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Ignition wrenches are one of those tools you’ll never need until that one moment when Murphy’s messing with you, and then nothing else will do. Normal wrenches have a 30-degree offset in the head to allow for rotating hex bolts by thirty degrees at a time, but that’s too much for some very tight situations. That’s where ignition wrenches come in. With a 15-degree offset on one side and an 80-degree offset on the other, you only need five degrees of rotation to spin a bolt. Tedious, yes, but sometimes those small increments are all you can manage.

Pricing is reasonable from Craftsman, at $20 for a set of eight metric wrenches, and the same price for eight inch wrenches. Snap-On, naturally, has similar options at the stratospheric price of $224. Personally, I’ll take 91% off and go for the Craftsman set.

8-piece ignition wrench set, inches [Craftsman]
8-piece ignition wrench set, millimeters [Craftsman]

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10 Responses to Ignition Wrenches

  1. russ says:

    I have an old set of the combination (Craftsman), with one end is closed. They do come in handy in those tight areas.

  2. Mike47 says:

    Snap-On’s pricing seems to scream, “Don’t buy me!!!” I have to wonder how they stay in business.

  3. Guy says:

    Snap on does have some jaw dropping prices. Some of their tool are by far the best available, regardless of price. Then there are other that come from the same OEM that supplies Craftsman and the other brands. If you drink the coolaid they will tell you it’s all about the service. A pro will pay more for a tool that doesn’t damage a fastener, like a cheap tool might. Agreed, I buy that up to a point. But for the same tool and the same guarantee, how much is that service really worth? Apparently lots of professionals vote with their wallet or more likely their line of credit and keep making the payments. Some people just need the best. Maybe other think you can tell a craftsman by their tools ( I think this was really for the guys that made their own tools..but lots of mechanics apparently buy into it.) Or do these guys just buy into the brand? I wonder if they give their kids a hard time when they want the brand name sneakers? It really is fascinating.

  4. JB says:


    When you work at a shop or dealer and are trying to make flat rate having a snap-on guy come by in his truck on a reliable schedule is almost mandatory. It saves the tech time and money and can get you out of a jam when you can call the guy to bring you a tool. Having said that, I do agree with the craftsman=tool mentality comment. I have been laughed at for the assortment of tools in my box and for my hodgepodge box in general. I say it’s the craftsman not the tool.

  5. Joe C. says:

    Yeah, I’ve always thought that, “A mechanic (carpenter, etc.) is only as good as his tools,” is a very misunderstood phrase. Most people take it to mean that the tools make you better (i.e., if they had the tool, they would be as good as the skilled man), when it really means that even the best are limited by the tools they don’t have.

    Personally, being able to do something well without having the “proper” tool shows me more about someone’s abilities than what the phrase says.

  6. fred says:

    I know little about automotive tools so I can not comment on ignition wrenches – other than thinking that they must have some other use on modern cars where you no longer fiddle with installing breaker points.

    Other’s comments on craftsmanship are well taken. When I watch one of those antique shows on TV – I am humbled (as an amateur furniture maker) by thinking that in the 1700’s the high level of craftsmanship in both design and execution was achieved without the aid of CAD or power tools. I suspect that what tools were used (planes, scrapers, chisels, bit-braces, gouges, hand saws etc) were finely honed (not always in the literal sense) and placed in the hands of journeymen who had also “honed” their skills through years of apprenticeship and practice. I’m guessing that there was as many rough-hewn pieces made in past times – but what survives today were made by craftsman that were building furniture (probably houses too) to last for the ages.

    The businesses that I’m involved in have some elements of this tradition (e.g. formal and on-the-job training) but today’s workplace is also about productivity. I also observe a somewhat a new utilitarianism, which is perhaps a byproduct of the explosion of technology and consumerism. We don’t need to spend the money to build televisions to last for 50 years – because we know that the technology will change. I see a bit of this mentality in construction too – so we make compromises (cost/benefit calculations) in what we (architects, builders, customers) specify and the tools that we buy to implement those specifications. In specifying tools, I try to consider aspects like quality, price and capability to provide my crews with a chance for good craftsmanship with good productivity

  7. Fritz Gorbach says:

    I am normally a big voice in favor of snap on. They are some of my favorite tools, and I value the service, but in this case, they may be way off the mark.
    The snap on sets are nice. A coworker has both the open and combination sets in his toolbag, but I stick with the “cheap” craftsman set. Actually, I have several combination sets that I didn’t pay more than ten bucks for on sale.
    I will mention that I have never used these for ignition work, but I use them fairly frequently on small electric and pneumatic fittings on control systems. None of these things are tight enough(typically) to break even the cheapest wrench, and I find the fit and finish of the to be excellent. If you had a problem with one, Im sure it was a fluke, and should have been returned for warranty.
    By the way, I think your price for snapon was slightly inflated. Here are the listings from their web site.
    For reference, the Snap on set is 9 pieces for $151, available here, http://buy1.snapon.com/catalog/item.asp?P65=&tool=all&item_ID=5115&group_ID=555&store=snapon-store&dir=catalog
    and the combination midget wrench set is $191, here

  8. Fritz Gorbach says:

    btw – Snap on/blue point products which are not made by snap on typically do not have a list price that much higher than the same product purchased elsewhere, especially considering that often a snap on often accepts interest free payments on tools for 8-10 weeks. I have bought products such as irwin taps and dies and drill bits, imperial tubing tools, and misc auto tools, repackaged as snap on, all at less than big box prices by paying cash or waiting for an item to be on sale. My dealer also serves me well by greatly stretching the limits of the warranties and replacing items clearly not covered. Also, in his travels he will watch for used tools that I, or someone else might want, and lets us know who is selling what…regardless of whether or not he has a personal stake. Oh and when I’ve needed a specific tool at midnight on a sunday, or something like that, he has got out of bed and opened his home for me. Try getting the ignorant teenager behind the counter at sears to do that. Oh and he’s welcomed me to his personal shop to use equipment I don’t have. Oh, and lots of free shirts and hats and towels and toys and whatnot. And a connection to someone else who may have already solved a problem I have now. For example, I needed a specific hydraulic hose custom made late on a friday evening, and I couldn’t wait – one call and he found another customer who could make it and was close to his shop and would open for me.
    Anyhow, add all this up, and Snap on isn’t that expensive. There are lotss of dealers out there, and if yours isn’t servicing you properly, you should fire him and get another.

  9. chuck says:

    There is another point for snapon.
    absolute unlimted lifetime gaurrentee. and that means FOREZZVER

  10. TBayt says:

    Snap-On stays in business via Gov Contracts… I know my old boxes in my Marine Avi shop were full of Snap-On crap.

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