good starter tool set for home and auto use ?

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Re: good starter tool set for home and auto use ?

Post by SCBrian » Wed Jan 02, 2019 11:11 am

Craftsman is making a serious effort to bring manufacturing back to the US. : https://www.craftsman.com/whereitsmade
That said, the core of my hand tools have been Craftsman and I've had them for over 25 years.
Kobalt (Lowes), Husky (Home Depot) also come to mind. Snap-on is a good brand, but likely more than you would ever need, and YES, they really are that expensive.

I look for durability (Buy once, cry once) then cost in my tools, and the 3 brands above all hit the mark (Craftsman, Kobalt, Husky) with solid tools and a good return/replace policy.

Start with something like this: https://www.lowes.com/pd/Kobalt-227-Pie ... 1000642747
Then add in some good pliers, and screwdrivers and you have a great start. If he'd doing auto work, JACKSTANDS, take it from someone who almost lost 2 fingers. JACKSTANDS.

That will cover most of the automotive issues, the home issues are a little different and require different tools. ie. Plumbing vs Electric vs drywall....
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Re: good starter tool set for home and auto use ?

Post by woodsghost » Wed Jan 02, 2019 2:07 pm

I think about 90% of what I've done, living in an apartment, required a cordless drill, a saw, a right angle, and a pencil.

A $30 wrench set plus specialized extra bits round out most (90%?) of what I have used on my car.

I have used much more when I was working minor construction jobs.

My hammer now mostly gets used to hang pictures and my screwdrivers mostly get used for guns.

Just my experiences.

Especially if you are in an apartment, some saw horses (or heavy 5 gal buckets) and a tarp are very handy.
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Re: good starter tool set for home and auto use ?

Post by majorhavoc » Wed Jan 02, 2019 3:36 pm

A decent socket wrench set is a lifetime investment that will pay for itself many times over if you're at all handy/mechanically inclined. I purchased a Craftsman SAE/metric set in the late 1980s when they probably were still American made. I was just a kid at the time, but to this day, I consider it one of the wisest, most mature decisions I've ever made.

Sears has sold off the Craftsman brand, so at this point I consider the Craftsman name to be just that, merely a brand. At this point, I feel no particular compulsion to recommend it over any other decent quality consumer grade tool line.

I agree Snap On is overkill for the home DIY'er. I've eyeballed the Kobalt and Husky brands (Lowes and Home Depot) and those products look perfectly decent. Honestly though, even the newer stuff at Harbor Freight looks pretty good to my eye (not their cheapest sets, but the more expensive ones with the etched markings on the individual sockets). I've never come close to breaking a socket however, so I question the need to pay absolutely top dollar. Spend enough to get reasonable tolerances so you don't strip/round off fasteners. And go with something with a decent warranty/replacement policy for peace of mind. Beyond that, just get the tools. You might go years before you use a particular socket, but it's great to have on hand when you finally need it.

As handy as socket wrenches are, a good set of SAE and metric open end spanners are absolutely the better tool in some situations.

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Re: good starter tool set for home and auto use ?

Post by boskone » Wed Jan 02, 2019 7:57 pm

I've had really good luck with my Kobalt tools over the last few years. I do take good care of mine, but I don't exactly baby them in use.

Last time I was at the Lowe's by work, they had a few tool sets leftover from Christmas on sale that would make a great starter kit.

Something like this, I think would be a good start.

If small electronics are a probability, a suitable tool kit. I have one like this. It's not as nice as, say, iFixit...but does the job and is far cheaper. A good soldering iron, helping hands, and soldering station could be helpful if small electronic repairs are probable; if it's just tinning connections, a cheap hot iron will do fine.

I'd add, when/where possible (in no particular order):
  • a hand/frame saw 15-20"
  • 6" torpedo level
  • Speed square
  • Glues: cyanoacrylate (superglue), at least medium-grade threadlocker, wood glue (titebond)
  • Teflon tape (for plumbing screw connections)
  • Electric drill and circular saw with matching batteries
  • Bit set
  • Good work gloves (mechanix-type; I have and like my Kobalt-branded knockoffs)
  • Nitrile gloves
  • Tapes: painters/masking, packing, and duct/gaffer/gorilla
  • Gojo Fast Orange or similar (great for getting crud off your hands, also good for getting crud off of just about everything else that won't scratch)
  • WD-40 (I keep a light coat on all my tools to inhibit rust...plus all it's other uses)
  • Magnetic tool tray, great for keeping you crap together while working on a project, policing up screws and such, and so on
And on the more advanced end a decent workbench, a decent 5-inch bench vise, floor jack, jackstands (don't do actual work on any jack except in direst necessity), a good task light with magnifying glass.

Unless you need something right the hell now, wait until you can buy something decent quality. Yea, Walmart carries tools...but I've torn up tools from Walmart performing tasks my only-slightly-more-expensive Kobalt and Craftman tools handled with aplomb. Harbor Freight tool quality is usually opposite their complexity: the more moving parts it has, the more likely you are to regret buying it. That said, HF does make some kit that's perfectly good. Weha, Knipex, and the like are nice, but for most people the cost exceeds the benefits.

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Re: good starter tool set for home and auto use ?

Post by woodsghost » Wed Jan 02, 2019 8:23 pm

boskone wrote:
Wed Jan 02, 2019 7:57 pm

Unless you need something right the hell now, wait until you can buy something decent quality. Yea, Walmart carries tools...but I've torn up tools from Walmart performing tasks my only-slightly-more-expensive Kobalt and Craftman tools handled with aplomb.
This has also been my experience.

And I"m humble enough to say; while the OP asked the question, I"m learning some here. Thanks y'all.
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Re: good starter tool set for home and auto use ?

Post by JeeperCreeper » Wed Jan 02, 2019 11:16 pm

For a "non-professional", Harbor Frieght is my top pick for most tools if you have one nearby.

Their house brand for most hand tools is "Pittsburgh Tools" made in Taiwan and they are quite good.

Stanley sets from Walmart are also quite nice.

I run Craftsman as my "mechanics tool kit", but all my wrenches and accessories are Harbor Frieght or Stanley.

You'll find most tools are made in Taiwan or China so look for a good price with a good warranty (lifetime).

If you live near a Lowe's or Home Depot, going with Kobalt or Husky isn't a bad idea either.
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Re: good starter tool set for home and auto use ?

Post by JeeperCreeper » Wed Jan 02, 2019 11:19 pm

Also, if you watch torture tests on YouTube, you'll see that Snap-On, Mac, or SK aren't really worth the price for most people.

But if you find old ones at a yard sale, buy those up quick!!
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Re: good starter tool set for home and auto use ?

Post by Evan the Diplomat » Thu Jan 03, 2019 12:31 am

If you are asking what kind of tools to get, you are actually looking for two distinct sets as they are two very different tasks. Basically a mechanical tools set and a carpentry/electrical/plumbing set.

I have not worked under the hood of a car for 40 years, but I’m getting back into it. I found this guy on YouTube who goes by ChrisFix. He has phenomenal step-by-step videos on doing different types of car repairs from flushing your power steering fluid, to changing your brake rotors and shoes. He also includes links to all the tools and materials he uses. About 4 million followers.

For household tools here is a list from popular mechanics.https://www.popularmechanics.com/home/t ... hould-own/ I suppose they are as good as anyone.

I have visited some contractor forums and they speak pretty highly of Harbor Freight tools, but not the power tools. So that would be things like saws, hammers and wrenches. Regarding power tools I would look at the house brands for both Home Depot, which I think is Ridgid, and Lowe’s which is Kobalt. You will notice that the tool colors match the store colors. So which ever store is closer would be my choice.

If you travel overseas a lot, you might want to think about Ryobi power tools, they use the same battery so you just need to buy a local wall charger in 240v.

Lastly remember what Clint Eastwood said in Gran Torino “any man worth his salt can do 90% of home repairs with a roll of duct tape, a pair of vise grips‘s had a can of WD-40.“
Last edited by Evan the Diplomat on Thu Jan 03, 2019 12:39 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: good starter tool set for home and auto use ?

Post by RonnyRonin » Thu Jan 03, 2019 12:32 am

I've had a set of harbor freight wrenches and sockets in each car for quite a few years now. The sockets and wrenches have worked well enough, but I've broken two ratchets now that were pretty miserable to use even before they broke, so I would strongly recommend holding out for kobalt/husky at the minimum. Black Friday is a great time to get stuff from home depot, and I've seen quite a few of their tool sets on eBay for even steeper discounts.

What I keep hearing from folks in the know is buy whichever tools have the best local support for you. I've never really lived that close to a harbor freight, and I like shopping at Home Depot far better then Lowes, and in most places I've lived Home Depot has been closer for me anyway. I've had hassle free returns there so even though I don't have many yet I fully plan to trade out my HF for husky as funds allow.
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Re: good starter tool set for home and auto use ?

Post by Stercutus » Thu Jan 03, 2019 2:32 pm

Lowes had some great deals on starter Kobalt tool sets over the holidays. Still have some.

https://www.lowes.com/pd/Kobalt-Househo ... 1000050429

This will cover quite a lot of tasks from home repair to simple auto repair.
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Re: good starter tool set for home and auto use ?

Post by JeeperCreeper » Thu Jan 03, 2019 4:41 pm

That Kobalt set looks nice!

Also, when looking at sockets, get 6 point not 12 point. You'll strip less bolt heads.
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Re: good starter tool set for home and auto use ?

Post by Evan the Diplomat » Sun Jan 06, 2019 10:10 pm

Stercutus wrote:
Thu Jan 03, 2019 2:32 pm
Lowes had some great deals on starter Kobalt tool sets over the holidays. Still have some.

https://www.lowes.com/pd/Kobalt-Househo ... 1000050429

This will cover quite a lot of tasks from home repair to simple auto repair.
For $99 I’m tempted to buy it and just junk all my old duplicate tools.
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Re: good starter tool set for home and auto use ?

Post by boskone » Sun Jan 06, 2019 10:41 pm

Evan the Diplomat wrote:
Sun Jan 06, 2019 10:10 pm
Stercutus wrote:
Thu Jan 03, 2019 2:32 pm
Lowes had some great deals on starter Kobalt tool sets over the holidays. Still have some.

https://www.lowes.com/pd/Kobalt-Househo ... 1000050429

This will cover quite a lot of tasks from home repair to simple auto repair.
For $99 I’m tempted to buy it and just junk all my old duplicate tools.
Nah, never hurts to have spares. Buy a cheap toolbox for your old ones, leave 'em in your car or BOL.

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Re: good starter tool set for home and auto use ?

Post by JeeperCreeper » Sun Jan 06, 2019 10:44 pm

So I had a broken 5" 1/4 drive ratchet that was busted. Craftsman with a Lifetime warranty.

Since my Sears went outta business 3 years ago, I swung by Lowe's that now carries Craftsman. They didn't have a Craftsman in stock that would replace mine, but I offered to trade it in on a $20 Kobalt version. The customer service guy was actually fine with that and swapped it out for me.

So yeah, I traded a Made In The USA Craftsman for a Made In Taiwan Kobalt.... but at least their warranty swapping was easy peasy.
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Re: good starter tool set for home and auto use ?

Post by BooSmith » Tue Jan 08, 2019 11:42 pm

Well 40 years ago, I bought a Sears Craftsman 100 piece mechanics tool set for a now laughably low price. I have off and on used this very hard at time and then it might go years before it was again used much at all. But in all that time other than the sockets my children have lost "HELPING Daddy" I have never had to replace a single piece. I feel it is one of the best purchases I have ever made and has saved me many times it's cost over the years. I really don't feel they are as good now as they used to be but maybe that is old age talking.

But still find a good 100 to 300 piece tool set, Craftsman, Husky, Kobalt all come to mind. I don't like the Harbor Freight big tool sets but I do like their individual sets especially the sockets!

But tools without training are useless. Learn how to change your oil and replace brakes and calipers and rotors. Learn some small engine repair.... You Tube has a gentleman called "Mustie1" you can learn a lot from him.

Skills are needed in many fields, but small engines and blacksmithing and welding are going to be in big demand if things do go down the tubes. Gunsmithing might be needed too LOL

Buy the tools but learn some skills too! Then get out and Fix something as Stephen Cox says on you tube (another good channel!)

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Re: good starter tool set for home and auto use ?

Post by NT2C » Wed Jan 09, 2019 1:13 am

JeeperCreeper wrote:
Sun Jan 06, 2019 10:44 pm
So I had a broken 5" 1/4 drive ratchet that was busted. Craftsman with a Lifetime warranty.

Since my Sears went outta business 3 years ago, I swung by Lowe's that now carries Craftsman. They didn't have a Craftsman in stock that would replace mine, but I offered to trade it in on a $20 Kobalt version. The customer service guy was actually fine with that and swapped it out for me.

So yeah, I traded a Made In The USA Craftsman for a Made In Taiwan Kobalt.... but at least their warranty swapping was easy peasy.
I miss the good old days of Sears. :(

When I was in high school in the 70s I inherited a toolbox full of mechanics tools from an uncle who had passed away. Most of the sockets, ratchets and wrenches were pre-WWII Craftsman, with some that were from the very early days, before they were chrome plated. Several of the ratchets and a couple of the wrenches were broken or worn out (one wrench had been cut and then welded to make an angled head end) and my local Sears exchanged all of them except for one ratchet with no problems. The one ratchet they didn't exchange was a very old one with something of an odd design as it had a round handle that was riveted to the ratchet head, and the ratchet mechanism was external, not internal. The associate told me that this was one of the original ratchets sold from back in the 20s when the brand was launched. They didn't make that style any longer and he doubted that he could locate one for me. He offered to replace it with one of the new style ratchets but I kinda liked the feel of it and told him to forget it. The main issue with that one was that the rivets holding the handle on were loose and the handle wobbled some. The following year my machine shop teacher helped me fix it using a 50 ton press and some specially made dies to shape the rivet heads (I had to machine the dies to his spec.)
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Re: good starter tool set for home and auto use ?

Post by JeeperCreeper » Wed Jan 09, 2019 1:25 am

NT2C wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 1:13 am
JeeperCreeper wrote:
Sun Jan 06, 2019 10:44 pm
So I had a broken 5" 1/4 drive ratchet that was busted. Craftsman with a Lifetime warranty.

Since my Sears went outta business 3 years ago, I swung by Lowe's that now carries Craftsman. They didn't have a Craftsman in stock that would replace mine, but I offered to trade it in on a $20 Kobalt version. The customer service guy was actually fine with that and swapped it out for me.

So yeah, I traded a Made In The USA Craftsman for a Made In Taiwan Kobalt.... but at least their warranty swapping was easy peasy.
I miss the good old days of Sears. :(

When I was in high school in the 70s I inherited a toolbox full of mechanics tools from an uncle who had passed away. Most of the sockets, ratchets and wrenches were pre-WWII Craftsman, with some that were from the very early days, before they were chrome plated. Several of the ratchets and a couple of the wrenches were broken or worn out (one wrench had been cut and then welded to make an angled head end) and my local Sears exchanged all of them except for one ratchet with no problems. The one ratchet they didn't exchange was a very old one with something of an odd design as it had a round handle that was riveted to the ratchet head, and the ratchet mechanism was external, not internal. The associate told me that this was one of the original ratchets sold from back in the 20s when the brand was launched. They didn't make that style any longer and he doubted that he could locate one for me. He offered to replace it with one of the new style ratchets but I kinda liked the feel of it and told him to forget it. The main issue with that one was that the rivets holding the handle on were loose and the handle wobbled some. The following year my machine shop teacher helped me fix it using a 50 ton press and some specially made dies to shape the rivet heads (I had to machine the dies to his spec.)
Yeah, I miss Sears as well...

I wonder if those tools are worth anything as collectables. Then again, tool-guys like working with tools and not collecting them...
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Re: good starter tool set for home and auto use ?

Post by boskone » Wed Jan 09, 2019 6:29 pm

JeeperCreeper wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 1:25 am
Yeah, I miss Sears as well...
There is a certain irony, and a probably entirely-unnoticed lesson, in a business that made it's name in catalog sales going under because it couldn't figure out internet sales.
I wonder if those tools are worth anything as collectables. Then again, tool-guys like working with tools and not collecting them...
For many, both. No reason not to collect something useful, and if it's still useful why not use it? :D

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Re: good starter tool set for home and auto use ?

Post by eugene » Wed Jan 09, 2019 6:43 pm

The difficulty you have for getting tools for both home and auto use it that most stuff around the home is inch and most auto stuff metric, so you really need two sets.
I like many have a lot of Craftsman, I'd buy some here and there on sale. Truck has a set of basic screwdrivers, set of wrenches and a 3/8" and 1/4" socket set, all metric. Then a few specialized tools like a big breaker bar and socket that fits the lug nuts, the tools for fuel and AT hoses, etc.
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