These are the new Kobalt… box wrench-like… tool thingamajigs, which Lowe’s just launched for their Black Friday 2022 and holiday gift center.
Lowe’s product description says:
Easy switching between sockets quicksilver button.
Common applications include automotive mechanical applications and home repair.
Aach wrench fits multiple size fasteners, with the blue wrench for metric sizes, and the red fits SAE/inch.
There are 6 sizes at each end, for 12 per wrench and 24 fastener sizes total for the two tools.
Kobalt has had catchy names for tools like this in the past. What are these called?
Lowe’s describes these wrenches as:
Kobalt 100% Steel Carry Handle
This can’t be the official name, right?
Lowe’s recently announced a new “Tech Hub” with the headline:
Lowe’s Tech Hub ‘WOWs’ with Grand Opening Celebration and Light Show.
It will feature a “best-in-class technology center,” with an “innovation lab, Big Room Planning multipurpose room, and multiple game and social hub spaces.”
Maybe they’ll finally start working on website improvements. Or, maybe Lowe’s will focus on more “metaverse” and NFT wearable stuff there.
See Also: Lowe’s Enters the Metaverse with Virtual NFT Wearables and 3D Models
Sorry, I digress.
The last I checked, my Lowe’s store didn’t have these out yet, and so I haven’t seen which sizes they give you, or what it’s really called.
I spotted these new Kobalt tools online last month, and hoped Lowe’s would have updated their product listing by now.
If you’re interested in the new “Kobalt 100% Steel Carry Handle,” with its “easy switching between sockets quicksilver button” for your “automotive mechanical applications” or home use, it’s available now online.
Is there hidden value in these wrenches that I’m just not seeing? Or is it a holiday gift item that’s destined to be a junk drawer paperweight for 99% of the users that receive it?
If you ask me, there are far better ways to spend $20 at Lowe’s.
Here’s What I Would Buy Instead
If you really want a tool that can handle a wide range of fastener sizes, try an adjustable wrench.
This Craftsman is $18 at Lowe’s.
This Channellock 8-inch adjustable wrench is – in my opinion – a better investment than the Kobalt contraptions discussed above.
In my experience, Channellock’s made-in-Spain adjustable wrenches deliver a much smoother user experience compared to others I have used over the years.
It’s priced at $21.40 at the time of this posting.
Alternatively, you can buy a Husky 3pc adjustable wrench set for $14 at Home Depot.
If you can spend a little more, the Channellock WideAzz adjustable opens wider and has a cushion-grip handle.
I have much better fastening tools – combination wrenches, ratcheting wrenches, pliers wrenches, sockets, and so forth – but still whip out an adjustable for quick and light tasks.
These are strong, can open very wide, and comfortable to use.
Does anyone have other alternate tool suggestions at around the $20 price point?
If You Really Want an All-in-One
If you really want universal-type many-sizes-in-one box end wrenches, the Duratech “Universal Wrench Set” has 8″ and 10″ wrenches that they say cover 4 different inch and metric fastener sizes.
These wrenches are a bit gimmicky too, but should adjust quicker than the Kobalt, and you don’t need separate tools for inch and metric fasteners.
The 2pc set is $24 at Amazon at the time of this posting.
Lowes is becoming the new Harbor Freight. How low can they set the bar.
I would say Kobalt is becoming the new Craftsman. Some good tools, and some head-scratchers.
Agree with your assessment.
Bob from northern New Engl
Lol, RD is quietly working on a redone gator grip universal socket
I’ll stick to my snap on wrench sets.
If your buying tools for your works . Your not going to buy snap on. I have been buy there tools for years and haven’t had one problem or any broken knuckles.
Kobalt is junk
Kobalt may have had barely average bargain tools some years ago, but they are junk now. I recently bought a pair of knee pads and a utility knife. The knee pads lasted three working days before the plastic buckle broke and the knife just 6 working days before the retracting mechanism broke. Completely worthless at any price. I will avoid them from now on. Lowe’s is the only thing close to us. Unfortunately.
I’ve said this for a very long time; Lowes is geared to non tradesmen and with Home Depot (to varying degrees) is more geared to some trades. Personally I am still sticking with industrial suppliers as I don’t have the time or finances to be running around for parts.
Considering how as of this year Facebook’s Metaverse stock has absolutely tanked; if I were Lowes or any big corporation if I were a shareholder I’d be against investing any money into this. Much better option would be to spend money with advertising on Twitter and other venues where there is high engagement.
Twitter is for reporters, celbrwties, politicians and bots.
These seem silly to me. They almost remind me of those “Dogbone” all-in-one wrenches that came out several years ago.
What’s ironic is that they are a worse version of a very similar tool: I don’t know the name, but I recall a self-adjusting box end wrench that had a handle with a rounded over camming surface at the working end, and a box-end with an elongated hex hole
(like these wrenches) which rotated on a pivot near the cam. When you moved the handle the cam at the end would rotate against one of the flats of the fastener. The harder you pulled the handle the harder the cam gripped, sort of like the Joker self-setting wrenches but it would grip on 3 faces of the fastener rather than 2. Like any self-adjusting tool design it has its limitations but honestly wasn’t the piece of garbage that these seem to be. Kobalt should have made those instead.
Here’s a couple examples of the older tools these seem like worse versions of:
Here is one on eBay:
This one too – a modern equivalant of the old Craftsman adjustable box wrenches
I last posted about these 2 seasons ago – https://toolguyd.com/universal-wrench-2020-holiday-shopping-season-debate/
It’s not quit the same thing, and if I had to choose, I’d go for that over these Kobalt wrenches.
Ace sells a single look-alike – for $19
Husky had one earlier too.
If someone’s going to go that route, Amazon has the easiest return policy.
Yea, that was it exactly, fred. Those honestly aren’t bad; in my opinion they’re among the better of the one-size-fits-all wrenches. They grip tight even on rounded-over fasteners, I’m surprised they aren’t more common today.
I’ve never used that Craftstman style adjustable box wrench with the worm in the handle but I’m with Stuart, they do look better than these strange new Kobalts.
Speaking of self-adjusting tools, Stuart did you ever review the Robo Grip pliers? I know they were marketed under the Craftsman Professional brand for a while but I think they’re made by Western Forge and they are available under other brand names now.
The Sears (Craftsman) Robo Grip Pliers (like the 9-45028 and 9-45029) were packaged with UIPC’s starting with 714994 signifying Apex as the OEM. Western Forge (now defunct) was most recently owned by Ideal Industries – and I don’t think that they were part of Apex.
I avoided the Robo Grip pliers, mainly because the laminated construction made them look cheap, and I couldn’t see any way the design would benefit me over other tools.
I also steered clear of “Gator Grip” sockets, and the Bionic Wrench.
Thanks for the clarification fred. I see that you can currently buy the Robogrips under the brand name “Western Forge” but there may be some funny business involved. They also seem to have been marketed under the Ridgid name before too.
Anyway, I used to own one of the smaller Craftsman branded ones, in my opinion they are surprisingly good given the price and the concept. I’ve seen you review far worse tools than those! You might give them a try.
The Ridgid pliers were marketed under the name “Robogrip II”
They bear UPC’s starting with 757038 – implying that they came from Applied Concepts Inc. – a subsidiary of Emerson Electric Co. I believe that they came out around Y2k – while the Sears ones had been selling since the mid to late 1990’s.
Later on, Apex introduced their version of self-adjusting pliers that they dubbed “Autobite” and marketed under different brands like Gearwrench and Crescent. They had solid metal (rather than laminated steel) construction. Others (like Wiha – with their 39094) have introduced variants of self-adjusting water-pump-style pliers. Wiha calls their style “Quickfix”
And the video attached to the page is for a 2 piece Kobalt scissors set. Informative.
They’re launching these tools for Black Friday and we only get a sketch? I’d think there would a photo of the actual tool by now.
Was about to say this can’t possibly be good, but that metric might be good for a compact bike wrench. 9-12mm are really common for brake lines and small attachment points, 15mm is fairly standard for modern road bikes and 19mm holds the rear axle on my hub-motor electric bike.
I’ve been keeping a pliers wrench in my bike bag, but that’s a pricey bit of steel for tossing around with my least-used but most-traveled tools.
My issue would be you can’t get the wrench around a brake line fitting, because the head is a closed loop.
I’m told that the archetypal tool for that application is a flare nut wrench (like a box wrench but with an opening cut into the ring head) but there are lots of cheap options with open jaws that should work, like these:
I haven’t encountered that use case, but I don’t do motorcycles or mountain bikes, mostly vintage road and track bikes, and of course, now my e-bike. Seems like the pliers wrench is still the better mobile solution.
I wouldn’t use these or an adjustable wrench either.
Looking at them closer, I’d guess they have 6 sizes on each end vs your guess of 4. If you look carefully the flat sides of TBE piece that rotates appears to be 6 sided instead of 4. I guess that would give 12 sizes per wrench. I hate to comment much on tool usefulness without actually handling one. If well made it could be useful as it gives a lot of size options and theoretically would be less likely to slip than an adjustable wrench since it grips 3 sides instead of 2. If it fits too loosely it would be more of a combination paperweight and fidget tool.
Thanks! I added this to the post.
What irks me is that Lowe’s has “1700+” stores in the USA. Each store near me is reporting 36+ of these tools in stock.
If the same is true for all stores, that’s more than 61,000 tools, not including any that are in warehouses for online fulfillment.
And yet nobody at Kobalt or Lowe’s could spend 5 minutes adding a proper description, specs, or size details to their online product listing?
I’ll try to visit the local Lowe’s stores again soon (I make regular rounds throughout the holiday season), but the last I checked these were listed online but not on display in stores yet.
We shouldn’t have to guess.
So I have something from years back that has the same concept, but different design and implementation. I prefer adj wrench but these type of this are very much worth it in tight spaces where adj wrench head doesn’t fit. Unfortunately you better hope the nut is turned at the right angle because in tight or obstructed spaces, that matters. I’d pay the $20 having been there. It’s worth it. They hold tighter than a socket. But I already have what I need.
If its adjustable there’s no reason to have separate metric and standard wrenches.
They aren’t continuously adjustable to any setting you want the same way an adjustable wrench is. They have selectable individual settings. Like socket sizes some of those happen to cross over (i.e. 3/4 inch and 19mm) but most don’t. That’s one of the reasons these tools are so silly because there are so many alternatives which DO manage to fit standard or metric fasteners with just one tool. A standard adjustable wrench can do this, so can a hook-action wrench like the Pipe Vise micro 5 Stuart recently posted about, the cam-action “Universal Wrench” mentioned above, the old Craftsman adjustable box-ends that he and fred mentioned, all handle standard vs. metric with just one tool. And that’s not even getting into pliers-style tools.
Why it it listed as scissors. If you scroll the pics on Lowes website it is scissors on the other pics. So if you order are you getting scissors or the wrench.
It’s also listed under “tool storage accessories” and called a “Kobalt 100% steel carry handle.”
Scissors are swapped in for the 3-in-1 ratchet set 360° view as well. https://toolguyd.com/kobalt-3pc-palm-ratchet-set-2022/
James E Rhoades Jr
I have a sixty year collection of automotive SAE & Metric wrenches, sockets and whatnot. I also have one wrench very similar to this Kobalt model. It is quite thin and is a time saver for work on motorcycles when trying to remove or attach nuts between exhaust/muffler and the frame. Two days ago it was used to remove the trailer hitch on a Can Am. Yeah a open end 15mm wrench would have worked. But that size is not standard in a metric set and these also work as a ratcheting wrench, saving time and bruises and burns to your fingers.
It’s one of those things you don’t need very often but really nice to have when you do.
Ratchting? I don’t see how that would work. Rotating the inset piece will change the size setting , not release the nut. Maybe you’re thinking of something like the one fred posted about earlier?
I think Koko is right, I don’t see how these Kobalt wrenches could ratchet, though the similar but older “Universal Wrench” like fred, Koko, and I posted links to do ratchet. That’s just another reason why these Kobalt tools seem so strange. Not only does the older tool grip tighter and fit standard or metric fasteners with just the one tool, but it also ratchets as well, albeit it takes a relatively large swing of at least 60 degrees to do so.
They can’t ratchet. They also don’t self-adjust, you have to swing the sizes around, place on a fastener, and then use as you would a standard 6pt box wrench.
This is also why I can never take Kobalt power tools seriously either as anything other than HF level equipment. They have the same name attached as this gift center junk drawer fodder.
I have liked the cordless ones I have. Chervon seems like a solid OEM and replacement batteries are inexpensive. They seem to be about the level of Ridgid. I am skeptical of most BrNds that don’t manufacture their own product, unless I know who the oem is or they have proven to be discerning in quality.
Except for a few oddball brands that their one national competitor (no real bargain either in MHO) Lowe’s is nearly useless in my general west coast region.
Thank goodness we have great localized pro-leaning specialty vendors.
Milwaukee 8 in. Wide Jaw Adjustable Wrench are rock solid and at many local HD’s. The 4 knurl screw barley moves way tigher than even some of my oldest diamond wrenches from the railroad days.
Bahco BAH9031RUS Ergo Big-Mouth Adjustable Wrench with Rubber Handle – 8 Inch – Black Phosphate Finish is not as tight as the Milwaukee but thin jaws really get into tight spaces. Bahco is easily a close second in quality and well worth it.
For future reference: Whenever you see giant links like these, look for the question mark, then delete everything from the question mark to the end. All the extra stuff is just tracking info.
In response to one of my cut and paste Amazon links – Stuart posted a formula that If I have it correct is this:
where you look for Amazon’s alphanumeric ASIN and cut and paste it into the formulaic link
@MT Don’t worry about it, I can trim links in seconds. It’s far easier for me to trim links than to reconstruct broken links.
Your link also had excess info in the form of a ref tag. =)
I bought the Bahco a while back. It’s good, but I feel the Irega-made Channellocks are better.
I just look at them as adjustable closed end wrenches. If I could get the same use out a wrench or two without having to carry around 5 or 6 for a small job, it would be worth it to me.
“Or is it a holiday gift item that’s destined to be a junk drawer paperweight for 99% of the users that receive it?”
For something similar I like the quadbox wrenches. I’ve had both Husky and Gearwrench brand. They are great for light commercial HVAC service because the 2 wrenches cover 5/16″ through 3/4″.