Ben has not been having good luck with picks, hooks, and probes.
His Craftsman pick broke like dry spaghetti…
And his Husky pick bent like a pipe cleaner. Some picks are designed with compound angles, but not this one.
I have long been a fan of Ullman hooks and picks, which I purchased under Craftsman branding at Sears quite a few years ago.
Milwaukee recently came out with a pick and hook set, and I believe it’s a safe choice.
I think that I would also feel comfortable with Mayhew, which has a mini hook and pick set for ~$16 at Amazon, and a 4pc set of larger Dominator picks and hooks for ~$33.
I’m also likely to trust Gearwrench as a safe bet. Their 7pc set is priced at ~$26 via Amazon. They’re calling this a “deal” price, but I’m seeing other retailers with $26-30 pricing.
There are very many brands of hooks, picks, probes, and other such tools, ranging from extremely budget-priced, to “you paid HOW MUCH?” from Snap-on and PB Swiss tools.
For very regular or even daily use, I might be inclined to look at more premium/higher priced brands, such as Snap-on. But for my personal use, $10 for 4 smaller-sized picks is perfect.
I have an inexpensive Tekton set (~$8 via Amazon) from around 2013 when I bought a bunch of random Tekton tools to get a feel for the brand’s quality. But for around same money, I’d probably just go with Ullman.
Picks and hooks can be used for general workshop and automotive maintenance use, for tasks such as scribing, aligning, removing O-rings, cleaning out grooves or crevices, retrieving and positioning wires, and some are advertised as being capable of piercing holes in soft materials, although that’s more of a job for an awl.
If you had to buy a new hook and pick set right now, or recommend a set to others, which brand would you pick?
These are the ones I’d consider:
- Ullman 4pc set (Under $10)
- Milwaukee 4pc set ($15-20)
- Grace 6pc set ($18-22)
- Gearwrench 7pc set ($26-30)
For daily, industrial, or specialty use, I’d be more open to pricier brands.
A different option if you need insulated picks – is to look at the SIP (Salisbury – Honeywell) set:
I commented before – that a nylon spudger might also do – and would cost a lot less
I like the look of those handles.
Snap apart warranty is tougher and tougher. You break things and the tool driver decides if the tool was abused. I get it but sometimes sh$t happens where it’s not operator abuse. When this happens and I cant get a replacement it’s not the way to do business. They have also started to price themselves too high. Go with Mayhew. My .02
I have a used Snap-On that I found in a used truck (not a pickup… a truck) that I bought that has to be 35+ years old and it has been beat on, pried with, pulled on so hard that both of my arms were shaking, and generally abused maybe 2X a month since I found it –and who knows how long before that—has been GREAT,.
I have NEVER bought anything Snap-On new…. just stupid-expensive–but I sure would buy a set of their picks if I was in the market.
Cheap crap can HURT you when it fails if you’re REALLY using it…..
I’d buy any of the “good” brands– Mac, Snap-On, Cornwell, Proto, S-K, etc (assuming they all offer them). I’m sure I’m forgetting many other “good” brands. A set of picks that you can buy in a lumberyard-nah, I doubt I’m interested.
I am not wanting a warranty, I’m wanting something SAFE and dependable. Warranty is just a bonus.
We have a snap-on pick at work and one day we were just using it to lightly and it broke so just because it’s a truck brand does not mean it’s better than the rest. The snap-on guy said he had one right on the truck when we showed it to him but he hasn’t replaced it yet
Typical Snap-off. Charge a mint for tools and find every excuse not to warranty. Tired of their games, cheaper tools out there for the professional without problems getting warranty. Check out Mayhew for a pick set, made in the U.S. Great quality at a reasonable price.
He knows when operator error has been the cause.
He sells you a new one.
They dont have the screwdriver type repair warranty on the pick sets.
It’s because they are so hard yet tiny. Be more thoughtful and careful with whatever brand you select next.
I know what you’re all going to say to this, but I’m going to say it anyway.
I really like the Snap-On picks. I believe it MSRP for $45, but being a student I purchased it for $25.
Yeah, yeah, I know. “Not everybody needs overpriced Snap-On tools.”
You are correct.
I’m only buying them cause A. I love tools and Snap-On make some of the best. And B. I’m getting a wicked discount on the tools.
Would I pay full retail price for them? No, probably not. But, i still reccomend them. Especially if you’re a student eleigible for Snap-On discounts. I know some colleges are partnered with Mac, Matco, and I believe Gearwrench among a few others.
Point is (no pun intended) Just get whatever you want. Spend whatever you’re willing to spend for quality tools.
Isn’t ullman the OEM for snap-on picks?
My trusty Snap-On pick set is still in excellent condition after 22 years. I haven’t used them professionally in 17 years but they still see regular use.
My Sap-On pick set has not let me down in 30 years.
My Mastercraft set bent like wet noodles (a ubiquitous Canadian brand). The set I subsequently bought from SRT (an aftermarket dirt bike part company) was much tougher. I’m guessing they’re from China too, just with SRT printed on the side, based on the price. I only picked them up because it was a cheap addition when I was ordering a bunch of other tools and parts. This is a tool I use with some frequency, so I’m interested to read about other suggestions – I wouldn’t mind an upgrade.
I have a set of the Ullman picks and a few of their other doodad’s, and have been happy. Can’t say how they stack up to other brands.
I drive by the Ullman factory every day on the way to work. It looks clean and well kept, so I figured that their tools would be good quality.
My favorite is Snap-on. I still use the set I bought 25 years ago and the ones I bought last year as well.
Mayhew and Ullman in my tool cabinets. Minis and one larger set. Never had a failure. To me that’s ten times better then a warranty.
Time is worth more then the hassle.
And as usual fred listed something I’ve never seen or barely thought of: insulated picks.
Yes, we have had very good luck with the Mayhew brand tools (lady foot prybar and dominator scraper sets.) I’m thinking of purchasing a Mayhew pick set.
We’ve got a few Channellock sets (HP-4A), and they seem to work well for our purposes. They’ve got very small handles, which can be an advantage sometimes.
I didn’t realize Channellock made a set! I have a soft spot for that brand. Their pliers are fantastic value (pro grade performance at medium to low grade pricing – albeit a touch heavy).
My impression was that only the pliers are USA-made (and maybe that one megapro rebranded ratcheting screwdriver?). I just searched for the HP-4A set on Amazon however, and was surprised to see “Made in the USA” in the product description. Sometimes Amazon listings are inaccurate though – so I checked directly on Channellock’s site and saw this on the product page:
“American-Made drivers from CHANNELLOCK® mean business. They’re the strongest, most durable screwdrivers we make. They’re specifically designed to take the rigors of everyday use and keep coming back for more.”
A hook and pick set aren’t screwdrivers even if that’s the style of handles they have. Assuming this isn’t an error though, then they’ve got my attention. Well actually, in a moment it will be more than my attention – my money will be on it’s way. 🙂
I use the same set and very happy (I’m a weekend warrior though).
This set (HP-4A) is made in USA by the way.
Glad I saw your post, Adam, as I too was interested in a US Made alternative besides the ones I’ve got. So I ordered these and they came a couple of days ago. Little handles but thicker metal and chrome(?) then my Ullman sets.
It’s not exactly fair to say that I’ve had bad luck, sometimes I’ve just chosen poor tools on purpose.
I picked up the cheap Husky set discounted to practically nothing after Christmas, before I even knew I needed a hook and pick set. What isn’t pictured is the one I shorted across batter terminals and melted — Husky can’t be blamed for that one.
When Milwaukee came out with their hook and pick set, I jumped at getting samples, because I knew I’d use the heck out of them. They are on my long list of things I need to write about.
I picked up the Craftsman ones when I saw them in a newly converted Lowe’s, because I wanted to see what the Craftsman tools were like — at $7 I chalked it up to tool research. I actually initially liked them until one snapped like a toothpick.
Perhaps bad luck wasn’t the best way to put it. It is still possible that your tools suffered from random isolated defects, or at least what I’m hoping.
I try to give the benefit of the doubt, chalking it up to bad luck. If not bad luck, then they’re vastly inferior tools, with one brand being unsuitably soft, and the other brittle and disposable.
I’m going to have to follow up with some destructive tests next week, aren’t I?
With all due respect, Ben? Some people in this world, regardless of the quality of their, whatever item it is, are just somehow not suited to owning them. They kill that item, whether they’re gentle or not, whether they’re skilled or not. Some items just do not survive in the hands of certain people. You could buy them the finest quality version of that item, it still won’t survive.
I, for one, kill watches. My Paternal Aunt is the same, and she also shares the same sensitivity to light that I have. So, I’m not talking some supernatural voodoo thing. I know some women who, despite being perfectly proportioned, or in some cases quite tiny, simply cannot wear a pair of heels at any size, they simply break on them. Sometimes there are those who just genuinely break a certain thing, and there’s nothing wrong with that person at all.
I’m not saying give up on picks, far from it. I’m saying consider the possibility that, BECAUSE pics seem to break around you, you may want to buy a more affordable set, in multiples, just so you can keep going without the hassle of using the warranty service every time.
Just know it’s possible to be completely competent with a tool, wise about the purchase quality, and still manage to have a statistically abnormal, permanent, string of bad experiences with that tool.
Your comment made me chuckle, because it reminded me of a friend in school.
We were both in the Electrical Engineering program, but my friend would kill any printed circuit board he touched, it didn’t matter if he was grounded or not.
I on the other hand can shuffle around on a shag carpet in winter and touch boards all day long without destroying them.
Oh Joe, My wife has this issue with dish, it made me look for stainless steel dish which is very hard to find good quality one, almost half of the plates are made of stainless steel in out kitchen and a lot of mugs also… anything she breaks I replace it with stainless steel version of it, I have decided when I am going to make a house for her the kitchen cabinets would be made of stainless steel also…
Maybe for some things, but most of the stories I’ve heard about them, the tips are where it break. And depending on what your working on, that little piece of steel (if you weren’t paying attention when it broke) stuck in the wrong spot could cause catastrophic failure.
I’ve had good luck with mine from HF….not really a high precision or hard use tool for me. In general, there are “thick” and “thin” picks…they both have their uses….the thick ones for bearing down, and the thin for getting into tiny crevices. I typically use mine for pulling o-rings or cleaning small parts. Those Milwaukees look nice, though…easy to justify a new set of picks.
I’ve always viewed mini picks as being consumable because, I ask a lot of them at times. Ulman versions on sale are an excellent choice regardless of whose brand they’re sold under.. The Gearwrench mini pick set with red & black trilobal handles in a very nice nylon pouch is also a good choice. My favorite pick sets would be old snap on without the instinct handle. I hate the instinct handle and refuse to buy any tool with it. I also really like the Witte made pick sets sold by Cornwell or MATCO. Their hard trilobal handles just seem to fit my hands better.
I abuse the hell out of my Mayhew’s and they show no sign of wear after almost 10 years.
I have a set from Williams that I am quite happy with, I am more of a hobbyist, but they have served me well.
I have a set of PB Swiss and Lee Valley picks for light duty stuff. They work fine, but if I was leaning into them, I don’t know how they would hold up. I think I would prefer this Mayhew set which looks a little more meaty.
Alternatively, Epstein’s also has a small inexpensive Ullman set with interchangeable heads. There are times the smaller light duty picks are better.
Epstein’s also has dental picks, which most of us can attest, appears to withstand some serious abuse!
Finally, for those times when I really need to pull or pry, if it will fit, I will use a set of radiator hose removal picks.
PB Swiss is what I have ($57.80 today)
Expensive but good stuff.
BTW Promo Code “REMEMBER” to receive 20% off your online purchase on Memorial Day – May 27th, 2019 from Count On Tools, Inc. – PB Swiss Tools Distributor
I’m fairly convinced Mayhew and Ullman make the picks for other companies. But meh.
Mayhew is what I have that I got off someone used. so I’m not really sure how old.
One favorite feature is actual how smooth the ends are. Yes the pick is sharper but what I mean is. When I do a brake job on a car – as i pressed in the caliper pistons – I run around the edge of the piston boots to “burp” them. the large mayhew hook more often than not. I can get it in and under – and I don’t worry so much about tearing or puncturing the boot. Odd I know but it’s a go to.
I have a Craftsman set that looks identical to the Ullman set, just replace the word Ullman with Craftsman.
The Channel Lock set is less than $11 on Amazon and they are US made for those of us who care about such things
Since I started in my tool buying career as a mechanic, I have a 4 piece Snap On pick set. It’s now probably 8 years old and I’ve purchased other pick sets since then, but that one is still going strong, and I’d venture to say I’ve put that one through the most abuse as well.
I have the Ullman-made Craftsman small picks, and even a larger set of Ullman picks with the small handles but longer, thicker shafts. Both are quite decent quality and get the job done for more precise work. The tips are sharp but do bend/break off if you try to do anything with metal or hard materials, they really are more for dealing with soft materials or as access devices rather than tiny pry bars. It might be good if they came out with a hardened flat-tip version for when stuff like that is needed.
For stronger picks with larger handles, I have the older USA-made Craftsman Professional models, apparently made by Mayhew. Strangely, the Mayhew Dominator picks aren’t made in the USA. They are pretty decent as well and currently available, though. Both do ok for pulling with the hooks and picking with the picks, although I haven’t really abused them so nothing’s bent or broke yet.
I’ve also used the generic China-made 4-piece plastic handled pick set, sold everywhere for a dollar or two. Not bad if you just need a sharp pick and consider the set somewhat disposable.
Also, don’t use a scratch awl as a pick – I’ve broken the tip off those things just about every time I grab one in a pinch. Even my USA-made K-D tools verson that I thought was pretty stout. Nope, the tip broke off right after I applied only a tiny amount of leverage.
My SK set has been very good. Pratt-Reed not so much.
If you want unbreakable picks, look for those marketed for dentists and for lockpickers: both places where a broken tip can cause thousands in damage.
These style picks are not for lock pickers..
They don’t fit in a key hole
The Snap on set is the best I’ve owned. Been using and abusing them professionally for 4 years now. Previously I had the Mayhew dominator set which lasted around a year.
I’ve worked professionally and as a hobby with tool my entire life, and there are still very few tools in my box that say Snap-On.
My hose picks are one of those exceptions. And not that newfangled soft grip stuff. Good ol’ hard black plastic. They were the only ones that held up to continuous use when I worked in a radiator shop mumblethirtysevenmumble years ago, and they still serve me well.
For this tool, I always recommend Mayhew or harbor freight. Mayhew if you care, and HF if you know it will be consumed.
Proto also make some heavy duty picks – and some that may not be as heavy – but have extra long (20+ inch shafts):
Moody Tools 4 piece set – https://www.amazon.com/58-0226-4-Piece-Magnetic-Handle-Scriber/dp/B001VXYJIO
– Made in the USA
– Tips are replaceable (screw into handles)
– Magnet on the end is super useful
I use these doing assembly and repair work on robots and they are indispensable
Moody also make spring hooks and sets:
Not as beefy as the picks Stuart and others suggested, but I agree on Moody being a good tool brand. I use their fine tip probes daily for making cables and applying staking materials.
Moody Tools 55-0290 4 Pc. Stainless Steel Precision Probe Set, 25mil
Moody Tools 55-1780 10mil Precision Probe, Straight Tip #1
Mine’s gotten a lot duller now, but when I first slid the 10mil probe out of the container it was such a fine tip that it almost poked through my finger with just the gravity!
Same old rule applys. If you buy cheap tools don’t complain when they break, real simple. You bought the cheap tool so accept it for what it is.
PB Swiss and Snap On. Great handle and sturdy metal.
A good friend gave me a Snap-On set about twenty years ago and they still sting my fingers regularly. Really, do they need to be sharp as pins?
I have pulled on the hook and twisted the compound angle plenty
The 90° snapped at the bend a few years ago. One day I might track down a truck for warranty, but it serves well as a flat-ended mini prybar (saving me on screwdrivers 😉