A reader asked if I had come across Irwin Vise-Grip’s locking wrench tools, shown above, which feature uniquely shaped jaws that lock onto 3 sides of hex-shaped fasteners.
These locking pliers are kind of like a cross between standard Vise-Grip locking pliers and strong fastener-gripping tools, such as Knipex Raptor pliers or the Channellock Nutbuster.
I actually purchased the 7-inch version a little over 15 years ago, model 7LW, with cushion-grip handles.
It has been several years since I’ve seen my Vise-Grip locking wrench, and I cannot say I have missed it at all.
I’m not even sure if I still have it, or if I gave it away. I kept it in my locking pliers drawer for a couple of years, but it rarely saw any use.
In my opinion, this is really a very specialized deliberate-use tool. Even without the handle grips, it’s kind of bulky, although no bulkier than other locking pliers.
In theory, it won’t mar fasteners as much as curved jaw pliers with sharp teeth. But in practice, I have yet to come across suitable tasks where it’s more helpful than cumbersome.
Don’t get me wrong, there were no real faults to it, I just found it to be redundant anytime I also had strong pliers, breaker bars, or curved jaw locking pliers available.
It could be a great tool for specific applications, but it turned out I thought I needed far more than I actually did or do.
There are other variations, such as by Gedore – but they’re all still very specialized in nature.
It’s an interesting tool, but not one I would advise anyone to buy unless they know exactly how and where they would use it.
I think that problem for me is that I tend to jump straight from standard drive tools to pliers and then aggressive pliers such as more common straight or curved jaw locking pliers.
Maybe some users will find this style of locking pliers handy, but it didn’t work out that way for me. I thought this would be a great addition to my toolbox, but it never quite fit in.
There are 3 sizes:
- 4″ – 4LW, also described as “item no. 8”
- 9/16″ max jaw capacity
- 7″ – 7LW, also described as “item no. 4”
- 3/4″ max jaw capacity
- 10″ – 10LW, also described as “item no. 2”
- 1-1/8″ max jaw capacity
Online listings can be confusing, as the number 4 tool has a 7″ length, and the number 8 tool has a 4″ length.
Price: $12 and up
If you’ve used this style of locking pliers, have your experiences been different from mine?