Craftsman’s MAX AXESS mechanics tool set features a versatile pass-thru ratchet and socket design. The 51-piece set features full-polish low-profile ratchets, a full set of socket sizes, extensions, and adapters that allow the ratchets to be used with 1/4″ and 3/8″ square drive sockets.
The MAX AXESS system is designed to eliminate the need for deep sockets, and can also be used in certain applications where no 6pt or 12pt sockets can fit, such as when working with threaded rod.
A hollow-shaft driver handle is also included, and can be used with the 1/4″ go-thru sockets and with or without the 3″ extension to function as a standard or stubby sized screwdriver.
Craftsman’s MAX AXESS ratchets are said to be up to 45% stronger that their most popular ratchets. When asked for clarification, Craftsman got back to us with the model numbers for their teardrop quick-release raised-panel ratchets.
Expect to see these sets on Craftsman.com and at Sears stores around May 2011, with a retail price of $70.
I only had a short time to handle the tools, and not in a hands-on testing capacity. That being said, I really liked the design of the ratchets, which look to be heavily inspired by Craftsman’s thin-profile ratchets. The ratchets felt well balanced, and turned easily. The sockets have a nice finish to them, with the metric sockets featuring a ring of engraved lines to differentiate them from similar SAE sizes.
Without a doubt, this set is closely modeled after Gearwrench’s Vortex and pass-thru ratchet and socket designs. That’s not a bad thing at all, as Gearwrench’s versions are often highly recommended.
I really think that this set will sell well across the board, and not just as a first mechanics tool set for homeowners and beginner DIYers. Although I already have a full set of sockets and more ratchets and accessories than I really need, I think that the MAX AXESS set would serve as a nice portable or auto tool kit. It definitely helps that the case felt well designed – far better than the junky blow-molded one that came with my Craftsman 94-pc mechanics tool set.
The 51-piece set’s $70 price point also makes it more affordable than Gearwrench’s comparable 46-piece set, which is priced at $85-90 on Amazon. You get a full selection of socket sizes, two ratchets with extensions, a screwdriver handle, square drive adapters, and
what I think was a 1/4″ hex bit adapter a 1/4″ to 3/8″ pass-thru adapter (thanks, Brian!).
Check price or purchase via Sears (Normally ~$70, but often on sale)