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Discussion Starter #1
We have never really had a shop and always had to work on our stuff outside, because of this my dad/grandpa never really invested in tools/toolboxes/etc. Now me and my dad are wanting to do more of the work ourselves to save money as well as be more thorough with our inspections/preventative maintenance. We gutted an old 30x30 wooden grainery and put a new floor and garage door in, this has been a really nice upgrade from the front corner of the quonset but it isn't heated and we can't really bring anything but vehicles and the skidsteer inside. Our plan is to put up a big/basic pole shed for equipment and bale storage in the next few years and then renovate our current 45x70 quonset into a proper heated shop. We've priced out the building/reno costs but what we don't know is the how to set up the shop on the inside. I would like to set ourselves up properly and invest in some higher quality tools (not just the cheap Canadian Tire/Princess Auto specials) as well as a properly set-up/functional workbench and tool box plus any other shop tools.

That leads me to this thread, I've worked in a few shops and seen some different set-ups/systems but I was wondering what you guys use and like? Do you have permanent tool storage on the wall by the bench and a small tool cart or do you have a nice big rolling tool chest? What do you recommend for tool boxes? We have a cheap Mastercraft chest, I'd like something a little higher quality but I don't want to take out another mortage to get a Snap-On box. What kind of workbenches do you have, we built our current one out of old 2x6s... do you build another one like that or do we go for a big steel bench? How big of a workbench would you go for? For welding/fabricating do you have everything on carts and tucked away in the corner when not in use or do you make a designated area for metal work? What kind of jacks do you like best? We have a 12 ton bottle jack and a 3 ton floor jack, do we go for a big air powered bottle jack or a bigger heavy-truck floor jack? Is there any kind of moveable hoist set-up that isn't horrendously expensive?

I'm also open to suggestions on the tools, I'm a little partial to SK and have a full wishlist from their catalog and would likely go that route for the hand tools but I have no idea about everything else. My buddy's in construction rant and rave about their Milwaukee power tools, are they that good? Any other brands to consider? What about air tools? We've got a basic Mastercraft set that works but isn't overly powerful. What does a guy all need and what brands would you look at? What are any other must-haves on top of the basic wrenches/ratchets/pliers/screwdrivers/impacts? Any other good tips on how to outfit a shop as practically as possible?

I know that just like the shop itself, the skies the limit for how much a guy could spend on tools/outfitting a shop. We definitely can't justify or afford going too crazy but if we're going to go through all the work I want to make sure we do it right, and both me and my dad aren't afraid to spend a little extra on quality and things that will make us more productive. We just want to make sure we have an idea of roughly how much the whole package will cost us for our budgeting and planning.

Thanks
 

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Snap on box will be cheaper in the long run. I've had mine for 20 years and drawers still close like new. And it's seen hard use. CandIan tire tools and princess auto are good enough for most things. Imo. The specialty stuff get sk or snap on who ever is the closer or good tool dealer. I've good all different brands of air tools but I like CP and Ingrasol Rand they seem to last longer then snap on and still cheaper I think. As for cordless tool I'm in the process of switching over to milwalk have there big 1/2 inpact hardly ever use air one now. It wall take fairly rusted lug nuts off a tri axle trialer with no trouble. As for a work bench I have a 4x4 steel platell 1/2 thick heavy table with caster and big vise mounted on it that can be rolled wh ere you need it. Also has a angle iron drip rail all the way around it so if your working on oily stuff it just running into a pail that's hung on it. I also have benched along the wall but they just seem to collect junk. Run air lines to a few spots in the shop and put retractable hose reels up makes every thing neater. It never ends there always something that can makes a job easier. Ive been fixed stuff for 25 years and I'm still buying tools.
 

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Getting all the tools you want and need is pretty much a life long endeavor. Tools you don't need much, it's ok to cheap out on them, but it pays to have good quality every day tools. I don't know if 30 grand would get everything a guy needs, it's retarded the cost of some things. As far as work benches, that's a preference thing. A good quality vice and anvil are worth their weight in gold, almost literally, I got an old anvil from my father in law that must be close to 100 years old, way harder than anything you will find now, comes in very handy. We just have all our tools on the bench as our shop is only 40x40 so not like we are ever too far away, but a longer shop like you are thinking, a roller cabinet would be nice.
 

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Just a comment on the tools. We have a great big shop, filled with Mastercraft, powerfist and propoint hand tools. Don't be afraid of them. If they have a lifetime warranty, they are easier to replace than Snapon. Save those dollars and put them into higher quality power and air tools.

We use Chicago Pneumatic air impacts. 2nd to none in my opinion. Jet stuff is great also. I like their impact sockets, etc. Makita grinders. They are the easiest to get parts for. Not throw away tools. Lincoln mig welder, Hypertherm plasma cutter is second to none.

We use Dewalt battery power tools. Brushless drills and impacts have been great. 20V Li-ion batteries suck though. I talked to "the battery man" and he says no system is any better for batteries, except maybe Makita. It's all to do with cheap circuit boards in batteries.
 

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If your buying expensive wrenches have a set or two of cheaper ones around that you can cut/bend/weld/modify the same goes for sockets.
 

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We also decided to stay with a proper stationary workbench. Heavy wood, with HD drawer slides and a formed metal top, 16ft long. And small rolling box. If the workbench moves, it's less stable, and can be as heavy. We have ours under a mezzanine for good lighting, with a bolt bin wall next to it. Keep wrenches, sockets, drivers in rolling box for if I'm working on an engine, etc.
 

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The best thing about the snap-on boxes is they are quite a bit deeper than the cheapo boxes from CDN Tire. If you want something a little more quality yet affordable look into International SHD toolboxes from Costco (Also rebranded UltraPro SHD from Napa)

Look on Kijiji for good used Snap-On boxes
 

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I went with diamondindustries.ca steel workbenches. Checkout their website.
2 permanent ones along the wall and one on wheels. Plenty of storage and drawers. Did a welding bench on wheels as well. Really like them, great quality and strong. Puts a dent in the checkbook though, but you get what you pay for.

We buy most of the small tools from Canadian Tire when on sale. They have an app if you see something there you want, the app will send you a notification when it goes on sale.

When you get your shop built, chip away with what you need, don't try to do it all at once.
 

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If your in a quonset along the wall is a great place for a work bench since the curved wall wont let you park anything tall close to it, wooden work benches are fine.

Get a decent shop air compressor
Imo ingersoll rand air tools are best. (Fun fact, mac air tools were, and maybe still, made by ingersoll)

I just got into Milwaukee and really like them, i was looking for the best cordless grease gun and determined they had it so have been slowly switching over.

Dont get sucked into snap on or mack tool boxes! I got a beach too box as a gift when I graduated and put it on a craftsman roller bottom a few years after... been 19 years and they're still fine. I get a kick outta guys with the big wall of tool box full of every imaginable snap on tool who still cant fix anything.... put your money into the tools, not the box.
When I got the beach box I also got a set of professional westward wrenches (the smooth polished ones) .... and guess what I still have most of them, and I've even had good luck with mastercraft wrenches.
I do have a set of snap on double open end wrenches, they are the only manufacturer with, I think 30° and 17° angle, with a regular wrench at 15° you can turn a fitting in the tightest spot with 2 wrenches.

A plasma and a 200 mig are nice but you need a torch and a stick welder will do.(get a quality auto darkening helmet, not the princess auto spectal)

As mentioned earlier a good anvil and a vice are also a necessity.

And a decent battery charger.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
We've got a pile of the cheap tools spread between all the cabs of our equipment and our barns, so no shortage of cheap tools to modify or risk losing while working under the air drill in the field. I'm thinking more of setting up decent a quality chest with some nicer tools that will always stay in the shop. I've helped my friend who is an auto-mechanic and is practically allergic to anything that's not Snap-On and I can definitely appreciate the higher quality tools, hence why I'd like to get a set of nicer stuff to work with all winter. I've yet to meet someone who says they have enough tools so I know we'd add the smaller/less used stuff as we go. But I'm more concerned about doing a halfway job of setting up a new shop just to save on tools, I'd rather set it up once with a nice bench/box/essential tools from the start and go from there.
 

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Do you have permanent tool storage on the wall by the bench and a small tool cart or do you have a nice big rolling tool chest? What do you recommend for tool boxes? We have a cheap Mastercraft chest, I'd like something a little higher quality but I don't want to take out another mortage to get a Snap-On box. What kind of workbenches do you have, we built our current one out of old 2x6s... do you build another one like that or do we go for a big steel bench? How big of a workbench would you go for? For welding/fabricating do you have everything on carts and tucked away in the corner when not in use or do you make a designated area for metal work? What kind of jacks do you like best? We have a 12 ton bottle jack and a 3 ton floor jack, do we go for a big air powered bottle jack or a bigger heavy-truck floor jack? Is there any kind of moveable hoist set-up that isn't horrendously expensive?
Tools on the wall for me. Easy to find what you need, less cursing because your dad never put it in the correct drawer, or vice versa. My mechanic buddies give me the gears every time they come over, but I prefer it. Mechanics like their big fancy tool boxes because they are the only ones who use tools from them, and they can lock them so the apprentices don't steal/borrow tools. But if you are set on a $8K tool box, go snap on for sure.

Work bench should be heavy as all ****. The harder you can pound the crap out of something with a 5lb mini sledge, the better.... without everything else on the bench bouncing, and the drawers opening up, anyways. 2x4s on end, with a thin sheet of metal on top is an economical option, or build something out of 3/16 angle iron and 1/4 plate. 10' long with a big swiveling vise on one end, and a chain vice on the other (lots of awkward shaped things that need to be restrained on a farm). I've got a 10'x2' that is against the wall, and a 4'x4' that I move around depending on what I'm working on.

I like to have a couple smaller bottle jacks you can throw around easily (8-12 T), and one monster bottle jack to handle the heavy stuff (20T). As far as floor jacks, 3T is fine, anything heavier should be lifted with a bottle jack. I have a 10T floor jack that just collects dust in my shop, and its not small...

My buddy's in construction rant and rave about their Milwaukee power tools, are they that good? Any other brands to consider? What about air tools? We've got a basic Mastercraft set that works but isn't overly powerful. What does a guy all need and what brands would you look at? What are any other must-haves on top of the basic wrenches/ratchets/pliers/screwdrivers/impacts? Any other good tips on how to outfit a shop as practically as possible?
Milwaukee Fuel is worth the money, get the highest amp-hour batteries you feel wont be to bulky. I have Makita cordless collection right now I'm converting to Milwaukee. Don't waste money on mastercraft air or power tools, you wont be happy. CP/ingersol rand/snap-on, all good air tools. That being said. Canadian tire has a place, I spent almost a whole year watching sales flyers and outfitting my shop with the essentials from can tire at a bargain, just don't buy anything unless its on sale. Every screwdriver, wrench, and socket I own is mastercraft, I constantly loose things so maybe that's what I prefer them. other snap on products I like are ratchets, picks, plyers, side cutters, articulating pry bars.
 

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I started with wood workbenches with a shelf under and then ended up upgrading to about 40ft of these https://mctavishsteelworks.com I really like them and i have a lot of tools stored in them as well as well as parts. Currently I have multiple people using the same tools, which works good now, however with the stationary workbench we are constantly walking back and forth to get tools. Ideally to have a rolling toolbox and move it close to your work is preferential, that system works best if every employee/mechanic has their own, everyone has their own way of doing it.

I would spend very little money on snap on/mac tools, unless your wrenching 8 hours a day everyday some normal affordable tools will work just fine. Princess auto and Cdn tire are not the same, they both have very good warranty and are easily replaceable but I find mastercraft to be decent middle of the road tools, propoint/powerfist is absolute crap.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Carriage before the horse? I wouldn't worry about Snap on before you have a decent building.
Not flagging down the Snap-On truck anytime soon, we've got a good idea on the building costs and I have a good ballpark figure on a basic set of mid-high range everyday tools. I'm more looking for input on some of the extras and how to best set-up the work space so we can figure out what we would want to do right away when it's easiest and what could wait a bit. Ie: Do I keep the Mastercraft chest and put money into a schnazzy steel workbench or upgrade to a big rolling chest and just build a small homemade bench or maybe someone has a better cheaper set-up?
 

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Granted we've had our tools for quite a long time, but open our tool box and you'll find all Craftsman wrenches and sockets. Nothing fancy. Don't buy the Craftsman of today though, it's all junk. Have started getting a few other brands now with metric tools and some of the bigger sockets for misc jobs. I won't buy Snap-on. I think it's overpriced for a farm shop. But for a guy that wrenches for a living, I think they are almost a must for all the well used tools. Don't need a Snap-On toolbox though. Those are way overpriced. Lots of other good brands out there.

We have a couple smaller bottle jacks, one air bottle jack used for jacking up the sprayer for tire swap. Has also been use to jack up the semi trailer to do a brake job as well as removing tires from the combine. Air bottle jack is so quick and nice in the shop. Also have a couple widow making handyman jacks laying around.

I think I'd buy one of those little rolling toolboxes you can sit on. Big enough to have a few tools for the job and a place to sit without kneeling on the concrete.

We only have a Quonset with a small welding table with a vice on it. The workbenches are just full of junk. I'm planning to build a shop and no way will I let it stay as messing as my dad and grandpa have. Frustrates me so much. Just staying organized is the biggest thing. You can have a stationary toolbox but be disciplined about putting tools back after a job is done. So easy to leave them in a floor pile and run in the busy season.
 

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I put a couple small fixed work tops in the shop for something I can sit down and work on like an alternator. A large rolling tool box that sits against the wall and will forever stay there. There are other fixed tool storage places around also like old filing cabinets. Most of my work is done on a rolling bench with a couple of 15 drawer boxes hanging under the top to house the basic imperial and metric tools (sockets, wrenches, punches, chisels, screwdrivers, etc), vice. Anything else I walk across the shop for. The thinking is I can have the basic tools and a table top where ever I am working, and with 10" rubber tires it means it can be outside also. Did the same thing with the mig welder setup. I figured this made the most sense and the more distance you may be from the equipment to your proposed work bench/tool storage location then the more likely you are to have portability. Yes, I still walk often for other tools but a flat place to lay parts/tools while working on equipment is very nice.
 

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Work bench should be heavy as all ****. The harder you can pound the crap out of something with a 5lb mini sledge, the better.... without everything else on the bench bouncing, and the drawers opening up, anyways. 2x4s on end, with a thin sheet of metal on top is an economical option, or build something out of 3/16 angle iron and 1/4 plate. 10' long with a big swiveling vise on one end, and a chain vice on the other (lots of awkward shaped things that need to be restrained on a farm). I've got a 10'x2' that is against the wall, and a 4'x4' that I move around depending on what I'm working on.

What he said. You simply can't make a bench too heavy. The best one I ever built was 2x4 laminated edgewise together and then planked on top with 2" lumber. That SOB was solid and heavy. I'm sure you could do something in steel but its hard to beat a really solid wooden top.



I've got a 2 post hoist in my current shop and its worth its weight in gold. Hardly a week goes by that it doesn't get used and when its idle in the winter I put a car on it so that I can park underneath it. The only mistake I made on the installation was that I didn't make it wide enough for a 102" trailer. Mine is 100" so it looks like a trailer will fit but it won't. It would be trivial to make one wider so if you're putting one in make sure its 103" at least between the posts.


As far as tools go I've got some Snap On, some Craftsman, some Ukrainian Tire and some Princess Auto. Its more about the guy pulling the wrench than about the wrench. I put a very limited selection on the wall - stuff that I use all the time - pliers, dikes, crimpers, basic screw driver set, air ratchet, impact wrenches. The rest goes in a rolling chest.
 

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When we moved into our new shop a year ago we set up a couple heavy steel work benches(from uncleweiner.com, not as risky of click as it seems) with metal pegboard from princess auto to put wrenches and sockets in the open. But I’ve already become annoyed with walking for tools, cause even if I load up a rolling cart with everything I think I need I always end up forgetting something and it seems like such a waste of time even if it’s just walking around a combine little own 80’ across the building. So we are considering a Milwaukee rolling bench, which are fairly reasonably priced for what they are imo, they are sold at Home Depot.
 
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