Craftsman’s 56-piece universal mechanics tool set, the third item in our recent Craftsman tool gift guide, is touted as an all-in-one mechanics tool set for DIYers. It comes with spline-style sockets and wrenches, a 3/8″ ratchet, socket extension, screwdriver bit holder with several bits, and a hex key set.
I am inherently against universal spline-style sockets and wrenches and strongly prefer 6pt sockets and 12pt wrenches. Even so, I gave this set a go and reviewed it with a straight face and open mind.
That’s how Craftsman and other brands describe these spline-style sockets and wrenches. They’re designed to fit standard 6pt hex fasteners as well as spline, 4pt, 12pt, external Torx, and partially rounded/damaged fasteners.
The ratchet itself is simply designed but comfortable use. It features a low-profile teardrop head, quick-release button, and easy-toggle selector switch. This sounds contradictory, but the ratchet mechanism is both coarse and smooth.
I wish the ratchet was just a little bit longer, but in the end I’m pleased with it. And if I want to use a better ratchet from my toolbox, I still can. There’s plenty of room in the universal set’s storage case for added tools and accessories.
The sockets, well, you already know I don’t like spline-style profiles. But from an objective standpoint, the sockets are well made and precise. Craftsman gives you 9 inch and 9 metric sockets, so there’s none of that intric and mench combination business. If you’re guying to use spline-style sockets, this is the kind you want.
Come to think of it, I believe I bought a set of these last year. Or maybe it was Craftsman’s universal wrenches, I don’t remember.
The kit also comes with a 3-inch socket extension. No complaints there.
These wrenches have meaty open and box ends, but they’re suitable for DIYers. It’s easy to complain about something like this, but the fact remains that there aren’t very many spots where you need thinner and lower-profile wrenches.
Truthfully, I’m a bit fond of the look and feel of these wrenches. But I am a sucker for industrial finishes.
The set comes with 7 inch and 7 metric wrenches. My tests showed that they fit just fine on hex fasteners, but I still prefer Craftsman’s 12pt wrenches over these.
You also get a screwdriver bit holder, and while it looks plain and simple, it’s quite comfortable to use. It comes with 10 screwdriver insert bits with common tip sizes and styles. Craftsman probably could have added another 20 bits to call this a 76-piece universal mechanics tool set, but they didn’t.
Last, you get a compact set of short inch-sized hex keys. Some people don’t like the “fillers” added to mechanics tool sets, but I always like a few extra tools, except for nutdriver bits that I have more than enough of. These Allen keys are on the short side, but that just makes them and their compact case easier to carry separately. Just don’t plan to use them on heavily torqued fasteners.
The carrying case is awesome. Craftsman uses these for their Max Axess mechanics tool set as well, and I have grown fond of it. It’s easier to spread the case open from a vertical angle than rest it down and lift the top up and over where you have to push against the weight of the 14 wrenches. This is only an observation, not a complaint.
Would I buy this? No, but that’s because I have oodles and oodles of wrenches, ratchets, and sockets, and am set in my preferences. Should you buy this? Yes, if you’re the type of person that wants a self-contained mechanics tool kit that can handle most of your DIY repair, installation, and assembly tasks.
Admittedly I had doubts about these tools. But in practice they are well made, nicely finished (as long as you remember to clean them before initial use), and comfortable to use.
If you don’t need the whole shebang, Craftsman does bundle the wrenches and socket assortments as separate kits.
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Thank you to Craftsman for providing the review sample unconditionally. Review samples are typically given away, donated, or retained for benchmark and comparison purposes.