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Discussion Starter #1
I didn't grow up hearing this at my house. My Dad isn't a real fix-it guy; we didn't spend time in the shop working on cars or anything like that. Pretty much all l know about mechanics l have taught myself or learned from people like you, whoever has been willing to teach me things. I still don't know a whole lot but l am learning, and l am interested, and those two are a good combination.

When l started my building maintenance job last May, there was a tool list and l filled it up as best l could. Most everything l bought was made overseas, as l just didn't have a few thousand dollars to lay down for everything l needed to get started. Little by little l have been replacing the cheap Chinese tools with high quality American made tools. And along the way l have discovered what people were talking about, and why it is important to buy American made.

The other day l got a work order to tighten up all the bolts on a Phlebotomy chair that had been put together by some kid who works in the lab. He didn't tighten the bolts down very well, and the chair was super shaky. I pulled out my snap-on ratchet and sockets and wrenches and went to town. There was this special feeling, a feeling of pride of ownership...l am using the right tool for the job, that some other regular old Joe American built with his bare hands...and now with my bare hands, l am going to make this chair sturdy and safe for any child that plants his butt in it. It gave me a taste of what l have been hearing my whole life from the old timers who walked before me. I like that taste...it has a nice flavor :)
 

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I started my career with Craftsman and Cornwell and what ever else I could budget in, even though it's useable, it just doesn't compare. While to this day everything in my box still isn't Snap On, Snap On can't be beat if you can afford it IMO.
 

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Yep, we keep complaining about the jobs and economy, but yet, we all go out and buy things from China. If we all buy more American Made products, that alone will help stimulate the economy. It's hard though, when you walk into Walmart finding anything made in the USA.

But the problem starts with the school systems. There's not many schools around that teach shop anymore. Ask the next 17 year old you see if he knows what a Tool and Die Maker is? Where I came from, if you didnt know how to run a CnC machine or couldn't operate a Lathe, you didn't have a job. Everyone worked at Seth Thomas or Risdon or Gaynor Electric. Now those places are mostly closed up and gone. It's sad seeing all the manufacturing buildings rotting away and being torn down.
 

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Tools

My first spanners are made by Sidchrome in Ozz. I will donate the whitworth tools to any enterprising British restorer guy. Just had a thought. I should take them to the race track. There is one loony, sorry guy, who races a frame with a Weslake engine.
Fourty years later and this guy after years of effort, is running 15 less horsepower and pulling more weight. Oh well.

Unkle Crusty*
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I started my career with Craftsman and Cornwell and what ever else I could budget in, even though it's useable, it just doesn't compare. While to this day everything in my box still isn't Snap On, Snap On can't be beat if you can afford it IMO.
l hear ya deadeye...it is expensive. But l am now in a career where l will use the tools regularly, and therefore l believe the higher quality tools are cheaper in the long run, and l will not have to replace them like l would the cheap Pittsburgh brand, for example.

Where it gets difficult is finding certain tools that they just do not make here. For instance, do you know of a right angle drill attachment or a razor knife that is made in the USA?
 

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I love my Snap-On wrenches - they clearly grip better and spread less than cheaper stuff.

Cheaper tools have their place though - stuff I don't use often, etc. I'll put together cheap toolkits for a vehicle with Harbor Freight stuff - I rarely use it.
 

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We have some of the cheaper tools around. They are great to use when certain family members want to "borrow" a tool. ;)
 

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Ya, most of the cheap tools in my shop are now in the kids' toolbox.

Bad news is my almost 8 year old knows how to get into my good box.. :eek:
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Yep, we keep complaining about the jobs and economy, but yet, we all go out and buy things from China. If we all buy more American Made products, that alone will help stimulate the economy. It's hard though, when you walk into Walmart finding anything made in the USA.

But the problem starts with the school systems. There's not many schools around that teach shop anymore. Ask the next 17 year old you see if he knows what a Tool and Die Maker is? Where I came from, if you didnt know how to run a CnC machine or couldn't operate a Lathe, you didn't have a job. Everyone worked at Seth Thomas or Risdon or Gaynor Electric. Now those places are mostly closed up and gone. It's sad seeing all the manufacturing buildings rotting away and being torn down.
I have completely stopped shopping at Walmart. It wasn't so hard, because l moved down closer to Seattle and there isn't one nearby. But Walmart isn't the only place...Home Depot, Lowe's, Fred Meyer.. I am seeking out different tools made in the USA so that at some point l might have an All-American toolbox :)
 

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Discussion Starter #11
We have some of the cheaper tools around. They are great to use when certain family members want to "borrow" a tool. ;)
I hear that! As l have upgraded my toolbox, l have created two other piles...one is stuff that has some value, like Craftsman and Proto, that l will use for homemade tool projects and whatnot. The other l have thrown into an old community tool chest here at work, that is free for the taking, so if someone needs something they can have anything out of that box...and they can keep their dickskinners off my good stuff :)
 

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The Matco and Snap On trucks go to my daughter's job at least once every other week. She swears by her Matco tools. She says there are a few Snap on tools that she prefers over Matco but not many.
 

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Well, to be fair, once you get to that level of quality, it really is about preferences. Maybe the mechanic who really made you want to learn had Matco, or Mac, or Snap-On. My oldest friend is a great mechanic who, at one time, had a fabulous toolbox full of Snap-On tools. He said he loved his tools and never got mad at them, while the guys who own Craftsman cuss like sailors at their tools. I have another friend who is a mechanic who swears up and down that his Mac tools are every bit as good as Snap-On, if not better, and less expensive. I am not real picky. I don't buy in sets, l find a handful of odds and ends at a great price and assemble sets that way, so there is a bit of everything on my socket bar :)
 

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I've bought what I could afford for tools. There were times where the choice was expensive tool or the part I needed to use it on to get to work the next day.

Craftsman and other American made tools I've picked up at pawn shops up and flea markets have certainly performed better. They don't flex and bend like the cheap China stuff. It really matters when the bolts are stuck.

Watch the nuts, bolts and screws, too. I learned to salvage such hardware from my grandpa. "If you'll save that, you'll have it." Yeah, and if it's good hardware, you better. Hardware has gotten pricey, and the cheap stuff is junk. I bought some wood screws from Lowe's, made in China. If I didn't drill a generous pilot hole, I was rounding out or snapping off heads, even with hand screwdriver. Total junk. Nails, too. They don't even bother to trim off the excess from the molds, and you can't nail together two sticks of butter.

And I realize it's a global economy. Has been since the Silk Road. But geez, there's some total kaka coming out of China.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I think we have had a generation where we bought everything that came out of China because it was so cheap, and "good enough." Our forefathers said we got what we paid for. I for one am at a point where l am really liking that philosophy, and l am now buying for the longterm rather than for this one job. Besides that, l don't know if you have noticed or not, but the stuff coming out of China isn't quite as cheap as it used to be, and getting more expensive everyday. Cheap oil is helping keep it down, but we all know how long that will last. From what l understand, the standard of living in China has risen to the point where it is not nearly as advantageous for companies to import from there as it once was, and some companies are starting to bring it back home. I'm all for that.
 

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And here comes OneEyedJack to burst everyones bubble... but um, a lot of the Craftsman brand is actually NOW made in china. But fear not... They still have the same return/exchange deal. In other words, there are companies in China that are capable of producing the same quality product that the good ole USA can produce. They just do it cheaper... meaning, they pay less for the labor. But as long as I can take it back and get it replaced for free, I'm a happy camper!!!

My tool boxes are an eclectic combination of Craftsman, Matco, Snap-On, and Mac.... as well as a few cheapie socket sets that serve as "back-ups" in case of emergency.

The bottom line for me is, it's all about the guarantee... If'n I'm gonna pay out big bucks for a tool, then I want to know that it'll be replaced if it fails. PERIOD. I spent a HUGE amount of money stocking my 4 boxes, and I want some piece of mind knowing all is well if'n I break a tool.

Never settle for anything less!!
 

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Yeah, l noticed at Sears the last couple of times l have been in there that Craftsman has a few different lines now, and l immediately suspected that the "lesser" lines were made in China. I am pretty much stocking my tool box with Snap-On, Mac and Matco from here on. And most of what l buy is used on Ebay from sellers in the US, so it is highly likely that l am supporting a lot of small businesses in the process.
 

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There actually are Harbor Freight tools that are USA made ,or partially so.
Their 60 gallon air compressor tanks are made here and assembled with an Italian air compressor head and probably an American branded motor that is made in China. the paint quality and welds on that tank sets it apart from what Lowes has for the same price. i called the 800 number to ask what the best oil to use in the thing and a nice guy with a southern accent answered the phone where they were assembled. It made perfect sense to assemble them here since they made the tanks here.

No argument on the wrenches. A friend of mine has some Macs at least 40 years old. Lovely thin wrenches that are of obvious quality. Pittsburg are like chrome clubs in comparison that may or may not fit the fastener.
 

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Ace has a lot of American made items but you can't assume every thing there is. I found that out when I went to get a new toilet valve. Sitting there proud as can be on an end shelf was the same darn valve I saw in Wal-Mart when I picked up a 12 pack. $11.97(ole walmart pricing) while Ace had it "on sale" for $17.50. And there is the reason people search for cheap stuff. The American way in your face!:thumbsdown: I still try to by American made though. That Ace valve was the same China product but if I hadn't seen it at wally world first I would never even noticed.

I started trying to buy products and services from companies that donate "my" money to things I believe in using an app called 2nd Vote. Surprise surprise. Most companies do not. Ace does lean more my direction but barely. And here's yet another slap in the face. Even the dang app require Chrome to run which is Google and more socialistic than I care for. You can't get away from that trend today.:(
 

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I bought a set of matco wrenches when I first started making enough money to buy professional tools. Maybe they were just junk 30 years ago, but I broke more of them than my Craftsman. Traded them in when Snap-on first came out with flank drive. Some 20-25 years later I still use that same set.
 
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