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Any Recommendations for a Good Set of Metric Wrenches?

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by abyssmaltailgate, Sep 30, 2015.

  1. abyssmaltailgate

    abyssmaltailgate Greenhorn Mechanic

    I just bought a '77 model, and had the seller remove the front forks, clutch lever and cable, front brake cable, and headlamp to fit it in my buddy's truck. It's my first Japanese bike, and I only own English measure tools so I need basic set of wrenches to get started and put it back together. Can anyone recommend some good brands of fairly priced metric wrench sets? I know this might seem like a silly question, but I inherited all of my English measure tools from my father which he inherited from his father, and I can vouch; they don't make 'em like they used to! Thanks!
  2. weekendrider

    weekendrider Iron Horse cowboy Top Contributor

    S.W. MO
    Harbor Freight's fully polished wrenches fit pretty well and the price is cheap enough.
  3. abyssmaltailgate

    abyssmaltailgate Greenhorn Mechanic

    Thanks for the feedback :pimp: Anybody have any recommendations for quality brands/sets for the long run?
  4. gggGary

    gggGary I'm listening, change my mind XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    Craftsman still has nice sets. IMHO instead of spending really big bux on a single set.
    in rough order of need/ use

    a standard wrench set,

    3/8" drive 6 point socket set. get 1/2" drive 27mm and 36mm sockets. and a 1/4 drive 10m deep socket

    ball end, long pattern metric hex wrench set. Ekland brand work well their holders are the bomb.

    splurge for a tee handle set and or a hex drive socket set AFTER the ball ends,

    a hand impact tool, cheap is fine.

    offset box ends

    perhaps a crossforce set and or a ratcheting cross force set.

    On a 77 you will use MAINLY 10,12, 14, 17, 19, 22, 27, and a 36mm socket for the sprocket nut. 13/16" for spark plugs and the side oil filter.

    a long shank 1/2 drive hex socket for the damper rod bolt,,, 7mm??
  5. Higgy

    Higgy XS650 Addict

    I'll piggyback the Harbor Freight wrenches. Here's my side of it all:

    I started my adult life in 1976 at the age of 18, when I got married and joined the good ol' USAF as a aircraft mechanic. I was surprised to see that Uncle Sam didnt buy us the best of the best. Snap-On? Mac? Matco? Hell no. They bought us the cheapest junk tools they could source, and you know what? They worked.

    They worked on multi-million-dollar aircraft, so I am convinced that they'll do just fine on everything else. I've been buying cheap tools ever since, and have been spending all the cash I saved on other stuff I needed. Nothing like having a full toolbox of tools that you actually use, and dont feel like they belong in a museum.

    The best tool in the world is the one you have when you need it. :thumbsup:

    Oh by the way, I'll also mention that its a lot easier to heat up and bend a cheap wrench to fit a specific task than it is to sacrifice that Snap-On. :yikes:
  6. pamcopete

    pamcopete Ride.Enjoy.Life is Simple

    I started my tool collection back in the day when I was a young newly married man without a lot of money, so I would buy the wrenches I needed one at a time to do the particular job at hand. As a result, I have a very eclectic collection of tools but significantly, each tool was perfect for each of the particular jobs I had to do. Sometimes all the wrenches in a set are not ideal and you need a different brand for a particular job.

    Ever since I discovered Harbor Freight, I have bought all of my tools there and I find the quality to be very good, except perhaps for their ratchets which are not the smoothest, but for that situation I also bought a Facom 3/8 ratchet, made in France, and it is the very best ratchet in the tool box. Made like a fine Swiss watch. Effortless reverse motion. It's my go to ratchet and I have had it for about 25 years.


    Now on sale on Amazon for $58.52. It's the most expensive tool in my tool collection, but a 3/8" ratchet is used every day for every imaginable job.

    I also have several "Gear Wrench" box open end wrenches with the built in ratchet, and they are also the best. I think I got those at Advance Auto on sale.

    I have a few Craftsman box open end wrenches and they are sturdy but too large to fit into tight corners and generally "clunky". I think that Sears originally offered the Craftsman brand in their catalogs for sale to fix really heavy duty farm equipment and they are built to work on tractors and other farm implements, not metric motorcycles with much smaller parts and confined spaces.

    I don't think I have ever bought a complete set of metric wrenches or sockets. I just buy what I need for the job at hand. Buying a complete set of metric tools is a waste as well because you end up with a collection of 16mm, 11mm, 9mm and 7mm wrenches that you will never use, but a 19mm is usually missing. So four of the wrenches in the set are useless but the one you need has to be bought separately.

    There is one particular special tool that we all should have in our tool box if we are serious about working on an XS650. You won't know you need this very special tool until you find yourself working in your freezing cold garage in the winter after consuming 6 to 8 beers and have just returned from the warm kitchen with another beer in hand struggling to remove the starter motor. There is one bolt in particular that is impossible to reach with any of the many tools you have in the tool box, half of which you have thrown across the garage in frustration. Your cursing and screaming has awakened the kids and the wife is threatening you with divorce and it's 2 in the morning, too late to go to the store and buy the tool you need, even if you knew what that tool should be. Well, here it is:


    I haven't used mine in a while so I forget what size it is, but go out to the garage right now and find out what size the bolts are that hold the starter motor and then rush down to Harbor Freight and buy an offset wrench that size. Place the wrench in one of those fire extinguisher glass cases and break the glass this cold winter when you are removing the starter motor. And stop drinking so much beer!
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2015
  7. racerdave

    racerdave ^ Gone not forgotten ^

    Before I retired I spent 35+ years as a mechanic. Snap On is hard to fault except for their price. You get what you pay for.
  8. gggGary

    gggGary I'm listening, change my mind XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    This thorsen ratchet is the bomb. (there are several other Thorsen designs only this one is superior.)
    I have had this in my tool box for 30 years, The head is small, that's very important. The mechanism will survive ANYTHING, believe me I have tested it to extremes repeatedly, direction changes are perfect to use, The only minor call out is that the ratchet teeth are a bit coarse but that's partly why it's so tough, a worthwhile trade off. I am pretty sure this ratchet is going to outlive me by a considerable margin.
    I have only had one or two snap on tools my whole life. IMHO the quality does not justify the pricing. They are like Kirby vacuums, you're paying for the sales system not the products.

    FWIW I have a 3/8" air ratchet and seldom use it.
  9. Word Man

    Word Man XS650 Enthusiast

    I used to sell tools for a living (first Mac, then Cornwell), and my tool box is full of SK. Made in the USA, durable, and they fit the fastener well.
  10. ThatXS650Guy

    ThatXS650Guy More Sparky than Speed Racer XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    North GA
    I've had good luck with Kobalt tools from Lowes. Not too expensive and pretty good quality. I also cruise ebay for the odd sizes. You can pick up some quality stuff for a reasonable price...
  11. fredintoon

    fredintoon Fred Hill, S'toon. Top Contributor

    I'm with solo2racer,
    Snap Ons are just about the best and if you are a professional mechanic that's what you should get.
    But Oh my, they are effin' expensive.
    Not compared to a 40 year professional career using them, no.
    But compared to a weekends only bike fixer, there's better uses for that much money.
    Best wrench bargain? Sears during their 1/2 price tool sale.
    Also a full set of el-cheapo off-brand made in Mongolia wrenches that are so cheap that you don't mind torching them into pretzels for a special purpose or lending them out to your hamfisted cousin.
    And don't forget the BFH.
    And the wrench that pete sez is a must have?
    Those are called double ended offset box end wrenches (AKA ring spanners in the UK)
  12. I'm 1/2 with you solo. Yes, the Craftsman ratchets do suck. The 3/8's ratchet. But the 3/8 is the most used ratchet in most tool collections. My 1st was gifted to me in 1970 and it lasted until about 1989. Brought it back to swap, and actually, no problem, "here ya go!" (maybe it's your beard, heh, heh). It broke inside like yours in no time. Got another and another and like you said, f-ck it and got something else.

    I was also gifted from a friend, a Matco 3/8 ratchet metric set and a combo open end/box metric set. My goto tools and they almost never leave the house.

    An SK SAE 3/8 set was gifted to me in ~1972. That ratchet is still kickin and still have the green metal case.

    I inherited from my Dad, a Craftsman 1/2" ratchet set and a 1/4" ratchet set. From the late 30's or early 40's. They are indestructible.

    I buy cheap socket sets to leave in my car or boat. If the break or get lost, who cares.:thumbsup:
  13. abyssmaltailgate

    abyssmaltailgate Greenhorn Mechanic

    Thanks for all the advice and recommendations so far! This is my first thread/posting, and I can already tell that this forum is awesome! I'm going down to Menard's and Harbor Freight today to see what they've got so I can get the front end back on this bike! :bike:
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2015
  14. jtfield

    jtfield JTF Customs

    I've always used craftsmen and had excellent reliability and if one broke off to sears i go for a replacement. Picked up mine from estate auctions.
  15. wherearewe

    wherearewe Rub on Ya Titties

    I have a set of Stahlwille. All made in Germany and tough as nails. Bought a cherry used set of ebay in the UK and they are my babies.
  16. Word Man

    Word Man XS650 Enthusiast

    Stahlwille makes good stuff.
  17. 59Tebo

    59Tebo 59Tebo Top Contributor

    Harbor Freight. Good, cheap tools. More tools for less $$ equals more parts!
  18. pawn shop, oneie twosie
  19. DozerDan

    DozerDan XS650 Enthusiast

    Cheap wrenches will cause more harm and expense in the long run than spending the money on a good set.

    HF has its place for throw away tools, but not your good set.

    You do not need to go snap on, though if you spend enough time on CL and at yardsales you can build a set for pretty cheap.

    I have a combo of all diff name brands, Snap on has the best fit. I use my craftsmen sets for 90% of the stuff I do around the house, and for when I need to 'modify a wrench'

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