Features March 2002 Issue

Off-the-Shelf Marine Toolkits

None of these sets will meet all your needs, but we can recommend the Seafit Deluxe Boatyard and Sears Craftsman, which have higher-quality tools than the rest. Either could serve as the basis of a more inclusive kit that you should develop on your own.

There was very little time to do the basic outfitting of the 22-foot Twin-Vee powerboat that Practical Sailor shared with Powerboat Reports last summer. (Good, seaworthy powerboats with sizeable four-stroke engines come in handy sometimes, especially for testing anchors, instruments, distress signals, nav lights... and for getting from one test site to another in a hurry.) 

The West Marine tool kit was one of 11 pre-
packaged sets we examined. Only the Sears
Craftsman is not designated for marine use,
but its tools are superior to those in most of
the other sets.

The outfitting process consisted of about 10 minutes of sprinting down the aisles at the local West Marine store, tossing items into a shopping cart. (There's a TV show that features idiocy like that on a regular basis.)

We tossed in enough items to make the boat legal (flare kit, etc.) dockable (fenders and docklines) and anchorable. As we rounded the end of one aisle on two wheels, we spied a selection of toolkits, cleverly placed to catch the eye, just as they had. So we grabbed one of those, too.

Fast forward to a chilly fall night when the Powerboat Reports editor was out researching fish. On the way home, the all-around white navigation light on the Twin-Vee went out. Loosening and tightening the base of the pole upon which the light is mounted had solved the problem before, but this time it was stuck and couldn't be unscrewed by hand.

So he stopped the boat and grabbed the $40 West Marine toolkit (model #290058) we had plucked impulsively from the shelf. Its 10" Channellock-style (or tongue-and-groove) pliers seemed like a good match for the job, but they failed miserably. Every time he tried to clasp the pole's base and rotate it, the pliers unlocked, and the adjustable jaw slid out of place. This caused a certain amount of frustration in our colleague, and we were just as glad we weren't there to see it. However, we've had enough experience ourselves with these pre-packaged toolkits to think poorly of them. Despite their handy molded plastic boxes, we've found the tools themselves to be of poor quality—sometimes made of pot metal, almost always rust-prone, and rarely adequate, by themselves, for the job at hand.

Clearly it's unwise to be complacent about the mere presence of a toolkit on board. We knew better ourselves—we just never got around to beefing up the arsenal. Moreover, quality and reliability count, especially on the water where that one pair of pliers may be the only thing that can get you out of a jam.

We got wondering whether there were any good pre-packaged marine toolkits commonly available, and for what price. Here's what we found out.

What We Tested
We scanned the marine catalogs and the Web, and came up with a group of 11 pre-packaged sets of tools ranging from $25 to $100. West Marine's private label and Seafit kits are supplied by Allied Tools of Sylmar, CA, while BoatU.S. carries the Great Neck line. Two of the kits appeared to be nearly identical (our West Marine set and the Great Neck MS36), except for the color of their cases, their screwdriver handles, and the size of the adjustable wrench and pliers.

Pre-packaged kits offer two main advantages: rapid acquisition of a lot of new tools, and a low unit price compared to buying them individually or buying a high-quality tool set from a company like Snap-On or Mac. Another plus is the toolbox itself, which protects the tools and keeps them organized (most cases hold each tool individually in molded-in recessed locations).

The big drawback of these sets is obvious: The tools are cheap. While they may do the same job as a higher-quality tool in many instances, their subpar materials and finish will eventually lead to failure.

One key difference between the average home or shop tool set and one used on a boat is operating in an environment that's more corrosive. Although various claims of rust resistance appear on several of the boxes our sets came in, only one told us how that extra resistance was gained: the stainless steel set from West Marine. As we examined these toolkits, it became clear that the term "marine" really had to do with tool selection—not corrosion resistance. Some of the larger sets include tape measures, electrical fuses and continuity testers, ignition files, utility knives, wire, wire terminals, and battery terminal brushes.

Unless otherwise specified, the tools we tested are not made of stainless steel; alloy formulas are not provided, and given the price of the tools, we didn't attempt to determine alloy content. Suffice it to say that if they're not stainless, and you don't oil them (and maybe transfer them to a moisture-proof box), they'll begin to rust the minute you put them aboard.

The distributors of the sets try to impress you with high tool counts. Don't pay too much attention to this, except in a relative sense, since marketers give the same weight to, say, a wrench and a tiny piece of wire. In many cases we found the actual count was less than the advertised quantity. For example, we counted only 30 pieces in the Great Neck 36-piece tool set.

How We Tested
We first examined the fitted plastic cases that house each tool set. Many of the tools fell out when we opened the cases, so we handled and examined those first, paying particular attention to their finish. The volume of tools (nominally 1,016) precluded item–by–item use, but we checked the action of pliers, cutters and ratchets, and tested the usefulness of holders of small tools such as Allen wrenches and hex bits. Tools embodying novel approaches to traditional functions were tested for usefulness. Samples of the wrenches and sockets were used in a number of repair activities.

Craftsman 38-Piece Tool Set #941785. The Craftsman brand is almost universally familiar in the US, and many of us own Craftsman tools passed down from relatives. The tools are made domestically. Sears & Roebuck still guarantees free replacement "forever" at any of its stores.

This general-purpose set weighs 9 lbs. and includes a securely fastening plastic case with carrying handle. These were the highest-quality tools in the evaluation, and although the 38-piece set costs as much as the 149-piece Seafit Deluxe Boatyard set, in this case quality counts for a lot.

• 1 Socket driver, ratcheting, 3/8" drive
• 9 Sockets, 3/8" drive, 6-point, 5/16"-3/4"
• 8 Sockets, 3/8" drive, 6-point, 10mm-18mm
• 1 Socket extension, 3/8" drive, 6" long
• 2 Sparkplug sockets, 3/8" drive, 6-point, 5/8" and 13/16"
• 11 Screwdrivers: 4 slotted (1/8"-1/4"), 4 Phillips (#0-#3), 3 Torx (T10, T15, T20)
• 1 Offset combination screwdriver (#3 Phillips and 1/4" slotted)
• 1 Keyring screwdriver (4 sizes, slotted)
• 1 Pliers, slip-joint
• 1 Pliers, needle-nose, w/cutter jaws
• 1 Adjustable wrench, 8" (Crescent style)
• 1 Adjustable pliers, 9" (Channellock style)

 

Great Neck 36-Piece Mariner’s Tool Set #MS36. Great Neck has been in the US tool market for quite a while, but this tool set is made in China. It is warranted for the lifetime of the purchaser against failing to "give … complete satisfaction," but the sales receipt must be furnished along with a claim.

The fitted plastic case is yellow and features a gasket to resist water. Most of the cavities identify in raised letters the tool or size that fits in them. The case lacks a carrying handle.

The set, which is "for powerboats, sailboats, personal watercraft, and trailer maintenance and repair," weighs about 7 lbs.

• 1 Socket driver, ratcheting, 3/8" drive
• 7 Sockets, 3/8" drive, 6-point, 3/8"-3/4"
• 7 Sockets, 3/8" drive, 6-point, 10mm-19mm
• 1 Socket extension, 3/8" drive, 6" long
• 2 Sparkplug sockets, 3/8" drive, 6-point, 5/8" and 13/16"
• 1 Universal joint, 3/8" drive
• 1 Sparkplug gapping tool
• 1 Box-cutter w/5 replacement blades
• 1 Roll electrical tape, 30' length
• 1 Electrical continuity checker
• 1 Tire gauge
• 1 Wire brush
• 2 Screwdrivers: slotted (3/16"), Phillips (#2)
• 1 Pliers, needle-nose, w/cutter jaws
• 1 Adjustable wrench, 10" (Crescent style)
• 1 Adjustable pliers, 7" (Channellock style)

 

Great Neck 65-Piece Mariner’s Tool Set #MS65. See comments on the 36-piece set; exceptions are that this case has a built-in carrying handle and is black. A lot of Allen wrenches are provided, but since they are fixed to a keyring by their long end, only the short end is available for use. The set weighs 6 lbs.

• 1 Socket driver, ratcheting, 3/8" drive
• 8 Sockets, 3/8" drive, 6-point, 3/8"-3/4"
• 8 Sockets, 3/8" drive, 6-point, 10mm-22mm
• 1 Adapter, 3/8" drive to 1/4" drive
• 8 Sockets, 1/4" drive, 6-point, 5/32"-3/8"
• 8 Sockets, 1/4" drive, 6-point, 4mm-9mm
• 1 Socket extension, 3/8" drive, 6" long
• 1 Sparkplug socket, 3/8" drive, 6-point, 5/8"
• 1 Spinner handle, 1/4" drive
• 3 Screwdrivers: 2 slotted (1/4"), 1 Phillips #2
• 6 Combination box/open-end wrenches, 3/8"-11/16"
• 1 Pliers, slip-joint
• 1 Pliers, needle-nose w/cutter jaws
• 15 Allen wrenches (on keyring): 7 standard (1/16"-7/32"), 8 metric (1.5mm-6mm)

 

Great Neck 125-Piece Mariner’s Tool Set #MS125. Unlike the two other Great Neck kits, this one is made in Taiwan. It has a built-in carrying handle and features six fasteners to hold it shut. The set weighs 10 lbs.

• 1 Socket driver, ratcheting, 3/8" drive
• 10 Sockets, 3/8" drive, 6-point, 3/8"-13/16"
• 1 Adapter, 3/8" drive to 1/4" drive
• 8 Sockets, 1/4" drive, 6-point, 5/32"-1/2"
• 1 Socket extension, 3/8" drive, 3" long
• 2 Sparkplug sockets, 3/8" drive, 6-point, 5/8" and 13/16"
• 1 Universal joint, 3/8" drive
• 1 Coupler, 1/4" drive, for 1/4" hex bits
• 22 Hex bits: 3 slotted (1/8"-1/4"), 4 Phillips (#0-#3), 4 Posidrive (#0-#3), 4 Allen (3/32"-3/16"), 7 Torx (T10, T15, T20, T25, T27, T30, T40)
• 1 Spinner handle, 1/4" drive
• 1 Sparkplug gapping tool
• 1 Feeler gauge set
• 1 Measuring tape, 16' x 3/4"
• 2 Offset screwdrivers: 3/16" & Phillips #1, 1/4" & Phillips #2
• 1 Box cutter
• 2 Screwdrivers: slotted (1/4"), Phillips (#2)
• 1 Pliers, needle-nose, w/cutter jaws
• 1 Adjustable wrench, 10" (Crescent style)
• 1 Adjustable pliers, 10" (Channellock style)
• 1 Electrical continuity tester
• 1 Crimping tool, 9"
• 1 Hacksaw blade w/handle
• 4 Allen wrenches (1/8"-5/16")
• 6 Combination box/open-end wrenches (5/16"-5/8")
• 1 Wire brush
• 40 Spade lugs for wire: 4 insulated, 36 non-insulated
• 11 Cable ties

 

Great Neck 300-Piece Mariner’s Tool Set #MS300. This kit has a built-in carrying handle and features matching swing-out doors that also hold tools. A drawer that recesses into the bottom of the case holds electrical connectors. The set weighs 12 lbs. and when open has a footprint of 26½" x 18". The case smelled strongly of rubber and did a very poor job of holding its 300 tools securely.

• 1 Socket driver, ratcheting, 3/8" drive
• 1 Ratchet spin disk
• 6 Sockets, 3/8" drive, 12-point, 7/16"-3/4"
• 9 Sockets, 3/8" drive, 12-point, 9mm-19mm
• 1 Socket extension, 3/8" drive, 3" long
• 2 Sparkplug sockets, 3/8" drive, 6-point, 5/8" and 13/16"
• 1 Adapter, 3/8" drive to 1/4" drive
• 9 Sockets, 1/4" drive, 6-point, 3/16"-1/2"
• 9 Sockets, 1/4" drive, 6-point, 4mm-10mm
• 1 Magnetic screwdriver handle for 1/4" hex bits, w/holder for 6 bits
• 26 hex bits in 2 bit-holders, 1/4" drive: 5 slotted(1/8"-1/4"), 5 Phillips (#0-#2), 5 Torx (T10, T15, T20), 6 Allen (5/64", 3/32", 1/8", 4mm-6mm), 3 Posidrive (#0-#2), 2 Robertson (#1, #2)
• 1 Adapter, 1/4" hex to 1/4" socket
• 5 Wrenches, box/open-end, 3/8"-5/8"
• 5 Wrenches, box/open-end, 10mm-17mm
• 2 Screwdrivers, 3" blades: 1/8" slotted and Phillips #3
• 1 Needle-nose pliers
• 1 Diagonal cutters
• 1 Wrench, adjustable, (Crescent style)
• 20 Allen wrenches, mixed inch/metric sizes, on metal ring
• 1 Wire crimper/stripper
• 1 Electrical continuity tester
• 149 Electrical terminals and connectors
• 8 Fuses, automotive type
• 1 Roll of electrical tape, 3/4" x 30'
• 25 Cable ties, nylon
• 1 Wire brush
• 1 Ignition file
• 8 Ignition wrenches
• 1 Box cutter w/5 replacement blades
• 1 Tire gauge

 

Seachoice Chrome Vanadium 76-Piece Marine Tool Set #50-7986. Made in Taiwan, this set weighs 13 lbs. and offers a better level of chrome plating on wrenches and socket parts than many of the other sets made overseas. Its plastic case with carrying handle should be beefier, however, and would profit from locks on each end in addition to the two in the front.

The set is unusual in that it has a 1/2" socket set rather than the usual 3/8" and 1/4", and includes a large pair of locking pliers in the style of Vise-Grips, and a hammer—the only kit to include one. There's no mention of warranty on the box, but the Seachoice website says its products are warranted (for the original customer) against defects of materials or workmanship for one year.

The Seachoice tools are, indeed, well-chosen, and the kit seems to us a good value.

• 1 Socket driver, ratcheting, 1/2" drive
• 13 Sockets, 1/2" drive, 6-point, 5/16"-15/16"
• 2 Socket extensions, 1/2" drive: 5" and 10" long
• 1 Sliding T-handle, 1/2" drive, 10" long
• 1 Sparkplug socket, 1/2" drive, 6-point, 13/16"
• 1 Universal joint, 1/2" drive
• 6 Allen wrenches: 1/8"–38" (in fold–out holder; only long end available for use)
• 1 Battery brush
• 1 Feeler gauge set, 0.020mm–0.030mm
• 8 Combination box/open–end wrenches, 5/16"–3/4"
• 5 Screwdrivers: 2 Phillips (two #2, #3), 3 Slotted (1/4", 3/8")
• 1 Locking pliers, Vise-Grip style
• 1 Adjustable pliers, Channellock style
• 30 Spade lugs for wire
• 1 Crimping tool
• 1 Continuity tester
• 1 Hammer

 

Seafit Stowaway 27-Piece Tool Set #1829076. Marketed by West Marine as "ideal for boat maintenance and repairs," this has a fair selection of tools for a fair price, but it would hardly be called basic, much less ideal. It carries a lifetime warranty that excludes normal wear and tear.

The set, which comes with a soft zippered synthetic case and weighs about 2 lbs., is made in China. Our set included identical hex-bit screwdrivers, which was probably a packaging error since the photo on the box shows one Phillips and one slotted.

• 1 Hex-bit driver with magnetic retainer
• 10 Hex driver bits: 3 Phillips (#1-3), 3 slotted (1/8", 3/16", 1/4"), 4 Torx (T10, T15, T20, T30)
• 1 Hex bit with 1/4" socket adapter
• 9 Sockets, 1/4" drive, 6-point: 3/16"-1/2"
• 1 Adjustable wrench, 6" (Crescent style)
• 1 Pliers, slip-joint
• 1 Pocket knife w/case, 11-function, stainless steel
• 1 Electrical continuity tester
• 1 Roll of PVC electrical tape, 30'
• 1 Tire gauge

 

Seafit 149-Piece Deluxe Boatyard Tool Set #1983840. This set is described as a "Premium set for the serious boater." It is shipped with all of its tools held in position by a temporary clear plastic lid held in place by a dozen sheet-metal screws.

Unlike the other anonymous Seafit tools in this test, many items bear the name "Allied," although the tools originate in China and Taiwan. The set commendably limits its scope of functions chiefly to the turning of fasteners, such as nuts, bolts and screws. The kit has 137 legitimate tools, plus 12 non-tool items (6 plastic holders for hex-bits and Allen wrenches, 5 spare blades for the box cutter and the case itself).

The tools generally have a better finish and a higher degree of polish. In a few instances, a higher degree of design sophistication is present as well. The Leverench is a good example of this. This adjustable wrench's grip increases as more leverage is applied to the handle. Its spring-loaded jaws also maintain contact with the fastener to allow ratcheting.

Both sockets and box wrenches are designed to apply their force to the flat sides of nuts instead of the weaker corners, similar to the Flank Drive feature developed by Snap-On. Open-end wrenches are designed to provide a limited ratcheting function.

The Uni-Fit adjustable wrench provides a duplicate size for many sockets and wrenches where nut and bolt are the same size. All of these features make the tool set more useful than those that don't have them.

This set is marketed by West Marine. It carries a lifetime warranty on materials and workmanship. It comes with a fold-out plastic case with carrying handle (and better retention of tools than most), has a footprint when open of 28" x 18½" and weighs about 17 lbs.

• 1 Socket driver, ratcheting, 3/8" drive, w/quick-release feature
• 1 Socket extension, 3/8" drive, 3" long
• 8 Sockets, 3/8" drive, 6-point, 5/16"-3/4"
• 8 Sockets, 3/8" drive, 6-point, 9mm-19mm
• 1 Adapter, 3/8" drive to 1/4" drive
• 12 Sockets, 1/4" drive, 6-point, 5/32"-9/16"
• 12 Sockets, 1/4" drive, 6-point, 4mm-13mm
• 2 Sparkplug sockets, 3/8" drive, 6-point, 5/8" and 13/16"
• 1 Magnetic screwdriver handle for 1/4" hex bits
• 1 Magnetic screwdriver extension for 1/4" hex bits, 2" length (can also be chucked in drill)
• 28 hex bits in 4 bit-holders, 1/4" drive: 7 slotted
(1/8"-5/16"), 3 square (S1-S3), 8 Phillips (#0, #0, #1, #1, #2, #2, #3,#3), 7 Torx (T10, T15, T20, T25, T27, T30, T40), 3 Posidrive (#1-#3)
• 2 Adapters, 1/4" hex to 1/4" socket
• 10 Hex bits, long (can also be chucked in drill), 1/4": 5 slotted (1/8"-5/16"), 4 Phillips (#0-#3), 1 adapter, 1/4" hex to 1/4" socket
• 5 Wrenches, box/open-end, 3/8"-5/8"
• 5 Wrenches, box/open-end, 10mm-15mm
• 1 Leverench adjustable wrench, 8" long, fits 3/8"-11/16" and 10mm-18mm (see text)
• 1 Uni-Fit adjustable wrench, 7½" long, fits 1/4"-3/4" (6mm-19mm) (see text)
• 3 Screwdrivers: 1 slotted (1/4") and 2 Phillips (#1, #2)
• 1 Pliers, needle-nose, 8" long w/cutting jaws
• 1 Diagonal cutters, 6" long
• 24 Allen wrenches in 2 holders: 12 standard (0.035"-3/16"), 12 metric (0.9mm-6mm)
• 1 Box cutter w/replacement blades

 

Seafit 159-Piece Tool Set #329443. Positioned as "ideal for power, sail, personal watercraft and trailer maintenance," this set is marketed by West Marine. It carries a lifetime warranty on materials and workmanship… if returned to the importer. Country of origin is not indicated.

Surprisingly, quality and design features were of a significantly lower order than the Seafit 149-piece set. The set comes with a plastic case with carrying handle and weighs about 10 lbs.

• 1 Socket driver, ratcheting, 3/8" drive
• 1 Ratchet spin disk
• 1 Socket extension, 3/8" drive, 3" long
• 6 Sockets, 3/8" drive, 6-point, 3/8"-11/16"
• 8 Sockets, 3/8" drive, 6-point, 9mm-17mm
• 1 Adapter, 3/8" drive to 1/4" drive
• 9 Sockets, 1/4" drive, 6-point, 5/32"-1/2"
• 11 Sockets, 1/4" drive, 6-point, 4mm-12mm
• 2 Sparkplug sockets, 3/8" drive, 6-point, 5/8" and 13/16"
• 1 Magnetic screwdriver handle for 1/4" hex bits
• 31 Hex bits in 2 bit-holders, 1/4" drive: 5 slotted (1/8"-1/4"), 4 Phillips (#0-#3), 6 Torx (T10, T15, T20, T25, T27, T30), 5 Allen (1/8"-1/4"), 5 Allen (4mm-7mm), 3 Posidrive (#1-#3), 3 Clutch (1/8"-1/4")
• 1 Adapter, 1/4" hex to 1/4" socket
• 5 Wrenches, box/open-end, 3/8"-5/8"
• 5 Wrenches, box/open-end, 10mm-15mm
• 1 Wrench, adjustable, 6" long (Crescent style)
• 18 Ignition wrenches, assorted sizes
• 1 Ignition wrench
• 16 Allen wrenches in 2 holders: 8 standard (1/16"-1/4"), 8 metric (1.5mm-6mm)
• 2 Screwdrivers, 3" blade: 1/8" slotted and Phillips #0
• 1 Pliers, needle-nose, 5" long w/cutting jaws
• 1 Diagonal cutters, 5" long
• 1 Electrical crimper/stripper
• 26 Wire terminals, in box
• 1 Electrical continuity tester
• 1 Feeler-gauge set
• 1 Tire gauge
• 1 Wire brush

 

West Marine Marine Tool Set #290058. This is the set we bought for our test boat. Described as including "the basic tools needed for motor, electrical and trailer maintenance and repair," its contents are said to be "forged, tempered, and thickly chrome-plated to resist corrosion."

The pliers that we mentioned earlier have been stowed in the helm console for six months, with two or three forays out into the weather. They've never been cared-for. They've developed a few rust spots, which, around here, means they've resisted corrosion pretty well.

To further enhance its qualification for marine use, the set comes with a compact "watertight, floating storage case" made of blue polyethylene. We tried spraying it with a garden hose for a few seconds to test its watertight claim. It failed—water came right inside. In addition, the case won't open so that each of its halves lies flat —a surprisingly annoying characteristic. The case has a tendency to come apart, too, if you put too much pressure on it when open.

Although it lacks a carrying handle, each of its slots has the name of the tool that belongs there. The 30-piece set, which weighs 7 lbs., is made in Taiwan and carries a limited lifetime warranty by West Marine.

• 1 Socket driver, ratcheting, 3/8" drive
• 14 Sockets, 3/8" drive, 6-point, 3/8"-3/4" and 10mm-19mm
• 1 Socket extension, 3/8" drive, 6" long
• 2 Sparkplug sockets, 3/8" drive, 6-point, 5/8" and 13/16"
• 1 Universal joint, 3/8" drive
• 1 Electrical tape, 30' roll
• 1 Box-cutter w/replacement blades
• 1 Sparkplug gapping tool
• 1 Adjustable pliers, Channellock style
• 1 Adjustable wrench, Crescent style, 8" long
• 1 Pliers, needle-nose, 6" long w/cutting jaws
• 1 Tire gauge
• 1 Wire brush
• 2 Screwdrivers: Phillips #2 and 3/16" slotted
• 1 Continuity tester

 

West Marine Deluxe Stainless Steel Tool Set #1828946. This 11-piece set, "designed for the boater’s needs," features the only stainless tools of the 11 sets evaluated. We need hardly remind most readers that the term "stainless" in this context means it takes somewhat longer to rust than non-stainless steel and thus still requires protection from the elements. To compensate for the lack of sockets or wrenches, the set offers four gripping tools and four screwdrivers. It is made in China, carries a limited lifetime warranty that excludes normal wear and tear, and comes with a fitted plastic case that closes securely but lacks a carrying handle. Weight is about 6 lbs.

• 1 Adjustable wrench, 8" (Crescent style)
• 1 Adjustable pliers, 10" (Channellock style)
• 1 Pliers, needle-nose, w/cutter jaws
• 1 Pliers, slip-joint
• 4 Screwdrivers: 2 Phillips (#1-#2), 2 slotted (3/16", 1/4")
• 2 Wire brushes
• 1 Scissors

 

Conclusion
For sheer quality and projected durability, the Craftsman set is the clear winner. It would be a good starter set, augmented by others from that extensive line. As a rule, higher quality is cheaper in the long run because it does the job better and lasts much longer than something bought on price tag alone. That's true up to the point when you drop a Craftsman-quality tool over the side. Thus, we also liked the Seafit 149-piece Deluxe Boatyard Set—because its tools are of a generally high quality, and you get a lot of them for a decent price. We have no track record for Allied Tools, but West Marine does offer a "No Hassles Satisfaction Guaranteed" warranty with no time limit. All the rest of the tool sets appear to be of lower quality.

To reiterate an earlier note: Don't be impressed with seemingly high tool counts. Many of the sets try to cover too wide a span of uses, and the counts are often padded with expendable items. Also, fitted cases were generally disappointing and shouldn't weigh much in a buying decision. This is true especially for the larger cases, which are merely specialized shipping cartons. The tools themselves will likely end up in a more conventional toolbox.

Regardless of the contents of these sets, any choice of tools will depend on what type of boat you have and what gear you have aboard. It will also depend on your skills, and on the amount of space you have to stow them.

By far the best approach is to develop your kit after studying what you might need on your particular boat (see sidebar below). That way you'll select only those tools you actually need. No harm in using one of these pre-packaged kits as the basis of a full set—just remember that none will do the job alone.

Contacts— Allied Tools, 13207 Bradley Ave., Sylmar, CA 91342; 818/364-2333; www.alliedtools.com/. BoatU.S. (carries Great Neck), 800 S. Pickett St., Alexandria, VA 23304; 800/937-2628; www.boatus.com/. Great Neck, 165 East 2nd St., Mineola, NY 11501; 516/746-5352; www.greatnecksaw.com/. Seachoice Products, 3131 N. Andrews Avenue Ext., Pompano Beach, FL 33064; 954/581-1188; www.seachoice.com. Sears, Roebuck & Co. (Craftsman): visit your local store or www.sears.com. West Marine & Seafit (made by Allied), 500 Westridge Drive, Watsonville, CA 95076; 800/BOATING; www.westmarine.com.

 

Also With This Article
Click here to view "Value Guide: Toolkits."
Click here to view "Toolkit Targeting."

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