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Air tools! Need some opinions...
Posted 06 July 2010 - 11:11 PM
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!
Posted 06 July 2010 - 11:33 PM
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.
Posted 06 July 2010 - 11:58 PM
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.
Posted 07 July 2010 - 07:18 AM
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.
Posted 07 July 2010 - 08:58 AM
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.
Posted 07 July 2010 - 09:46 AM
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. 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!?
Posted 07 July 2010 - 10:00 AM
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!!
Posted 07 July 2010 - 10:16 AM
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.
Posted 07 July 2010 - 11:46 AM
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.
Posted 08 July 2010 - 12:06 AM
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.
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.
Posted 09 July 2010 - 12:45 AM
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.
Posted 09 July 2010 - 10:42 AM
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.
Posted 09 July 2010 - 06:44 PM
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.
Posted 09 July 2010 - 08:08 PM
Posted 09 July 2010 - 09:46 PM
I guess I've never put enough into a crescent wrench to see it flex, but that is an interesting observation.
Posted 10 July 2010 - 12:19 PM
Posted 11 July 2010 - 07:01 PM
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:
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 ) 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!!
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
Posted 11 July 2010 - 09:55 PM
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.
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
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. 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:
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. 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.
My Box. And its stuffed and I need a bigger one. This is about 3 solid years of tool buying.
The Top Drawer:
Second Drawer (same size) :
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 THATS BECAUSE I HAVE BEEN OUT OF A JOB FOR A YEAR BECAUSE OF THE ECONOMY 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.
Posted 15 July 2010 - 11:50 PM
Posted 26 July 2010 - 10:10 PM
1/2" drive 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.
Posted 27 July 2010 - 11:47 PM
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.
and i want to get a 1/4 inch drive battery powered ratchet/impact.
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