Arjan wrote in with a great question about Facom tools:
Currently, I am reorganising my hand toolbox with cheap Chinese stuff and therefore I am reading through your articles a lot looking for advice on what to buy.
I live in the Netherlands (continental Europe) and so I have access to tools from all major European, mainly German, manufacturers like Hazet, Stahlwille, Elora, Gedore (with Rahsol and Dowidat), Heyco, Wera, Wiha, Carl Walter, Beta and Facom.
Still these tools are not cheap due to all high labour rates and kinds of taxes. However, I buy quality tools, because I would like to be able to pass on my tools to future generations (I am 44) and many times you’ll get what your pay for.
I really like the look of the Facom 440 combination wrenches, but I am worried about the fact they are Taiwanese made (allegedly by Toptul) and the fact that Facom is owned by SBD.
I am not meaning to offend you, but I have despised the quality of current Stanley products for years with the sole exception of their Stanley knives. Do you think the Facom combination wrenches are of better quality than other Stanley products and do you think they will last a lifetime, provided they are used correctly?
Great question, and I am not at all offended.
I bought a set of Facom 440 combination wrenches – the latest version of them – with cold hard cash, and while the review isn’t quite ready yet I do have some opinions on them.
First, I don’t recall where they’re made. I do believe they’re made in Taiwan and not France or another western country.
But that doesn’t really mean anything – these are very nice wrenches.
I only own a number of Facom tools – the 440 wrenches you mentioned, 2 “Fast Action” wrenches, slip joint locking pliers, a couple of angled socket wrenches, 2 cantilever tool boxes, an adjustable wrench, a pipe wrench, as well as a few screwdrivers and hex wrenches.
My experience with Facom isn’t as extensive as with some other mechanics and industrial tool brands, but I feel there’s enough to get a good sense of the brand.
Now, as for these 440 wrenches, they’re a little shorter than other brands’ wrenches, but they also have better shaped open wrench ends – as far as offset angle is concerned. With the wrench sizes I use most often, the open ends are lower profile than on my other wrenches, but the box ends are thicker.
I would say that Facom tools are much more comparable to Stanley Black & Decker’s professional Proto and Mac Tools brands than their self-branded line of Stanley and Stanley FatMax hand tools. The fact that Stanley owns the Facom brand doesn’t really seem to mean anything bad.
See Also: Tool Brands and Their Corporate Affiliations
There’s no compromise in quality or function. I don’t mind so much where they’re made because they’re not any worse for it. Will they last a lifetime? That’s not something I could comment about, but it’s also something I wouldn’t worry about. My Facom 440 wrenches seem to be every bit as strong as I could ever hope for them to be.
I like these wrenches because they have a great design, great feel to them, and the satin finish is nicer than most other polished or satin chrome finishes I’ve seen before.
If Facom made more inch-sized tools – some of their offerings are metric-only – I’d have many more Facom tools in my toolbox.
If you’re really worried about whether you’d like these wrenches, you could always buy just one size to try out. I’m sure there’s one or two wrench sizes that you can never have enough of. For me, it’s 7/16″ and 1/2″, which are also big enough to where I can tell if I like a wrench design or not. For you, and others who use metric wrenches more often, maybe 10 mm or 13 mm would be good sizes for evaluation purposes.
For anyone else looking to upgrade to these wrenches, here are some purchasing links. Since I’m based in the USA, these are the only distributors I have used and can recommend:
Buy Now(via Amazon 3rd party sellers)
Buy Now(via Ultimate Garage)
Buy Now(via Stanley Supply Services)
My current favored Facom source is the Ultimate Garage, as Steve (the owner) keeps a healthy selection on-hand and sends tools out in better shape than other vendors. My tool box from Stanley Supply was dented and took its sweet time to arrive. The one from Ultimate Garage cost a few bucks more but arrived in pristine condition.
Steve also offers (offered?) a discount for Garage Journal members – when ordering leave your GJ user name in the comments section and request the discount.
I own several FACOM tools, including a 1/4″, 3/8″, and 1/2″ drive ratchet. I mention these specifically, because the pawl mechanism seems poorly made; I have had to service two of them. Likewise, the rubber (slip-on) handle will slide-off at the most inopportune moments. Otherwise, I have no specific complaints with their wrenches/sockets or other “single-piece” tools.
I would recommend Wiha, Beta, and USAG tools if you’re not in the States. (Unfortunately, there is only ONE vendor for USAG in the United States……who is inexorably slow.)
Hope this helps…
I inherited a garage full of NOS FACOM tools. Over the past ten years I have sold each and everyone. Keep in mind these are the original, made in France tools with outstanding quality and strength. At the time, I could not sell locally b/c no one knew about FACOM. I listed on selling sites, such as EBAY and AMAZON. It took me awhile to establish a following but I did. Long story short – the reason I’m commenting is b/c there is a world of difference between the original made in France tool and the ones you see on the market today. The originals have not been duplicated and I’m annoyed that the fake FACOM are considered as FACOM at all. Know what you are buying before you spend the money. The newer ones are a rip off.
Hi. I find the newer 440 wrenches to be better finished and equally strong to the older made in France ones. Many of Facoms current hand tools are still made in France and some of the ratchets are made in Italy. Even some of the tools that have no coo on them are still made in France. Got a mixture of old and new and find the newer stuff has not declined in quality at all. Here in the UK Facom tools can be found quite so maybe our expectations are different. USAG is Facom so it seems strange to recommend one over the other.
The ratchets can at first glance be somewhat uncooperative; if the ratchet ever slips – disassemble the ratchet only (if you understand how to put it back together). brush the teeth of the body and rotor vigorously . Grease and reassemble. This post doesn’t have a way to upload a photo or I would post the original directions.
Some of the hand tools from not-Stanley brands that SBD owns have taken a hit on quality, yes. But it’s not Stanley, it’s the sub-contractors Stanley went to after they bought the brands. I’ve never owned a Stanley or Stanley/FatMAX hand tool that I didn’t absolutely love. So, Stanley seems to be keeping the really, really good manufacturing for their Company brand, and letting the other brands get away with a little less. With one exception. If the Not-Stanley brand designed their own, specifically for their brand, and not to be shared with any of the other SBD family tools, then chances are really good that those tools got the full Stanley Quality manufacturing.
These Facom wrenches appear to be a design only Facom is using, so chances are, if history repeats itself at all, that they’re pretty decent rather than cheap. That’s the way it was with the DeWalt hand tools when they first came out, and I imagine it’s true here. If it was a Stanley/SBD tool first, chances are they’ve re-branded their lower quality stuff. If it’s unique to Facom, chances are it is, at the bare minimum, Facom quality.
Ok believe FACOM (mine are French) are made by USAG. In italy
I can’t intelligently comment on Facom quality these days – as I only recall using a few of their old pipe plug sockets (D105 series) that were made in France. I also recall that ToolGuyd posted about their angle-head socket wrenches that are made in the Czech Republic – but I have no experience with them. What I do know is that ZORO carries some limited number of Facom wrenches and sets. I say this because Zoro often runs a 25% off or even 30% off deal (they did 30% off for St Patrick’s day) – and if you sign-up with Zoro for email alerts – they will advise you of these deals. While Zoro (part of Grainger) is not known for exceptionally good prices – and I find their website a bit cumbersome to navigate – when they have a 30% off deal – it may be worth comparing prices
While I can’t comment directly on FACOM. I can on some of your other brands. I don’t know how the dollars (euros) come out on your end – but in theory you should be able to buy Stahlwille over there cheaper than I can.
They are awesome – best wrenches I have used especially combination wise. I got them, for free – when I was in germany for a short stint. came with other stuff – love their sockets too – HATE their ratchets, for the money they cost. but that’s a different rant.
anyway – wrench and I’ll even say screwdriver wise – they are great. fitment it snug, and clean, though thin and often light – I’ve never broken one. more to the point – you ever see a guy take a combo wrench, link it to another one and turn a bolt that’s stuck hard. it puts alot on stress in the wrench that’s linked on – and it’s being bent oblique to it’s strength axis.
anyway it’s a great way to bend up and otherwise smurf a good combo wrench. Stahlwille does have a lifetime warranty – and I can get it replaced if I have to. however – it took it with stride. used a 15mm against a 12mm.
I’ve also got a set of cromwell combo wrenches and if I bought some more today they’d probably be SK. But other than cost, and my desire to buy american made – I’d buy another set of Stahlwille in a heartbeat.
Ah the great Facom, I live in France and we can get Facom pretty much anywhere over here, i work as an alarm technician so i m mostly familiar with their screwdrivers and pliers but my dad was a mechanic until he retired and Facom was present in every garage for years.
Long story short, Although expensive some Facom tools are worth the money, sockets and wrenches mainly, their pliers are ok although you can get Wiha for examples for far less money. Pliers are ok but too expensively priced compared to others ( i do have some Facoms but i have mainly switched to NWS now, and some KS Tools although i m not happy with those). Most people seems to think Facom did go down in quality in the last 10 years but the drop isnt perceived the same way across the range.
I d suggest maybe buying a pair of wreches as suggested before splurging.
A lower cost alternative here would be Bost, which was a subsidiary of Facom .
Being the person who asked Stuart this question, I feel I have to add my two cents to his blog.
First of all I would like to thank Stuart for his kind reply to my question and of course the commentators to this article for their opinions and experiences.
I never heard of Facom until I met a Facomnatic about eight years ago. He had a new Facom cabinet full of new Facom tools and used them professionally as a motorcycle mechanic. I used to help him in my spare time and took a liking to his Facom tools except for the ratchets for the same reasons stated by Jeff.
The combination wrenches I used were of the 40 (?) series, so not the 440 series. As far as I know the 40 series of wrenches were made in France where as the 440 series are made in Taiwan. I do not have problems with Taiwanese or even Chinese made tools as long as the same quality standards are observed, but opinions on current Facom quality seem to be mixed and quite different between the US and Europe. Hence my question. However, Facom warranty is still in many cases superior to that of many German makes, while prices are slighty lower, so Facom may still be worth a try.
I have metric and fractional combination wrenches in my toolbox with a back up from a different make for four of the most common sizes (10, 13, 17 and 19mm in metric). Just like Stuart I like to mix and match tool brands. I intend to buy a set of Facom metric combination wrenches, so I am really looking forward to Stuart’s full review and readers’ experiences.
In response to Nathan, three of my four ratchets are by Stahlwille and I absolutely love them. Many of my sockets are also by Stahlwille and of the same great quality. Yes, Stahlwille tools are expensive, but rightly so. I think that Stahlwille quality is very close to Hazet, which is considered to be THE premium brand over here.
Interesting – mine are either worn out then or something. lowest profile, smallest body, etc etc ratchets I own. in some cases by quite a margin.
but they are loose, wobble about, and have a grainy rotation. where my SK and my Kobalt (yes really) is smoother. but bigger.
question – which size,model do you own and how old is it?
The models I own are the 415SG (about ten years old), the 411 and the 515 (both two to three years old). I have to say, that I don’t use them much, since I prefer the use of breaker bars or t handle over ratchet mechanisms. So I usually unlock a nut or bolt with a breaker bar or t handle, before completely unscrewing it with a ratchet. Same with tightening screws, but then the other way around.
Furthermore, I don’t have much experience with ratchets from other makes. I am familiar with Facom ratchets, which I hate for the same reasons as you hate Stahlwille ratchets for and S-K and Snap On ratchets, which are both superior to Stahlwille ratchets. However, they’ll easily cost twice as much over here.
Are the Facom 440 wrenches made from 440 stainless steel? Or is the”440″ just a series number?
That’s just the model number. They are not made from stainless steel, at least not to my knowledge.
Thanks, Stuart. Now deviating from the topic of this blog post, are there any stainless steel wrenches out there (other than Aven)?
Beta (metric only I believe). McMaster Carr lists a couple of inch and metric sizes, brand unknown.
I’m sure there are others, but this is all I could find with a quick search. I couldn’t recall any brands off the top of my head, sorry.
I don’t know if anyone noticed but USAG is owned by FACOM and their tools are identical but with different branding
I read your review with interest as my company is the sole importer to the UK and to France for the Toptul brand.
I have visited the factory in Taiwan many times.
Just to clarify the Facom issue –
For many years the Toptul factory manufactured Facom wrenches in close co-operation with the design engineers from Facom.
When the Stanley Corporation purchased the Facom brand in around 2010/2011, Stanley took the production away from Toptul to their own Stanley factories in China.
Subsequently, Toptul no longer produce any items for the Facom brand.
However, Toptul is fast gaining worldwide recognition as a high quality product due to the skill, design expertise and quality control systems that Toptul insist upon.
I hope that will shed a little more light on the Facom/Toptul issue.
I`d say that don`t buy Facom. Only some of the French made tools from them are ok. Others standard Taiwan quality. For example sockets are very thick wall and hard to fit tight spaces. Wrenches are short. All this because material isn`t as strong as for example Stahlwille. I bought Facom rolling tool cabinet full of tools and thought that would be tools for life. I regret. If I could turn back time I would buy Stahlwille cabinet. Buy once cry once. Night and day differences. Long wrenches, slim sockets, tools which wont let you down. They are the best money can buy.