I’ve been having a friendly debate with Tools in Action. They posted about adjustable universal wrenches recently, and are convinced that these are pretty handy to have around.
They posted about the Geardrive brand specifically, but that brand sold out on Amazon. These Duratech wrenches appear to be identical.
All of these universal box-end style wrenches remind of the Husky Total Socket from a couple of years ago:
The Husky wrench was decent, and priced at $10 for one wrench size. This Duratech has 2 sizes for $24.
I eventually gave my wrench away, as I never really used it. It wasn’t bad, I just didn’t find it particularly useful for my needs and work habits.
Is this a gimmick?
So I teased Tools in Action’s Dan a little bit, about 2013 calling and wanting their tool of the holiday season back, but he made a good point – this could be perfect for the times when you need a backer wrench when turning a bolt and nut from both sides.
Did I make a mistake in giving mine away? Is this something that ToolGuyd readers might be interested in again?
Inherent to the design, you can use either wrench on inch or metric sizes fasteners. The 2-piece set comes with 8″ and 10″ tools that together cover “44 sizes” from 3/16″ to 1-1/16″ and 5 to 27 mm.
Is it practical and useful, or another gimmicky holiday gift idea that one buys or receives during the holiday season but never really uses, which is what I experienced?
Side note – I think this might also make handy punch or cold chisel holders, but don’t tell that to Dan.
Here’s what they said about it:
Got suckered into these. Clunky, big, not hot, another gimick. Get a pliers wrench if you need a universal tool. Maybe can see the case for a car tool, but do you really need to carry open ended wreches? If you do, you probably need limited sizes and and would be better served with 1 or 2 specific wrenches or a small roll up set.
X2. Pliers Wrench is the real tool that does the same thing – except it does it well.
Too expensive? Irega/ Channellock adjustable wrench. Also a high quality tool that accomplishes the same task but better.
let’s see him use that wrench to take that spark plug out of that engine in the link posted above.
apparently good for scratching up finishes too
It’s another tool designed to appeal to people who don’t use tools.
This is such an accurate statement. So many of these type of ‘tools’ floating around.
seriously I’ve got plenty of other ways on hand to round off a bolt head if I need it :p
Tis the season – now and Father’s Day is when “tools” like these get sold.
When looking for different sorts of wrenches – I came across these – branded “Lightool” and made by the well respected Japanese firm of Asahi Metal Industry Co. At least these look like they might be both a bit different and possibly functional:
I’ve been looking at that brand on Amazon JP, can’t figure out what to buy to try. Been looking at their combo wrenches, not the open-ended ones. They also have skeletonized ratchets.
I bought a thin/low profile 11/13mm wrench off eBay a while back to use as a replacement for the stamped collet wrenches of my Makita RT0701 and Carbide Compact Router — it’s been quite nice and a great quality of life upgrade.
Regret not getting the full set.
If these are low profile enough, I’ll probably get a set, for my bicycle work if nothing else.
Koko The Talking Ape
They are probably better than nothing, though I don’t see how they’re any better than ordinary adjustable wrenches (and pliers wrenches are superior.)
Also, I don’t see the point of the smaller one in the Geardrive pair. The larger one covers the range the smaller ones does, and more.
I agree, definitely falls into the ‘better than nothing’ category…..
Now if they can make that thing into a ratcheting adjustable wrench, that might spark my interest. Or an adjustable ratcheting open-ended wrench! There’s probably one out there somewhere…..
My experience is these kinds of tool are useless gimmicks. I bought a Bionic Grip wrench some years back because it looked potentially useful.
It’s hanging on my wall next to the workbench, next to the sockets and wrenches. I find that every time I take it down and try to use it, it either doesn’t fit in the required space (when a properly sized wrench does) or the jaws won’t get small enough to grip the workpiece… you’d need a set of three or four of them to grab everything you need, and it turns out that a channel lock plier hanging next to it always does the trick better and with more flexibility.
In five years I’ve probably found a use for it…once.
I remember seeing those a few years back and thought they would be useful kind of like Knipex pliers wrench are but never found them and discovered pliers wrench.
Any tool like this that remains in weird brands and never progresses further is a gimmick.
The ones that work appear everywhere eventually.
I would say not for me. But I could maybe see where someone without a real tool set might find it useful once or twice a year if it lived in their kitchen junk drawer to snug up a random loose nut or bolt. I haven’t used one, but just by the design I highly doubt it would stand up to much torque without breaking or stripping the fastener though.
Skye A Cohen
I would think the bulk would kill it’s utility. There are enough times where it wouldn’t work because the large head that what’s the point? Also as has been pointed out already it’s solving a problem that adjustable wrenches are better at solving.
Plierwrench or adjustable won’t suffice? Then get the correct wrench.
Thing is, you can get a more useful set of actual combination wrenches with a lifetime warranty for way, way less than that set of gimmick wrenches, which will fit better, and give way more access with an open end and angled 12 point box end.
At black friday/sale prices, you can also add in a set of adjustable wrenches or a set of sockets and a ratchet and still have money left over.
It’s just metal in a cool looking shape they hope to sell because it cost them nothing to recycle an old design for the gimmick tool gift season.
It’d really be great if those with the power to do so would stop these obviously gimmick tools from being regurgitated over and over and over and over again, or ever being considered to begin with. There are so many better, more functional products these companies could be selling, that would actually cost them even less to make and be even better for profit. There are obviously more important issues and massive problems that need solving rather than cracking down on companies making junk tools for quick profit, sure, but at some point, it’d be good to deal with this rather than just expecting ‘the market to decide’, since this stuff keeps getting made even when it doesn’t sell well.
Maybe handy for a person in maintenance to be able to make quick adjustments with minimal tools but the guys in our shop all use crescent wrenchs. For the most part a gimmick I think
If you were space constrained in a mobile setup that doesn’t focus on motorized equipment (and thus won’t take a bigger set of wrenches and a set of sockets ) and only need something infrequently; then yes, maybe. Sometimes you need something to hold a nut, tweak something, … . There are instances where adjustable head wrenches are too big. The same could of course happen with the head of this thing. I could see this being something just in case that hides in an extra toolbox.
But, I seriously question practicality. I have a few Kobalt stocking stuffer tools (like the auto-adjusting vise grips, replaceable blade scissors, …) , that I maybe use once a year, they are major disappointments … and probably stuff I should donate or just recycle.
Had the husky, too. Took me several months before I realized it had been stolen, and I wasn’t upset when I did.
If you want a cheap, small foot print, set of back up wrenches, I would rather have Indian made Harbor freights or Chinese Craftsman wrench sets. Although you bring up a good point about it’s use as a potential chisel holder.
I contemplated getting the Husky when it was on clearance to carry in my tractor tool box since I have a limited amount of space to carry wrenches. I never did though and eventually installed a larger box that I could fit a full socket set in.
I saw the Geardrive set on Amazon a while back, thought about it for a little bit, then decided that the mechanism just crossed the good idea/gimmicky threshold enough for me to spend the $24 on. I brought them to work, they sat in my main toolbox for a while, then got downgraded to the drawer full of infrequently used tools without ever actually having been used. I might leave them in my office at our remote site where I don’t keep any tools, just for those quick jobs that pop up so I don’t have to drive back to the main building.
Definitely “not”. This one gets swiped left***
***I believe that’s the online dating vernacular for I’m not interested. However I really have no clue and I’m not socially relevant. I met my lady friend at a bar back when people used to talk to people. You know like actually talk to people, in person. Not like friends online. I’m a technology curmudgeon I know lol
I had one like that. I gave it to the kid next door. He was so happy. Later I bought him a combination socket set when he went to college. He was so happy. He said “Now I can get rid of the crappy wrench you gave me. ” It’s good to teach them while their young.
Craftsman had something like this as a what I now recognize as a holiday deal many years ago (late 90’s). My dad wanted one to put in his tool bag so we kids bought it for him. It had the appeal of an adjustable Crescent wrench but with a box end so it wouldn’t slide off. I believe that there was a slight lip or wall that would allow it act more like a socket or offset wrench. The promise was good and the idea it gripped from like a socket was good considering that we couldn’t always load up a full compliment of sockets or wrenches for little fixes AND it solved the issue that adjustable wrenches would slip off of nuts.
To that last point, it did not work any better than an open-ended Crescent wrench. They grip on the side while this grabs the corners. In tight spaces, if you could not dial the size just right, it did more to round the nuts than a traditional wrench. It didn’t last long in the bag but part of me hopes to find it while we are cleaning out his tools. I suspect that this tool will have the same issue that it will round the nuts if it is not perfectly centered. I could see this a road bike tool because you usually have clearer access but even then, if it is on there tight, this may round a nut on your bike in the field and make it worse.
As you said, it looks identical to the Husky version I fell for a few years ago. That one, being straight-ended and clunky, barely fits anywhere you’d actually want a wrench and the screw mechanism is so loosely threaded it sometimes slips, potentially rounding off the nut/bolt corners. Since it’s neither open ended, nor ratcheting (by design, obviously) it’s a pain to turn a nut or bolt on/off in any situation except one where you have clearance to turn in a full circle.
I threw it in the truck toolbox “just in case” I need and don’t have a better option but given the choice I’d much rather use a pliers-wrench or adjustable wrench which work better and are more flexible. Never touched the thing since.
The backer wrench idea sounds like perhaps the best, limited use for it if you can keep it tight. I may stow mine with my sockets for doing that with lags etc.
I was fascinated by this ages ago, and bought the Husky set — one is in a frequently used tool roll, the other was exiled to my truck, neither has been that useful, mostly because of the bulk around the fastener and looseness/coarseness of the threading as observed by KG makes it potentially worse than useless.
I would really like to see an implementation with the sort of double threading recently used in the MetMo Cube Grip from Kickstarter:
(I’m a backer and still waiting on delivery)
Pair it with a stronger alloy which reduced the bulk around the fastener end and it might actually be useful.
Mike (the other one)
The idea of it seems better than the execution, but I feel like its usefulness is limited.
Frankly I would not trust it for high-torque applications. If it fails, I could see it causing injury, so hard pass for me.
The only useful improvements on traditional adjustable wrenches I have seen are the Knipex pliers wrench and the odd locking adjustable wrench that Stanley makes.
Everything else is just a solution in search of a problem.
I don’t know how I would use this. I’ve seenthem before. I could see a small one being some useful on say a bike – but modern bikes are mostly inside hex now I know my mountain bike is all socket cap screw or 2 torx sizes.
On a car – again limited use.
I tell people all the time on a modern car (built after 1996) what you need is either a metric 3/8 drive socket set running 8-19mm and or a combo wrench set of similar range. The sockets are more useful honestly. a few screw drivers, and a adjustable wrench.
I bought one (or a set?) Years ago because I saw it on sale and thought it might be useful. I think it’s still in the package in a box somewhere.
I will say I have a lot of tools although I do use them daily.
I might give it to someone less tool endowed when I come across it.
I received the identical Husky set a couple of years ago as a gift. I had them in a back-up tool roll for about a year & then gave them away.
Nothing will ever work as well as an adjustable wrench or the Knipex
pliers wrench. Just another Christmas/Father’s Day piece of junk designed to trick unknowing gift givers.
Having one would be better than no wrench at all in an emergency. I like the idea of cold steel chisel holder to save your fingers. May be just the use for it. These have been around for decades. The Pocket Socket from around the turn of the most recent century. Check ebay and you and find versions from as early as the 50’s.
I came back to laugh with other folks experiences and opinion of these, but I actual remember the random use I did find it excelled at!-when trying to drop/fish mule tape or jet line straight down some tray or really any congested, multi-story path for an upward cable pull, this thing was perfectly shaped, heavy enough, and non-essential to a T for being the random, weighed thing I tied the lowering end of said string to ensure it didn’t snag or coil, or swing while feeding out a hundred or more feet of light string/rope. Common items before/since would be crap like a big socket or bolt, random wrench, repurposed plumb-bob, any chunk of metal with a feasible tie-point. This thing was perfect, though lol Long enough it could guide and slide past crap, and dead center hang tied through the “eye.” Any way, apologies for the ramble, but there’s one PRO column tick from me lol
I’ve definitely used this style of wrench as a punch/chisel holder.
Pocket Titanium version, expensive, but definitely useful in some situations.
An excellent example of the potential here — if the bigidesign version had the same sort of mechanical advantage for the movement I’d probably buy one — got the Metmo Grip I linked above instead.
I bought a nicely made Swedish one like that maybe 35 years ago. I used it maybe once. Two different sized Crescent wrenches would be handier.
Mini-vice grips are my go-to tool for backing up my wrench or ratchet. It doesn’t take a big, strong wrench to keep a nut from spinning. If you don’t want to risk marring the backup nut, you can smooth the sharp gripping teeth or grind them off completely.