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What are you more of a sucker for? Good hand tools or good storage solutions? As much as quality tools positively impact your working experience, I say that having everything right where you need it goes further in the workshop. But that doesn't mean you can't have both. You can buy both at the same time when you elect to pick up DeWalt's mechanic's tool sets paired with its ToughSystem cases, though.
DeWalt probably isn't the first name that comes to mind when you're shopping for mechanic's tool sets. It shouldn't come as a surprise that it's in the game of supplying them, though. After all, Stanley Black & Decker owns both it and Craftsman. Crossovers are bound to occur. And when you mix that with something DeWalt is known for, which is making job-centric storage cases, you can walk away with a pretty impressive combination.
At least, that's certainly how it would seem. I'm here to find out for sure, as DeWalt recently sent me its 131-piece mechanic tool set with ToughSystem for review. Let's get into my initial impressions of the well-thought combination from the yellow power tool tyrant.
What’s this Tough System All About?
The cases the tools come in are the real center points of this set. They're slim, stackable, and they've got retracting handles built into the sides. That slim design pairs nicely with the easily removable lid, allowing you to use it as an organized tray for your primary station or at the project. That lid is also transparent, making it easy for you to quickly identify the set within should you decide to leave it on.
Even if the tools included were a total bust, I'd still be pretty stoked about the storage cases. They're not, though. This set includes two 72-tooth ratchets, an array of sockets, some extensions, a bit driver and bits, and Allen keys to boot. It'd be nice to get a few combination wrenches, but it's still pretty solid for a 131-piece set.
Each socket is also paired with knurling and large engravings to help easily identify the size and provide grip. That's a detail I'm always a sucker for. Let's be real; the alternative, laser etching, is basically a lost cause that can only ever hope to inspire frustration after a few months of use in most shops.
This 131-piece set retails for $162, meaning you're spending just $1.24 per piece. That isn't bad at all—especially considering it is backed by a lifetime warranty. Of course, different set sizes are available with the ToughSystem if you want more or less than is included here.
The Devil You Know…
I've tested and reviewed DeWalt's mechanic's tools in the past. There are a lot of things I like about what it has to offer.
As for what I like, the slim design of the ratchets is on top of the list. They have a small head relative to the drive size, making them great for getting into tight spaces. I also like the socket's clear engraving, as I said earlier, and the coverage of most fastener sizes you'll encounter in the shop. The cases are a big win for me already. They fit perfectly in my tool drawers, and that's a huge plus. I can see workflow being optimal because of the level of organization this set brings to the table.
That's not to say I'm not skeptical. DeWalt's gone and ditched the quick-release button for sockets that my older wrenches had. This might be an issue if the socket retention fails early on. Also, that smaller head could come at the cost of strength, which isn't great, considering the salty season is coming fast. I should also point out that this is not a great starter kit considering the lack of 1/2-inch sockets and box wrenches, but it's a decent addition to a collection that's already got those
I'll be putting these tools to the test to see if my concerns are valid. They're already on the front line from here on and will be used just like the tools they sit among.
Be sure to let me know if you have any questions or thoughts as to how I should test these ratchets. Stay tuned for my in-depth review.