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.
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
10-inch curved jaw locking pliers, FMHT74886
Buy Now(via Acme)
10-inch straight jaw locking pliers, FMHT74884
Buy Now(via Acme)
11-inch locking c-clamp with wide jaws, FMHT74892
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.