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If you haven’t run across a spline fastener yet, you haven’t taken an old BMW “airhead” apart.  There are a number of them, especially in and around the transmission.  Sometimes you can get a socket on them, but a ratcheting wrench works in almost all circumstances.

Enter Stanley Proto’s new ratcheting wrenches complete with spline box ends.  And these aren’t just good for spline fasteners: They also do everything that a standard box wrench’ll do and they’re better than standard boxes at turning rounded-off fasteners.

We visited Stanley’s production facility a while back, and we were very, very impressed.  Stanley’s production process includes an extraordinarily high number of quality-control steps, and though this does increase the wholesale cost of the tool it also helps to assure you that the tools you receive are right — every time. 

The press release says that these wrenches are part of a “95-SKU line extension,” which means that they’re filling in gaps in the current product line.  This looks like a great place to start.

And what tools don’t look great in a shiny black finish?

Ratcheting Wrenches (w/Spline) [Stanley Proto — Warning: PDF]


17 Responses to Finds: Stanley Proto’s New Ratcheting Wrenches w/Spline Box Ends

  1. Sean says:

    I will have to agree with Chuck on this one. After seeing what these tools have to go through to get into your hands, I would not feel bad about paying the asking price for them or using the living crap out of them once I did. Good tools, and as he pointed out, shiny and black is hella cool.

  2. PeterP says:

    Black is cool and all, but I tend to end up doing over ambitious projects that run into the wee hours of the night. There is nothing worse than trying to hunt around in the dark for a black tool that was dropped. Nevermind leaving them on the floor of the garage and stepping on them while groping for the light switch.

    They do look cool, though. 🙂

  3. Rob says:

    Those look great. Maybe if I get a set I’ll have an excuse to get the airhead to go with them 😉

  4. Kai says:

    They look like a great all-round wrench – I’m all for spending good money on hand tools as it makes a difference in the quality of your work and your efficiency.
    Even down to the humble screwdriver, mates will use the cheapest drivers they can find, I go out and spend $15 on one screwdriver and it’s never failed me yet…
    Using the splines to engage a hexagonal nut seems a great idea as the forces are distributed away from the corners of the nut, thereby resisting rounding it off and giving you more ‘bite’ on nuts that have been abused in the past…

  5. Steve Thompson says:

    These look great and the color is cool. Occasionally I need a spline wrench and these certainly fill the bill without turning to the expensive premium brands.

  6. Old Donn says:

    Proto’s not an expensive, premium brand? It is in my neighborhood.

  7. DC says:

    Several tool companies are now offering this spline pattern, including Mac and SK, which makes me wonder who is the original patentholder that is licensing this product out? Anybody know? They must all be licensing the design from one company, as they are all using more or less the same advertising literature.

    SK is offering a very nice 3/8″ socket set that you can get for under $100. (I like thetoolwarehouse.net) Most of the other spline tools I have seen have been wrenches.

    I did buy the SK combination wrench set. Like the other brands the claim is that it will drive 6 kinds of fasteners: 6-point, 12-point, spline, E-Torx, square, and rounded over fasteners. Well, I have never actually seen a 12-point or spline in practice; both I think are more aerospace high-tech fasteners than anything else. I may encounter E-Torx eventually; these are becoming more popular. I rarely encounter a square head fastener anymore – a square head lag screw a while ago – and I have 8-point sockets for those. So basically it comes down to 6-point and rounded over 6-point.

    What they don’t tell you is that the spline set may drive fasteners other than 6-point, but it won’t fit all the sizes of them, only certain ones, as you might expect. It’s a little random. The SK blow-molded combination wrench case is marked inside the lid as to what other fasteners the wrenches match up to.

    I really bought the set as a weapon in my arsenal against rounded over fasteners. Let’s hope it helps.

    Snap-on does have some spline tools, designed for spline fasteners. Wright has some too, but they are hellaciously expensive, almost like custom sockets.

  8. DC says:

    I have to agree with Old Donn.

    Proto is Stanley’s top of the line industrial hand tool line. I would love to find better prices on it than you see at MSC, Grainger, or the other industrial distributors, but they are the only ones that seem to carry it.

    If anybody knows of an online company that offers great pricing on Proto, please post it.

    • Steve R says:

      DC–I’m ten (10) years out to replying to your request, but there are at least two that I know of that are among the lowest right now (in May, 2017): Tools Plus and Zoro Tools. Just type their names into Google and you’ll be whisked to their websites. The Proto sets I bought are JSCVT-9S for SAE, and JSCVMT-13S for the metric set. I bought the sets from Tools Plus, and individual wrenches (7/8″ and 1″) from Zoro. These have 15 degree offsets, polished chrome, reversing lever, etc. The difference is that these have 12-point regular ratchet mechanisms with 5 degrees of movement between clicks. Look great and are also long-pattern, for additional leverage.
      My only gripe so far is that the ratcheting mechanisms are loud as hell. Everything is tight, but there’s no hint of oil or grease anywhere on/in the ratcheting portion. I bought the two sets approx. 2 months apart. and the two others in-between; they’re all dry as a bone. I contacted Proto to ask what to do about this; they sent me a Warranty Replacement Form in their e-mail reply. Nice, but I’d have to spend $20-$25 to ship them back for an exchange. There’s also no guarantee the new ones will be any different (i.e., if they’ve been lubricated). I’m concerned that they’re ALL this way (i.e., w/o lubrication) and that I’ll have wasted my time and money. I’m going to call them back first and ask what the deal is. If that’s the case, I won’t bother, but even Gear Wrench, Husky and most others have quiet mechanisms that may last longer than mine at roughly half the price.

      I don’t know; does anyone else have experience with recent Proto ratcheting wrenches manufactured in Taiwan?

  9. SITO says:

    BEWARE – these things are made in TAIWAN

  10. JetMech2 says:

    I buy my Proto tools at Grainger. Don’t think you can’t buy from them because you’re not a business. I have a choice of discounts, using my retired military ID I can get the government price, or because I now work fo the state, I can purchase off the state contract price. I can even order online at Grainger.com by setting up a profile using the state agency’s account number, get the discount and free shipping! The only difference is I’m charged a sales tax.

    Chances are the company you work for has an account with Grainger and Grainger allows you to purchase off that same account for your personal use. In most cases, the company doesn’t mind and uses this as part of their employee benefit packages.

    I don’t worry too much about Taiwan…so long as it meets ANSI standards along with a lifetime warranty…then what’s the issue. If it came out of a dollar store or Harbor Freight, then I’ll pass it by but if it’s from a well know company that has strict quality control methods…then I’ll consider it. PROTO and SNAP-ON are the only two companies that have the same high end ANSI standards for their tools. Even Mac Tools, which are made in the Proto plant at Dallas don’t meet the same standard even though they come off the same line. I learned this during a tour of their plant last month.

    I saw another post where someone hit the nail on the head. Our cell phones, computers, HDTV’s, apparel and just about 80% of the stuff in our homes is made in China or Taiwan and it’s not an issue. Yet, put the country of origin on hand tools and mechanics get their panties all wadded up. Geezzzz…get over it!

  11. Ty says:

    JetMech2, I encourage you to look into your research or the info you have been given on the hand tool manufacturers meeting the ANSI standards. Wright Tool has chaired the committee responsible for updating these ANSI standards for the last 30 years, and meets or exceeds all ASME standards as well!

  12. Chaon says:

    Made in Taiwan, but better quality than any made in USA ratchet wrench. Same TW company produces for Facom, SK, Snap-On, etc.

    • Steve R says:

      Chaon–In 2012, Proto introduced USA-made ratcheting wrenches that are crazy good. The only problem is they cost an arm and a leg. These are made in Dallas, TX and are beautiful, with indentations for your fingers. A professional could justify the cost, but I can’t. I bought the Taiwanese-made sets recently, and they’re very nice. My only complaint is that the ratchet mechanisms don’t appear to have been lubricated at the factory. For more details, see my response to DC, above.

  13. Z says:

    It’s not the quality of Taiwan I worry about it’s the fact that the jobs have been outsourced. I have been looking for a USA made 15/16 ratchet wrench and can only find the old style double box from snapon. I refuse to buy this since it is made in Taiwan. And yes I will pay some extra money to know that it is giving someone in the US a job.

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