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3/8 rachets best and best value for the buck
(04-18-2018, 04:24 PM)midlife Wrote: I'd recommend swiping a nice set from RocketFoot's collection: good quality and it would be free!  It would also annoy him to no end to find a missing tool, and he'd spend the next week 24/7 looking all over for it!

Here's the link:

No, that's OK!  I spend enough time looking for that darn 10mm socket all of the time!  Somewhere in the world is a warehouse filled with 10mm sockets!  LOL!

[Image: rocketfoot2012-copy.png]
1971 Mach 1 - 306cid/C4 Bright Yellow
"Just relax, I've got a friend named Felix who can fix anything!" ~James Bond
Funny as just today my wife and I went to a nearby "estate sale". I always hit the garage first and there was a nice USA Craftsman 1/2" drive breaker bar for $10. Next to it was a box of loose tools. Browsing the box I found another breaker bar, a long handled 1/2" drive Snap-On. I asked the guy manning the garage a price and he said $4, no I will go $3... Needless to say it is in my garage.
I have wrenched professionally (I used to do installs and custom fabrication for a speed shop), and I own a bunch of different brands, more Craftsman then anything else (the polished ones are much better than the standard ones, worth the extra price), followed by Snap-On, a few Mac and Cornwell as well as tons of others. I'm going to recommend something surprising: 90% of the time my go-to rachet is a harbor freight composite (not the pro ones, I've never tried the pro ones):

They feel better in your hand so you can push harder and not end up sore at the end of the day, they don't slip, they don't get icy cold in cold weather and too hot to pick up if you leave it sitting in the sun. I've never broken one, and honestly, they just feel right to me (now I have very large hands, I kind of borderline fit in XXL work gloves). They're my first choice for most jobs when I'm in the shop, they're my first choice when I'm throwing something in my tool bag to go to someone or to take to the JY (honestly, they're dirt cheap, use one of HF's perpetual 20% off coupon on top of that, if I lose one I can buy 5 or more for the cost of replacing most of my other ratchets. To take that a step further, if I had to get rid of all but one set of ratchets, this is the one I'd keep. Yes, they're that good.

The only thing negative I have to say about them is if you use the head to whack something (don't lie, we've all done it), you will ding it up since it is composite (plastic).

Second place is one that would be fussy to use as your only one (it could be done, I've done it), but gets me out of more tight spots than anything else is a low profile, Kobalt pass-through socket/ratchet set. Even crazier, the sockets cover both SAE and Metric with the same sockets. It looks like the current ones are not the same but I found someone selling them (I doubt it will be long, looks like they don't make them anymore):
Similar to the HF composites in feel, but they have a flat, low profile pass through head with an angled handle that can be used right side up or upside down. This thing is a miracle for getting into tight spaces. I've used it in places that I couldn't get a ratcheting box end to work and if anyone has done spark plugs on a small block chevy with tight-fitting headers (the plugs are under the tubes, there are cases you can't get any kind of regular wrench on them), this setup turns what could be a multiple hour oreal into a 10minute job. REALLY

This looks very similar with a different case and brand name:

3rd place, this craftsman stubby flex head:
It has a REALLY nice feel, gets you real socket sizes in a space that you'd normally have to resort to a 1/4" drive. This was my go-to ratchet for years before the HF composite ratchets showed up. I used it on anything that didn't need the torque of a full-length ratchet. I often grab a couple of sizes of the HF composites and this one and use this wherever I can because the small size/short length lets you go REALLY fast. It's my go-to for things like bodywork, spark plugs where there is good access...

Finally, an honorable mention, this HF flex head:
I wouldn't want to get stuck with this as my only ratchet (it's longer than normal and the flex head can get annoying if you're trying to go fast), but there are places where this thing is sweet, and if you're taking your time you can get to most fasteners with it and the longer handle lets you get even stubborn ones loose. A friend of mine had a snap-on one like this but with a slight bend in the handle 25years ago (and I think he said it was his dad's before it was his) that he called his secret weapon for getting out stubborn, stuck, and hard to reach fasteners (I've never run across the snap on one on myself).

None of my high $$$ ones even make my list. I don't remember the last time I had one of my snap-on ratchets in my hand. The polished craftsman ones come out when I'm doing things that need 2 rachets (say suspension work where you have access to the bolt head and nut, or if you're going back and forth between sockets constantly). The standard craftsman ones rarely do, I don't like the feel and they break too easy.
I've found my groove with the following, Home Depot Husky for standard grade sockets and ratchets, 1/4 3/8 1/2, I really like the handle design and have yet to crack or strain one. For impact they WILL break eventually, its the nature of how it works, so go cheap, harbor freight. I like the husky torque wrenches for 3/8 and 1/2 inch but if you need inch pounds craftsman is the only good one that doesn't break the bank. Anything regarding drill and taps is either MAC or SnapOn and any socket or wrench over an inch is one of the following, if one single use (ie the main nut on my old 5.7 hemi crank that I will take off once or twice then Northern Tool. If multiple uses MAC or SnapOn. Another reason that MAC and SnapOn cost so much, other than they are incredibly tough, is that they replace parts when they fail and most importantly they back that truck up to YOU! It costs a lot of money to just keep checking by and driving around to replace this bit or that tap. You're paying for a premium tool, premium replacement, and premium customer service.
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