Enter Tekton Socket and Ratchet Set, Your New Go-To Tools: Review
Turns out Tekton lives up to the hype.
What does built to last mean, exactly? While proper care and regular maintenance help you get more out of your appliances, automobiles, and furniture, some products are manufactured better than others. This should be the reason to purchase a decent set of tools, right? That’s easier said than done, however. It seems many tool manufacturers are taking a page out of the appliance playbook.
Many go-to brands pump out cheap tools that rapidly fall apart, necessitating the purchase of new tools. That’s why so many DIYers are ready to change teams after years of deceptive practices. Since many brand names subcontract from the same manufacturers, you can put in a lot of time trying to find tools that are built differently and actually built to last.
One name has popped up more often as folks flee from the market’s top names, and that’s Tekton. It apparently offers tools that aren’t just better than much of what’s available but also tend to keep your savings intact with this specific set costing just $47.77 at Lowes at the time of writing, which is reasonable compared to other sets we've tested.
Tekton is fast becoming a heavy hitter with at-home mechanics, but does it live up to the hype? The Drive’s took a closer look at the Tekton socket and ratchet set to see what’s what. Let’s get after it.
Unboxing the Tekton Tool Set
I won't pretend that this is my first run with Tekton tools. In fact, I recently tested the brand’s 1/2-inch torque wrench, and it’s solid. I’m pretty familiar with how the brand presents itself, and I'm now a fan.
Tekton tools don't come with a fancy sleeve around its blow-molded case. All you get is a cardboard box with the name on the side. You can argue that it's just cutting production costs, but I appreciate minimalism. There are no gimmicks to try and win you over. If you want the tools, you get the tools with no flair on the side. I dig that.
Of course, you still get a blow-molded case. I'd cry over it, but after testing 10 sets of tools that arrived in very similar packaging, I'm over it. Thankfully, this case is better than the competition’s. It’s also fairly compact, so you can easily take the entire set with you.
As for the set itself, you get a respectable selection of tools shipped with 38 sockets in both 3/8-inch and 1/4-inch drive, a nut driver, a universal joint, an extension, a 3/8-inch drive adapter for an impact driver, a 5/8-inch spark-plug socket, and of course, the 3/8-inch ratchet with 1/4-inch drive adapter. Is this the end all, be all kit? No, but it's pretty good for something to carry to and from small jobs.
The sockets are a touch above average as well. The radius corners and high-polish chrome finish are pretty much standard, but the crisp, legible stamping is large enough for you to quickly identify the sockets you need. The SAE sizes range from 3/16 inch to 3/4 inch, and metric sizes run from 5 mm to 19 mm. I find that to be a pretty comprehensive selection for most applications, too.
What blew my mind, however, was the nut driver. I have liked some of those I've recently tested, such as DeWalt's, but this one is far superior to the others. It is equipped with a 1/4-inch drive square in the handle, allowing you to hook the ratchet up to the back end when you need a little torque.
Using an extension is often the better choice, but at least Tekton is setting us up with options. It also shows us that this is nothing more than a 1/4-inch drive extension with a fancy handle, meaning the entire piece is reinforced with a solid bar of metal running through the center.
Getting After It With the Tekton 45-Piece Set
- Good: Affordable, high-quality, adequate selection.
- Bad: Red case is a grease magnet, bit adapter seems out of place.
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Recently, a reader let us know that they thought Tekton is an excellent replacement for Craftsman. It’s not the first time I heard this, and I really wanted to know what separated the two. Rather than following my usual routine of going to work and then disassembling the tools, I decided to take a gander at the guts first.
They’re similar to Craftsman in that they use a single-pawl mechanism and have a high tooth count on the drive gear. The new Craftsman wrenches use a thin metal pawl, something I don’t like. Tekton’s mechanism is much beefier steel and even has a spring-loaded pin beneath the selector switch for the assembly to ride on. I’m no engineer (Ed. Note: He just plays one on the internet.), but to my eyes it’s a much more robust system than Craftsman and many other brands I’ve tested.
After putting things back together, I got to work and used the kit for all kinds of little tasks. The one that required a measurable amount of effort was the wheel-bearing replacement on my 1969 Dodge Charger project car. The same buddy talking to my ankles during a previous tool review pointed out that my front-wheel play needing addressing.
My appreciation for Tekton’s set grew as I worked. The ratchet ran smoothly throughout the project and didn’t flinch when the time came to break things free. It also has a somewhat slim head that lets you slip into tight spaces where other ratchets would require an extension. I’m not saying it will sneak into every tight space, but it’s pretty dang good.
I also used the set’s bit driver while messing around with my ignition coil. I couldn’t help but hook the ratchet to the rear drive slot to see how it worked. It feels kind of unnecessary. Still, you can simply slam the ratchet on there rather than swapping sockets when dealing with stubborn fasteners.
Everything else about the kit is stellar as well, although I didn’t have much use for the metric end of things nor did I have to rely on the extension. I might put them to work on other projects, and the universal joint helps this kit much more complete than others.
What’s Good About Tekton’s Set
I can see why some people are switching to it from Craftsman. Tekton is putting in the time and effort to make sure that good tools are still available to weekend warriors. The design of the ratchet lets you work in tight spaces, it has a superior internal design, and it even fits well in your hand. The ratchet is also almost freakishly light, meaning less stress on your arms, and those smooth edges work wonders.
The ratchet isn’t all there is to love. You also get such a comprehensive kit. The socket selection, the nut driver, and the collection of attachments really give you a good bit of what you need to start with. Furthermore, everything is packed into a pretty compact case, allowing you to easily transport this set to any project that takes you out of your garage.
What’s Not About Tekton’s Ratchet and Socket Set
One detail I left out is the quarter-inch bit adapter for the nut driver. It’s great that Tekton throws this in, but you don’t get any bits to use with it. That means you’ll need to invest in more tools to use with this setup unless you already have a set of bits.
Other than that, the only gripe I have is with the red case and handle on the bit driver. It’s a grease magnet, and even if you think your hands are clean, it will remind you that they aren’t. The color does help it to stand out from the pack, but I promise you’ll be cleaning it frequently if you want it to remain presentable.
Our Verdict on Tekton’s 45-Piece Mechanic’s Tool Set
Tekton is a solid replacement for Craftsman. It’s priced right, and I think you are getting a really solid tool set for the money.
I’m hesitant to weigh in on long-term longevity, as I just don’t have enough time with either Tekton’s tools or Craftsman’s new ratchets. For now, I think it’s cheap and solid enough to at the very least try out the Tekton set to see how it works for you. I might even pick up a set of my own to go to war with.
FAQs About Tekton
You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.
Q. Where are Tekton tools made?
A. Tekton manufactures tools in China, Taiwan, and the United States. This set comes from Taiwan, and that’s typical for tools in this price range. The quality is excellent for what it is. I didn’t run into any manufacturing defects with any of the Tekton tools I’ve tested.
Q. Is Tekton better than Craftsman?
A. That depends on who you’re talking to. I think both are solid brands, and I think it’s a close call considering Tekton really does seem to be taking the place of what many feel Craftsman once was. Still, Tekton has somewhat limited offerings and seems to tailor itself to automotive applications. On the other hand, Craftsman answers to the call of many trades and has a much bigger selection while still offering respectable quality.
Q. Do Tekton tools come with a lifetime warranty?
A. Tekton does offer a lifetime warranty that it calls Always Guaranteed. It’s a lifetime warranty like any other, and it appears to be a relatively low-hassle experience. You will need to fill out forms and send out your tools to claim the warranty.
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