Jump to content


Welcome to Ultimate Subaru Message Board, my lurker friend!

Welcome to Ultimate Subaru Message Board, an unparalleled Subaru community full of the greatest Subaru gurus and modders on the planet! We offer technical information and discussion about all things Subaru, the best and most popular all wheel drive vehicles ever created.

We offer all this information for free to everyone, even lurkers like you! All we ask in return is that you sign up and give back some of what you get out - without our awesome registered users none of this would be possible! Plus, you get way more great stuff as a member! Lurk to lose, participate to WIN*!
  • Say hello and join the conversation
  • Subscribe to topics and forums to get automatic updates
  • Get your own profile and make new friends
  • Classifieds with all sorts of Subaru goodies
  • Photo hosting in our gallery
  • Meet other cool people with cool cars
Seriously, what are you waiting for? Make your life more fulfilling and join today! You and your Subaru won't regret it, we guarantee** it.

* The joy of participation and being generally awesome constitutes winning
** Not an actual guarantee, but seriously, you probably won't regret it!

Serving the Subaru Community since May 18th, 1998!

Guest Message by DevFuse
 

Photo
- - - - -

Air tools! Need some opinions...


  • Please log in to reply
41 replies to this topic

#1 Fairtax4me

Fairtax4me

    Su bah roo'n

  • Gold Subscribers
  • 9,041 posts
  • Charlottesburg, VA

Posted 06 July 2010 - 11:11 PM

I may be starting as a technician at the dealership where I have been employed for the past five years, possibly by the end of this month.
So this has thrown into light a search for a decent set of air tools. Impact wrenches, air ratchets, air hammers, die grinders... and on and on. Now I know I don't need a bunch of fancy three, and four hundred dollar a piece tools, I don't want tools that expensive yet. I'm just trying to find opinions on a good brand(s) of moderately inexpensive tools to get me started. I've looked at Craftsman, Kobalt, IR, SK(expensive), and some others, and honestly I just have no idea what to get.

On the one hand I don't want to cheap out, but I kinda need to keep this inside my budget. I'm looking to stay around $700 - 800 for all the tools I'll be buying, not just the air tools. Now after a tool box and an assortment of sockets, wrenches, drivers, and pliers, that won't leave much room for air tools. So I'm trying to make those my priority.

I'm just trying to get a feeler for who here has used what and how long has it lasted?
Any opinions and advice will be GREATLY appreciated!

#2 tractor pole

tractor pole

    [catch phrase here]

  • Members
  • 549 posts
  • Monroe, WA

Posted 06 July 2010 - 11:33 PM

for the die grinders and air hammers I just bought them from harbor freight, cheap around $30 and they work well. I mainly purchased them because the air supply in the shop I used to work at was very unpredictable (once a day in the summer we would have to drain the water from the tank, and oil the tools twice a day at least.

impacts and air ratchets I went with IR, never had a problem.

Harbor freight can yield a bad tool every once in a while, had to pull a die grinder apart and fix it once before it would work, but after that it worked fine.

#3 NoahDL88

NoahDL88

    Elite Master of Cookies

  • Members
  • 4,264 posts
  • Everett, WA, USA

Posted 06 July 2010 - 11:58 PM

Avoid harbor freight, if your tool breaks at home its inconvenient, if a tool breaks on a job you start loosing money until its fixed.

At a minimum, I'd recommend the craftsman professional stuff, at a minimum.

I've had great luck with Matco, yeah they are more expensive, but when you have to rely on tools to make a living quality counts. When I was wrenching for dollars I had mostly Matco tools.

Don't buy in on the super large Snap-on toolbox, I did very well with a narrow box and a 3-4 drawer cart with the common tools I used every day.


As far as price, I'm not a fan on going into debt on anything but a house, but the Matco man, or woman will take payments. Pay once, cry once, its cheaper in the long run.

#4 davebugs

davebugs

    I don't "friend"

  • Members
  • 3,112 posts
  • Pittsburgh suburbs (NE)

Posted 07 July 2010 - 07:18 AM

I've taken to buying Matco and Snap-on on Ebay. Often new.

Beats the truck prices for sure. Still should be warranted if I ever have a problem.

I did buy the Blue IR impact at Sears for 199 on sale a year or so ago.

I'd say don't be in a rush if you can help it. Keep your eyes out for specials.

CL is a crapshoot.

#5 Scoobywagon

Scoobywagon

    Evil Genius (tm) for Hire

  • Members
  • 1,044 posts
  • Bremerton-like

Posted 07 July 2010 - 08:58 AM

Buy professional tools. Period.

My air tools are Blue Point (Snap-On's entry level stuff). My impact gun makes a metric grip of torque, but also eats up a pretty fair bit of air. My air ratchet makes almost no torque, but it is SO fast. Actually, that's not fair. It makes enough torque to pull the nuts off of gummed up and nasty seat bolts. I'm also a big fan of the Blue Point 130* angle grinder. Makes a heck of a surface prep tool.

More recently, I've become a big fan of Snap-On's line of cordless tools. I've got a 14.4v 3/8 drive cordless impact gun that will ALMOST keep up with my 1/2 drive air impact. Definitely worth a look.

#6 grossgary

grossgary

    Elite Master of the Subaru

  • Members
  • 20,058 posts
  • WV

Posted 07 July 2010 - 09:46 AM

I get mostly craftsmen stuff out of convenience, not preference. Bought an air compressor, air tools, and hand tools about 5 years ago or more. I've had to replace the 1/2" impact just this year (but i never oiled it...is that bad :lol:), many hand ratchets, one or two sockets, and multiple 1/2" to 3/8" adapters (but i'm doing stupid stuff with those). My usage is between home DIY guy and mechanic as I do a lot.

The prices of the high end stuff aren't worth it for me, I'd rather have two of the lower end, but free replacement, options for far less money. Plus I don't care enough about tools, cars...well lots of "stuff", so I'd rather not have expensive tools I need to worry about. If I loose it, it gets stolen, or breaks, I just don't care and would like to keep it that way. :lol: But I like being a little more mobile and free - go work on a tractor, help someone out, etc. I double up on stuff that sees the most use or might break. I have two sets of impact guns, air ratchets, and hand ratchets, and two 1/2" to 3/8" adapters. That pretty much gives me all the back up I need. Bought one set up front and just accumulated other stuff over the years for cheap or free. Having two ratchets is handy while working too.

Harbor freight is a gamble. One out of 5 things sucks, the rest work, so just depends how you value your time/tools/money/etc. I buy things from them that I very rarely need. Not worth the expense and not a big deal if it doesn't work/breaks.

My air tools assortment came with an air hammer, I've never used it, what in the world are those things for anyway!?

#7 heartless

heartless

    Do YOU Subaru?

  • Members
  • 2,853 posts
  • North Central Wisconsin

Posted 07 July 2010 - 10:00 AM

We actually own and use this impact gun and it works VERY well - just remember to oil it once in a while! (gary :rolleyes:) we usually put a 3-6 drops in every other use and it is holding up very well after 5-6 years of fairly regular use - for the price - hard to beat...until you can afford to purchase a "better" one

the other half's boss bought one of these as well for use on thier heavy trucks - his did die after about a year & a half - BUT - he never oiled it!! :eek:

#8 rpholz

rpholz

    Subaru Fanatic!

  • Members
  • 556 posts
  • Concord, NC

Posted 07 July 2010 - 10:16 AM

I bought a used IR 231C from the snap on guy for 50bucks.

Best investment ever. i worked at Tire Kingdom at the time so it was used constantly. And not just by myself, everytime i turned around someone else was borrowing it, because theirs couldnt break something loose.

i tell you, you can throw this thing, never oil it, beat the snot outta it and it always works like a champ.

i will recomend if you buy something used like i did, pull it apart and seriously clean it. it will definatly help it out.

#9 GeneralDisorder

GeneralDisorder

    Elite Master of the Subaru

  • Members
  • 20,281 posts
  • Portland

Posted 07 July 2010 - 11:46 AM

Ebay - Chicago Pnumatic, Snap-On, Ingersol-Rand, Mac, Matco.... in that order of preference.

Don't be afraid to buy stuff that's used - most quality air tools can easily be rebuilt. Air motors are simple.

With your budget you probably want to initially get some die-grinders and such from Harbor Frieght.

Frankly - $700 to $800 for a box, hand tools, and air tools isn't much. My 1980's Snap-On box was $750 by itself.

Have you talked with the Snap-On guy that services your shop? I got a $1000 "truck account" with mine - that's just credit with him personally, not Snap-On corporate. I didn't want any intrest nor a huge account balance so I went with the on-truck account. Being that you work for the dealership and have for a long time your driver should be able to hook you up without credit check's or anything like that. He got me my box used (he takes trade-in's and stores them) and a couple other things. I'm paid up now but if I need a tool I just call Gordon and tell him what I need - don't need to have the cash on hand which is really useful sometimes when money is tight and I need to finish a job to get paid, etc.

I say look into getting a truck account started with your Snap-On rep - put say $100 toward the account right away as a good faith gesture then setup a payment plan of $25 a week (I make it a point to overpay each week), etc. Then use the other $700 you have to spend on ebay, craigslist, etc. Get yourself a used box if he has one and a set of 80 tooth ratchets - maybe a set of ratcheting box wrenches if you can swing it on the truck.

Don't buy a lot of cheap tools - Craftsman is the bottom of the line for me on hand tools, etc. You can buy a nice big socket set there and then replace the ratchets from the Snap-On truck.

GD

#10 Fairtax4me

Fairtax4me

    Su bah roo'n

  • Gold Subscribers
  • 9,041 posts
  • Charlottesburg, VA

Posted 08 July 2010 - 12:06 AM

I'm not sure if we have a regular Snap-On rep anymore. We've had a few and they always have offered to take payments (most of the our techs take advantage of this). The most recent one was around for about 2 years but just sold all his inventory about 3 months ago and moved on to another company. He was selling it all off at or very near cost to pay off his account.

We do have a regular Matco rep now, which we haven't had in about a year. I'll see what he has to offer next time he's around.

The tool box will probably be a simple 4 or 5 drawer, like $250 from Lowes or the local hardware store. As long as it has a lock and key, doesn't need to be real fancy beyond that right now. Something that's not too big to take home when I decide it's too small for the shop. Work space is like prime real estate in this shop, there's not much of it, so the more I can keep the better. :lol:


It's kinda sounding like, stay away from store brands. I'm gonna have to pass on the Harbor Freight stuff, but thanks for the suggestions. IR seems to have better specs and reviews on their impacts than similar tools by other brands for not much more coin. I've read a lot about the 231, and besides the weight of the gun and it's consumption of air, it seems to have praise all around. We have a 200ish gallon tank with twin compressors (not sure on their ratings but they're huge) so air flow is not a big concern, but the weight might be. At 6 lbs, that is pretty heavy for something I'll likely be picking up all day long. Not real sure that I want to spend the money on a Snap-On or Matco right away, but I'll see what they have in the next week or so and try to make a decision.

Most of the basics that I'll probably need I already have, so it's not like I'm buying a whole new arsenal of tools right away. But there are a few things I think I'll need. I will eventually have a dedicated set of tools for work so I can use my old tools at home.

#11 Mugs

Mugs

    Subaru Fanatic!

  • Members
  • 544 posts
  • Spokane & Hobart, Wa.

Posted 09 July 2010 - 12:45 AM

Like most have said, when it comes to making money working on cars never ever go cheap. There is (and I pride miyself on saying this) not one crapsman tool in my box at all. IT is all Snap on, Mac, and Matco with some S&K. as far as buying tools, you will see that one may make a better of something then the other, or one rep may be more you personality style or you get along with better. So do your homework and then buy. I always check all three truck for what it was that I wnated then mae the purchase next week. Unless it was something I was eying for a long time off a particular truck then I just went and bought it. At the dealership I really liked the Snap on guy, but when I went to a smaller independant shop the Mac guy was better so I mostly went with him.

Some tools however I only buy in one brand. Like wrenches I only buy Snap on Flank Drive wrenches. Sockets I prefer Mac edge, Impact swivel I like Matco. air tools Mac, plyers and such it can be who ever. You get the point.

Also check you pawn shops. Her we have a pawn shop that is only a tool pawn shop, and only deals with the higher end line of tools. that may be a way to build up a set on a very limited budget.

Edited by Mugs, 09 July 2010 - 12:47 AM.


#12 Scoobywagon

Scoobywagon

    Evil Genius (tm) for Hire

  • Members
  • 1,044 posts
  • Bremerton-like

Posted 09 July 2010 - 10:42 AM

When you make your living on your hand tools, it never pays to go cheap.

Here's what I did. I initially worked out of a large tool bag. I had an assortment of Craftsman and Harbor Freight tools in it. Later, I discovered the Snap-On guy would let me set up a truck account. I bought Blue Point SAE and Metric wrenches to replace the ones I'd broken and discovered something I hadn't realized before. There IS a difference among them. Harbor Freight and Craftsman wrenches are soft compared to my Blue points. The HF wrenches are worse than the Craftsman, but having used the Blue Point wrenches, I won't go back to either of the others. I find that because the Blue Point wrenches are harder, the don't flex and therefore transmit applied torque more efficiently. That means I don't have to work as hard and that makes me faster.

Craftsman is a good starting point, but that's all it should be for a professional.

#13 Fairtax4me

Fairtax4me

    Su bah roo'n

  • Gold Subscribers
  • 9,041 posts
  • Charlottesburg, VA

Posted 09 July 2010 - 06:44 PM

I have noticed that with some of my cheap wrenches vs the nicer wrenches the guys in the shop have. The nicer ones always seem to be a more exact fit, and don't tend to slip as often. (probably because of the fit) And they have a nicer "ring" to them if you drop one. :lol:

I did find out today we DO have a Snap On rep now. So I'll have at least two choices for accounts if I decide to go that route.

#14 Scoobywagon

Scoobywagon

    Evil Genius (tm) for Hire

  • Members
  • 1,044 posts
  • Bremerton-like

Posted 09 July 2010 - 08:08 PM

I think with a bit of observation you'll find that not only do they offer a more precise fit, the jaws on the open wrenches don't flex when you REALLY start herfing on them. I LOVE that fact. You may also want to think about getting the longer wrenches. I've never yet come across a situation where I thought to myself "What I really need here is a shorter wrench." Its always been "I need a bigger lever." Not saying that's how you'll find things, but long wrenches are nice.

#15 Fairtax4me

Fairtax4me

    Su bah roo'n

  • Gold Subscribers
  • 9,041 posts
  • Charlottesburg, VA

Posted 09 July 2010 - 09:46 PM

There are in fact times when I have thought "I need a shorter wrench". :lol: They are few and far between, but it has happened. But yes I will be looking for extra long wrench sets primarily.

I guess I've never put enough into a crescent wrench to see it flex, but that is an interesting observation.

#16 GeneralDisorder

GeneralDisorder

    Elite Master of the Subaru

  • Members
  • 20,281 posts
  • Portland

Posted 10 July 2010 - 12:19 PM

Stubby wrenches can be useful at times. Generally you can double-wrench with the standard length one's if you don't have a long set but a long set is handy.

GD

#17 Caboobaroo

Caboobaroo

    USMB Drunk

  • Members
  • 6,903 posts
  • Oregon City

Posted 11 July 2010 - 07:01 PM

I'm working on two different sets of tools since I'm a mechanic both at work and at home.

I'm currently using a Matco series 6 box at work in yellow (I got it for real cheap since it was used by a coworker for a year or so) and I have an older Snap-On box from the 80's that I bought a few years ago, in my garage. I'm using most name brand tools (Snap-On, Mac and Matco) at work and the stuff that I used to use (mainly Craftsman) is taken residence at home in the garage.

For air tools, I don't use anything from Harbor Freight and don't recommend it. Craftsman is all right but my experience, I mainly use a Mac 3/8" impact gun with a set of Mac deep impact sockets ranging from 8mm-24mm and I tend to use them all. I don't usually use my Snap-On 1/2" impact unless I'm working on something that requires a bit more oomph.

I also have a Mac angle grinder, Blue Point cut off wheel, Mac air hammer and Mac 1/4" air ratchet. I really don't use much more then that as far as air tools for now but I'm guessing later in life I might need to buy something else.

I still like the reactions I get when people who don't work on cars for a living, ask me how much money in tools I've spent... My dad asked me and when I dropped a $50k answer including my house box and tools, I thought he was going to have a heart attack:lol:

#18 1-3-2-4

1-3-2-4

    Subaru Mike!

  • Members
  • 3,727 posts
  • Greenwich

Posted 11 July 2010 - 07:23 PM

We actually own and use this impact gun and it works VERY well - just remember to oil it once in a while! (gary :rolleyes:) we usually put a 3-6 drops in every other use and it is holding up very well after 5-6 years of fairly regular use - for the price - hard to beat...until you can afford to purchase a "better" one

the other half's boss bought one of these as well for use on thier heavy trucks - his did die after about a year & a half - BUT - he never oiled it!! :eek:




I have that gun and it's great but it is heavy.. but not bad.. And as for other who say avoid harbour freight for this store you really have to read reviews... I post over at the 80+ page at slickdeals on HF and over at the garage journal.

Now if these tools are for a shop I might not use them only for a backup..

But what I picked up from HF so far still works fine..

10gal air compressor
1/2" earthquake impact
1/2" impact socket set
50Ft goodyear air hose
blow gun

#19 Fairtax4me

Fairtax4me

    Su bah roo'n

  • Gold Subscribers
  • 9,041 posts
  • Charlottesburg, VA

Posted 11 July 2010 - 09:55 PM

I still like the reactions I get when people who don't work on cars for a living, ask me how much money in tools I've spent... My dad asked me and when I dropped a $50k answer including my house box and tools, I thought he was going to have a heart attack

The crazy thing is, that's a drop in the bucket compared to what some techs have spent during their careers. We used to have a tech who has been in the business for close to 30 years. Largest selection of tools I have ever seen, and about half of them were specialty type tools that he might have used a half dozen times EVER. I asked him once, and between the tool boxes (he had 3 at the shop, 2 old ones at home) all the tools and equipment he had, he estimated he'd spent over 200k. :eek:
It doesn't surprise me at all to hear about techs spending 30 - 40k on tools in their first few years. Especially these days... Snap-On has a tool box. It's 12 feet long, has 35 drawers, and costs 20k just by itself. :eek: Why you'd ever need it... beyond me, but I'm sure someone has bought one.
And then there's the TUV. http://buy1.snapon.c...ore&dir=catalog :eek::eek:

#20 Mugs

Mugs

    Subaru Fanatic!

  • Members
  • 544 posts
  • Spokane & Hobart, Wa.

Posted 11 July 2010 - 10:18 PM

Snap-On has a tool box. It's 12 feet long, has 35 drawers, and costs 20k just by itself. :eek: Why you'd ever need it... beyond me, but I'm sure someone has bought one.


My Friends box at work. The box cost him 25K about ten years ago. Yes its full, Yes he uses it all. He has been a mechanic where I work for 25 years.

Posted Image

My Box. And its stuffed and I need a bigger one. This is about 3 solid years of tool buying.

Posted Image

The Top Drawer:

Posted Image

Posted Image

Second Drawer (same size) :

Posted Image

Posted Image

Wrench Drawer:
Posted Image

You get the point, and can see how one should keep there tools.

But notice how it appears to be sitting inside a home owners garage in a corner :eek: THATS BECAUSE I HAVE BEEN OUT OF A JOB FOR A YEAR BECAUSE OF THE ECONOMY :mad: GOOD LUCK WRENCHIN AND MAKIN A LIVIN BUDDY:rolleyes: Its hard life and way to earn money, so don't forget to take off the rose colored glasses before making too much of a hasty desicion.

Edited by Mugs, 11 July 2010 - 10:28 PM.


#21 Fairtax4me

Fairtax4me

    Su bah roo'n

  • Gold Subscribers
  • 9,041 posts
  • Charlottesburg, VA

Posted 15 July 2010 - 11:50 PM

You should come over to the east coast. :lol: We're hiring experienced techs for Toyota, Honda, Dodge, Jeep. Business is slowly picking up in this area, that's the only reason I've been offered this position. But it's still up in the air. I won't know anything concrete until at least middle next week, probably more end of the week.

#22 Olnick

Olnick

    Ol' Subaru Guy

  • Members
  • 2,641 posts
  • Honolulu HI

Posted 16 July 2010 - 02:16 AM

Good luck, Fairtax. Hope it goes well for you.

#23 Fairtax4me

Fairtax4me

    Su bah roo'n

  • Gold Subscribers
  • 9,041 posts
  • Charlottesburg, VA

Posted 16 July 2010 - 11:31 PM

Thanks Olnick.

#24 Markus56

Markus56

    Whup tee do

  • Members
  • 794 posts
  • Wolf Point, Montana

Posted 26 July 2010 - 10:10 PM

When you do purchase air tools make sure to get:

1/2" drive impact
3/8" impact
3/8" air ratchet
1/4" air ratchet or cordless impact

Working in an independent shop, the tool i use the most is my 3/8 air ratchet. comes in very handy. and i want to get a 1/4 inch drive battery powered ratchet/impact.

#25 Fairtax4me

Fairtax4me

    Su bah roo'n

  • Gold Subscribers
  • 9,041 posts
  • Charlottesburg, VA

Posted 27 July 2010 - 11:47 PM

and i want to get a 1/4 inch drive battery powered ratchet/impact.

I've wanted one of those for years. Never could justify spending $150+ for one though. But I went out and bought a Craftsman C3 cordless drill with the lithium battery pack about three months ago. The C3 line includes a 1/4" cordless impact that is only about $60 without the battery and charger. I can use the same pack and charger that came with the drill. :grin:




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users