SK Tools Vs. Snap-On: Which One Is The Better Tool Brand?

Ryan Womeldorf
by Ryan Womeldorf

When it comes to tools, everyone tends to have their preference. There are many different manufacturers out there that produce a wide array of tools. Two popular brands, when it comes to sockets, pliers, wrenches, and more are SK Tools and Snap-On.

What is the difference between the two? For the most part, they make the same tools. The biggest difference is in price and quality. Though they make similar tools, Snap-On is seen as a world-class quality brand. The caveat is that they also tend to cost quite a bit more than some of the others on the market.

An Overview of Snap-On

Snap-On is based out of Kenosha, WI. Originally founded in Milwaukee in 1920, they moved to Kenosha in 1920 and have since maintained that as their home base of operations. They have since become one of the primary names in high-quality tools.

Company overview. There are more than 80,000 different SKUs in the Snap-On productive line. Employing nearly 13,000 people worldwide, they hit net sales of $3.7 billion dating back to 2019. That puts them on par with some of the other industry giants.

Snap-On serves customers from more than 130 countries globally. Moreover, they have warehouse, manufacturing, research & development, distribution, and office facilities all over the globe. That includes 13 different U.S. manufacturing facilities.

What they make. What do they not make? Snap-On offers a huge array of tools for just about any situation. Power tools, hand tools, tool storage, diagnostics, shop tools and tech, and so much more is available through their nearly 5,000 locations.

They offer a comprehensive array of hand and power tools. Anything from pliers to punches, screwdrivers to wrenches, and everything in between. All of their tools are available through their online catalog.

An Overview of SK Tools

Much like Snap-On, SK Tools was founded at the start of the 20th century. They became a staple for quality tools across the United States. They remain so, though they are now part of Ideal Industries, Inc. and their parent company.

Company overview. Under the Ideal Industries, Inc. banner, SK Professional Tools continues to produce upwards of 3,000 different products each year. With a global reach, they have brought American-made innovation to the forefront.

S-K Tool, a division of Sherma-Klove Company, was established in 1932. Thanks to their landmark patent for (at the time) the first fine-tooth round-head ratchet, S-K became a notable brand. After decades of success, S-K (now partnering with Lectrolite Corporation) was sold to the Symington-Wayne corporation.

What they make. While SK Tools has a smaller line of products than Snap-On, they still make a wide array of products. They specialize mostly in hand tools with a chrome finish. They offer socket sets, drive tools, bits, sockets, wrenches, screwdrivers, pliers, and more.

They also have several popular products that have become customer favorites. Their stubby screwdriver set, teardrop ratchet set, and half-moon wrench set remain popular. They even have their own line of socket bottle openers.

The Pros and Cons of Snap-On

The Pros

You don’t get to be the established, popular company that Snap-On has become without a lot of pros behind your brand. Here are just a few:

  • World-class quality. If there is one thing that Snap-On hangs its hat on, it is the quality of their tools. They are regarded as one of the most well-rounded companies around when it comes to quality of product. Moreover, they are extremely stylish and functional in their use.
  • Customer service/warranty. Their customer service and warranty have been described as hassle-free. When things do go wrong, it can be reassuring to know that getting a resolution won’t take jumping through hoops to achieve.
  • Convenience. With thousands of vans in their fleet, Snap-On can come right to your home or business. They let you hold the tools in hand before buying and will even take trades for credit.

The Cons

Of course, like any other product out there, Snap-On has its downsides to be aware of. Here are a few of the more common complaints.

  • The Drills. From customer reviews, if there is one area in which Snap-On tools are anting is in the drills. Some users complained about the ease of use involved with the drills and found them to be less than desirable.
  • Cost. Because of its overall level of quality and the shiny chrome finish, the costs of buying Snap-On tools can run a little on the high side. Still, there is a reassurance in knowing that you are paying for quality and not something that will need replacing in short order.

The Pros and Cons of SK Tools

The Pros

SK Tools has earned itself a quality reputation as well. Though it is more on par with other notable brands like Craftsman, there are benefits to using the SK line of hand tools.

  • Great sockets. SK Tools sockets are some of the more revered on the market and at a fraction of some of the more costly brands out there. What is incredible is that they were created back in the 1940s and have held the test of time.
  • Improving quality. Where there may have been weaknesses in some of their tools, SK has taken note and worked to improve. Their ratchet set in particular has become one of the most well-received in the industry today.
  • Affordable pricing. What really stands out about SK Tools is that it is affordable given the quality of their product. Some of the other more well-respected toolmakers out there cost substantially more than SK Tools. That affordability allows handymen everywhere to get the quality tools that they need to do the job right.

The Cons

That said, SK Tools has had its share of ups and downs over the years. Though they live on improving quality and providing affordability, there are definitely some downsides that cannot be overlooked.

  • Warranty. Though their warranty is fairly comprehensive, the largest complaint is having to mail tools in to the company. There are no local brand shops that will take them. That can be a hassle at times.
  • Consistency. Other than that, consistency has been a challenge for SK Tools. Some of their tools are better than most Chinese/Taiwan-made tools, but that does not mean they are immune to duds. Of their line of tools, the wrenches seem to receive the least acclaim.

So, Which One Is the Better Choice?

When it comes down to it, there is no going wrong with either SK Tools or Snap-On. That said, there are definite advantages to each that would make them the preferred favorite.

Quality. Both offer high-quality products. The main difference here is that Snap-On is considered to be one of the best manufacturers of hand tools, power tools, and more in the world. SK Tools has a reputation for quality, but that quality can be lacking at times. The positive is that they strive to improve their quality with each new product that they bring to market.

Selection. This is where the gap widens. SK Tools makes very good hand tools, some of the finest around. But Snap-On tools do so much more than hand tools. They manufacture power tools, tool storage, and so much more. If you are looking at just hand tools, the choice can be tough. But that’s where the comparisons end because Snap-On simply offers so much more.

Price. This is where SK Tools really closes the gap. The quality disparity is not so great that the price can be ignored. SK tools can be had for a fraction of the cost of Snap-On. For DIYers on a budget, that can be the biggest factor of all.

The verdict. All things considered, it is hard to pass up the quality and selection that Snap-On offers. Their wide range of high-quality tools rivals some of the most noteworthy names on the market. SK Tools delivers quality at a more reasonable cost, making it a perfectly fine alternative if Snap-On falls out of budget.

Ryan Womeldorf
Ryan Womeldorf

Ryan Womeldorf has more than a decade of experience writing. He loves to blog about construction, plumbing, and other home topics. Ryan also loves hockey and a lifelong Buffalo sports fan.

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