Stanley has come out with several new locking pliers that offer some new features.
One of the new features, which Stanley describes as “innovative,” seems to have been inspired by Milwaukee’s design, which was itself inspired by some users’ tendencies to weld loops or rings to their locking pliers’ adjustment bolts.
The loop provides you with an easier way to clamp down tighter. It works by placing a screwdriver or other tool through the eye, in order to achieve greater leverage. Some other brands provide a hex socket, for use with an Allen key, or hex-shaped knob, for use with a wrench. But the benefit of a loop is that you can use whatever tools you might already have on-hand around you.
Personally, I’ve never used a secondary tool to tighten locking clamps down further, although I can see the benefit. Sometimes when you tighten the knob too far, to the desired clamping pressure, it can be hard to squeeze the handles shut. It should be easier to clamp them down with lighter pressure, with final adjustment being done once the pliers are locked in place.
There is another new feature, Stanley FatMax’s TruLock mechanism, which they say helps prevent unintentional jaw release. To me, this sounds like a secondary lock that must be released before you can release the locking pliers via the typical handle lever.
Well, not the typical handle lever. These new locking pliers have a sort of reverse lever that I tend to prefer a lot more than Vise Grip, Milwaukee, and other brands’ release mechanisms.
Stanley has been using this type of lever release for a while.
Check out our review on Stanley’s Blackhawk locking pliers!
Lastly, the jaws are induction hardened for longer life.
Right now, there are 4 different sizes and styles, each retailing for between $11 and $15.
9-inch long nose locking pliers, FMHT74888
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10-inch curved jaw locking pliers, FMHT74886
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10-inch straight jaw locking pliers, FMHT74884
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11-inch locking c-clamp with wide jaws, FMHT74892
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The designs look sound, although I wish Stanley FatMax had used other language to describe the built-in adjustment bolt ring. Milwaukee came out with this type of accent feature first, and although their design was inspired by users’ habits and preferences, I’m not sure Stanley’s implementation can be described as “innovative.”
Still, the TruLock secondary lock does seem like a potential benefit. But… how often do locking pliers unintentionally release on their own? It has certainly happened to me, but when I had not set the jaw tension properly. It’s only happened to me when the jaws were too loose.
In my experience, properly tightened locking pliers don’t accidentally self-release. Have you ever experienced this?
But, speaking with an open mind, I don’t think that Stanley would have put the engineering time into this feature, or the extra manufacturing steps and complexities, if they didn’t think it would be a strong benefit.
My problem with locking pliers is the quality of steel. Many of the off-shore brands are too soft the teeth flatten quickly. I use Grip-on and they have been well worth their price. Older Irwin are good too.
My biggest problem with Grip On is that the piece that pushes against the adjuster knob is very soft, and it deforms quickly. It becomes difficult to adjust them without pushing the jaws closed while the handles are open.
Yes, I’ve had the European style locking releases pop open many times. Usually I’ll not notice I’m applying pressure to the release handle. Then as soon as I release hand pressure after the plier locks, it immediately pops back open. I don’t own any locking pliers with that style of release for this reason. I’m guessing Stanley added that second lock for people like me.
Is it actually called a European style release for any reason? That is what I’ve always heard it named. But it seems like anything weird, different, or new gets the “European style” tag even if it wasn’t invented there.
I don’t know who first put the loop style adjustment on locking pliers, but I do know it was not Milwaukee. I have a handful of cheap welding clamps from Cummins Industrial Tools (anyone else remember them?) with this feature, and I bought them probably a decade before Milwaukee even made hand tools. They are a bit narrower than what’s common on the adjusters available today but the idea is the same. And, knowing Cummins Tools, they likely copied it directly from someone else.
” These new locking pliers have a sort of reverse lever that I tend to prefer a lot more than Vise Grip, Milwaukee, and other brands’ release mechanisms.”
Can you elaborate on what you mean by “reverse lever”, and why you prefer it? Thank you!
On the classic style, you push the release lever towards the outer handle. Downward on the pictures above.
On the Stanley’s here, and some other types, the release lever sits flush with the handle, and to release, you pull the lever into the body of the pliers, upward on the pictures in the article. You can release these without changing your grip on the pliers.
I’ve found this style to be less prone to pinching. Love my Grip-On locking pliers.
Seems like that permanent locking feature is for when you use them as a steering wheel replacement 😉
More seriously, I like the look of these. I don’t expect I would ever use the double lock, but the price seems right. I’ll pick up a couple of the C-clamp model if I can find free shipping somewhere.
… Also, is the idea of the loop
a) to provide a better grip for some torque in turning
b) … and hollow (i.e. loop) so that a screwdriver (for example) can be inserted for quicker turning
c) to provide a bit of a visual guide for incremental turning (i.e. it’s easy to see how a loop changes position as its turned, but impossible to see any change in a circular knob)
d)… or something else?
Whoops, I failed to take into account that readers might not have seen the previous Milwaukee posts.
The answer is B), it’s hollow so you can use a screwdriver or other tool to increase the clamping pressure, but C) sounds reasonable as an added bonus benefit.
who did the bolt head – was that the dewalt branded one – or someone else.
I liked that idea better.
the secondary release lock I would use that I think – only on certain items though. I will sometimes trigger the release by accident because I’ll grip the handle too hard while holding something still.
I posted these in the forum back in April in the “Have You Seen Any Interesting Tools that are New To You” section….. Scooped ya Stu 🙂
I don’t remember that. Eeek!
Where did you see them?
is that yellow release handle made of plastic? if so, do we have any idea how much heat it would take? my old h. freight welding clamps are crapping out one by one and rather than fiddle with them i would just buy new, better, clamps but if that yellow doohickie is plastic then its a no.
I would suspect it’s rubber coated or painted metal.
It’s likely a vinyl dip or similar.
I have never had a Stanley 11-inch or 18-inch locking c-clamp with wide jaws come loose. I was a welder-fitter for 40 years.
I grabbed the long nose version to remove a stripped screw that I botched while installing a baby gate. It worked very well with the locking mechanism. I need as super tight grip to get that thing out of the baseboard in my home.
i’ve never had pliers open up on me when they were supposed to be clamping something, but i would love that secondary lock to keep them closed when in my toolbag and not opening up and getting tangled up in everything.
I own several pair of these and they are by far my favorite locking pliers on the market. Here is the reason for the secondary lock. Typically locking pliers (Milwaukee, Irwin, etc.) require some uncomfortable pinching and prying to remove. Often they are too difficult to remove by pinching and you have to back the screw off a little first. With these you have to just apply slight pressure to the yellow portion of the handle and they pop right off with minimal effort. This saves a ton of time and swearing, but also makes it extremely easy to do inadvertently. The secondary lock (tiny slider) removes that drawback, leaving only the convenience. TL;DR: vise grips are such a pain to remove that they can’t be done inadvertently, but these are so fast and easy to remove that they need a lockout.
good explanation – thanks.
any chance that Dewalt will release similar ?
Dewalt has a different style coming out, and only one model I believe.
any info or pics of the mentioned different style
maybe even availability?
I would have topped the ring with a bolt head that has an Allen wrench indentation so you can use either a socket, wrench, Allen wrench or screwdriver/ lever to tighten it down. Go all the way if you want to make it easy to tighten it down. Btw, I charge reasonable rates for my patent royalties 🙂
That loop would be handy for tying a rope to it. So a guy on a peak can drop it down to ya an clamp it to steel roofing sheets so he can pull it up
Is this what finally became of Dewalt’s locking pliers that never actually went on sale?
I think those pliers were completely abandoned.
Stanly: “We make our tools black, so they look cool, and so that you can never use them outside on a sunny day.”
Seriously? Tools get hot enough in the sun without being black.
I’m surprised sawstop that Milwaukee isn’t sueing Stanley for copy right infringement. Same design with only one added feature. Sawstop lawsuit is a joke!