Tools of the Trade ran a newsletter survey, asking about their subscribers’ favorite hand tools. I found some of the results to be easily predictable, others were a little surprising.
731 tradesmen responded to the poll.
68.1% said that Stanley or Stanley FatMax was their preferred brand of 25′ to 30′ tape measure. Stanley and Stanley FatMax were also top picks in the 16′ category, but the most popular choice was “I don’t use a 16′ tape.”
It was interesting to see that Milwaukee, which is still somewhat of a newcomer in the tape measure market, has gained ground and is said to be preferred over Lufkin, Komelon, Johnson, and other brands that have been in the industry for a while.
I should also point out that, while Milwaukee released a couple of different sizes and styles so far, there is mainly only one style available in stores, and that’s their 16′ and 25′ magnetic tape measures.
32.3% said that Klein was their preferred brand of screwdriver, with Craftsman being the favored brand of 25.8% of survey takers.
A whopping 50.2% of tradesmen said that Crescent was their preferred brand of adjustable wrench. Crescent wrenches are inexpensive, and have went from being produced in the USA, to China, and it seems that they’re now made in the USA again.
Personally, I prefer Channellock, which was the second most-preferred brand, with 13.5% of the vote. Channellock doesn’t make their own adjustable wrenches, but rebrands wrenches made by Irega in Spain.
51.4% of survey takers said that they prefer Klein lineman’s pliers. Channellock, very distant in second place, is the favored brand of 20.3% of the polled tradesmen. This is the least-surprising poll result, as Klein has a very strong following with electricians, and this preference has spread to other trades.
More Info(via Tools of the Trade)
These poll results look pretty realistic. Pretty much everyone on a job site has a Fat Max these days. They are heavy, but they hold up the best and have an amazing standout. Klein is still king of screwdrivers on job sites, but a LOT of people complain about the #2 Phillips wearing down prematurely. The Klein Linesman’s are awesome, but you should buy the D-2000 version (made to cut fasteners [screws, nails…]). As far as crescent wrenches go… You still may be able to find some made in USA by Western Forge… Having said that, the Knipex Pliers Wrench is a much better tool.
The problem with their #2 Phillips is the stupid blade design. Klein calls it ‘profilated’ and it’s a composite of a #1 and a #2 shape, designed to work with both sizes. It doesn’t fit either correctly and ends up slipping when a decent amount of torque is applied. The slipping causes wear, which causes more slipping, causing more wear, etc… Before long that brand new $10 screwdriver can’t drive either size without using half your body weight to hold it in place. Many other companies do the same thing with their Phillips drivers but Klein is one of the worst about it. I’d rather have a real #2 driver, it’s not like I can’t find a #1 if I need it.
Mike, awesome reply. Great info. My work screwdrivers are mostly Klein. My Phillips screwdrivers are Wera 300 series. My terminating screwdrivers are also Wera.
I am kind of surprised at the amount of people that prefer Craftsman screwdrivers. Nothing against them, I just don’t see that many of them. Also, Klein makes a great adjustable wrench too. Seems like most people, other than electricians, don’t look too far past screwdrivers and pliers in the Klein catalog. I enjoy seeing these polls. It is interesting to see what other tradesmen prefer.
Eric, very true. I have had my Klein adjustable wrench for 20 years.
I did take it out of my work tools when I got the Knipex Pliers Wrench (a much better tool).
I can’t stand Stanley Fat Max tapes, they are just too heavy and as they are so wide they get beat on everything when hung on my pocket, I also pretty much only use 16″ metal tapes.
I never liked the fat max because of its weight and thickness. My goto tape has always been the good ole silver Stanley, but I purchased the Milwaukee 25′ and so far I’m pretty happy with it, although the sound it makes when retracting is something to get used to
My favorite tape measure right now is a Komelon brand, with a self-locking tape. You pull the tape out like you would with any other tape measure, and it stays out until you press the release button. Makes it very easy to do repetitive short measurements without continually fighting the tape or messing with a lock. My all time favorite tape was a 25 foot long Craftsman tape, with the self locking feature, and rubber armor. What set the Craftsman apart was the release. The release was built into a ‘foot’ at the bottom of the tape. Retracting the tape was as easy as giving the body of the tape a squeeze. Also, if the tape was on a table or board, simply pressing down on the top of the body would retract the tape. It was the most intuitive blade lock I have ever used on a tape measure. Of course, mine disappeared, and I cannot find one like it anymore. The new Milwaukee ones are OK, I like the way you can hold the blade with your finger from underneath, but I still prefer a self locking blade.
Have a look at Ace Hardware for that Craftsman tape. I saw them there before Thanksgiving. They stood out because I was very surprised to see Craftsman tape measures still for sale, I thought they had been discontinued for quite a long time.
Over the years we moved from Lufkin to Stanley to Komelon tapes – with Fatmax a distant runner up because of weight. Buying today – I think that Milwaukee would be in contention.
Klein screwdrivers have essentially the same handle/grip design as the old Crescent-Bridgeport screwdrivers and just feel right in the hand. That said, anyone who has tried some of the ergonomic European screwdrivers (Wera, Felo, Wiha come to mind) will likely not want to change – and the style that have laser cut grooves on their tips I find to be particularly good.
For lineman pliers, its hard to quibble with choosing Klein – but again the European brands (Knipex, NWS and Wiha ) do make some outstanding pliers – and the Knipex 86 series pliers wrench became one of our go to tools (starting in year 2000) for our plumbing business.
For a good measuring tape, check out FastCap measuring tapes. I’ve really enjoyed using them, they have several different versions one with fractions on one side and built in pencil sharpener.
They get really good reviews but can’t speak about their absolute durability on a job site. I just keep them in my wood shop and using them for milling and finish work.
I did have my hands on a Milwaukee measuring tape and was pretty impressed by the new design and build quality for a job site tape. The price was also good.
Stanley’s are always good but I can totally understand the comments of the FatMax.
Screwdrivers: I have a set of the Craftsman Professional and I am not impressed with the phillips. I really try to like them but they torque out all the time compared to my Wiha and embarrassedly to my Husky set. Their philips head design is very average.
My tape of choice is the fat max 16′ ,you very rarely need a tape over 16′,i carry a 25′ in my bag if i need it.My lineman pliers are the 9″ knipex ,very high quality
My 12 ft. Lee Valley Blindman’s Tape (right -to-left reading) has super large numbers and allows right hand to be the free hand. My 35 ft. Alltrade XL Load uses ball bearings for a super smooth action.
I’m an electrician and these are the basic hand tools and brands I most frequently use at my job:
Lineman’s Pliers: Kline
Diagonal Cutters: Kline
Wire Stripper: Kline
25-ft tape: Stanley
Needle Nose Pliers: Channel Lock
Pipe Wrenches: Knipex
Jab Saw: Stanley