I worked on some assembly and disassembly projects yesterday, putting some new and favorite hand tools to use. Let’s talk about.
First up, I got in some testing time with the new Irwin adjustable “pliers wrench” style pliers. I like them, but they’re not on-par with the Knipex Pliers Wrench.
The two brands of tools have similar functionality – smooth parallel jaws that exert a lot of fastener-gripping power.
The Irwin pliers differs from Knipex’ design by being significantly less expensive, and also featuring a ratcheting adjustment mechanism. To adjust the Knipex Pliers Wrench, you have to use trial and error until you dial in on the perfect setting. With the Irwin, you simply slide the moveable jaw closed around the fastener.
I can use the Knipex Pliers Wrench as a sort of open-end ratcheting wrench, loosening handle pressure to open the jaws slightly for repositioning. Turn, backtrack, turn, backtrack, repeat until tightening or loosening task is complete.
With the Irwin Vise-Grip pliers, I couldn’t. The jaws wouldn’t open wide enough to clear the hex corners so that I could grab the next set of flats. So, I had to turn, reposition, turn, reposition, repeat 5 times and give up. I grabbed a 9/16″ combination wrench, and it worked much better. I overcame my laziness and went inside for a 9/16″ socket.
The Irwin Vise-Grip pliers wrench was a good match for adjusting leveling feet, however.
I also found that I liked the Vise-Grip handles, and I liked them a lot. You can get the Knipex Pliers Wrench with comfort grips, but with the Pliers Wrenches as pricey as they are, I didn’t want to spend that much when I purchased my basic-gripped versions a few years ago.
I need more time with the Irwin pliers, but so far I think it’s fair to describe them as competent, at least compared to the Knipex Pliers Wrench. Compared to other adjustable pliers, they’re quite good, and I like them.
Buy Now (8″ Wrench via Lowes)
Buy Now (10″ Wrench via Lowes)
In yesterday’s post about the new Milwaukee ratchets, someone asked about the pros and cons of a quick release button. Well, yesterday’s work was a great example.
I paired a long reach 1/4″ ball hex socket with a Wera Zyklop Speed ratchet. It’s a swivel-head ratchet with quick-release button. I should mention that it’s not a typical quick-release ratchet.
Shown here is a typical quick release ratchet, with a push-button unlock. These are Kobalt Pro90 ratchets.
Here’s a typical non-quick-release ratchet, the Proto 90T ratchet as mentioned in my 2017 Father’s Day gift guide.
The Wera Zyklop Speed has a large push button, but that wasn’t the problem. It works fine with Wera sockets, when you align the clearance hole. My ball hex bit socket doesn’t have a clearance hole, and although there are recesses, the ball detent didn’t engage well enough, and the socket kept pulling off the 3/8″ drive after final tightening of each bolt. It was an annoyance, although a mild one.
With a quick release, you have to be a little more conscious about how you apply pressure if necessary. In my case it was necessary because of how each fastener had to be accessed.
There are some times when quick-release ratchets are suitable or even preferred, other times when non-quick-release ratchets are better. Yesterday, I should have cleaned up and retrieved one of my non-quick-release ratchets, but I also benefited from the size and adjustable angle of the Wera. So, give some lose some. My non-quick-release flex-head ratchets (Gearwrench) aren’t locking, but my Wera is.
I also found myself wishing that I had a 3/8″ impact wrench on-hand. I had a compact 18V-class drill within reach, as well as a 12V-class drill and a 12V-class screwdriver, and those might have worked better for my needs due to their adjustable torque clutch. But… I don’t know where my 1/4″ hex to 3/8″ drive adapter went. I have a 1/4″ to 1/2″ adapter handy, but that wouldn’t help here.
Maybe I could have used a 1/4″ ball hex bit, but… I don’t have one. Or, I should say I don’t have one that’s long enough.
My 1/4″ PB Swiss Tools ball hex key is starting to show some wear. Honestly, as much as I’ve used it these past two years, I’m impressed, as I expected it to show wear sooner. Still, engagement is spot-on, and as always it was a joy to use.
The last tool to be discussed from the main photo is my Wera wobble socket extension, which I pulled from the same set as my 9/16″ socket. Wobble extensions are great to have for when a fastener is so close to an obstruction that you can’t quite fit or swing a ratchet otherwise. The Wera 3/8″ drive 3″ wobble extension is $13 at Amazon. If I were building up my ratchet and socket drive tool accessories up again, I’d probably buy a Tekton set ($32 via Amazon) and then upgrade once I knew which sizes and styles I used most.
Which of these tools would you want to learn more about?
- Irwin 8″ adjustable pliers
- Wera 3/8″ Zyklop Speed ratchet
- Wera 3/8″ wobble extension
- Wera 3/8″ drive 9/16″ 6pt socket
- Proto 1/4″ ball hex bit socket
- PB Swiss Tools 1/4″ ball hex key
Also, minor news – I changed my Instagram name, from @toolmag to @toolguyd.
I have the Knipex pliers wrench with the comfort handles. Love it.
Those Wera ratchets are super good. The half inch is rather short however.
Keep your pliers wrenches.
The 3/8″ is short too.
I vote the adjustable pliers or the Wera Zyklop. I’m in the market for a better roto-ratchet (versus the Husky I have now).
That was me asking about the reason for a non-quick release ratchet. I appreciate your take on it. I was trying to see if there was a reason I should add one to my toolbox considering I haven’t needed one so far. I can see maybe adding a 3/8″ just in case. There’s certainly times when I don’t want the socket to fall off.
The argument that it’s stronger doesn’t carry a lot of weight for me. I’d just switch up a size if I was pushing the ratchet’s limit. The only ratchet I’ve ever broken was a tiny bit ratchet (my favorite one incidentally – I have at least half a dozen different versions, but I liked that one best…).
They’re not mutually exclusive.
The pliers, I’m still working to test those. The Wera Zylop, I’ve owned that for years now and use it regularly.
If you haven’t been frustrated with socket changes or removal with your current ratchets, a quick-release might not be needed. With the Zyklop Speed, its locking swivel head and handle speed collar are more compelling features. You can swing the ratchet to a screwdriver-like orientation for fast low-torque turning. Then turn it to 90° for high torque. Intermediate angles are good for obstacle clearance.
The Zyklop is shorter than my other 3/8″ ratchets, which is something to consider. I wouldn’t want it to be my only ratchet, because I’d have to switch to 1/2″ or dig out a breaker bar too often.
While I’ve had some mishaps (most notably https://toolguyd.com/wera-zyklop-ratchet-engine-bay-mishap/), it’s a great tool and it has served me quite well. I bought the ratchet by itself, for $60 back in March 2010, the same time I bought my Knipex 10″ Pliers Wrench. Sometime between then and now I bought a 3/8″ socket set in inch sizing.
For me, it’s more about the fact that a push button ratchet requires almost no force to take the socket off.
One particular case is a constant PITA. Doing the spark plugs on my Subaru or Honda. Both have fairly deep holes so you need extensions, but they also don’t have a ton of room so you have to drop the spark plug socket down the hole, with the extension, then attach the ratchet. Taking it out, you have to remove the ratchet first. A quick change head requires you to hold the tiniest bit of the extension and pull the ratchet. But with the tight clearance and awkward angles, it’s easier said than done.
It’s also nice for those times that you want to leave an extension on the ratchet but need to change sockets often.
The zyclop is great for projects,not mechanics work and the Wera sockets work best with it..All of the Wera extensions and wobble heads work great for projects not automotive use.
…PB Swiss , nothing compares to their ball end allen wrenches..I don’t even know if anyone else makes a 1/20th ball end but them.
…..Sometimes nothing beats SnapOn,and wobble extensions ,sockets and wrenches are unbeatable…
On one of my sojourns through Germany, I bought my son-in-law a Wera Zyklop set that he wanted. Recently, he told me that they do not mix well with grease. I guess the plastic parts get dirty and are more difficult to clean versus polished chrome.
This review is a great example of, “Here’s stuff you probably have, most of it anyway, and reasons to add or change a few supplemental pieces.” Examining the different tool combinations in different deployment scenarios is valuable; most of us do that anyway – but usually right when we’re in the middle of something and cussing is involved.
For example, I’ve got wobble 3/8 & 1/2 shorty power bit adapter/extension dealies (for my impact tools), and reading this caused me to realize I’ve got a gap regarding my socket wrenches. Thanks!
Regarding the “quick release”, I think of that function more of a “positive lock”, demonstrated (or not) by your mixing makes of socket & wrench. That’s another consideration for well-equipped tool sets and a caution for those considering mixing manufacturers in upgrading/additions.
So, thanks again. Applications of tool combos will be more valuable to most of us in comparison to “new” tool introductions – due to cussing-reduction maybe?
“My ball hex bit socket doesn’t have a clearance hole, and although there are recesses, the ball detent didn’t engage well enough, and the socket kept pulling off the 3/8″ drive after final tightening of each bolt. It was an annoyance, although a mild one.”
The problem is not that the ratchet is a quick-release. The problem is the detents do not match the retention ball.
The annoyance can be more than mild, when working in tight quarters, where you don’t need to be losing and retrieving your tools instead of getting work done.