In the fall of 2014 we ran a survey asking newsletter recipients to tell us about their favorite hand tools—specifically, their brand preference for 16’ tapes, 25-30’ tapes, screwdrivers, adjustable wrenches, lineman’s pliers, and pump pliers. The survey was multiple-choice and broken down by trade; 116 identified themselves as handymen. The answers they gave can be seen below.

Be sure to see the links to the responses from other trades and the comments pulled from the survey—which can be found at the bottom of this page.

Handymen own more different brands of 16’ tape than other trades that responded to the survey. But like the other respondents, they preferred Stanley FatMax and Stanley over all others.

As with Remodelers, Snap-on screwdrivers were the number three choice of handymen. The brand is equally popular with Cabinet Maker/Installers and Finish Carpenters, but doesn’t register with Builders and Electricians.

If you were to look into the toolbox of a tradesman who answered the survey you’d have a 50/50 chance of seeing a Crescent adjustable wrench—especially if that toolbox is owned by a handyman. Respondents pointed out that the list should have included Proto and Tekton.

Tongue and groove slip-joint pliers were invented by an engineer at Champion DeArment in 1935 and trademarked as Channellock. The brand became so associated with tongue and groove pliers that in 1963 the company changed its name to Channellock. Open the toolbox of one of the tradesmen who answered our survey and you’d have a 50/50 chance of seeing this brand of pump pliers. With handymen the odds would be 60/40.

Survey Results for Other Trades
Cabinet Maker/Installer or Finish Carpenter

  • All Trades Combined

    Selected Comments by Handymen

    16’ Tapes

    likes Stanley FatMax; says “Could be improved by having an additional set of numbers on opposite side of tape so it could be more easily read from either side or direction.’

  • likes “other”; says “I have several tapes at different work station in my shop. I use a lot of the Harbor Freight 25 foot tapes as they give them away. I have had one fail. But the price is right.”
  • likes Lufkin; says “I liked the old Starretts, but not the new.”
  • likes Kobalt; says “No Hassle, Lifetime warranty. You can't beat it!”
  • likes Stanley FatMax; says “The Stanley FatMax has been durable and easy to use. I also like the Fast Cap tapes.”
  • likes Bostitch; says “Very compact in size, fits in my hand comfortably great for trim work.”
  • 25-30’ Tapes

    likes “other”; says “DeWalt's new self-locking tape.”

  • likes Stanley; says “The FatMax was a great tape but they kept making it bigger. Now it is just cumbersome.”
  • likes Stanley FatMax; says “Same as above, also I've used others that have tried to replicate the FatMax, but didn't stand up. The FatMax is durable and easy to read”
  • Screwdrivers

    likes Snap-on; says “Craftsman is a close second due to availability from Sears”

  • likes “other”; says “Almost all screws are put In with a cordless driver. Keep both a Philips and a straight screw driver in the tool box for the occasional hand driven screw. Don't have a brand preference.”
  • likes Snap-on; says “I feel the best quality for the money. As long as they are not lost or stolen they will last forever. Not as easy to warranty as other brands because of dealer availability. I do take them to an auto repair shop and they have the dealer do the warranty for me.”
  • likes Klein; says “Tips last longest.”
  • Adjustable Wrench

    likes Craftsman; says “Been using them for over 30 years. Why change?”

  • likes Craftsman; says “Easy to warranty at our local ACE”
  • likes Kobalt; says “Kobalt makes really good tools”
  • likes Crescent; says “The original and USA made (I think)”
  • Lineman’s Pliers

    likes Klein; says “Durable and reliable”

  • likes Greenlee; says “Reputation of the tool brand”
  • Pump Pliers

    likes Channellock; says “Still the best.”

  • likes “other”; says “Tekton”