Did you know that Stanley makes FatMax 10″ Groove Joint PushLock pliers? Despite their resemblence to Irwin’s GrooveLock pliers, these FatMax pliers incorporate a few features that may be enough reason to add a pair to your collection.
The FatMax pliers appear to have an elevated adjustment button, which should make blind or gloved adjustments a bit easier. In addition, there are no less than 17 locked positions, versus the 13 that my 10″ Irwin GrooveLocks have. Although the jaw opening on tongue and groove pliers can be widened by spreading the handles, finer adjustment is desireable when working in cramped compartments.
The locking mechanism on these FatMax pliers also makes this tool appealing. Whereas the venerable Irwin GrooveLock pliers have a ratchet-type mechanism at the back of the inner handle slider, the FatMax pliers appears to have its locking grooves on opposite sides within it. While this means that you can’t slide the jaws closed without reaching for the adjustment button, there are certainly occasions when this is desirable — such as when you’re applying pressure to very soft materials. Furthermore, this geometry may result in a thinner body which could more easily fit into tighter spots.
Lastly, Stanley claims their “bi-material” handles provide improved grip and control — which may be the most compelling reason to add a pair of the FatMax pliers to your shopping list. Most tongue and groove pliers I’ve come across have uniformly smooth handles. If you’re wearing gloves, that’s great. But if you’re covered in sweat and grease, you want want a handle that offers greater friction.
If you’ve seen or used these, what’s your take on them? In case you’re as eager to get your hands on a pair as I am, Amazon is currently offering the 10″ model for $20, and it’s eligible for the 4-for-3 discount. If you shop around, you can find a pair for as low as $15.