Question on 'lifetime' hand tool brands

Hello all,

My son is turning 16 in a few weeks and I’d like to.outfit him with a good set of hand tools that he can use and keep for the rest of his life.

I’m not in the trades but a DIY home repair guy who’s looking for good tools with a lifetime warranty.

I’m also looking for some kind of mobile tool storage to fit it all.

Your suggestions on which tools and brands to buy would be most welcome.

(Stuart please feel free to post this on the main page of the site)

Brian Collins

The days that you can drive down to your local Sears and get a replacement for a 15 year old broken tool are probably over for good. Yeah you can go to Lowes or Home Depot and exchange certain “lifetime” tools, but the chances of them stocking the same tool in five years (or that tool even existing) are pretty low. And frankly the customer service experience varies wildly.

It might be more constructive to concentrate on the quality of the the tools, rather than the warranty.

Some of my personal favorites are:
Knipex Cobra pliers and pliers wrenches
NWS pliers and side cutters
Wera screwdrivers and ratchets for non-greasemonkey work (the handles may or may not break down)

They are expensive, but I feel pleasure using them because they work well and wont let me down.

The lowes warranty on the craftsman tools is pretty good from what I hear. of items that fit your description The Craftsman Versastack 3 drawer tool kit - box, orgnatization - fairly complete set of hand tools. etc is a pretty good setup.

Otherwise if you want something that is US made and major quality and warranty I’d have to look at SK tools but be prepared for severe sticker shock.

For another alternative I would point you to Tekton tools which while not in a store have a decent warranty also.

On an alternative I might say not to get a full complement of MASTER sets. Put another way if you are working on a relatively modern car (sine 1996) - Then you realy only need a master Metric set. Put another way my 1/2 drive set is only METRIC. So you could save some dollars - and get more tool versions for the dollars if you say only got metric sets. For example no you don’t need ratcheting combination wrenches in full set of metric and SAE - which would be quite expensive. but if you got a full 10-19MM set that would work out well on nearly any car you would touch.

Likewise sockets - with a full metric socket set you have a fitemnt for any SAE size you will find. like using a 13 MM on a 1/2 inch bolt. If oyu just wanted a SAE kit perhaps get a shallow only 1/4 and 3/8 sets for normal household use.

But if I had to pick something with storage and easy to use I would strongly suggest the craftsman setup - or I would point you toward Tekton.

What I started with - when I went off to college I had a box with standard and long 3/8 drive sockets - ratchet, 2 extensions. A set of 3 vicegrips, waterpump pliers, linesman pliers, 3 sizes of philips and flats screwdrivers. A bit set with ratcheting screwdriver set - handle and bits set I used it the most I think)

I later got a set of combination wrenches because I needed some - non ratcheting.

I used that up until I bought I my first house at 24. And I still have it actually - well the box. Over the years I gave the other sockets and stuff away to friends that needed something while I upgraded to better. I actually gave the sockets back to my Dad - so we use them at his house.

So perhaps another recommendation might be to get him a box with room to add. because one of the first things I added to my set while in college was a digital voltmeter. So I had plenty of room to add a few things into play.

I’d like to second the recommendation for Knipex pliers in general. I have some I bought when I was 16 and they are still going strong now and I am currently in my 40’s. I own multiple sizes of Cobras and their parallel-jaw pliers from pocket size to huge and they all get used regularly. I also really like their standard pliers (needle nose, side cutters, etc.) with the electrician’s 5000V handles. Even though I rarely work on live electricity the handles are super ergonomic.
For screwdrivers I really like the Wiha microfinish with the solid black handles. They are easily the best I have ever used. They stand up to grease, oil, solvents, etc yet you can still get a great grip on the handles. They have a hex bolster so you can use a wrench to get extra torque on them and the steel goes all the way through the handle so you can also use a hammer to drive them down into damaged screws. I have a set that’s 20+ years old and still gets near daily use.

It is very thoughtful of you to think of getting him good tools. I know many people start out with one of the beginner “homeowner” sets that come with very cheap tools that can be frustrating to use. Using quality tools is a great way to start. would also recommend a Craftsman set - they are not the same as the old days but Lowes will be selling them and supporting them for a while. Something like this for mechanical work would serve him very well: .

Then I would add a set of tools that are made for electrical work too, something like this one would last a long time:

Everyone is different but I like having an open tool bag like the ones from CLC. And I would also add a small drill, something like the 12v cordless ones from Bosch or Milwaukee. Good luck sir!

For sockets and ratchets the Pittsburgh pro line is hard to beat.

For a hammer, I’d suggest an Estwing 12 oz. curved claw with smooth face, probably with the blue synthetic “shock reduction” handle. This is a light-to-medium duty hammer, good for nailing into walls without marring the paint, assembling furniture, etc. The handle will never come loose, because the handle and head are all one piece. It will last forever. It comes with a lifetime warranty against manufacturer’s defects.

For a screwdriver, I’d suggest a bit-holder type screwdriver. The reason is that the tips of screwdrivers always wear out eventually, so for a long-term purchase it’s better to have replaceable tips (“bits”). I like the MegaPro Ratcheting Automotive driver, 211R1C36RD. The “Automotive” means it takes standard 1" bits, which are cheap and widely available. But Wiha and others make good ones too.

For a tape measure, I like the Stanley Powerlock 12- or 16-foot. Tried and true, and not too bulky. The regular Stanleys feel flimsy, and the FatMax are too bulky for DIY use. No tape measure lasts forever, but these will do pretty well.

For a utility knife, I like the Milwaukee Fastback with blade storage, 48-22-1502. It has a super-smooth opening mechanism, and fits the hand well. Throw in some stainless steel blades (because they will likely sit unused for a long time.)

I’d second or third the recommendation for Knipex pliers, either Cobras or the pliers-wrenches, or both.


Tekton kicks the snot out of anything HF sells - other than the ICON stuff. for pricing and with my past experience I’d still say Tekton over ICON too.

Sorry but hells no. twice I’ve tried to use a measured device bought at HF and both times they have been off enough not to work right. one was a set of combination wrenches and the other was supposed to be an 02 sensor socket. Both times what was supposed to fit correctly didn’t come close.

Hammers since we’re talking other thngs I like a good 16 oz hammer and I bought a Estwing years ago ibeam design. might as well not get a wood handle one these days.

pliers - knipex is good. and perhaps get one or 2 of the new MALCO Eagle grips for vice grips when they come out.

utility knife I like the Fiskars utility that came out a while ago with their hardened steel blade. I’ve had it 2 years so far and I think I’ve broken off one segment so far. If I had to buy a standard or normal us style knife I might do the Milwukee fastback or the Dewalt with the angled body.

while I love my ratcheting bit holder I also recommend a standard bit holder. My ratcheting isn’t made anymore but I’ll second either the megapro mentioned above or the new craftsman they sell.

Short of a standard bit holder - I would sub in a 1/4 bit socket, that goes with a 1/4 square spinner. Tekton 1/4 drive kits come with one. It’s a nice piece.