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07.05.2014
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When it comes to mechanics, industrial, and aerospace tools, such as wrenches, ratchets, sockets, and similar accessories, there is a broad spectrum of brands and products to choose from.
Mid-Level – Better brands, such as Craftsman Professional (at least with their previous USA-made lines), are not quite at the same level as other industrial brands, but offer tools that are stronger or better featured than less expensive entry-level ones. Super-Premium – When you need absolute uncompromised quality, as well as at-your-door service, tool truck brands such as Snap-on are at the highest rung of the quality and price ladder. The answer used to be that Craftsman Professional was the way to go, but in recent years they discontinued many if not all of their USA-made tools, replacing them with redesigns that are manufactured overseas.
There really aren’t any mid-level USA-manufacturing mechanics tool brands around to fill the holes left by the departed Craftsman Professional line, but there are some great reasonably-affordable professional and industrial brands to consider. Although I sometimes describe this category as simply being mechanics tools, the same tools are often used in aerospace and other industries. For me, USA-made typically means high quality tools, experienced engineering, and a history of excellence that instills a sense of trust and reliability.
I should point out that, while I often prefer USA-made mechanics tools, quality and functionality are my top priorities.
All but one of these brands are part of other larger corporations (more info about large tool corporations). Armstrong seems to be more aimed towards government, aerospace, and military users, but a lot of their tools are affordable and easy to find for mechanics and independent users. Proto has become one of my favorite industrial tool brands. Their new spline ratcheting wrenches are great, their Duratek screwdrivers are awesome, and their ratchets are both consistently good and affordable.
Although I have very little experience with SK in the past, I have read numerous times that their quality has gone back up to former levels, following their bankruptcy and acquisition by Ideal Industries. Williams offers tools that are made in the USA, and ones that are made overseas, but it’s easy to differentiate the separate lines by looking through their catalog. There is a lot of debate whether Williams tools are simply relabeled Snap-on tools without the premium prices attached to tool truck distribution structure, but insiders have pointed out a few subtle changes, such as the level of attention given to finishing tools prior to chrome plating.


I recently purchased a few Williams tools, and am pretty pleased with the quality thus far. Wright doesn’t produce anywhere near as many tools as the other brands, but there are a few gems in their offerings, such as their stellar wrenches. Seeing as Masterforce is brand where you can purchase a American made Phillips #0000 screwdriver and some other neat items, I’ve had some really positive experiences with this brand. As for Craftsman Industrial in regards to Nicholas, I believe those USA made items are either made by the Danaher Corporation.
Now I don’t dislike Proto themselves, having owned several American made items from them, but while I am sure this is a very unpopular opinion, I am not exactly thrilled by Black and Decker Stanley. If I was starting from scratch today, I’d be spending all my $ at Proto and SK for hardline tools. I have very little brand loyalty, my tools are a total mish-mash of USA brands, nary a complete set of any to be found. I will second the idea of tool purchases at Epsteins, I do most of my shopping on the discontinued side of their offerings. Folks talk about warrenty replacement, but honestly in 33 years of teaching shop and more than that on the farm, the broken tools I’ve replaced would fit in my pocket.
I can’t tell you the amount of tools I see that are abused when in reality if the PROPER tool was used the first time, work would be much quicker and less tool breakage as well. Although rare, it’s possible for tools tool fail due to manufacturing defects and quality issues that might not be obviously apparent. The Country of Origin on most recent Craftsman hardline tools (sockets and wrenches) is China.
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Craftsman Professional tools offered fantastic bang for the buck, and it was often believed that many Craftsman pro tools were relabeled Armstrong tools. It’s a simplification to describe these tools as being mechanics tools, but one that usually works.
It typically also means easier warranty replacement or greater availability and quicker acquisition of new tools. I recently purchased Wera tools that are made in the Czech Republic, and Facom tools that are made in Taiwan. A quick but not sure way to know if a Williams tool is made in the USA is to look at the part number. I would imagine it would work twice as good if it also had it on the lower jaw too facing the opposite direction. Those kids were hard on things, and farm equipment can have some pretty tough wrenching, I wouldn’t worry about good quality discontinued tools. The other 10% is Cornwell tools, which are great too and for a great price as well as compared to Snap On. And like a shot DEWALT has applied that Lapp no nonsense GUARANTEED yobbo philosophy to its new wrinkle of heavy responsibility reach tools. Anglo American Tools supplier of laurels fetching innovational high choice professional hired man tools from European Union Knipex Hazet Kukko clench On and Nes.
Considering all the pro line tools i have bought that i will no longer be able to replace with EQUAL quality replacements, I will not waste my time or money on them anymore. In the flick on tools catalog you leave find hand tools that get-up-and-go the envelope of pattern possibilities.



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