In general when buying tools, the rule of thumb is your get what you pay for. In the land of wrenches Harbor Freight is king of the cheap. That emergency tool for a last minute fix. That socket that you need to weld onto another socket so that you have a nice drift for punching out bearing races. Even if you need a cheap hydraulic press that will last longer than intended. Harbor Freight is your destination.
Full disclosure: since I was a professional wrench the overwhelming majority my tools are Snap-On. There are some randoms thrown in there like Craftsman, Kobalt, and Pittsburgh. The point I will eventually and hopefully make here is that the cheap-o tools do have a place in your tool box, and no its not in the trash drawer. In emergencies I have run out to the nearest HF and picked up a wrench or two just to get by but what I’ve found is that the simpler the tool the better it is at HF. I would not recommend power or pneumatic tools to anyone looking to do some serious wrenching or work, although they’d be just fine for around the house projects. No heavy lifting per se.
I’ve also found that these tools make great base for modification. Need a custom made piece for your press? Just weld up a couple sockets (maybe not). Need a skinny low-torque wrench for that hard-to-get-at nut? Harbor Freight. HF is a great place to pick up that Oh Shit Kit too. A couple of wrenches, some sockets and a screwdriver, plus any a la carte, bespoke to your beater tools that you know you’ll need. All for the price of a burger and fries.
Again, I’m not advocating to use budget brand tools if your doing any professional level jobs, wrench frequently, or want to brag about how shiny your toolbox is. When it comes to tools, I really do believe the old adage, You get what you pay for.” However, tools from Harbor Freight and the like, do have their places in your garage or at least under the seat or in the trunk of your beater. Just maybe not for the big jobs or the ones that count.
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