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Everything you need to know about tools and what you should have in your toolbox.

Okay, you want to do your own work on your car or you have a project car that you want to fix up and restore. You know what you want to do and how to do it. Now the question is, do you have the tools to do it? I have been a mechanic for 30 years and I have collected quite a few tools. In fact, every week I still spend $50.00 to $75.00 on tools. Some tools are special tools for a specific make and model of car or for a specific job. Most of my tools are general hand tools for day-to-day work. Last time I estimated, I had about $150,000.00 invested in tools.

Let's first talk about some different brands of tools...

Snap-On Tools:

Snap-On tools are, in my opinion, the best tools on the market. I have been using Snap-On tools my entire career and as far as I'm concerned no other brand of tool comes close. They are also the most expensive tools you can buy. They have a unique cut to their sockets and wrenches that will remove nuts and bolts that other tools will not. They are chrome plated and look as good as they work.

Snap-On tools are not readily available to the general public; they are geared to the automotive professional. Snap-On dealers go from shop to shop in a rolling display truck and service professional mechanics and auto body technicians. They can supply anything from a simple set of screwdrivers to alignment machines. They come with a lifetime warranty and do stand behind their tools. I had 15-year-old sockets that the plating wore off on and they replaced them without question. Broken ratchets are rebuilt and screwdriver blades are replaced. Their tool boxes are of excellent quality and come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

They have a second line of tools called Blue Point that are less expensive but carry the same warranty.

Mac Tools:

Mac tools are another brand of tools geared for the professional mechanic. The quality is also excellent and cost less than Snap-On tools. Like Snap-On, they carry a full range of hand and specialty tools with a lifetime warranty. Mac tools are not readily available to the general public and, like Snap-On, go from shop to shop with a display truck. Their tools are a bit bulkier than Snap-On and that is the main reason I don't generally use them. I do have a variety of tools and test gauges from Mac and they have served me very well over the years. Their tools are not chrome plated and have more of a matte finish. This does not in any way detract from their functionality.

Matco Tools:

Matco tools are on a par with Mac. They offer the same warranty and cater to the professional. As with Snap-On and Mac, they are not readily available to the public and go from shop to shop with a display truck. They are of good quality and look good as well. My tool boxes are all Matco. They are well built, come in a variety of configurations and are reasonably priced.

Cornwell Tools:

Cornwell tools are on a par with Mac and Matco tools. They are not as widespread as Snap-On, Mac and Matco. They are of good quality and are probably the least expensive of the top four. As with the others, they cater to the professional and are not readily available to the general public.


Craftsman tools are a decent quality tool and are available to the general public at all Sears stores. They will not stand up to day to day use, but for the home mechanic they will do nicely. They are quite bulky and in tight spots they may not serve at all. Their ratchet teeth are quite coarse and that doesn't give them a good swing in tight spots. Their wrench and socket fit fasteners a little sloppy and tend to round off hex heads. I have successfully removed fasteners rounded off by a Craftsman socket with a Snap-On socket. They do have a lifetime warranty, just bring the tool back to any Sears store and they will replace it free. Their selection is basically limited to general hand tools and some test equipment.

SK Tools:

SK tool are another decent brand of tools on a par with Craftsman. They are available at most auto parts stores. They do have a lifetime warranty. A bit bulky but they do have a nice chrome finish.

Now that you are familiar with some of the brands of tools, in Part 2 I'll talk about what is needed for the basic toolbox.

Additional Information provided courtesy of and Warranty Direct
© 2000-2007 Vincent T. Ciulla

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