When we first saw the AutoWrench, we thought, “Pretty cool. Looks a little flimsy.” It’s packaging promised it’d stand up to a pretty beefy 225 ft-lbs of torque, so we had to find out for ourselves. We constructed a simple test rig and pushed it all the way to failure.
Read on for our results complete with lots of photos and even a video — a Toolmonger first — of the first test to failure.
The AutoWrench hangs from the store shelf in the now ubiquitous form-fitted clamshell packaging with a very inviting “try me” label affixed. The packaging leaves the wrench’s two-way acutator switch open so you (and everyone else) can play with it before buying.
The good news: It’s fun to play with, and will probably increase sales. The bad news: Everyone else’ll play with it, too. You’re likely to receive a tool with at least partially-drained batteries.
Holding the AutoWrench, we were surprised by its heft. Even though a good bit of its middle is made of plastic, the batteries more than make up the difference. The battery box is quite large as well, but is surprisingly unobtrusive. It helps that Black & Decker made the battery box rounded so that it actually fits well into your hand.
The AutoWrench’s magic starts with you push the two-way rocker switch on its side just below its jaws; This switch actuates a small motor to automatically move the jaws open and closed.
There’s not too much to say except that it’s very easy to motor the jaws down to the size you need. Its “clutch” functionality works well, and the jaws stop right up close to whatever’s between them. It’s a soft grip; You can motor the jaws closed on your finger to see. (There’s no need for the wrench to apply unneeded pressure to the item it’s closed around.)
We used the AutoWrench around the shop for a few days, and enjoyed the convenience it offers. But we couldn’t get that nagging feeling out of our mind that it was more flimsy than it felt. It is largely plastic after all. We had to find out in real terms how much torque it could handle, so we set out to assemble a rig to test it.
Next: On page 2 we build the test rig.