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If you read this site, you probably spend a lot of time wondering how they put things together, or better yet, how you’d take them apart. Take a tub drain, for instance: How do you remove the old one so you can replace it? Superior Tool makes a tub drain wrench like this dumbbell wrench to help you get the job done.

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Browsing the tool section of Lowe’s today, I noticed yet another ratcheting adjustable wrench. We’ve previously covered these type of wrenches here, here, and here, but this wrench from Stanley-Bostitch uses a completely different ratcheting mechanism than the other wrenches we’ve covered.

This is by no means a review, but I do have some initial thoughts about the wrench after playing with it in the store. I tried the ratcheting action on the plastic nut Lowe’s had on the display, and to ratchet around a fastener, the adjustable jaw has a spring-loaded face that moves upward, allowing the fastener to slip in the jaws when you turn it one direction. It also stays in position when you turn the wrench in the other direction.

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Ridgid designed this ONESTOP wrench to be the only wrench you need to install angle and straight stops, faucet nuts, washer/dryer/dishwasher legs, compression couplings, and other fittings. Actually, it’s two separate wrenches — the flare-style wrench stores in the open-end handle.

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We’ve posted about ratcheting adjustable wrenches from Sears before. Now it looks like they’re selling a more promising ratcheting adjustable wrench from Schroeder. Unlike the laminated steel Reflex, the Schroeder wrench is actually forged from chrome-vanadium steel and heat treated.

The wrench appears to ratchet by using a spring-loaded worm gear that allows the adjustable jaw to move when it turns in one direction and probably jams the jaw against the fastener in the other. A switch on the side of the wrench controls whether the worm gear moves, allowing the jaw to ratchet, or remain fixed.

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I have to admit, I’m not entirely sure how these work, but they look like something from the end of Inspector Gadget’s forearm. They’re for precisely torquing large bolts in tight spaces, apparently mounting on the end of a long handle and accepting hydraulic feed and return lines. Unless I miss my guess, an internal pressure regulator determines how much torque is exerted.

If anyone’s ever used one of these, what are they like? The baddest torque tool I’ve ever used was a 3/4″-drive impact wrench, which is probably a pushover compared to these suckers.

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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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Whether you call it a Saltus Wrench or a flex combination wrench, it still looks like you left your sockets alone in the dark with your wrenches for too long. I remember running into one of these wrenches in my dad’s toolbox as a kid and thinking, “What the hell is this for?” Given the proliferation of ratcheting box end wrenches and other innovations, most people probably don’t run into these wrenches anymore.

The open end and the socket on one of these wrenches are the same size, and the socket isn’t removable. The socket usually rotates on the end of the wrench, somewhat like a socket on the head of a breaker bar — this setup might get you into some areas too tight for a ratchet and socket.

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Alligator or “Goat” wrenches have been around for a while. The name “alligator” alludes to the shape of the jaws which look like alligator jaws, but I’m not sure how the name “goat” became attached to these type of wrenches. Two different companies market what appears to be the identical wrench under the two traditional names of Goat Wrench and Alligator Wrench.

Along with the traditional use of turning iron and steel pipes, the wrench has been re-purposed for turning hex and square nuts from 9/16″ to 1-1/8″.  It’s designed so you can use ratcheting action to turn nuts without repositioning the jaws. The 12″ long wrench also has 3/8″ through 5/8″ thread restorers — we assume the middle one is 1/2″ –  and the funny-looking jaw can also be used as a hammer.

Made from forged steel and chrome plated, the wrench weighs 1 lb. 7 oz.  You can purchase an Alligator wrench for about $73 shipped from Craftwork Tools.

Goat Wrench [Corporate Site]
Alligator Wrench [GMP]
Alligator Wrench [Craftwork Tools]

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GMP Tools manufactures pentagonal head bolts to secure manhole covers. That’s right, not square, not hex, but pentagonal — another case of security through obscurity. Of course, if you sell bolts with heads that have an odd number of sides you need to supply the corresponding tools to turn them, so they also sell two different sockets: one with a 7/16″ hex drive for impact tools, another with a 19mm hole which you can turn with a rod.

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You’ll see tons of wrenches that are insulated by coating the handle, but to meet the 1000V ATSM standard rating, Klein does something a little different: they embed two ratcheting box end wrenches in see-through plastic so you can visually confirm they aren’t touching. Grab one end of the wrench and there’s no path for the current to flow to the other.

Made in the USA, Klein’s Lineman’s insulating box wrench features 9/16″ and 3/4″ ratcheting 12-point sockets. There’s no reversing mechanism; to switch from tightening to loosening, just flip the wrench over. They mold grooves into the handle so you can get a good grip of the wrench.

It’ll be interesting to see if they come out with similar insulated wrenches in other sizes. For now, you can purchase one of these insulated wrenches for $44, except the Klein Connection says you must order this wrench in multiples of three.

Insulating Box Wrench [Klein Connection]

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