Gearwrench is a decent name when it comes to mid-level wrenches, ratchets, and other mechanics tools. I came across a 28pc combination wrench set at a great price, but it’s not a straightforward recommendation, making for what I feel could be an interesting reader discussion.
You see, there’s a catch here – this is a 6pt combination wrench set.
This is an all-in-one wrench set, meaning it gives you both SAE and metric wrenches, in the following sizes:
- 1/4″, 5/16″, 11/32″, 3/8″, 7/16″, 1/2″, 9/16″, 5/8″, 11/16″, 3/4″, 13/16″, 7/8″, 15/16″, 1″
- 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 mm
These wrenches have a full-polish finish, standard open end, standard 15° offset, and a 6pt box end.
Who should buy this wrench set?
Anyone who wants a good range of 6pt combination wrenches. I say good range because from 1/4″ to 1″ with no skipped sizes is a good SAE set, and the same is true for 6 to 19 mm, also with no skipped sizes.
But here’s the next question:
Who needs 6pt combination wrenches?
Fact: A 6pt wrench box end will have a more secure fit on hex fasteners than 12pt box ends or “universal” style box ends.
In other words, there’s less chance or rounding-off fasteners. You get a better fit, more engagement, less risk of damage.
6pt is better than 12pt.
When buying my first socket sets, I made sure to buy 6pt sockets for this reason. It wasn’t easy, as a lot of consumer sets give you 12pt sockets.
But with wrenches, I still do not own any 6pt combination wrenches. Why? Because 6pt restricts your access angle.
Let’s say a fastener is turned just beyond where you could access it with your wrench’s box end. If that wrench is a 12pt combination wrench, you have to rotate the tool 360/12, or 30° to engage the next flats. With a 6pt box end wrench, you have to rotate the tool 360/6, or 60°.
In order to turn that fastener, you need to double the swing arc for a 6pt wrench as you do for a 12pt wrench.
This isn’t a big deal for 6pt sockets being used with a ratchet or ratcheting accessories. But for a 6pt wrench, there’s no escaping the minimum engagement angle.
Have you ever worked with an open end wrench and been frustrated at being unable to turn a standard hex bolt or nut in one direction, only to flip the wrench and find that you still cannot engage its flats? A 6pt wrench might encounter similar difficulties.
So, who should buy 6pt combination wrenches? Anyone who KNOWS they want or need them. Everyone else will be better off with more common 12pt combination wrenches.
I have been tempted to buy a set of these Gearwrench 6pt combination wrenches – they are indeed a great value – with the idea that I would use them mainly as secondary wrenches, such as when turning a fastener with a wrench on one side, and needing a wrench on the other side to hold things steady. But, since I have fixed and ratcheting combination wrenches, and no shortage of smooth jaw pliers and adjustable wrenches, my temptation is more of a curiosity than any real need.
Do YOU prefer 6pt wrenches? Why? Have you bought a set only to leave them to collect dust?
What needs or types of uses could justify a set of 6pt wrenches?
Lastly, this set seems like a very good buy – 28 full polish Gearwrench-brand wrenches for ~$82. What’s the catch?
I’ve never rounded off a fastener or heard of anyone rounding off a fastener while using 12 point sockets or wrenches of the correct size for the fastener. The only time I’ve seen fasteners rounded is using an open end wrench, using pliers instead of a wrench, or using the wrong size tool for the fastener.
You are lucky to have never been in a less than ideal situation because:
(poor fastener quality + corrosion = destroyed fasteners regardless of using the correct size. I am not wholly convinced that 6 pt sockets help all that much when faced with a really corroded fastener but I reach for them all the same when faced with a problem situation. I figure it cannot hurt. The real key is to use chemicals and heat whenever possible to avoid having to break out one’s gorilla strength.
In our fabrication business – we had clients who brought us – or brought us to items where seized fasteners were preventing O&M.
We had various approaches that we would try depending on the situation and how mission-critical the item was deemed. EDM was usually our last resort – but as you say chemicals and heat can sometimes do wonders. We had some induction heating equipment that sometimes was useful in places where a torch was not appropriate.
Those bolt/nut grabbing “TURBO” sockets – some made by Hudson Bearings and sold under various brands – plus their copiers- also will work sometimes.
I work in the oilfield and couldn’t agree more with this statement. I love my old Craftsman 6pt wrenches.
“I’ve never rounded off a fastener”
That only indicates you never worked on an old car, where the ‘right size is something determined by how much bolt has not rusted away. Because everybody who did has done that.
That’s fine, luckly you! We all hope it will never ever happen to you because it can be a total bitch to solve. Can we now agree that 6 points is better then 12 for this reason?
You beat me to it. When you’re fixing things there is only one guarantee, you’re going to round off and break off bolts eventually.
That being said I don’t think I’d want a 6 point wrench unless it was one of the Tekton ratcheting ones.
6-point ratcheting? Oh my! I haven’t shopped for ratcheting wrenches in 5+ years and 6-points weren’t really around then. I’ll be picking up some Tektons. Thanks for the tip!
then you don’t work much with rusted nuts and impact wrenches.
I’ll give you a vise grip and let you hold ~500 nuts as your hands get rattled numb all day long (I got stuck doing this late last year, and it was the worst experience of my life.) Because a 12 pt wrench isn’t going to do much, especially when all the nuts are harder to engage due to being seated in the valley of a corrugated metal sheet.
Not saying a 6 pt would save you every single time either over a 12 pt, but it would definitely help….
12-pt wrenches used to be necessary for working on farm equipment, as many fasteners on older machines had square heads.
Yes, I’m dating myself!
I had a set of 8 pt sockets on the farm.
I have a small set of those odd-ball 8-point sockets. For some of the old stuff, they’re completely worth it to have around. I always wondered what I’d ever use them for until I had to work on old tractors and Model A Fords.
If I am using a wrench, it is because of access limits. A 12 point is usually necessary. I have a set of 6 point, but I can’t remember the last time I specifically used them.
I absolutely have rounded off fasteners with a 12 point, but the ones I can think of would have probably rounded with a 6 point as well. Anywhere salt is on the road, the exposed reads of fasteners get wrecked in short order.
Impact sockets are primarily 6 pt for good reason.
Put a regular chrome 12 pt on it with a 12 pt wrench on the other side and you’ll round your bolt and nut much faster than just using a 6 pt socket with a 6 pt wrench.
6 pts at least give you a better chance.
Call me old but I like 6 pt wrenches and sockets. I have 6 and 12 and reach for them indiscriminately when just tightening/loosening something but when I want to lean on them I want 6 pt. I use ratcheting wrenches whenever I can because they are handy but I wouldn’t put a cheater on them. I also really like Gearwrench. They may be midline product-wise but they are so sleek compared to my old Craftsman. That’s my 2 cents worth.
They can be handy for mangled heads…but so is my actelyne torch and welder.
I ended up buying a cheapy set of offset wretches at HF…needed to tighten up some new struts in a car…hex in the shaft…nut on the outside…recessed down an inch or so in the strut tower.
Always a use for these special tools…you can buy good stuff on sale when it’s on sale and it may sit in a drawer for years…or you pay full price and scramble around trying to find it in town when you need it now…living 30 minutes plus from town changes the equation.
Whoever designed this set doesn’t have a clue about Metric bolt head sizes. Looks like they just made sure every conceivable size is covered whether it’s useful or not.
I know some chap will chime in and say they use 15 & 18 ‘all the time’ but those sizes are just not common. Nor is 9 & 12.
Guess I’m that guy.
I use 15 and 18 (a lot) when repairing my Audis.
Yup. All day long. Audi A4 Quattro. Seems like most everything is a 15 or 18…
I have a Honda ATV that uses a lot of 12mm fasteners, and the oil drain plug is a 15mm. I do a lot of maintenance work and probably only used my 9 and 18 a couple times but I was sure glad that I had them. Often they skip mm sizes on a combo set like this because they cross over to SAE sizes but I prefer my SAE and mm to be in separate drawers so prefer a set like this. I’ve been looking for a decent set of 6 sided wrenches that included the 13/16 and 15/16 as they are common on farm machinery and a 6 point combo wrench is the best thing I have found for holding a bolt head when using an impact wrench to remove a locking but (not a nylock style but full steel locking nut). This whole set is not a lot more than just the two sizes I mentioned bought individually. Looks like I have an order to make, lol.
15mm is probably the most common nut size on bicycle wheels, so when I worked as a bike mechanic, that was always my first wrench to try.
The rear suspension on 2nd gen Grand Cherokee is predominantly 18mm. I own two GearWrench 18MM just from that project.
Drives me crazy that Harbor Freight likes to skip the 18MM; I don’t feel the SAE close equivalent is close enough. But, maybe Jeep rear suspension is a narrow use case.
15 and 18 are common sizes on Jeep Wranglers and 18 is common on a RZR UTVs.
I like these way better than the AmazonBasics sets from yesterday.
Not for Mechanics (If this is your only combination set), or anyone working in tight spaces. IF you already own a 12 point set this is a great price.
Back in the day before high tooth ratchets, 12 point wrenches and sockets were a must. Since we went beyond 32 point ratchets, six point sockets have become the standard. Twenty years’ ago, most manufacturers provided larger 12 point socket and wrench sets than 6 point.
In my experience if a 12 point wrench won’t get it, a 6 point is only marginally less apt to come off and round the fastener. 6 point sockets do however make a difference.
I just looked up sets of wrenches on McMaster-Carr for my company. Then looked over to amazon. Bought 2 of these sets… I think it was last Thursday. Weird Timing!
Dave the tool
I agree with the author. When I started buying tools 40 years ago I bought tool sets with 12pt sockets as they were so common and I don’t know that much about tools. Today, I NEVER reach for a 12 point socket and they just gather dust in my toolbox. I do have some 6 point smaller sized sets of combo wrenches and they gather dust too! In summary 6pt for sockets and 12 point for combo wrenches!
It really depends on where you live and what you work on.
If you live in the rust belt and work on cars you probably have at least some 6 point wrenches, if not an extensive selection. You need every advantage when working on rusted and salt corroded fasteners that have not been touched in a decade or more.
If you primarily work on clean or new fasteners that live in less extreme environments almost anything will work.
If you work in aviation you probably have far more 12 point sockets and wrenches as they have far more 12 point fasteners than other fields.
Basically pick tools that are appropriate for you needs.
Lastly with regards to Metric sizes, it again depends on what you work on. If it is of European or German design the fasteners will have head sizes based on their standards, Where as if it is a Japanese product the fastener head sizes differ because JIS standards are different. unless you know for sure what sizes you need and don’t need it is nice to just cover every possible size and be done with it. The problem with “Standards” is the second “S”
Maybe an ancillary, but similar question: I’m a guy that works on my own cars for basic stuff (oil changes, mid level fixes, etc). I still take it into the shop for anything serious or beyond my ability to diagnose. I also do a lot around the house in renovations, etc. I’m pretty well covered on the power tool side.
But, with hand tools, I need a guide. What should someone like me get? I need a socket set and ratchets, wrenches, impact sockets, auto specific pliers, and then there’s all the basics: pliers, screwdrivers, etc. (Most of my cheap Stanley tools got stolen, and I’d like to replace with something better)
I’m leaning towards just buying everything at Harbor Freight, but even there, what’s the best option? When’s the best time to buy?
Gearwrench stuff is a pretty good option for pro-mechanic level tools at a consumer-friendly price, especially if you grab deals online. The Kobalt stuff from Lowe’s and Husky from HD also offers some good tools with lifetime warranty. HF can be an ok choice if you have one close and make use of sale prices and coupons. Best bet might be to handle stuff in person and see what you personally prefer, or just accumulate new tools as deals come up throughout the holidays and afterwards. Holidays can be a great time to get deals on tools, but even better can be the after-holiday clearance sales.
6 points do grip better, but I rarely use this type of wrench anyway. I’d much rather use 12 point if it saves me another trip to the tool chest. I clearly didn’t think this tool buying binge through anyway, my wife and son expect me to fix everything now. Just my 2 cents from a honey doer!
The yesterday/previous post about the Amazon wrenches ticked me to look at the Tekton wrenches – and they made a point of their “radiused corners” inside their six-point sockets to prevent round-off; keeps pressure on the flats rather than the corners, which at least sounds reasonable. That geometry might be useful here too…
Y’know… I have a Socket Set that came with wrenches, and an old store-brand set with wrenches included… To this day, a minimum of 20 years later… I still do not know exactly what kinds of wrenches they are on either set.
Honestly, I only ever use a wrench when it’s the only tool that fits, or when I’m holding a nut or bolt for a power tool. That’s it. Now you have me questioning whether or not I’ve been doing things wrong for 2/3rds of my life.
As to “Who should buy these”… I don’t think that’s a fair question to ask. If they’re relatively inexpensive (and they are, for Gearwrench standards) and you HAPPEN to want a spare set to toss somewhere specific (Truck, Camper, Garage, Etc.) then it’s worth getting them. Even on their worst product, Gearwrench is one of the better brands, so… There’s genuinely no reason NOT to grab it if you can.
I am not sure I need them, personally. But that’s no knock against them, that’s against me. Between lack of space, and lack of use, they’d be wasted on me.
Have an old craftsman set I got up at 2am on black friday to get. I wanted the 12point but 6 point was all they had left in SAE. I begrudgingly bought them because I needed a set and was poor as $#it back then lol. Very glad I did. As others have said working on older tractors and cars where corrosion is an issue, it makes a big difference. Even if the fastener is not corroded, but smaller than say 1/2” and he-maned on there by the last guy, I reach for a 6 point.
But in my opinion you need both as somtimes access is an issue. Unless you have a ratcheting box end. Then I guess 6 point would work for everything. Asumming the box end ratchet was strong enough and compact enough. Hmmm now that I think about it you probably do need both.
Buy the 12 point first as its more universal. Then grab the 6 when you are refining your tool set.
It’s too bad GW doesn’t make these in a double box end. It really wastes a lot of space having set after set of combination wrenches in the toolbox when you really just need the box end of the sets because of how it works.
I hate sets that include SAE and metric wrenches.
Haven’t touched anything SAE in, probably, 20 years. I have no need or use for SAE wrenches.
I’m kinda late to this party, but I’ve used that metric set quite a bit, and I think it’s particularly well-suited to my use case: working on bicycles. With bikes, that specific range is really ideal. You’ll mostly be using the 6-10mm range, but a few specific use cases call for wrenches in the 15-19mm range. Like when using a cone wrench, you want a second wrench of equal size, and it’s better to use a more robust general purpose wrench for that imo.
I do sometimes run into the problem you’re describing, but it’s a rare issue on bicycles, since you’re mostly dealing with exposed stuff. If it is an issue, you can cheat by using the open end and flipping it, alternating between each stroke. I know this is using a wrench the wrong way and a shortcut to damaging wrenches or fasteners, but with the lower torque required for most bike stuff, it’s not a big deal. I’ve done this to tighten fasteners with very narrow access angles.