Our coverage of Miwaukee’s 2015 new product symposium (see more of our recent new Milwaukee tool posts here) continues with a quick look at their new adjustable wrenches.
That’s right, adjustable wrenches.
Milwaukee has said time and time again that they don’t want to be a “me too” brand, and that they seek to introduce new tools that offer new and innovative features for users.
So what new and innovative features has Milwaukee brought to adjustable wrenches, a tool category that some might say is mature and over saturated?
To answer that, take a look at one of their adjustable wrench heads. Do you notice anything unusual? You should – this wrench has a very fine-tooth thumbwheel that provides 5 points of engagement!
Most adjustable wrenches, like Dewalt’s, and Crescent’s, have 3. My favorite adjustable wrench – Irega-made Channellock’s extra wide styles – have 4.
So why do you want more engagement? For one, more engagement usually means more strength. But, surprisingly, that’s something that Milwaukee’s product manager didn’t touch upon. What they emphasized was that the thumbwheel wouldn’t budge or self-adjust during use.
Self-adjustment is a big frustration when using lesser quality adjustable wrenches. You set the jaw opening, turn a fastener, reset the wrench position for another turn, and find that the opening width has changed. Having to adjust the wrench opening with the thumbwheel every turn or couple of turns of a fastener can really slow things down.
Milwaukee’s product manager encouraged us to do the “rattle test,” which is something Channellock also encourages. After you read this post, go pull one of your adjustable wrenches out of your toolbox or bag. Hold it by the handle and shake the wrench around a little.
It really isn’t too useful to listen for the sound one adjustable wrench makes. The “rattle test” is more useful when comparing the sounds of 2 different makes or models.
If you hear a lot of clanging around of the thumbwheel in one wrench, and quieter sounds in another, the quieter adjustable wrench will usually hold its jaw opening width closer to where the user set it to. Louder rattles usually indicate how much slop there is in the mechanism, which can sometimes make an adjustable wrench more prone to unintentional self-adjustments.
There is a tradeoff – looser thumbwheels are often easier to spin and adjust. Those with greater tolerances and less slop are often a little slower to spin and adjust.
Milwaukee’s product manager also mentioned that the new adjustables will be a little slower to adjust, but that it’s slight enough where it might go unnoticed.
Milwaukee also strayed from the traditional I-beam design that some brands still adhere to. They also added in a branded and Milwaukee-red handle insert to provide greater gripping comfort.
Here is their extra-wide adjustable wrench, although I don’t recall if it was their 6-inch or 8-inch size. I think it was the 8-inch.
And here’s the standard sized wrench.
Comparing the two, you can see that there’s a pretty substantial difference between standard and extra-wide adjustable wrenches.
So why buy one of the other? The standard wrench will be available at a slightly lower price point and is a little less bulky, while the extra-wide wrench obviously offers greater jaw capacity.
There will be a couple of different sizes, although a full list wasn’t immediately available.
Don’t give your current adjustable wrenches away just yet, as these won’t be available for quite some time.
ETA: Feb 2016
One of these days, I’d really like for a tool brand to demonstrate their brand new adjustable wrenches against Channellock’s, rather than Crescent’s. On the other hand, Crescent seems to be the by-far dominant player in the adjustable wrench market. Theirs are the wrenches to beat.
Still, these new Milwaukee wrenches offer some nice features, and might even best Channellock and Irega’s offerings.
I liked what I saw, and am definitely eager to get my hands on the new wrenches once they hit the market.
Right now there’s no plan for Milwaukee to come out with thin-jaw models, which Channellock just came out with, but they said they will continue to explore options. I asked about this because I found the new adjustable wrenches to be a little chunky. Sometimes you want an adjustable wrench to be a little thicker, other times you need one that’s a little thinner.
Before anyone can say it in comments, yes – the Knipex Pliers Wrench is often a better tool. The discussion in a more recent Pliers Wrench post confirm that it’s a very popular tool. But it’s also more expensive than an adjustable wrench and the Pliers Wrench won’t replace the use of adjustables 100% of the time. Just like an adjustable wrench won’t replace a set of “real” combination wrenches, the Pliers Wrench won’t completely replace adjustable wrenches.
What do you think – are you excited for these new Milwaukee adjustable wrenches to come out?
Adjustable wrenches just seem to be sort of a commodity. So many brands are all sourced from the same vendor, so it is a product that is tough to get excited about.
another imported milwaukee tool, ick. just to be fair i don’t care for the dewalt mechanics tools either
If there ever was a way to give a comment a thumbs up here, now would be the post. Yet another imported tool, so this is a pass for me as well.
It sounds like you’re opposed to imported tools of any kind. I get upset, as do many others, when production of a previously USA-made tool or tool line is farmed out to China or even Taiwan. That, however, is not the case with Knipex, NWS, Gedore, et al. These are exceptional tools that have always been made in Germany, so no production jobs were lost on the homefront.
I buy tools for the long haul; the extra money they cost is because they perform better and last longer. My preference is to purchase American-made tools, but that’s not always possible now. European-made tools are often innovative by their design and just work better. Chinese tools are often built to a price-point, and quality is lost in the process (thicker tools because poor-quality steel is used, chrome plating that flakes off, etc.). The Europeans have learned that it is better to manufacture a tool (or even a car) to a higher standard, which the marketplace will recognize and pay extra for.
As someone else said, “I’m too poor to buy crappy tools”, meaning it’s false economy to buy cheap tools, only to have to replace them somewhere down the line. They may not only break, but injure a tool user when it happens. I prefer to buy them once, and be done.
Do people complain about German imports? I think most of these complaints are directed at the items imported from Asia. At least that’s my feeling. I’m all for USA made products, but if someone else is doing it better then I’m in.
Steve, in this case I just liked SK Farmer’s post. Going to be blunt here, I am not sorry about that at all. That being said, I do agree with what you wrote. As you like SK Farmer made a good post. In this case, this item wasn’t ever made in the United States, so no jobs were lost here. I actually own a Knipex tool, but that was only because this item hasn’t been made stateside in years/decades. Truthfully, I have no issues with companies that have never produced items in the USA as no jobs here were ever lost.
I DO have issue with “American companies” and even brands that once made products here only to ship the work offshore. That doesn’t sit well with me at all. I’ve had friends, family and have talked to people that have lost their jobs due to offshoring. For me, an imported item is often just that. Granted, European, Canadian and some other countries aren’t as brutal or cruel to their people, so if this absolutely isn’t made here, I rather support a country that values workers rights and pays them a livable wage as well as provides a safe working environment.
Believe me, I would LOVE nothing more than to buy only 100% American made items being that I am American citizen, but sadly that just isn’t possible anymore. So I do my best and support my domestic workers as much as I can. Not just when this is convenient or “cheap” to do so either. Surprising as this might appear, I do care about the rights of others and I wish sweatshops didn’t exist, children weren’t forced to work and these workers were made better wages in other countries.
Man, a lot of words for “im kinda racist”. If an american company makes the best… well, anything, ill buy it. If a german company does.. same deal. If a chinese company happens to make the best.. ill buy it too. Thats not happened yet, but its certainly not because they CANT. Its because your beloved american company doesnt want to pay them to do so. Sk tools come pre rusted far to often for me to kiss american tool company ballsack. Buy the best, dont buy the country.
Nothing racist about that. Asian tools are bare minimum junk.
Stan–Lukas pointed out to me that you may not have specifically intended to bash all imports (including, but not limited to, German tools). Rather, that you were concerned with the spate of Chinese tools being imported by many tool companies these days and rebranded as their own. I share that feeling, and if you were upset by my post, I apologize. I should have asked, first, if you were concerned with ALL imports or just those from China/Asia in particular.
If I understand correctly, Milwaukee is now owned/controlled by a Chinese firm. If so, I don’t think we can expect that they’ll be producing/importing many tools, if any, that aren’t produced there. That’s to be expected, as opposed to many other tool firms that moved production to Asia (or simply source it from there) to reduce production costs/maximize profits. That poses a threat to our economy, and I don’t purchase tools from companies/resellers that do that.
I wasn’t offended by your post and actually I really liked that post. You seem to be educated gentleman, so I actually appreciated reading what you had to write. My apologies if my post offended you, as that wasn’t my intention.
I only really have an issue with companies that have moved produced overseas hence creating unemployment in America, but also the fact these workers overseas usually aren’t treated that well, particularly in China and other third word countries. In some cases, they are beaten, killed, tortured or sexually assaulted. Factor in children are forced to do work that is sometimes dangerous and the fact these workers are paid very little especially in unsafe working conditions, this does bother me. I hate to see people treated as if they are slaves and aren’t even human.
As for TTI, while some items are made in USA, compared to the imported items, these aren’t that much. But some is better than nothing in today’s economy.
It is pretty hard to get excited for an imported adjustable wrench
As you say a very ubiquitous tool that has a mature and possibly saturated market – but if they get a prominent hanging spot at Home Depot – they’ll probably sell well.
My first question is, how fast will it rust?
The vogue nowadays seems to be shipping bright bare-metal tools with a coating of rust-proof on it, as soon as that wipes off somewhere, anywhere on the tool, it starts to rust (I’m looking at you, ChannelLock and Craftsman). Is this another one of those?
Dewalt doesnt even have a coating on the top of their adjustable wrenches… Have 6 at work and 2 are rusting nicley! I have to dip them in some motor oil to keep it smooth.
For me, it’s tough to best the (USA made)Ridgid 777, ‘beak jaw’ plumber style adj. wrenches. OEM is Western Forge I think, sometimes rebranded as S-K, Armstrong, C-Man Pro, Wright, Klein…who knows what else. The Code Blue opens a small bit wider, but I prefer the 777 because it has even thinner jaws, not to mention I can’t out-torque 1.25 inch+ fasteners with an 8 inch wrench. Great corrosion resistance, smooth/comfortable fit and finish, with the benefit of easy clean up. Generally a fan of comfort grips, but cleaning up pipe crud is a special case. Plus at $10 each(clearance, I guess) at HD, I grabbed two for the price of one Code Blue. Using two wrenches together, in opposing directions, can really help loosen pipe fittings. Think Epstein’s still sells these at $13 each.
In any event, Milwaukee has a lot of competition, and I’d bet they are going to price in the Code Blue range. I’m SURE the Irega/Bahco(and Ridgid) wrenches will offer better quality, but Milwaukee seems to be on a roll lately with hand tools. Big time advertising and HD shelf space enabling big time sales of often overpriced (and PRC sourced) tools of mediocre quality. I wonder what the hand tool market will be like in 2025.
That post was intense.
Those Ridgid’s are on my to-buy list, and have been for the longest time. I wish I snagged the Craftsman Pro-branded ones before they were discontinued a couple of years ago.
Epstein still has the 10″ version in stock. Probably because I purchased all the 6″ versions. They are my go to adjustables.
In my dad’s old toolbox there are a few crescent wrenches with a simple swiveling clasp (similar to the locking mechanism on garden shears) that engages the thumb screw and keeps it from adjusting by itself. Seems pretty simple, I wonder why I never see those on the market.
The old Williams APL10 and APL12 adjustable wrenches had a locking mechanism too . You pushed a button/small shaft – that was in the center of the adjusting screw.
I recall that it worked OK – but I’m not a big fan of adjustable wrenches. If you want a Williams now – eBay might be the only source for a vintage one.
I went to the tool box and did the rattle test on the crescent wrenches. They all passed with absolutely no noise what-so-ever.
As long as no one digs all the crap out of the mechanisms I should be good.
Sears sells a 3 piece set of “Craftsman Evolv – set #10064” adjustable wrenches for around $13. I’m guessing that they may not pass the rattle test. Then , for quite a bit more money you can buy a set of Proto Clik-Stop wrenches – that are said to hold their position:
I wrote about Proto Click Stop adjustables a couple of months ago – https://toolguyd.com/proto-clik-stop-adjustable-wrench/ . They hold their position, but are a bugger to adjust, especially if you use them interchangeably with brands of adjustable wrenches.
The only wrench I have is a husky one. I’m pretty sure I’ve spent more time throwing it across the room out of pure anger than actually using it. The thing is a piece of crap and useless beyond measure. It’s better used as a hammer then a wrench.
Most of the trades wouldn’t be able to afford a lot of their tools if everything was made in the U.S. including the machines and components used in the manufacturing of those tools… i don’t see these same people wanting to pick fruit in the fields…
I think the best tools in my own collection are the American made adjustable wrenches that were manufactured by Diamond Tool and Horseshoe Company starting back in the 1920s. These classics were made in Duluth Minnesota and still have an outstanding look and feel, especially when compared to today’s imports. Milwaukee is ok, but the only thing American about it is the name.
Has anyone tried these Milwaukee adjustables? How do they compare to, say, Channellock or Irega wrenches?
I dont think they were ever released?
I take that back, quick google search shows they have been, just never seen them in any stores..
2015: “Milwaukee has said time and time again that they don’t want to be a “me too” brand”…
How badly that comment has aged in the #metoo era