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As Sean pointed out yesterday, it’s that time of year again — the time where we start to see tools packaged and targeted at the gift-buying crowd. We ran across the above “set” in a big box the other day, and it strikes us as a great example of the genre. Let’s take a look at it specifically, but more importantly, let’s look at how this particular package exposes some of the tactics you’re likely to see in the marketing deluge that we call “the holiday season” — and what you can do to get the most bang for your gift bucks.

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I was a bit surprised to find Snap-On products — albeit “tourist” stuff like flashlights and beer coozies — at the local Costco. But I was even more surprised to find Snap-On as one of the brands touted among the Father’s Day deals on Amazon. As you might imagine, I clicked through. My first find? The screwdrivers you see pictured above, an 8-piece set carrying the “Snap-on Industrial Brand JH Williams” name… and retailing for right around $50.

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If you disagree here, feel free to call me out in comments. But I’m always confused when I see something like this on the Snap-On site. They’re offering a 1/4″ compact cordless impact driver, complete with two batteries, a charger, and a soft-sided case for $203. But are people really willing to pay 75% more for a tool just to have it come in red and black and show up via the tool van? Seriously, we can buy the Bosch PS41 for $135 all day online. And unless I’m missing something, the Snap-On driver’s specs don’t match up well, either.

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For anybody who’s ever used a screwdriver to slip a belt onto a pulley, you’ll recognize how Snap-on’s stretch belt tool works. In the brochure at the bottom of the post, they claim you can use the tool for mounting belts on some late model Ford Chevy and GMC SUV’s, but frankly I don’t see what would prevent you from using the tool on other vehicles.

The Chinese-made tool fits over the lip of the pulley and a special bolt holds it in place. When the tool is in place you can rotate the belt onto the pulley in tight quarters without twisting the belt.

A search at Snap-on.com shows pricing at $13.

Stretch Belt Tool (PDF) [Snap-On]

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This might make the perfect gift for a brand-conscious tool friend this holiday season. This flashlight and knife kit (on sale at Costco this weekend) includes all the necessities: an aluminum barreled, xenon-bulbed two-AA light, a miniature AAA model, and an aluminum-bodied folding knife — and, of course, the Snap-on brand prominently on display.

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In some cases, it’s easier to remove the alternator to release serpentine belt tension than to get a wrench or ratchet on the belt tensioner. Ignoring the lamentable decision-making process that spawns such folly, there is a workaround. I first saw very low-profile bars like these at a Tuffy where I worked, and everyone in the shop borrowed it almost every time they had to release a serpentine belt on a transverse-mounted engine. The owner probably wasn’t too happy with us, but the photo above shows why the pseudo-thefts were necessary.

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OK, so the title is a lie. You could easily under-price this jewel of an ass-rest by picking up a Snap-On keychain, or even a single socket (or two if you chose carefully). But then you’d be stuck standing, wouldn’t you? Seriously, though: everyone needs a shop stool — or a couple if you plan on inviting your friends over for shop fun. And unless you plan on building your own, $100 flat isn’t really that bad for a fancy seat like this one.

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“Christmas tree” plastic rivets are the bane of a mechanic’s sanity. They grip like mad, their edges are nearly flush with the part they retain, and the heads tend to pop off when you pull on them. Fortunately, Snap-On’s A161B is the bane of Christmas tree rivets. It’s pretty versatile for removing any kind of plastic fastener, and does general interior work pretty well — much gentler than a big flat-head screwdriver.

Snap-On makes a bunch of different versions for specific applications. A161B is designed for GM cars and most imports, making it the most widely-applicable model. Unfortunately, this is Snap-On, so the price of this convenience is about $29.

Street Pricing [Google Products]

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We came across the sad story of a Snap-On distributor — they’re independent, remember? — and one likely disappointed child in an upstate New York newspaper recently:

Snap-On Tools valued at about $25,000 were stolen in a burglary discovered Tuesday morning on the property of a Snap-On distributor in the town of Pamelia, according to state police. […] Intruders entered a garage at the residence as well as a truck containing the tools, parked outside the garage.

But here’s the sad part:

Stolen hand tools include wrench sets, drill bit sets, four 18-volt cordless impact wrench sets with cases and batteries, a tool bag, and a child-size Red Rider wagon having the Snap-On logo.

Doh! While those wrenches — and even impact wrenches — are infinitely pawnable, what kind of bastard-coated bastard steals a child’s wagon?

[Thanks, taomancer, for the great CC-licensed photo.]

$25k In Snap-On Tools Stolen in Pamelia [Watertown Daily Times]


Snap-on is preparing for Father’s Day by offering a Gift Buying Guide on their website. The 8-page guide includes a wide array of hand tools, from wrenches to sockets to hammers, and it lists the promotional Father’s Day sale prices.

Don’t get me wrong, Snap-on is still pricey — but you’re paying for quality, and these tools aren’t for just your weekend warrior dad anyway.  The prices shown will last through Father’s Day both online and through your local Snap-on franchise.

Caution: The guide is a large .pdf file — if you’ve got a slow connection, click at your own risk.

Snap-on [Corporate Site]