I am a big fan of swivel ratchets, such as the Wera Zyklop Speed and Gearwrench Roto Ratchet. Swivel ratchets are part ratcheting screwdriver, part traditional ratchet, and part flex-head ratchet. These new Craftsman gimbal palm ratchets are like those swivel ratchets, but with a double pivot and no handle.
We’ve seen this before in Gearwrench’s gimbal palm ratchets, which Apex Tool Group looks to have simply dressed up in Craftsman colors. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining. I just wanted to point out that you can get the same product now under different branding. Plus, that these are rebranded Gearwrench tools might lead some to take the tools more seriously.
The new Craftsman gimbal palm ratchet set comes with a 1/4″ drive ratchet, a 3/8″ drive ratchet, and a 1/4″ hex bit adapter. You can use them with standard 1/4″ and 3/8″ sockets, as well as insert screwdriver bits. I like that Craftsman chose not to bundle their gimbal ratchets as part of socket sets. Being able to buy just the ratchets as a set will save everyone a bit of cash.
Both ratchets feature 72 tooth gearing and can pivot with angles of up to 45°.
Craftsman says that their gimbal ratchets will help improve access to fasteners in tight and awkward spaces, and in my experience with Gearwrench’s ratchets, that’s a pretty accurate claim.
An alternative is to pair a palm of thumbwheel ratchet, such as the SK ratchet I reviewed and regularly use, with a universal joint accessory or short wobble extension, but this isn’t as elegant a solution.
The gimbal palm ratchets are also great as EDC (everyday carry) ratchets, or super stubby ratchets to keep in your toolbox. They don’t take up a lot of space, and are more versatile than you might think. No, they won’t exert a lot of torque, but can be used to apply a lot more torque than would be possible bare handed.
I like these ratchets, but there are also a lot of times when I’m able to hand-spin a fastener. If you rarely hand-spin fasteners, then these ratchets might not be for you.
List Price: $60
Sale Price: $54
ETA: May 2015
I very highly doubt that this pricing will stick around for long. $30, or even $25, is more realistic pricing. Sears and Craftsman are probably doing this so that they can WOW you when the price drops once the products are in stock ahead of Father’s Day.
The Gearwrench versions are priced at $15 to $18 each, and you can buy a simple 1/4″ square to 1/4″ hex adapter for about $5 to $8. If you don’t need frills, such as an active lock, Proto’s can be had for less than $6 (via Amazon). This is why I think $30 would be a fair sale price for the 3pc combo, and that $25 would be even more compelling.