Value-for-money hand tools??

Submitted: Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 13:16
ThreadID: 105496 Views:7067 Replies:19 FollowUps:13
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Hi all
Looking to buy my son a set of tools- spanners/sockets etc for Christmas.
Any recommendations on good value for money brands??
Don't want to go to SnapOn prices- and want to keep away from Supercrap plastic alloy (you know, the one that rounds out a socket on their first use)...
Thanks & greeting to all
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Reply By: Hairy (NT) - Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 14:32

Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 14:32
I don't reckon you can go past a lot of the Sidchrome box kits they make up. They're not cheap (cheaper than Snap On) but they will last for life. Kincrome are probably a bit cheaper and good too.
There are heaps of brands around these days like Repco or Stanley etc that are cheaper again and seem to be good tools too.
Just don't get into the trap of "they wont use them very often so they don't need good ones" The one time you do need them they fail and really leave you in the bleep .
Generally......not always.....but generally, the finish is a pretty good guide. If they look and feel cheap, they probably are.

AnswerID: 523098

Reply By: Herbal - Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 15:12

Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 15:12
These days you have three choices...

Cheap and nasty.

Really expensive and pro grade good.

Or mid range.

The mid range is what you are looking at. So any of the mid range brands, like Stanley, Kingchrome, Ryobi etc, is good for what you want.

AnswerID: 523100

Reply By: Bushranger1 - Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 15:19

Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 15:19
G'day Dave,
I have had a set of Kingchrome Metric ring, socket & open enders for 35 years & they are still going strong.
Also have a set of Sidchrome but they don't get used much as they are imperial.

AnswerID: 523101

Reply By: ian.g - Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 15:38

Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 15:38
If you live in SE Queensland, Trade Tools sell a range of good quality hand tools under the brand of "Force" well priced and good quality. You can contact them at I have no affiliation with them just a satisfied customer.
AnswerID: 523103

Reply By: Mick O - Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 15:55

Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 15:55
I've been really happy with my Bahco socket set. You can pick up some really good deals on them at Bunnings now and then.


Cheers, Mick
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AnswerID: 523104

Follow Up By: Ozrover - Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 17:44

Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 17:44
+1 for the Bahco set, we've had a set kicking around for years & apart from losing a couple of bits it's held up so well I bought another set that lives in my Ute.

Bahco Socket & Spanner Set 106pk, it's got most things that you need for emergency fixes & I usually carry a small tool bag with hammers, pliers, screwdrivers & all sorts of odds & ends.

I got my new set from the Watershed in Alice for less than I could have got it off of ebay.

FollowupID: 804414

Reply By: happytravelers - Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 16:16

Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 16:16
As a mechanic, my advise to you would be to go with a brand that backs their product with a lifetime warranty. You don't have to go snap on prices for this either, I have some Repco own brand amongst my collection and any failures I've had have been an over the counter swap no matter how old the tool is.

AnswerID: 523107

Reply By: Doc - Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 16:56

Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 16:56
I've been happy with Stanley & Bahco sets that I've bought over the last few years. Supercheap often have Stanley on special - I bought a couple of sets at half price & they are really good quality. Bunnings sell Bahco - I have a 1/4" drive set and I'm very impressed as well.

One bit of advise - don't bother with a set that has A/F & Metric sockets, unless he has a need for A/F. If you shop around you can get sets with just metric sockets for similar money, but you get a much larger range of sizes. I bought my son a Sidchrome set a few years ago, and it has every metric size socket from 10mm (might even be 8) to around 34mm. The main problem with Sidchrome these days is that the ratchets are crap, and although they have a lifetime warranty getting them replaced isn't as easy as it used to be years ago.
AnswerID: 523112

Follow Up By: AlbyNSW - Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 17:45

Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 17:45
I have the Bahco in 1/4 +3/4 set plus a 3/8 Sidchrome set and both are good but I think the Bachco ratchets are better
The Repco etc trade range of own brand is good stuff with easy over the counter replacement
FollowupID: 804415

Reply By: Steve M1 (NSW) - Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 18:08

Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 18:08
There's some good stuff on here. Some tools you don't normally see in Repco etc. Needless to say, you have to be on your toes a bit on the internet but I have bought some really good stuff. Mate of mine in the motor trade gave me a couple of other leads from the UK and prices were very reasonable for the quality. They're on my work computer though.

Have browse here: (you can expand the search a bit too)
AnswerID: 523116

Reply By: Road Warrior - Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 18:30

Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 18:30
I've got some Repco spanners and the like, and to be honest the quality of them is as good as the Sidchrome and Kincrome stuff you get these days. Plus if you break one (which I havent been able to do yet), Repco will just swap it for you in-store, none of this waiting to send it back business...
AnswerID: 523117

Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 18:48

Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 18:48
It all depends on what your son is likely to do with them. If he's going to use them daily, then go the extra money for the Sidchrome or Repco, but if its just in case he needs them then go the Stanley.

My experience:Stanley sockets and spanners have been good, although one daughter has a Stanley 1/2" drive ratchet that looks pretty weak.
The Repco, Bahco and Sidchrome sets we've had have all been good, and I've used them a lot.

Give the cheapest tools a miss.

AnswerID: 523118

Reply By: Member - Coldee - Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 19:03

Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 19:03
All the main brands mentioned are good in my opinion.

I think tools are like tyres. You get the very best you can afford because you are in trouble if you need them and they let you down.
AnswerID: 523121

Reply By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 19:21

Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 19:21
Get him a set of these.


AnswerID: 523124

Follow Up By: Ozrover - Monday, Dec 16, 2013 at 11:30

Monday, Dec 16, 2013 at 11:30
We've had problems with the ratchets failing on these.

FollowupID: 804458

Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Monday, Dec 16, 2013 at 11:34

Monday, Dec 16, 2013 at 11:34
That's a shame. No worries with mine and the sons sets. Must be all that lovely red dirt/sand that you throw around.

Merry Christmas to Karen and yourself. Safe travels.

FollowupID: 804459

Follow Up By: Ozrover - Monday, Dec 16, 2013 at 15:00

Monday, Dec 16, 2013 at 15:00
No worries, same to you & yours Phil.

FollowupID: 804473

Follow Up By: Slow one - Thursday, Dec 19, 2013 at 16:51

Thursday, Dec 19, 2013 at 16:51
the JBS ratchet ring/open ends seem to stand up ok.
FollowupID: 804652

Follow Up By: Ozrover - Thursday, Dec 19, 2013 at 18:14

Thursday, Dec 19, 2013 at 18:14
I've also got a set of "Jimmny" branded ones that don't have the direction lever, you flip then over to reverse.

The 12mm is a bit baulky but they work fine otherwise.

FollowupID: 804657

Reply By: Ross M - Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 19:49

Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 19:49
Repco 74pce socket spanner set with three ratchets. The sockets have a bolt through design and are driven by the ratchets on the upper outer edge of the sockets.

Great for longer shaft bolts as well when normal sockets cannot be used $119 an intro price which will quite possibly be less after Santa hits the garage roof.
AnswerID: 523127

Reply By: jacent - Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 20:33

Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 20:33
I'm very happy with repco branded hand tools, kincrome also very good, I feel sidchrome aren't as good as they used to be but still not bad, I feel Stanley has lost the plot where quality is concerned especially with their screwdrivers, few years ago I brought a repco set of screw drivers in a tin case and they are still like new after loads of use, repco spanners also really good. I have a set of eurotech 1/2 inch socket set and ratcheting spanners which are really good too! Ur son is lucky!
AnswerID: 523130

Reply By: Ron N - Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 20:48

Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 20:48
Wombat - Find out where the tools are made and choose accordingly.

Made in China and Made in India - very average quality and designed as sets you won't miss if they're lost or stolen.
Chinese and Indian tools rarely use proper-quality tool steel that is correctly hardened and tempered. They use carbon steel that can be hardened, which makes them brittle and liable to snap or split under heavy pressure.
"Proper" tool steel is chrome-vanadium alloy steel (Cr-V), and the better tool steels have additional elements added, such as Molybdenum and Nickel. Chrome-Moly-Vanadium steel is one of the best around.

Chinese and Indian tools have poor fit tolerances. That is, they don't fit the nut or bolt with the accuracy of a quality tool.
There will be a substantial degree of "slop" when the tool slips over the nut or bolt head. Quality tools are a neat fit over nuts and bolts, thus allowing better grip and less chance of rounding the head, and less chance of splitting the tool.
Chinese tools suffer from serious QC problems, and therefore highly varying quality.
You might get a good set, your mate will get a dud set.

Taiwanese tools - Most satisfactory-to-good quality tools, today come from Taiwan. Many Taiwanese tools offer a lifetime warranty. Taiwanese tools are often branded with a local company name, because they're made and branded to suit the buyers demands.
Typical Taiwanese brands are ETC, Kincrome, Sidchrome, Repco, SP, Teng, Kingcraft, Ampro, Minimax, Fuller, Tradequip, and many others.
The last Sidchrome tool was made in Australia in 1996. Sidchrome was bought out by Stanley and production moved to Taiwan.
Teng is a premium-quality Taiwanese tool line that is priced accordingly.
Be aware that some "Taiwanese" tools are actually made in China, and the quality can be doubtful and variable.

Japanese and American tools - Premium Grade - The finest tool brands today are Ko-Ken (Japan) and Snap-On, Bondhus, Wright, and Proto (U.S.A.). They are priced accordingly, with Snap-On prices being quite outrageous, as compared to other top brands.

The materials difference in these tools is the tool steel quality and heat treatment. These manufacturers specify their own tool steel constituents, and the steel manufacturers manufacture the steel specifically to their specification. The manufacturer then heat-treats and temper the tool steel to their own specific, usually secret, processes.

The design difference in these top tools is that they fit snugly in your hand and feel much better to handle. Grip areas are carefully designed to provide good grip. Chrome plating is much heavier, with nickel plating followed by triple chrome plating not unusual.
The final product is polished to a high standard.

The 4 above-named U.S. brands are still made in the U.S.A. Ko-Ken is still made in Japan.
Caterpillar tool sets are made by Proto and Snap-On for Caterpillar, and you pay a premium again for the Caterpillar name.
Williams tools are a division of Snap-On and priced accordingly.

There are other American tools that are normally good quality - but you have to be careful, because these companies will nowadays slip in foreign-made tools into their product line, because they have gone "global".

These brands are OTC, Vermont American, Armstrong, Blackhawk, Ampro, Craftsman, Crescent, Lisle, Gearwrench, Mac, SK, Stanley, and OTC. They all used to be on a par with Proto - but a lot of these brands products are now made in Taiwan and other countries - such as China.

If you can find the above names that are actually made in the U.S.A., they are good quality - but be aware of devious labelling, such as a prominent U.S. flag, and fine print that says - "box made in U.S.A., contents made in China"!

Channellock are made in the U.S.A, and are a premium product - but they only make pliers and sidecutters.
Irwin is made in the U.S.A., but specialise only in blades, bits, cutting and snipping pliers and their original-design, locking Vise-Grips. Genuine Vise-Grips are twice as good as the Chinese copies.

German, Swedish and British tools - Once again, if made in these countries, the quality is top-class. However most of the companies in these countries are now "global" corporations, and you can get varying quality.
At one time, Bahco, Dowidat, Britool, King Dick, Gedore, Heyco, Stalhwille and NWS were undisputed quality.
However, today, you need to check to see if the item is actually made in Sweden, Germany or the U.K.
Knipex is still made in Germany and commands a premium price for their large plier range.

My toolbox contains U.S.-made Blackhawk, Proto, Bondhus, Caterpillar, OTC and Wright tools - some Australian-made Sidchrome (bought many years ago) - Knipex pliers - a few Ko-Ken tools - as well as a range of Taiwanese brands such as Minimax, SP, Fuller, Kingcraft and Gearwrench. IMO, Ko-Ken tools are the highest quality tools around, but they're hard to find, and not cheap. Bondhus make superb, virtually unbreakable Allen Key (Hex Key) sets, and they're not overly expensive if you find the right eBay seller.
AnswerID: 523131

Follow Up By: Echucan Bob - Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 21:59

Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 21:59

I wish you would just keep your comments to stuff you know something about ;-)

FollowupID: 804429

Follow Up By: Member - Justin O (QLD) - Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 23:34

Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 23:34
Her Ron sounds like you've done a Ph.d on tools. Do you know a brand ABC made in Japan? I've had a set if ring spanners since 1980 and have never let me down. Trips across Australia pulled down and rebuilt engines etc.
FollowupID: 804432

Follow Up By: yarda - Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 23:41

Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 23:41
Ron, just for info, most of the snap on is Chinese or south American made nowadays, their best tools are the multi grips, side cutters and pliers - because they are rebranded French made Facom. I cherish my old snap on tools but will never spend a cent on the current range.
FollowupID: 804433

Follow Up By: Ron N - Monday, Dec 16, 2013 at 00:28

Monday, Dec 16, 2013 at 00:28
Justin - I've never heard of or seen Japanese ABC tools, but there are a huge number of brands out there. Sadly, a lot of Japanese hand tool makers folded up, or went the "global" route in the 1990's, and farmed out production to other countries.

I have a wall chest of Japanese made "ETC" tools in the garage at home, that I bought in 1990, and they are very good, but not Ko-Ken quality.
As with many others, ETC shifted production to Taiwan, then they disappeared off the market altogether about the late 1990's.

Around 1986, I bought a set of 4 Japanese-made "A.O.K." crowfoot bars. The steel quality was astounding, so I ordered another set.
The next set that arrived was in a box marked "A.O.K." - but this set was made in China - and they were nothing more than "chewing gum", to my utter disappointment! I reckon they would have made mild steel look like high-tensile steel!

I also once purchased a "Taiwan-made" 1/2" drive, 250mm extension bar. Tightening some head studs one day, the square on the end of the bar screwed right off!!
Obviously, this bar was from China, not Taiwan!
Nonetheless, it still does duty in my toolbox today - as a nice, large, soft punch!! LOL

Cheers, Ron.
FollowupID: 804435

Follow Up By: Ron N - Monday, Dec 16, 2013 at 00:30

Monday, Dec 16, 2013 at 00:30
Yarda - Yes, I've seen a jack-repair shop, full of Snap-On floor jacks, all in for repairs under warranty.
They were all made in China, and the Chinese substituted cheap hard-plastic seals, for the specified nylon, nitrile, and neoprene seals.
All the jacks failed within about 6 mths from new, and the jack man assured me it was costing Snap-On a fortune to remedy the problems.
The "global corporation" thing is a curse, particularly when they take steps to hide the real place of manufacture.

Cheers, Ron.
FollowupID: 804436

Follow Up By: TTTSA - Monday, Dec 16, 2013 at 07:40

Monday, Dec 16, 2013 at 07:40
Some Sidchrome tools are also made in France these days too.
FollowupID: 804447

Reply By: yarda - Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 23:46

Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 23:46
Hi David, VFM pick would have to be Kinchrome, the Autobarn I go to has a huge range and they often have 20% off sales, makes them a very good buy. Second pick is the Repco brand, really nice for the money. Third is the Bahco set of spanners and sockets in a plastic fold open case, quite a nice set but it is slightly exy compared to the others at about $300.
AnswerID: 523142

Reply By: Member - Brian R (WA) - Monday, Dec 16, 2013 at 00:34

Monday, Dec 16, 2013 at 00:34
oh my god
some of you guys talk a lot of sh,, when a guy ask such a question .....he is looking for an opinion .....Let me lighten things up a little...and change the attitude...lighten up.
Some 30 or so years ago a mate had me park his panel van in my drive , and do a few little jobs on it whilst he was went on hols. One night some thug thought he would be away with the same panel van, but it got no further than the middle of the street........why???? I have no idea :-))
However on making their exit the would be thief left a very nice set of sidchrome (?) spanners these have served me more than well. If I have needed to make an addition REPCO have fitted the bill.
Have a great week guys and a happy Christmas

AnswerID: 523143

Reply By: pop2jocem - Monday, Dec 16, 2013 at 10:46

Monday, Dec 16, 2013 at 10:46
What does your son intend doing with these tools?
Is he going to be or already a mechanic, or are the tools going to be used to change the oil in his lawn mower.
If he is going to use them to earn a quid then the best you can afford even if you can't afford a set that has every tool needed to strip and re-build a jumbo jet. He can add what he needs as he goes.
If it is just home handy man stuff and he is smart enough to let some dumb mechanic fix most stuff then Repco, Kinchrome or any middle of the road brand will do.
Maybe don't buy some of the "funny name" stuff you see hanging on the wall at K Mart. (;=))

AnswerID: 523160

Reply By: abqaiq - Thursday, Dec 19, 2013 at 12:57

Thursday, Dec 19, 2013 at 12:57
Metri-Inch- Covers both Metric and Inch sizes, Proto, Snap-on have similar sets. Developed and patented in U.S. Odd sort of roundy hex, cams on to different sizes and will get off some rounded off [stupid mechanic] nuts. They come in combination and ratchet sets up to 1/2-inch drive.

Saves space/weight always fit.

Buy quality once. Either to make a living or to depend on when you are in a fix.

Proverb - We are to poor to buy cheap--buy quality once.

Happy Holidays, from Abqaiq
AnswerID: 523268

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