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The ratchet and socket opinions thread...

Old 11-18-2012, 08:06 PM
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Default The ratchet and socket opinions thread...

Time for new ratchets!!!

I've got some old school Craftsman ratchets that I've had for probably 20 years, and I want to keep that set together for a separate purpose. I've never been impressed with the Craftsman stuff (except for the reasonable price) and the new stuff is absolute garbage in design and quality. And the higher priced new stuff is really, really heavy and poorly finished.

The Kobalt stuff is fine toothed (72 for their new stuff), but appears to be the same China or Taiwan manufacturer that makes the exact same tools for about 10 other identical looking brands (and those brands are cheaper). So that seems like a no-go most likely, because I don't care what the price is if it sucks. Seems like the same story as the Craftsman.

So what do people like for ratchets? Snap-on? Mac? Matco? Cornwell? Proto? Blue Point?

I love Snap-on and Matco stuff, but I'm a little gun shy about the price. I'm not a pro mechanic so it's tough to justify spending a few hundred bucks for a trio of ratchets in the common drive sizes. The Proto looks like maybe a good blend of price/performance, but I've never used or fondled their ratchets before. Happily, Snap-on and Matco are available online through the corporate sites now, and Proto through a bunch of retailers and places like Grainger.

I don't want the new trendy comfort handles by the way. I don't want to keep the plastics clean, and they feel really cheap and flimsy in my hand. I'm not too fond of the knurled handles on the Mac and some of the Proto either; small knurled cylinders aren't very comfortable.

I want opinions from weekend warriors, and from the professionals (you know who you are).

Last edited by Fabrik8; 11-18-2012 at 08:26 PM.
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Old 11-18-2012, 09:17 PM
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Default Re: The ratchet and socket opinions thread...

i personally love my FLF80 Snap on 3/8th drive flex head rachet with a snap on flank drive socket. Yes they are expencive but i think they are worth it. i love the 80 tooth fine gear head due to the fact when u are in tight spots it takes almost no arc to engage the next tooth in the rachet ya know? and its pretty long so u can put some torque on thoes stuck bastards

and the flank drive sockets are nice to due to the fact they have a set of lines cut out in one of the walls inside the socket to help grab rounded off bolt head and such...and they do work very well when u have to work on somebodys rusted up hunk of shit 1993 camry with 300k miles on it lol
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Old 11-18-2012, 09:31 PM
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Default Re: The ratchet and socket opinions thread...

For the price, get a few Craftsman ones. Once they give out, you have a spare until you can get to the store for an exchange without needing a receipt.

The craftsman "premium" ones are absolute crap, as are others until you get into the triple digit price range. They lock up with the fine teeth and leave you stranded.

If you're going to have to rely on it (like my brother who is a road mechanic), the higher prices can be justified, but he still keeps a set of craftsman ones as spares even for them.
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Old 11-19-2012, 07:36 AM
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Default Re: The ratchet and socket opinions thread...

I've been using Craftsman and Kobalt for a while. I had gone from being all Craftsman purchases to all Kobalt, but now I'm heading back the other way. I switched because the USA made Kobalt stuff was nicer than the Craftsman. Now that Kobalt has gone to Taiwanese manufacturing I have switched back. However I will say, I've been eying some pieces from Nepros, out of Japan. Evidently they are the Snap On of Japan and supply tools to pro mechanics over there. They have some nice looking tools, but I haven't actually purchased anything yet. http://www.nepros.net/
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Old 11-19-2012, 08:59 AM
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Default Re: The ratchet and socket opinions thread...

Stahlwille or Gedore. Nothing I've come across comes even close to Stahlwille, but I've heard Gedore has the same tight tolerances (I've never actually handled Gedore) but you might prefer their ratchet head style. If you take a Stahlwille socket and put it on a Stahlwille extension, there is NO wiggle between them. They fit the bolt heads so much better than anything else, and their AS drive IMHO is superior to flank drive. I also like the Stahlwille finish more than Snap-On (any shiny chrome finish is a terrible idea). We're talking about a company that makes every wrench strong enough to be a flogging wrench after all (though I prefer Hazet wrenches).

The thing with cheap tools is, they don't work right even when new. I had a friend who couldn't get a nut unscrewed. It was slightly seized and his craftsman socket was just rounding off the corners. I took my Beta socket (Beta is very good, or at least was, but even at its best didn't come close to Stahlwille) and it came right off. It all comes down to tolerances. That and to get sufficient strength cheap tools are much larger than good tools of equal strength, and so they're often hard to get in tight places.

Last edited by marlinspike; 11-19-2012 at 09:15 AM.
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Old 11-19-2012, 09:11 AM
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Default Re: The ratchet and socket opinions thread...

I love my matco ratchets. But the matco man that used to come to our shop shut down so if something does break we have to give it to the snap on man to fix it. But normally he will make you buy one of his before he will fix it and neither is cheap. The quality of both are good, obviously they will break sometimes. If you have any shops around you that a snap-on or matco trucks comes weekly just swing by there and talk to them. They do pretty good payment plans that make you feel a little bit better about spending a lot of money on them.
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Old 11-19-2012, 09:36 AM
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Default Re: The ratchet and socket opinions thread...

Originally Posted by Dough_Boy. View Post
I love my matco ratchets. But the matco man that used to come to our shop shut down so if something does break we have to give it to the snap on man to fix it. But normally he will make you buy one of his before he will fix it and neither is cheap. The quality of both are good, obviously they will break sometimes. If you have any shops around you that a snap-on or matco trucks comes weekly just swing by there and talk to them. They do pretty good payment plans that make you feel a little bit better about spending a lot of money on them.
Buying them outright isn't really any different for me, I have the money but the total investment is what stings a little. I see your point though. I'm curious about how the return/service policy works for the Snap-on and Matco stuff that is bought from their respective web stores.
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Old 11-19-2012, 09:42 AM
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Default Re: The ratchet and socket opinions thread...

Originally Posted by marlinspike View Post
Stahlwille or Gedore. Nothing I've come across comes even close to Stahlwille, but I've heard Gedore has the same tight tolerances (I've never actually handled Gedore) but you might prefer their ratchet head style. If you take a Stahlwille socket and put it on a Stahlwille extension, there is NO wiggle between them. They fit the bolt heads so much better than anything else, and their AS drive IMHO is superior to flank drive. I also like the Stahlwille finish more than Snap-On (any shiny chrome finish is a terrible idea). We're talking about a company that makes every wrench strong enough to be a flogging wrench after all (though I prefer Hazet wrenches).

The thing with cheap tools is, they don't work right even when new. I had a friend who couldn't get a nut unscrewed. It was slightly seized and his craftsman socket was just rounding off the corners. I took my Beta socket (Beta is very good, or at least was, but even at its best didn't come close to Stahlwille) and it came right off. It all comes down to tolerances. That and to get sufficient strength cheap tools are much larger than good tools of equal strength, and so they're often hard to get in tight places.
I'll look into those and the Nepros stuff. I like collecting tools from different brands so I'll check out them out.


As a bit of give-and-take for the ratchet suggestions, if you're in the market for screwdrivers I'd really suggest trying Wera and Wiha screwdrivers. They're amazing. I know how you like German stuff (with a little Czech manufacturing thrown in I believe).
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Old 11-19-2012, 09:49 AM
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Default Re: The ratchet and socket opinions thread...

Originally Posted by Fabrik8 View Post
Buying them outright isn't really any different for me, I have the money but the total investment is what stings a little. I see your point though. I'm curious about how the return/service policy works for the Snap-on and Matco stuff that is bought from their respective web stores.
I'm not sure how it works online. But if it breaks we just give it to the guy that comes every week. He either fixes it or gives us a new one. I was just saying the payment plan because it makes me feel better than dropping $200 up front on a tool.
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Old 11-19-2012, 10:22 AM
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Default Re: The ratchet and socket opinions thread...

I have mostly C-man stuff acquired via parental gifts and inhering my grandfather's tools when he passed. The older C-man stuff is great. The new stuff is all Chinese crap. If I need a new random socket or wrench I go to Northern Tool and spend 1/5th of what it'd cost at Sears.

I did buy some of the newer C-man Professional fine toothed ratchets from the tool section of GarageJournal.com and they've proven to be of average quality. I've had to trade-in the 1/2" drive one for a refurb one at the local Sears due to it seizing up. Also to direction selector will randomly go into neutral while in use. Only the 1/2" drive has given me issues. The 1/4" and 3/8" have been fine and I prefer the higher tooth count when using the smaller one.

The one nice thing about C-man is that you can easily exchange at Sears if they mess up.

These...
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