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Here’s another idea to add to the “Why didn’t someone think of this earlier?” file: the X-Beam.  It’s a ratcheting combination wrench with a 90-degree twist in the center that lets you bear down on the wide flat side instead of the “knife-edged” side.

GearWrench’s marketing material says this increases the contact area with your hand by 500%, but anyone who’s wrenched on their car (or anything else) for more than a couple of hours won’t need numbers to recognize the benefit of this simple design change; It just doesn’t hurt as much.

The X-Beams are also up to 25% longer than standard combination wrenches, and (of course) their box-end includes the ratcheting mechanism that put GearWrench on the map. 

We’ll bring you more about the X-Beam when we have the chance to really wail on one — the way you undoubtedly will when you use them — but in the meantime we can tell you that the early version we tried out feels great.  Pushing on the flat side of the wrinch seems unusual, but is very comfortable and even natural.  You’re gonna be able to push some pounds with it — serious pounds.

Look for the GearWrench on shelves at NAPA Auto Parts stores (and elsewhere) this October — just in time for Christmas shopping — in 5, 9, and 12 piece sets starting at $50 and topping around around $170.

X-Beam Wrenches [GearWrench]

Update: In the meantime, GearWrench is giving away 10 sets via an online-registration-type contest.

 

8 Responses to Finds: GearWrench’s New X-Beam

  1. Dean says:

    While I really like my GearWrench set, I find that they’re a little too fragile for seriously stuck nuts and bolts. I’ve ruined a couple of their wrenches that way. So while I love the new X-Beam design, (brilliant!), I wonder how the gear mechanism will hold up to all that increased torque and leverage.

  2. David says:

    This is a really cool product. As a mechanics, I have used GearWrench for many years and had no problems with the GearWrench’s strength. Where can I get this product?

  3. Nigel says:

    Dean, might I suggest you use a bit of common sense with your tools? Obviously a rachet design will never be as strong as a plain bit of steel. Rachets are for speed on a socket drive, not for power. That’s why one end is still solid steel!

  4. Harry Zier says:

    For those of you that use your gearwrenches as breaker bars, Sears has come out with their own x beam fully polished wrench sets minus the ratcheting box end. Instead, there is a traditional 12 point fixed box end. They look fairly stout and shiney. They run about $80 for either metric or standard sizes.

  5. Steve O says:

    David – you can find this stuff at Industrial Distributors (Fastenal, MSC, etc) or mobile dealers (sometimes Snap-on, Matco, etc)

  6. MT says:

    In response to Nigel’s comment from almost a year ago, and more advice to Dean…

    True, use of these ratchets for high-torque situations should be avoided, and ratchets in general are not as strong as plain steel. (For standard ratchets, larger (1/2″ square drive instead of 3/8″, for example) can mitigate the problem some, and maybe using a ratchet with less-fine ratcheting, too. (Although ratchet quality, design and strength can vary quite a bit.))

    … however, it’s not accurate to say that “that’s why one end is still solid steel!” An open end shouldn’t be used for high-torque application, either, lest you spread the jaws, round the fastener, etc. This is why I’ve considered getting some of the box/ratcheting-box wrenches which Gearwrench offers: one end for speedy-ratcheting, the other end for high-torque. (Some open ends will deal with force better than others, surface-drive schemes & higher-end wrenches, etc.)

    Gearwench also offers a non-ratcheting version of the X-Beam, similar to the Craftsman Cross-force (although it appears higher-quality to me). I have had trouble finding those to buy so far, however.

    The reason you would be able to find Gearwrenches via Matco trucks is that Danaher is the parent corporation of both. (And the Craftsman Cross-force is surely made by Danaher, Sears’ main hand tool contractor.)

    I hope the twisted-beam designs spread! (I wonder when Gearwrench’s (aka a designer who lives in a NJ suburb) patent runs out.) This is probably the best thing to happen to ergonomics and repetitive stress injury (RSI) & nerve damage avoidance with hand tools in a long time. (“the first hand tool to ever receive the Arthritis Foundation’s Ease-of-Use Commendation”)

  7. kythri says:

    The Gearwrench non-ratcheting version is identical to the Craftsman Cross-force.

    It’s all made by Danaher (who owns Gearwrench).

    Great products, regardless of the brand name on them. Buy whatever is cheaper.

    I’m slowly but surely building my collection of Gearwrenches. Sears always manages to put the Gearwrench-branded merchandise on some killer sales (50% off, etc.), but never manages to do the same with their flagship brand (Craftsman).

  8. MT says:

    kythri,

    Yes, it is all made by Danaher. The Cross-force does not come in 9, 11, 16, or 19mm, all of which are sizes I want in my set. According to the Gearwrench and Craftsmans catalogs, the X-Beams are generally longer and a good deal lighter than the Cross-forces. Sears told me that the weights listed are accurate (so they say), and Danaher’s taking forever getting back to me with my questions about the wrenches.

    I’m sure that both are excellent, but as far as I’ve been able to determine, they’re not exactly the same. Have you actually compared the two side-by-side? (’cause I trust that a lot more than catalogs and reps!) (And if you have, does the X-Beam have a 15 degree (standard) box offset?)

    Ross

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