Friday, December 12, 2014

Blue Glove Tool Review: Snap-On 3/8in Drive Ratchet F80

Welcome to a new Daily Turismo special feature -- a horrible name.  We apologize for the fault in this feature's name. Those responsible have been sacked. The new DT feature is called Daily ToolrismoWe apologize again for the fault in the feature's name. Those responsible for sacking the people who have just been sacked have been sacked. The Daily Turismo is proud to announce a new feature Wrenches, Crowbars and Turny-thingies -- Wrectum for short....The editors hired to continue this feature after the other people had been sacked, wish it to be known that they have just been sacked.  This feature has been completed in an entirely different style at great expense and at the last minute.

.................WELCOME TO THE BLUE GLOVE TOOL REVIEW, A DT SPECIAL FEATURE..........................
.............3/8 inch DRIVE SNAP-ON RATCHET F80................

I've been telling people for months that I've wanted to do tool reviews on this site.  Not reviews like you'll see elsewhere on the internet, where an underpaid blogger has been given a shiny new free thing and has to give a good review to keep the free stuff coming.  Or worse, the internet sites that live on affiliate links and only get paid when you buy the pile of horse pucky they blindly recommend but have never touched in the flesh.  No, the Blue Glove Tool Review (where the nitrile meets the wrench (TM!)) is going to be a regular feature where we at the Daily Turismo share some tips/tricks from our late nights of wrenching, drinking, and cursing. Expect to see some affiliate links, because if we are going to recommend a product, we might as well get paid.  But, don't expect a crappy offering to be given a pass because they pay us.  Ain't gonna happen.    

The subject of this feature is the Snap-On 3/8 inch drive F80 ratchet, which you can buy here directly from Snap-On for $99.95 (but we don't get a dime from those cheapskates) here on Amazon used for about $74.99, or you could roll the dice and buy one here on eBay, hoping it isn't a fake imported from China...but I am getting ahead of myself.  Typical reviews of tools/junk on the internet involve a few hours of research and some touch time with the product, unless you read articles on self-described premium review sites like thesweethome where the writers spent 40 hrs reviewing a set of adjustable pliers -- a device that should never go anywhere near anything resembling a fastener and is best used for home defense to deliver blunt force damage to potential intruders.  Not to be outdone, I've spent the last 2 years using this Snap-On 3/8in drive ratchet on a daily basis for everything related to spinny things in my home/garage/shop/man-cave.  See those scuffs and marks in the finish?  This bad boy has earned this review the hard way. 

You might say -- hang on, Snap-On tools in a cheapskate's garage?  What gives?  Truth be told, this is my one and only Snap-On tool purchased new (I picked up a used piston ring compression & valve spring tool set at a garage sale a while back), and it was a carefully selected purchase.  Many years ago my toolbox started with one of those 250 piece sets of Craftsman tools -- a great buy at $300 considering the sheer number of tools involved.  However, I had used borrowed Snap-On tools occasionally decided I wanted a premium tool for the most commonly used mechanical part in my toolbox -- the 3/8in drive ratchet. 

For decades I had used a Craftsman 3/8 drive ratchet available here on amazon for about $21 (pictured above with the Snap-On F80), but a few years ago I made the critical error of bringing my ratchet into Sears for a "new" one per the lifetime guarantee on all Craftsman tools.  The new ratchet I received was arguably worse in slop than the tool I turned in and subsequent exchanges didn't improve things.  I think they just put the previously exchanged wrench into a box and you get someone elses old on and so forth. Everybody is happy.  Blame it on Craftsman tools no longer being made in the USA (notice they don't have the USA logo on them as of a few years ago) or Sears trying to maximize profit -- but the basic new Craftsman ratchet mechanism is sloppier than a 35 year old BMW guibo.

The Snap-On F80 on the other hand is laser precise in its ratcheting mechanism, even after being used for 2 years as a ratchet, hammer, inspection mirror, and breaker bar.  The F80 has 80 discreet teeth on the gear in its head, meaning that each click of the ratchet is 4.5 degrees, versus a measured 36 clicks on the Craftsman or 10 degrees per click.  Add up some additional slop in my particular Craftsman 3/8in driver and I could get up to 15 degrees before getting a click.  This means that in tight places you are fighting to get a single click on the Craftsman and getting 3 on the Snap-On.  This makes a huge difference.

I did a very scientific test in my garage, that involved clamping the two ratchets into a vise and moving them around.  Both had the same amount of up/down travel, which isn't a bad thing because you sometimes need that additional angle to get a bolt and don't need/want to be perfectly orthogonal to your fastener to get it out.  The biggest difference was the distance to a ratchet click and the Snap-On was the clear victor.  The Craftsman has a small button on the back of the head to retract the ball holding the socket on, and it does make releasing the socket easier.  A greased up socket can be difficult to remove from the Snap-On head; this victory goes to the Craftsman.

Bottom line: Even at $100, I can't help but be extremely happy with the value in the F80 3/8in ratchet.  I don't recommend going out and buying an entire set of Snap-On tools; they are prohibitively expensive (and you won't noticed much difference in a box-end wrench or a socket) but if you are going to splurge on one tool, get the F80. You can find it here directly from Snap-On for $99.95, here on Amazon used for about $74.99, or buy one here on eBay

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  1. Ah, the hand-tool wars.

    Not gonna pay Snap-On money new, but I've had good luck buying used Snap-On and Blue Point used on eBay. I look for stuff that looks well-used and I'm not averse to buying mismatched bags of stuff.

    My hand-tool drawers are a mix of whatever I happened to lay hands on at the time. Used Snap-On and Blue Point, Bonney, a few Mac, as much old Proto/Challenger and pre-'80s Craftsman as I can get my hands on, some later Craftsman and Stanley and Stanley-era Proto, lots of old SK and Truecraft and some later Facom and Facom-era SK, some assorted application-specific German stuff, etc, some recent Harbor Freight stuff.

    Craftsman used to be really good stuff. Then it was only good-enough stuff. Now it's not even close to the better Harbor Freight lines.

    Speaking of Hazard Fraught, I'll link once again to the essential Garage Journal HF Pass/Fail thread:

    Bought a couple of their composite-handle ratchets following the reviews on that thread and have not been disappointed.

    1. I've always said that Horror Freight is great for tools that have no moving parts or only need to work once. Actually, some of the newer HF ratchets are surprisingly useable and you'll find them in my emergency auto repair kits that come along on any trips I take in my beaters. The Pass/fail thread is great, but someone needs to figure out a way to index the thread. Would be a fantastic reference.

  2. Sears changed their policy on replacing ratchets a few years back from exchanging for new to exchanging for rebuilt. My early 80's 1/4 drive gave up the ghost a while back and they gave me a rebuilt one that was similar to the 3/8 one in your photos above. I put it on the passenger side floor of my car for the trip home. When I got home and picked it up, the directional switch fell out. Nice. Back to Sears for another rebuilt unit. No problem so far, but when it or the 3/8 and 1/2 ones fail, I will be looking for Snap-on replacements.

  3. Fleetwood T. BroughamDecember 12, 2014 at 2:29 PM

    A) Huge props for the (seemingly unnoticed--a pity) Python reference in the write-up. Hilarious.

    B) In response to the HF mention in the replies....I'll never buy a meaningful tool there again. I was using an impact gun with a HF socket on it to try and loosen a stubborn brake caliper bolt, and the socket literally split lengthwise in 3 places. Chinese metallurgy indeed. I immediately lowered my car, and went to buy a name-brand socket and a new set of jackstands as well to replace the HF ones that, minutes before, had been holding the car over my face. I just didn't trust em anymore.

    1. FTB This anecdote reveals an inherent dichotomy in the gearhead world. If a tool tries to kill you, it is instantly tossed into the abyss (rightfully so!)-- but if a car tries to kill you, it becomes a treasured companion. Remember the time our 911 tried to oversteer off that cliff? Boy, I love that car.


    2. Hi Vince. I guess I can agree with you, up to a point.

      Back in the 1970s, an autocross buddy of mine bought a lightly used Lotus Elan Sprint. He drove the car daily, and also campaigned it on Sundays at various parking lots. The car was forever throwing curve-balls at him, from trivial things like a hood that would pop up at speed (luckily front hinged) to the throttle sticking open at the end of a straight (it winds up that a Lotus goes better than it stops when both pedals are in play). Anyway, my buddy got a little gun-shy around that car (and this was a guy that could build or fix any car). One day, he told me that he had a weird feeling that the car was trying to kill him.

      Shortly thereafter, he put the Lotus up for sale. A couple of weeks after the car sold, we were shocked to read in the paper that the new owner had been killed in the car, in a freak accident.

      So, I guess I am just saying that sometimes it is good to listen to that little voice, and to remember that cars have souls too.

  4. Nice feature. I agree Crapsman is junk now. Might as well pay half price at Ace and get the same warranty. Sears did not want to replace my sockets with peeling chrome (no I didn't use an impact) kind of hard to build an engine if chrome might flake off your socket.
    Some thing to look out for when buying used Snapon is that some tools were "procured" from one of the military branches of United States government. They have a special serial number and a Snapon rep told me they have authorization to seize them if you try to exchange them.

  5. HF tools are okay only when they are more likely to get lost than to break or when you really don't see yourself using a particular tool more than a few times and used can't be found. There are a few things like dental picks, Dremel type bits, zip-ties and other junk you can save a few bucks on at HF.

    1. They've got lots of crap, to be sure, but there's a long list of HF stuff I've gotten decent mileage out of.

      I've got several of the 'Chicago Electric' 4.5in angle grinders (a couple of which are 10-12 years old, have been used quite regularly, and still work fine), and one of the 7in units, I've got one of their 1/2in right-angle drills which is noisy and rough compared to the Milwaukee equivalent but functional and cheap and paid for itself in a week running gas pipe and conduit in our house remodel, likewise the SDS hammer-drill (I think they have a much better one now.) The hydraulic hand swaging/crimping tool has gotten a huge workout on everything from battery cables to guy wires.

      I've had generally poor luck with their air tools and I don't think I could ever be convinced to go near their cordless electric stuff, though.

  6. You can buy this same ratchet with branded as a Bahco 7750 (Swedish company owned by Snap-On) for about $35. COO listed as Spain but the ratcheting mechanism looks identical.

  7. Up here in eastern canukistan (Halifax. Nova scotia) the snap on truck is a mythical creature. The only time it is seen in the wild is when it's driver/retail agent is plying his wares at any Canadian tire. I've even stopped when he was there and asked him to drop by our shop as we have a bunch of broken sockets, ratchets a few wrenches and screw drivers. He takes the address and never shows. He must make a very good living just dealing with CT mechanics.
    As for Harbor freight the Canadian equivalent is called Princess Auto and it has most of the same crappy air/electric tools that are branded power fist. Power fist hand tools are good as back up or emergency kit tools. But their impact sockets are decent and seem to last. We have two sets that have been in use for 4 years with no faults.
    They also sell pro point ratchets that seem to be better quality than the new craftsman or Mastercraft (Canadian tire) stuff. Even their 1/2 ratchet is great in tight spots. If the regular one won't do they do sell (pro point) them in a fine tooth version.

  8. I did the exact same thing over 20 years ago - splurged and bought myself a new Snap-on F830 3/8" ratchet. My only Snap-on purchase ever. Not sure how it differs from the F80 ratchet. It has worked flawlessly over the years. Great design and workmanship. It's expensive but it's likely a gearhead's most used hand tool in the workshop.

  9. About time there's some Toolhead stuff on here! I love my Snap-on ratchets, own several, Ok really I own about 11 to be exact. 1/4", 3/8" & 1/2" short, long, flex you name it. I also own a few of the other guys but those are basically my loaners along with their sockets etc. so when they get lost or broken I'm not to heartbroken either. If you make your living with tools it helps to have tools that work all the time, feel good in your hands when the going gets tough and that you can someday hand down to your great grandkids! Mine will be getting all of my Snap-on Tools. I own a lot of tools and a few tool boxes, buy quality tools because if you don't you will buy multiples, buy the craftsman tool boxes to save the money to spend on quality tools.
    In my other life (Snap-on Franchise Dealer) there was one well known race shop that was sponsored by Craftsman, the only Craftsman items in the shop where the boxes, all Snap-on tools in them. When the Sponsors came around the tools where put away and the boxes closed. All the Craftsman tools where thrown away.

    If you really want the best ratchet made follow this link:
    Comes in a short version as well.

    Stay away from HF, at least go to Northern Tools or HD/Lowes

  10. Check out the special tools at best quality.

  11. Up-vote on the sad quality of Craftsman tools. I recently went to Sears to exchange a socket that cracked. It was from my original set my parents bought me when I was 18. The guy was absolutely flummoxed as he couldn't track the number in their computer. He called two other guys over to look at it like it was a hen's tooth. He finally wrote it up and gave me a number 3/4inch 1/2 inch drive socket. As soon as he handed it to me, I gave him a look like he handed me a turd. It was rough, the chrome was terrible, the ball-capture slots were almost non-existent and it was lighter. The older guy looked at me with a sad face and said "yep..what you heard it true." Went to Lowes and grabbed some Kobalt sets. What a shame.

  12. On a side note, this little baby makes a great anniversary present. Harbor Freight is great if you are buying for yourself, but as a gift, you really have to go Snap-on. But hey, what kind of person would give a gift like that? Hey, get that filthy tool off my desk!

    1. Honey -- that isn't your desk, see the multiple wood sections, your desk is one continuous piece of wood. That is the dining room table. Speaking of which...what's for dinner?

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