and he met me at the gas station i pass every day on my way home and rebuilt it for me ont he spot no charge, even did it with the torque wrench rebuild kit (much stronger). It all depends, if i had a cornwal guy who showed up i'd probably buy from them i've never heard a bad thing about them from anyone.

but when i called them they refused to show up at our side because of market share, we already have a MAC and a SNAPON guy.


Basically you get out of tools what you put into them....its like shoes you buy shitty ones at payless they fall apart within a year... you buy shitty tools even shitty tools with warranties, you'll spend more time in line at sears/homedepot waiting for an RMA slip then waiting 4-6 weeks for a new tool than you will working with them

now Ewill you gotta share your website where you buy tools... i need a new set of gear wrenches and a new floorjack... hook a brother up!!!

oh and a dual guage leakdown tester ITS NEW PROJECT CAR TIME!!!!

Silver Dollar
07-12-07, 02:03 PM
....the only thing that i havnt dropped money on yet is a compressor for home... so no air tools.


Once you do get one, you'll feel left-handed without it.

I bought a 5hp 20gal single stage unit which is fine for most things but if you're going to use high volume tools (pain guns, die grinders, drill motors) get a 2 stage with a larger tank.

That will be my next major tool purchase.

dkozloski
07-12-07, 02:13 PM
Once you do get one, you'll feel left-handed without it.

I bought a 5hp 20gal single stage unit which is fine for most things but if you're going to use high volume tools (pain guns, die grinders, drill motors) get a 2 stage with a larger tank.

That will be my next major tool purchase.
You'll never have an air compressor big enough. If it sat in the back yard and had a diesel engine, you could still find a job where it couldn't keep up.

RunningOnEMT
07-12-07, 02:27 PM
You'll never have an air compressor big enough. If it sat in the back yard and had a diesel engine, you could still find a job where it couldn't keep up.

i actually do have a compressor off of one of our re-rail trucks... 2 stage, 120 gallon tank, 3 cylinder diesel....its meant to be able to inflate airbags big enough to lift a 178,000 pound railcar in 30 seconds...

i think that could handle a paint gun... lol

note: this is not for home use, as is it is against both my lease and community regulations to have a freestanding stationary gasoline or diesel powered generator on your home premesis

and yes i've checked to see if the compressor falls into the same category as a generator, evidently ther eis no difference between air and electrons when it comes to the village of Vienna Crossing

ewill3rd
07-12-07, 03:09 PM
thetoolwarehouse.net

I have bought from them 2 or 3 times without an issue.
They carry a lot of SK stuff.

I like having the ability to warranty stuff once a week in the shop, but it usually turns into a huge hassle and its like buying a lifetime warranty alternator... who cares if it has a lifetime warranty if you have to replace it every other week?
To me a lifetime warranty means it shouldn't break, not "We'll give you a new one every month".

Someone is making blackhawk tools because I have some that are not that old.

You get used to telling a quality tool by putting your hands on it.
That is hard to do online. Sadly the best way to learn is to break a few cheap ones.

Snap on really used to mean something to me, but over the years I think their quality has gone down quite a bit.
It just isn't worth the extra dough to me when I can use up 3 cheap ones over 12 years for the price of one snap on tool.

RunningOnEMT
07-12-07, 03:15 PM
hmmm.... that site doesnt seem to worked

danbuc
07-12-07, 06:05 PM
Hey ewill3rd....have you had any Mac Universal Impact sockets lock up on you? Almost my entire set of 1.2 shallow metric sockets have locked up and are now useless. My mac guy has replaced most of them under warranty, since he's cool. My old Snap-On guy was a complete douche though. He wouldn't show up for 3 months, and then when he finally came back, he'd wonder why you only had the $100 sitting in your wallet for him. About 3 months after I left my last dealer, he apparently lost the route cause he sucked so badly. My mac guy still comes over to my new shop though, even though it's not on his route.

Snap-on is still a little better quality wise, but their customer service blows. That's why I've bought from Mac more over the past couple of months. The stuff may not be as durably in some cases, but who cares when I can get it replaced the next week for free. I bought a really nice tire pressure gauge from Snap-on a few months ago that had the big easy to read dial and air bleed valve too. About a month ago, it started reading 4lb off for no reason. I spoke to the new Snap-On guy (who never shows up either) and he said that it wasn't warrantied. Well F that, I'll just keep using and and subtract 4lbs from my reading.

Anyway, buy what you need, when you need it. Basic stuff like socket sets and a ratchet set are no brainers. Eventually you will need the occasional random tool. I've only need a crows foot 3 times since I've been in the business so for, but every time I did I, and no one else in the shop for that matter seem to own a set. That's one of those 'you never know' kinda tools that you just have to buy and risk never using it, or not buy, and then kick yourself when you need it. Stuff like that is gonna happen, but that's why the tool guy is just a phone call away (usually, unless he's a dick...then your screwed).

dkozloski
07-12-07, 06:56 PM
thetoolwarehouse.net

I have bought from them 2 or 3 times without an issue.
They carry a lot of SK stuff.

I like having the ability to warranty stuff once a week in the shop, but it usually turns into a huge hassle and its like buying a lifetime warranty alternator... who cares if it has a lifetime warranty if you have to replace it every other week?
To me a lifetime warranty means it shouldn't break, not "We'll give you a new one every month".

Someone is making blackhawk tools because I have some that are not that old.

You get used to telling a quality tool by putting your hands on it.
That is hard to do online. Sadly the best way to learn is to break a few cheap ones.

Snap on really used to mean something to me, but over the years I think their quality has gone down quite a bit.
It just isn't worth the extra dough to me when I can use up 3 cheap ones over 12 years for the price of one snap on tool.
Blackhawk tools other than hydraulic like jacks and Porta-Powers are Asian knockoffs and are junk.

Spyder
07-12-07, 06:59 PM
Once you do get one, you'll feel left-handed without it.

I bought a 5hp 20gal single stage unit which is fine for most things but if you're going to use high volume tools (pain guns, die grinders, drill motors) get a 2 stage with a larger tank.

That will be my next major tool purchase.


I dunno if any of you have ever lived in a mobile home, but the giant above ground propane storage tanks are a GREAT way to make your air compressor bad ass. I always ran about 600 gallons when I lived at home with my dad. I've gone down to a smaller size since then because I keep moving and it needs to be inside, but we just stuck one of those on the outside of the garage and ran hoses through the wall to it. Nice and out of the way and PLENTY of air storage for most any tool you're likely to use at home.

ewill3rd
07-12-07, 07:55 PM
http://www.thetoolwarehouse.net/

That link should work.
I bought a long list of tools today, ordered just over 300 bucks for me and two guys in the shop so we'd get no processing fee and free shipping.
We got a boat load of stuff too.

Koz, the blackhawk stuff I got was from the MAC man and you bet it is cheap.
Most of it fell apart or broke in two.
The 13mm ratcheting wrench broke the first time I used it on the open end, the jaw split in two and it was rusted on the inside of the metal!

danbuc, I never bought the sockets and I am glad, I got a regular 3/8" swivel and it broke 3 times in as many months.
I just quit getting them warrantied and bought a snap on one, which has lasted but it is the ball type, not that goofy rounded square thing with the retaining ring and the spring behind it.
Those break all the time or jam up.
Our Snap on guy is okay, but I just don't like owing money on the tool trucks anymore. I used to be into them for hundreds at a time. I never got a credit line because the guys always carried the money on a truck account for me.
I always paid them more than they expected and paid them off fast.
The biggest purchase I made was my box, which I think was about $6,000.
It was pretty high at the time for a box that is a lot smaller than what goes for 6 G's nowadays but it is a Cornwell.
Heck I rolled it with the drawers unlocked once and dumped it over, cost me 80 bucks to replace the rollers in the bottom two drawers and it has worked flawlessly ever since.
It needs a wax job though.
I want to get a new blue box, but red was all they had when I bought one.
I just can't bring myself to drop that much cash on a box at this point in my career.

I have a simple stanley wrench set at home for working on the bikes mostly.
I refuse to do any work at home and I leave all my automotive stuff at work.
I have a few woodworking tools and some electrical and plumbing stuff, enough to do all the stuff that needs done at home, but no automotive work (except the bikes) is done on the premises of my house. I learned my lesson years ago. I am too soft hearted and people take advantage of me when I work on my own. I just let James take advantage of me at work ;)
Seriously though, James and the Lindsays take pretty good care of me. I can't complain... although I could use a little more cash.... (*cough, cough*)
:D

Aaaaaanywho.... if our original poster wants a list of tools he might need for a specific task I'll put together a list.
I guess I could look at some starter kits too.
What are you looking at to buy?

dkozloski
07-12-07, 09:35 PM
The old BlackHawk stuff was pretty stout. I've tightened bolts to over 1000 ft.lbs with my 3/4 drive ratchet; a 200 lb. man bouncing on the end of a five foot cheater bar.

RunningOnEMT
07-12-07, 10:08 PM
http://www.thetoolwarehouse.net/

That link should work.
I bought a long list of tools today, ordered just over 300 bucks for me and two guys in the shop so we'd get no processing fee and free shipping.
We got a boat load of stuff too.

Koz, the blackhawk stuff I got was from the MAC man and you bet it is cheap.
Most of it fell apart or broke in two.
The 13mm ratcheting wrench broke the first time I used it on the open end, the jaw split in two and it was rusted on the inside of the metal!

danbuc, I never bought the sockets and I am glad, I got a regular 3/8" swivel and it broke 3 times in as many months.
I just quit getting them warrantied and bought a snap on one, which has lasted but it is the ball type, not that goofy rounded square thing with the retaining ring and the spring behind it.
Those break all the time or jam up.
Our Snap on guy is okay, but I just don't like owing money on the tool trucks anymore. I used to be into them for hundreds at a time. I never got a credit line because the guys always carried the money on a truck account for me.
I always paid them more than they expected and paid them off fast.
The biggest purchase I made was my box, which I think was about $6,000.
It was pretty high at the time for a box that is a lot smaller than what goes for 6 G's nowadays but it is a Cornwell.
Heck I rolled it with the drawers unlocked once and dumped it over, cost me 80 bucks to replace the rollers in the bottom two drawers and it has worked flawlessly ever since.
It needs a wax job though.
I want to get a new blue box, but red was all they had when I bought one.
I just can't bring myself to drop that much cash on a box at this point in my career.

I have a simple stanley wrench set at home for working on the bikes mostly.
I refuse to do any work at home and I leave all my automotive stuff at work.
I have a few woodworking tools and some electrical and plumbing stuff, enough to do all the stuff that needs done at home, but no automotive work (except the bikes) is done on the premises of my house. I learned my lesson years ago. I am too soft hearted and people take advantage of me when I work on my own. I just let James take advantage of me at work ;)
Seriously though, James and the Lindsays take pretty good care of me. I can't complain... although I could use a little more cash.... (*cough, cough*)
:D

Aaaaaanywho.... if our original poster wants a list of tools he might need for a specific task I'll put together a list.
I guess I could look at some starter kits too.
What are you looking at to buy?

i have a 3 bay 32" deep rollcab with a 28" topper if you want to take a look at it ... its about 5500 its about a year old... its teal blue i'd consider a trade for your cornwell box

ewill3rd
07-13-07, 07:58 AM
Send me some pics... I can't promise anything but....
ewill3rd@lindsaycadillac.com

RunningOnEMT
07-13-07, 09:39 AM
hey Bill....

i don't have a digital camera and i couldnt get a good picture on my camera phone

but i found one almost identical to it online, this one looks just like it but without the Belair stuff on it

dkozloski
07-13-07, 11:47 AM
I have my machinist measuring tools in a custom made Hugo Gherstner chest.http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=32990&stc=1&d=1184341519

About $20,000 worth of stuff in one box.

Spyder
07-13-07, 12:07 PM
Ohhhh...that's purty!

I have an old hand-me-down Mac box that my dad left me when he moved out to Kentucky a few years ago. It was full of snap-on tools. :D I repainted it because it was pretty rough, but now it doesn't look half bad. I threw a few Hurst and Mopar and MSD stickers on the bad spots and called it good.

RunningOnEMT
07-13-07, 12:31 PM
I unfortunately sold all my machinists tools when my pops sold his shop...never though i'd need em again

i'm now in the process of buying them all back...lol

RightTurn
07-13-07, 12:49 PM
This should be part of teh "Testosterone" thread. :alchi:

ewill3rd
07-13-07, 09:09 PM
Get me some real photos of that box.
Is it the same light greenish or is it more blue?

I inherited a real sickness of tool buying from my Grandfather.
He couldn't walk into a Sears without buying something, she wouldn't let him out of her sight!
He would buy tools and sneak them home without her knowing and put them in his wood shop.. :D

I am not as bad as him, but I can sure buy some tools when I want to...

dkozloski
07-13-07, 09:38 PM
Get me some real photos of that box.
Is it the same light greenish or is it more blue?

I inherited a real sickness of tool buying from my Grandfather.
He couldn't walk into a Sears without buying something, she wouldn't let him out of her sight!
He would buy tools and sneak them home without her knowing and put them in his wood shop.. :D

I am not as bad as him, but I can sure buy some tools when I want to...
My current fetish is Paslode nail guns. There is something about that explosive bang that warms the cockels of my heart. My current arsenal includes both framing and trim models.

RunningOnEMT
07-13-07, 10:14 PM
i'll drag out the camera on monday bill... not going near that god forsaken shop for the next 2 days...

derrty_deville
07-14-07, 12:17 AM
SK tools can really take the abuse. I've got a set of 1/2" 12pt.s that go through the hell of rusty chassis work and they do it well.
Craftsman should do fine for basic hand tools. Easier to exchange if you don't see the dudes in the vans too often.

Air compressor is a must really. Gives you the usefulness of the air ratchet. Big help in tight spots.

I've been just picking up specialty stuff as I go along.

About 90% of the time on the cars I use Metric or Torx. Not too much SAE stuff. Im still in the beginning stages of accumulation too and I like the buying as I go along method. You shouldnt really need anything more than craftsman but if you keep breaking the same tool then you should probably get the spendyer stuff. Come to think of it I need a better set of ratchets.

Silver Dollar
07-14-07, 11:05 AM
Removing/installing headers + wiggle joint + extension + air ratchet = sanity