A few months ago 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. 312 people, nearly half of all who responded, identified themselves as remodelers (GC—Remodeling—Multiple Trades).

Their answers can be seen below. Be sure to view the responses from other trades and the comments pulled from the survey. Both can be found at the bottom of this page.

Remodelers are among the least likely of all the trades that responded to the survey to use 16’ tapes. Several respondents commented that I forgot to include DeWalt among the choices.

No surprise here; like most other trades that use 25-30’ models, Remodelers are likely to go with Stanley FatMax and Stanley tapes.

Remodelers’ screwdriver preferences were in line with those of 4 of the 5 trades that responded in numbers, with Klein or Craftsman holding the top two spots. In most cases, the spread between the two was not very great. Remodelers were the only trade besides electricians to favor Klein’s screwdrivers over Craftsman’s—though the spread was far greater with electricians, who overwhelmingly prefer Klein.

As more than one survey respondent said, "There's a reason it's called a Crescent wrench".

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

  • All Trades Combined

    Selected Comments from Remodelers:

    16' Tapes

    likes Stanley FatMax; says “90% of what I do never involves stock over

  • 16'. One of the best tools I ever bought was a 16' tape but my 30' is always nearby”
  • likes Stabila; says “Compact, works well, accurate, markings on both sides of tape, really like the 32nd marks up to 6 inches”.
  • likes Stanley FatMax; says “Durable tape, easy lock that can easily function as brake, always easy to slip onto belt”
  • likes Milwaukee; says “Great design. Love the numbers on both sides of the tape. Magnet on end is a nice extra touch and the open notch under the tape is great. Very durable and the numbers don't wear off.”
  • likes Husky; says “I use a 35' FatMax for most work. A 16ft Husky someone gave me for basic measurements and a 5 meter metric tape for finish work. Would use metric for everything if I could.”
  • likes Milwaukee; says “I’ve only had the Milwaukee for a month or so. I like the design, we'll see about the durability. FatMax has been my choice, but they're disappointing.”
  •  25-30' Tapes

    likes “other”; says “Been using DeWalt 25 only because I like the size and standout length but it folds over too easy when horizontal.”

  • likes Husky; says “cheap enough I don't mind replacing it when the blade develops that spiral at the hook”
  • likes Lufkin; says “White tape, easier to read than yellow”
  • likes Stanley; says “I use the LEVER LOCK models, because I like the orange and green colored cases - which make them easier to see where I laid them down.”
  • likes Kobalt; says “I would say the Milwaukee but the stop knob for the tape already failed after 3 months of very light/infrequent use. The Kobalt has the added bonus of a metric measure on the underside”
  • likes Stanley; says “Off-Brands are cheaper for this disposable, easily broken tool. Particularly on Remo Jobs and new construction, rarely outlast a single jobsite.”
  • likes Lufkin; says “They used to sell one which had decimal markings on one edge and fractional on the other. It was inexpensive too. I bought about a dozen of these. I still have one which is unused, but soon they will all be gone.”
  • likes Stanley; says “Stanley square measure is my everyday carry and the FatMax for measuring exteriors on windy days.”
  • likes Stanley; says “Old chrome no frills stand by. Cheap, easy to find, fairly dependable and durable. I buy them in 10 packs online for dirt cheap”
  • likes Stanley; says “Traditional Stanley 25' tape with square chrome case is the only one I use. Only tape I have used that makes accurate inside measurements. the case is exactly 3".
  • likes Milwaukee; says “White tape, easier to read than yellow”
  • Screwdrivers

    likes Craftsman; says “Have a couple of sets and have been using them forever”

  • likes Husky; says “I'm glad you have Husky brand on the list. They actually make really good hand tools. I think they are severely underrated though.”
  • likes Snap-on; says “like butta”
  • likes “other”; says “Lutz 16-1 ratcheting please!”
  • likes Stanley; says “Love the plus 100 line but they have been discontinued at the consumer distribution level.”
  • likes “Snap-on”; says “You would be surprised how careful you are with an $18 screwdriver. I always carry a few beaters too. Most all my driving is done with a12v drill driver (DeWalt) and bits.”
  • likes “other”; says “I use Buck Brothers 6-IN-ONE screwdrivers, so I only have to carry one screwdriver instead of several”
  • likes Craftsman; says “cheap, lifetime warranty”
  • likes “other”; says “Lennox multi-bit”
  • Adjustable Wrenches

    likes Crescent; says “Lightweight, big opening size, classic.”

  • likes “other”; says “Irega. What can I say—a company that only makes adjustable wrenches, they’re darn good at it!”
  • likes Crescent; says “Old models that are made in USA. Taiwan products are not comparable.”
  • likes “other”; says “Ridgid has widest jaw opening for size and jaws are tapered at tip.”
  • Lineman's Pliers

    likes Knipex; says “Can't beat them for their ease of motion and quality out of box, the red/blue ergo grips are great”

  • likes Milwaukee; says “I think Milwaukee's most recent line of hand tools, tape measures, etc. is exceptionally well made and I have been basically giving away most all my old hand tools as Milwaukee keeps introducing more.”
  • likes Milwaukee; says “I'd love to be able to afford Klein which is probably the best of all hands down”
  • likes Irwin Vise-Grip; says “Irwin pliers were cheap and work just as good as my $35 Klein's.”
  • likes Klein; says “Long handles and better version can cut piano wire without dulling cutting jaws”
  • likes Knipex; says “No comparison. By far the best quality.”
  • Pump Pliers

    likes Channellock; says “2nd to none for plumbing applications”

  • likes Irwin Vise-Grip; says “Got a pair of the new push button pliers. Great improvement over the classic Channellock.”
  • likes Husky; says “I have never heard of them called "pump pliers" and had to look it up. As far as I know, the proper term is either "adjustable pliers" or "tongue and groove pliers". Not on this list, Crescent makes really good quality adjustable pliers too. I assume the popular vote will be Channellock but while I own several pairs of their pliers I actually find them to be exceptionally low quality, uncomfortable, and slippery in wet or greasy hands.”
  • likes Knipex; says “Knipex is the BEST pump plier ever invented. Period. The rest can only pretend. Lightweight, strong, slim, gets into any crook and cranny, ergonomic particularly for small hands. Kudos to the Krauts! I've been buying them since I saw them in an ACE hardware store in California in 1990.”
  • likes Knipex; says “Knipex pump pliers and Knipex Plier wrench”
  • likes Knipex; says “The cobras to be exact, excellent all around.”
  • likes Irwin Vise-Grip; says “Use these every day. 3 different sizes.”
  • likes “other”; says “Vintage Diamond, made in Duluth Minnesota, Best pliers I've ever used.”