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Technical Toolboxes & Tools....whatayagot and why

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by ekimneirbo, May 2, 2019.

  1. ekimneirbo
    Joined: Apr 29, 2017
    Posts: 151

    ekimneirbo
    Member
    from Brooks Ky

    For some unknown reason I decided to babble about toolbox choices today.

    I have long been a admitted "toolaholic", and as such I must have places to store my prize possessions.
    I no longer need any more tool boxes as I still have a lot of open spaces in some of the ones I have. My collection of storage boxes varies widely, many having been purchased from Craigs list over the years. I have some Craftsman boxes that were bought new many years ago, and I have additionally filled in with high quality older industrial cabinets purchased for about $50 each. They do a great job storing special tools and hardware...
    What has always been a source of amazement to me is why people pay some of the outrageous prices that certain "name" manufacturers charge for not only their toolboxes, but the tools that go into them.
    I'll be the first to admit that many of the boxes are good quality, but some of them cost as much as a
    new car....and I find that rediculous. Wrenches and sockets are often longer,stronger, and somewhat
    better.....but again the cost difference seems rediculous to me.
    I am also aware that many of the tools supplied by the name manufacturers are made by subcontractors
    who make that item for sale and then put the "name" brand on it. An example is "Mig Welders" and
    "Plasma Cutters". Obviously not top quality stuff but more like something from a farm store.

    So what do all of my peers out there use and prefer....and why?

    PS: I did just recently buy a new Harbor Freight top box because I needed something to hold my lathe
    tools. For $169 on sale I got a really nice box with a deep profile (front to rear) and struts for the top.
    I watched Craigslist and tried to find something, but prices for a decent used one were more than the
    new and nicer HF. Drove 30 miles each way and bought a well used one for $40. After I got home and looked at it again, realized it wasn't worth the effort to refresh it. Sold it to someone else for $35.
     
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  2. Slopok
    Joined: Jan 30, 2012
    Posts: 2,199

    Slopok
    Member

    The ONE good thing Harbor Freight does have is toolboxes!
     
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  3. You'll get as many different answers as guys who respond to this thread... everything from garage-sale-bargain collections to tool van junkies.

    Personally, I look for the best-bang-for-my-buck, but I try not to cut corners on day-in-day-out use hand tools. For those, I look for reliability and comfort. My choice there is Proto, for multiple reasons. One, they're reliable. In the 40 years I've been using hand tools at home and at work, I can count the number of Proto tools I've broken on my fingers and get change. And the ones I did break were almost always under extreme abuse. I worked industrial construction for 35+ years, and on virtually every job I worked that had company-furnished hand tools, those tools were Proto. And their tool design takes comfort and ease of use into consideration. All ratchets have knurled handles, all wrenches have matt finishes on the handles for a good grip. They also have no sharp edges on the handles, a major comfort shortcoming of many of the 'homeowner' tool brands IMO. And while I admire the beautiful polished finish on Snap-On hand tools, coat them with grease/oil and they turn into knuckle-busters. I used those in the mid-'70s when I briefly worked as a mechanic and learned to hate them pretty quickly. And they don't seem to be that reliable; my son-in-law is a Snap-On junkie (he uses them to maintain his small fleet of FedEx vans) and he admits that he's replacing broken tools almost monthly ('But they replace them free!'). If I were doing a trunk 'tool display' like you used to see in the '50s/60s (some chrome hand tools in pockets along with a detailed gas/oil can, etc), Snap-On would be my choice, but not for actual use...

    Tool boxes? I've got a real mix. My main box is a 23 drawer 55" box/chest combo (made in Taiwan, see pic below) I bought about 15 years ago, it's given me zero reasons to regret the purchase. Stainless-clad exterior, powder-coated drawers, ball-bearing slides, I've been very, very happy with it. Finish detail isn't quite as good as my S-I-Ls Snap-On, but at 1/6 the price I can live with it. The only thing I envy of his is the laser-cut foam inserts to organize his tools, but for $1K for the set, I can do without. Some HF socket rails (about $1 each) work fine for that.

    tool box.jpg

    From there, I've got a Mac box, a couple of Kennedys (all bought used), three semi-home-made ones built from cannibalized lower-line Craftsman boxes I picked up cheap as damaged, and a few fully home-made ones made out of old steel office desks and/or rolling carts. These are all for storing or mounting less-used tools.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2019
  4. 57JoeFoMoPar
    Joined: Sep 14, 2004
    Posts: 4,150

    57JoeFoMoPar
    Member

    If you think tool boxes are the only thing Harbor Freight does right, you're living under a rock. In the past few years especially, HF has seriously stepped up their game and now offers some really nice, very high quality tools. I've been buying up a load of their Chief, Baxter and Earthquake brand air tools and have been incredibly impressed with how well they've performed. Even their hand tools have improved markedly. HF seems to have their "inexpensive" brand tool, which is often junk, but then offers a more expensive alternative that is very often a nice, high-quality tool that will give you years of use. Don't get me wrong, I've got loads of vintage USA made tools from Craftsman, Proto, Williams, Snap-On, S-K.... but I just as often find myself reaching for a tool from HF which seems to get the job done fine. Perhaps they won't last as long as a truck brand tool, but for a home hobbyist like myself that isn't subjecting my equipment to commercial use day in and day out, they're more than up to the task.

    Besides, saving money on tools has allowed me to buy MORE tools, even if those tools aren't the highest quality available. It has been a rare occurrence that I could not complete a job because the right tool for the job, that I have, is not high enough quality. It has been a far more prominent occurrence that I can't get a job done because I simply don't have the right tool for the job.
     
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  5. Yep, that's been my mantra too. If a low-cost imported tool allows me to do the job right, it's a big savings over paying someone else to do it.

    And you're right, HF has 'upped their game'. While there's still things I would never buy there, their air tools have been a staple in my garage for years, as well as their small electric grinders. Yes, these are 'throwaways', but they give good service while they last and can usually be bought for the same or less as repair parts for the 'name brand' ones. I've got Milwaukee, Metabo, and Bosch grinders around that only need new switches, but they're $25 or more per switch!

    HF's main failing is if you do need parts, they're all-but-impossible to get, so I stay away from the more expensive/complicated electric/power tools.

    The other thing I've noticed is a lot of the more innovative tools that are appearing are imported, but the 'majors' are slapping their 'brand' on them and adding anywhere from a 50 to 100% price premium. It pays to shop!
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2019
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  6. Truck64
    Joined: Oct 18, 2015
    Posts: 3,087

    Truck64
    Member
    from Ioway

    Many Craftsman boxes, and I'm sure others, were manufactured by Waterloo Industries, here in Iowa. They are long gone, natch. They made decent enough toolboxes at a price point though and millions today are still in everyday use.
     
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  7. Flathead Dave
    Joined: Mar 21, 2014
    Posts: 2,108

    Flathead Dave
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from So. Cal.

    I have a tool box and I have a box of donuts.
     
  8. KoolKat-57
    Joined: Feb 22, 2010
    Posts: 2,760

    KoolKat-57
    Member
    from Dublin, OH

    3 tool boxes, way too many tools, the only tool I need is the next one on sale!
    KK
     
  9. TWKundrat
    Joined: Apr 6, 2010
    Posts: 117

    TWKundrat
    Member

    Gerstner, Kennedy, Craftsman, homemade, random Chinese brands. Several of each because... why not?
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2019
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  10. Boneyard51
    Joined: Dec 10, 2017
    Posts: 1,998

    Boneyard51
    Member

    Mac tower with two side hang ons. Had them for over thirty years now.

    And several others , including a 1930 Snap-on roll around and a full set of seventies Craftsman, that I gave my son.


    Bones
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2019
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  11. jetnow1
    Joined: Jan 30, 2008
    Posts: 1,240

    jetnow1
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from CT
    1. A-D Truckers

    I have a Husky box my girlfriend bought me, so it has to stay. I bought a nice 3 piece Kennedy set full of Machinist tools a couple of years back but my nephew graduated from school as a machinist so I felt giving it to him made sense, besides I can always borrow the tools if I need them and I do not have to store them.
     
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  12. 41rodderz
    Joined: Sep 27, 2010
    Posts: 2,278

    41rodderz
    Member
    from Oregon

    I need a 12 step program for tools and parts.:oops: Heavily addicted to both but I am not a tool snob. SnapOn, , Craftsmen, Mac, Cornwell , Klein, Plumb ,Stanley and Matco all work for me. Now bigger tools are Victor, Miller , Lincoln and Rockwell.
     
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  13. evintho
    Joined: May 28, 2007
    Posts: 1,150

    evintho
    Member

    Older Mac rollaway lower, Waterloo upper and an older Craftsman roller with top on one side of the garage...….

    [​IMG]

    An older MBC (read Snap-On) they were throwing away at work, on the other side of the garage...…

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    And my 'still to be restored' '50s Snappy unit that I have to get to now that the roadster is almost done...…

    [​IMG]
     
  14. fastcar1953
    Joined: Oct 23, 2009
    Posts: 1,514

    fastcar1953
    Member

    4 boxes for me
     
  15. 2 Craftsman boxes and 3 Stanley Vidmar cabinets
     
  16. I don't have a single tool box. I don't like riffling through drawers looking for the right tool. So I put peg board on my garage walls and have everything hanging up so that I can see them easily and go right to it. If I have a job that is off site, I put what tools I will need in an old metal tool box about the size of a fishing tackle box and when done, I hang them back up.
     
  17. VANDENPLAS
    Joined: Dec 14, 2009
    Posts: 1,691

    VANDENPLAS
    Member

    9A509329-7BC3-456A-B6FA-39B308D4C49D.jpeg 44912FFD-7DD3-4897-97BF-4B7EE3879886.jpeg


    Most of it is snap on and Mac from when I was single and had money to burn.
    Also have a bottom box and shelving in my service van for road calls.
    Plus tools at home for home stuff
    To say I’m a tool whore is an understatement!
     
  18. Now thats a working garage:).
     
  19. hans mercman
    Joined: Oct 14, 2014
    Posts: 124

    hans mercman
    Member
    from Texas

    [QUOTE="57
    Besides, saving money on tools has allowed me to buy MORE tools, even if those tools aren't the highest quality available. It has been a rare occurrence that I could not complete a job because the right tool for the job, that I have, is not high enough quality. It has been a far more prominent occurrence that I can't get a job done because I simply don't have the right tool for the job.[/QUOTE]

    ^^THIS , I've never thought of it this way. Being able to buy more/highest quality parts is far more important to me than having the highest quality tool. I mean if i could have both that would be great, but the well gets dry and i'm stuck letting the car sit
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2019
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  20. KevKo
    Joined: Jun 25, 2009
    Posts: 245

    KevKo
    Member
    from Motown

    My Dad was Journeyman Tool and Die maker. I have his 1957 Journeyman card. He's been gone for about 30 years. My folks were divorced, so I always wondered what happened to his tools and boxes. About a year ago I get a call from Dad's brother in law. He has Dad's tool boxes, wants to know if I want them. Sure! Get this; he lives about a mile from me. So for 30 years my Dad's tool boxes were a mile away. I went over, just as I remembered them. Two Kennedy boxes, unfortunately, sitting on a garage floor. And full of his T&D stuff, which I don't have any use for. But glad I have the boxes.
     
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  21. Chappy444
    Joined: Jan 27, 2012
    Posts: 732

    Chappy444
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    1. Maryland HAMBers

    My grandfather used to say "Money spent on tools is money well spent"
    When given the choice I will spend the money it would cost to have someone else do the job on the tool it takes to do the job and do it myself. When Hiring a job done, you are either paying for the knowledge or the specialty tool required (or both).
    I recently bought a worktop Husky rolling cabinet that I am very impressed with (both quality and price) it is the black one in pic. I also have the first box I ever had, a 12 drawer chest that my grandad got me for my 13 birthday. Plus a couple of craftsman rolling bottom boxes
    Here is my current space and box set up. Everything needs to stay put away or the car won't fit.... LOL
    (note: this does not include all the wood working, construction, and yard tools that take up most of the room in my shed)
    Chappy
    Garage.jpg
     
  22. ekimneirbo
    Joined: Apr 29, 2017
    Posts: 151

    ekimneirbo
    Member
    from Brooks Ky

    So far I like what I'm seeing and hearing because it shows people who really value their tools and use them. They used to do a segment in Hot Rod Magazine (?) that showed peoples old home shops throughout the US. I loved seeing that. Nowadays the magazines show shops that look like you could eat off the floor and are stuffed with high dollar cars. I just don't care for that.

    56Don said he doesn't have any toolboxes just a pegboard. I have toolboxes, but I also have my own version of a pegboard organizer. I got tired of having a standard wrench and needing a metric...and viceversa. Then I had to grab several wrenches because I didn't know exactly what size was a little bigger or smaller than the wrench that didn't fit.
    My solution was to make a pegboard with ALL wrenches sorted by size....didn't care if metric or standard. I labeled the sizes above the wrenches and then went on Ebay and bought whatever sizes I didn't have. I put a cheap used Craftsman workbench/toolbox under it, I put socket organizers...metric one on the left/standard on the right. If I need to get a different socket, I just look at the wrenches and see what size I need. The drawers in the bench hold
    ratchets and extensions. Made a couple of angle iron brackets to hold screwdrivers. Again, Phillips on the left, straight blade on the right. Then I welded a couple of pieces of round stock sticking up. I slide some short pieces of pipe over
    them and have some handy extensions when I need extra leverage. Positioned next to my lift, two or three steps and I have just about anything I need. Its on wheels and moves easily when I need it out by the garage door. Cheap to make.
    One thing if someone decides they want one. I made a small metal frame behind the pegboard so that I could drill and tap holes and screw long 3-4" bolts in place rather than the short pegboard hangers. Cheap bolts from Tractor Supply worked well...just cut the heads off with a chop saw and round them on a belt sander. The craftsman workbench/toolboxes show up on Craigslist for about $75.

    DSCN0865.JPG DSCN0865.JPG DSCN0865.JPG
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2019
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  23. Truck64
    Joined: Oct 18, 2015
    Posts: 3,087

    Truck64
    Member
    from Ioway

    What thd hell is wrong with you?? That looks WAY too neat and organized. /jk
     
  24. ekimneirbo
    Joined: Apr 29, 2017
    Posts: 151

    ekimneirbo
    Member
    from Brooks Ky

    I have been accused of being an excessive compulsive....but my wife thinks that goes away when I come in the back door.
    I'm going to put another picture in here that shows a little better. Couldn't get it to load on the first post even though it showed at the bottom of the post. It kept loading the first picture again.
    I think I got them right this time.
     

    Attached Files:

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  25. Snap-On, why because that is the first gift my father got me. I was two days old and still in the hospital with my mom! 7/16", 1/2", and 9/16" 12 point wrenches. I born 12/12/1981 (He also got me a Matchbox car and a Teddy Bear all of which I still have!)

    My Snap-On top chest was a Christmas gift from dad and mom when I was six.
     
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  26. ekimneirbo
    Joined: Apr 29, 2017
    Posts: 151

    ekimneirbo
    Member
    from Brooks Ky

    charleyw said he has 2 craftsmans and 3 Vidmars. (Post some pics charley)
    I have accumulated several craftsman boxes I accumulated over the years, and some Vidmars too. In one of my early attempts to organize, I bought 4 Craftsman top boxes (on sale). One each for standard wrenches,standard sockets, metric wrenches,metric sockets. Later I made the pegboard, but I also have the 4 boxes in the other side of the shop.
    The find the vidmars are more useful for organizing materials than tools, but they can make fine toolboxes too.
    Crazy Steve mentioned he would like some of the foam cutouts for tools. Personally, I could never keep mechanic tools in the right slots and I have every brand and offbrand somewhere in my toolboxes. I did take the time to make some for some machinist tools. I took some thin foam and laid it in the bottom of the drawer. Then I took another thicker piece and cut the shape I wanted and placed it on top of the thin piece. Works well for those types of tools.
    My son was a jet engine mechanic in the air force and he also maintained the tool crib. They used the slots to insure that a mechanic had all of his tools when a job was completed, and hadn't left anything in an engine. I manage to still lose tools occasionally, but with no real dire consequences.

    POST MORE PICS GUYS !
     

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  27. Truck64
    Joined: Oct 18, 2015
    Posts: 3,087

    Truck64
    Member
    from Ioway

    Well I was talking about @Chappy444 , didn't type fast enough, though you ain't right either /jk
     
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  28. The Shift Wizard
    Joined: Jan 10, 2017
    Posts: 1,253

    The Shift Wizard
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I'm refurbishing a couple of vintage doctor's medical bags which I'll eventually be offering for sale with my other vintage accessories(swap meet seller). These will be great for toting tools, spare parts and sundries in the back of a hot rod or older classic.
    The little one is nearly done; it just needs a bit more leather conditioner and polish. The big one needs a bunch more fixes and TLC to get it ready.
    DSCN1345.JPG DSCN1344.JPG
     
  29. "charleyw said he has 2 craftsmans and 3 Vidmars. (Post some pics charley)"
    Pictures aren't real good, but are all I have. I also have 6 sections of Lista shelving. (my company is a Lista dealer)
     

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  30. ekimneirbo
    Joined: Apr 29, 2017
    Posts: 151

    ekimneirbo
    Member
    from Brooks Ky

    Your shop is a perfect example of what every hot rodder should have. Like the chopped Ford too!
    I have a 49 Chevy truck thats currently waiting for me to get back to it, and I want to chop it.
     
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