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.
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:
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.