When I came across the Kobalt Rapid-Adjust Squeeze Wrench, I put it through my typical “is it gimmicky junk or potentially usable?” filter, and I’m actually very interested in the design.
A typical adjustable wrench is adjusted by means of a thumbwheel. Even the best adjustable wrenches can be a little finicky at times, requiring some minor corrections as you move from nut to nut, even when working on fasteners of the same size.
Lowes claims that their new Kobalt Rapid-Adjust wrench will revolutionize the standard adjustable wrench, and we think there’s some potential to that claim.
The Kobalt Rapid-Adjust Squeeze Wrench is adjusted via a simple squeeze-handle trigger that closes the jaws in what Lowes describes as smooth and precise movements.
There’s a quick release button, for one-handed jaw release.
So to use the Kobalt Rapid-Adjust Squeeze Wrench, press the release button, spread the jaws, place the jaws around a fastener, and squeeze the handle to grip down. Advanced gear technology keeps the jaws fixed in place, which should hold the setting as you move from fastener to fastener, or if a single fastener requires a lot of turning.
The 2-piece set comes with 6″ and 8″ wrench sizes. The 6″ Kobalt Rapid-Adjust wrench has a jaw capacity of 1/8″ to 1″, and the 8″ from 1/16″ to 1-1/8″.
Price: $35 for the 2-piece set, but we expect the holiday pricing to be LOWER
Buy Now(via Lowes)
Compare(Our Fave Channellock Adjustable Wrenches via Amazon)
Although I was tempted to dismiss these as gimmicky holiday tools, I really think Kobalt is onto something here.
While these are unlikely to unseat traditional adjustable wrenches as the standard one-t00l-fits-most staple in many DIYers’ and pros’ tool bags and toolboxes, they do have the potential to be quicker and easier to use, if all of Lowes and Kobalt’s claims prove to be true.
Yes, I know, “the Knipex PliersWrench is superior to adjustable wrenches in every way.” Except it isn’t. The pliers wrench requires constant pressure to maintain fastener engagement, which isn’t always possible. Adjustable wrenches, including this Kobalt Rapid-Adjust wrench, can be set to a fixed jaw opening, which can make it easier to work on certain fasteners.
I do see a potential downside. Some fasteners require a little adjustment, even if you’re just repositioning the wrench after each turn. Maybe they’re rounded a little bit, damaged in another way, or just ever so slightly imperfect. And even perfect fasteners sometimes require minor resetting of an adjustable wrench.
With a traditional adjustable wrench, you can open the jaws and close them back with just your thumb on the adjustment wheel. These new Kobalt Squeeze Wrenches require you to release the locking mechanism, reposition the wrench, and squeeze down on the trigger handle to close the jaws.
It’s not yet clear whether the handle operates in a ratcheting-type mechanism, or if the release button spreads the jaws all the way automatically.
Different doesn’t always translate to good, especially when it comes to hand tools that come out this time of year. For example, I was optimistic about last year’s Kobalt self-adjusting compound leverage locking pliers, but ultimately didn’t much care for them.
As for the price, I don’t think the $35 list price is the true pricing. If it were, I’m sure Lowes would have packaged the 2 wrench sizes separately, perhaps at $15 and $20, or there would just be one size. If I had to guess, I’d think that the holiday season price will be $20 for the 2-piece wrench set. $25 seems to invoke a different psychological response than $20.
If you saw these wrenches on the shelf at your local Lowes, would you consider buying them?
The other variant to rapid adjustment is this style made by Crescent:
When looking at the Crescent Rapid Slide wrenches on Amazon – I noted that they get mixed reviews. I also saw what looks like another gimmicky wrench with the Skil name on it (not sure who the OEM is):
Had one at work, hated it. Rapid adjustment also means it can rapidly become out of adjustment as well…
I bet it’s spring loaded to full release. I’ve seen the crescent ones and thought about it but I don’t use adjustables that much.
the times I use them are often for bolt/nuts bigger than my normal set and I’m using a 10 inch or bigger crescent and I often have no issues using it for those one offs.
if I used only adjustables to lighten my bag or something I’d probably consider something like this – and the pliers wrench.
Yep, I’ve played with it before and again today at Lowes, when you press the button it pops all the way open.
What worries me about it is the connection arm on top of the lever. It’s pretty tiny, yes it’s metal while the lever arm is plastic. (as well as the rest of the black case).
They also aren’t showing you the back of the wrench. There’s a big metal circle sticking out the back which I’m guessing covers a big spring coil.
I posted a few photos in the forum:
I’ve never really found an adjustable I’ve loved. There’s always just a little too much slop and I find myself constantly having to re-adjust it. The Black and Decker AutoWrench, which uses an electric motor to adjust the jaws, does a pretty good job, albeit with a bit of slop, on the promise of being able to open and close the wrench with one hand without letting go of the handle. https://www.amazon.com/Decker-AAW100-8-Inch-Wrench-Adjusting/dp/B000EGM1ZM/
I don’t think the “rapid” adjust is that big of a deal feature wise, is a thumb wheel really that much slower? The handle feature looks like a neutered version of the locking crescent you reviewed. where you can get a better grip by squeezing the handle, just like the locking feature on those. overall i think they will be functionally the same.
YES. Especially if you’ve flipped them and forgotten which way to twist the thumb wheel to tighten them.
While I greatly prefer to use the proper wrench, there are many situations where an adjustable wrench is the only practical solution for me, including a situation at work (I won’t get into the details, just trust me) where I keep an adjustable wrench, a #2 philips, and a 1/4″ regular screwdriver (both stubbies) in my clipboard organizer because I need at least one of them several times per day, and it is not practical for me to carry a larger tool set (because I’m already carrying other gear).
Saw this at Lowes yesterday. Wanted to love it so bad after I read this post but sadly I couldn’t. I think in trying to update the classic adjustable wrench they honestly just made it equally difficult to use but in a different way. The lever on the handle squeezes down nice and smoothly. Can clamp on a nut quicker that I could with my handy adjustable. What baffles me is the release button. Instead of the release button giving you the opportunity to loosen up the teeth slightly so you can reset the wrench (similar to the button on the Irwin channel locks) it throws the teeth back into the widest position. The button made me highly disappointed.
Ran across this style wrench fro Gedore – when looking over KC Tools OctoberFest Sale
Love this tool. Works great in situations where you cannot easily use your hand to turn the screw to adjust a wrench. Just squeeze the handle and it will adjust to the nut. My husband has had several strokes and right hand does not function well. The Kobalt rapid wrench is the only wrench he can use.