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Much like a bird I am attracted to anything shiny. This is a well known fact around the shop, and (thanks to Chuck) all over the internet as well; almost anyone can tempt me with something as long as the word “chrome” appears in the sentence.  So as you might imagine, the name “Superkrome” grabbed my attention.

Superkrome is mega-shiny chrome designed to protect the tool from the crap found in harsh working environments — like oil, grime, and grease.  It wipes of easy when it comes time to clean the tools as the end of a job. 

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We found this press release under the desk here in the office, which explains why we didn’t pass this on back on October when it hit the street: SK’s expanding their “universal spline” line from wrenches to sockets with a number of different kits now on the market.

For those not familiar, their “universal spline” sets use a uniquely-shaped tool end to grip six-point, twelve-point, female Torx, square, and even 50% rounded fasteners.  A pic past the jump illustrates how the shapes fit together.

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When Indiana Jones lost the Cross of Coronado in the third movie, the guy who took it from him said “You lost today kid — but you don’t have to like it” — then handed him a hat.  If the young Jones was working on a stubborn bolt stuck at a funny angle, the guy would have handled him a universal impact joint.  Seriously.

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It looks a bit like someone got into one of those fights with the tools and came out swinging, but the Palm control is supposed to look that way — we swear.  It’s very odd how something just a touch off from normal in a tool can mean the difference between ending up stuck in your tracks or moving onto the next phase of the project. The Palm control is basically a normal ratchet with an 18 degree kink in the handle.

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A number of online tool shops are calling these “the ultimate locking pliers” for good reason: they don’t “pop” and jump off your workpiece when released.  Instead, you release them by firmly squeezing the top and bottom handles together.

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offset-wrenches.jpgIf you haven’t seen a set of these before, we’re not surprised; Offset wrenches aren’t a common find.  They’ve been around for a long time, but you can go a long time in the shop without having a burning need for one.

But when you do finally come across that need it will indeed burn, and the virtues of the offset wrench can make your project go from nightmare to possible — as we found out recently trying to remove a water pump from an ’89 Porsche 944S2. 

Offset wrenches are just normal normal box-end wrenches with a bend on each end that helps them reach deeply countersunk nuts or bolts that you can’t get at with sockets or standard wrenches.

The kit shown here offers two sizes on each wrench and they’re available in standard or metric sizes.  It’s from S•K Hand Tools, and it’s available at a street price of around $110. Not cheap, but if you need them you need them pretty bad.

Offset Wrenches [S•K Hand Tools]
Price Search for Offset Wrenches [Froogle/Google]

PS: Time to ‘fess up.  The set we used was borrowed from a friend, and was significantly cooler than this set.  It featured an almost 90-degree offset, which was absolutely perfect for fitting into the deep pulley we were dealing with.  A lesser offset wouldn’t have handled the job.  We’re still looking for the details on the set we used, and when we find it we’ll pass it on — right as soon as we order one for ourselves.


thumbwheel.jpgWhile trying to push and maneuver your ratchet into a space it was never designed to go, have you ever wished you could remove the handle and just use the ratchet head itself?  Yeah, S-K thought that, too.

Their Thumbwheel sports just that kind of handle-free operation for turning nuts and bolts in tight spots.  It features a completely enclosed ratcheting mechanism which is easy to remove and replace for cleaning by a pinching wire lock system that holds the mechanism in its sleeve.  The Thumbwheel, like other S-K Professional Series ratchets, features a hardened pawl and hardened teeth for durability and long life, plus a knobby grip for some extra cranking power.

The Thumbwheel is widely available on the web and can be found in sets with extensions that go for around $30 — or by itself for $15.  Though the set looks nice, if you already have extensions buying just the Thumbwheel itself might be the way to go.

Thumbwheel Ratchet [S-K HandTools]
Street Pricing [Froogle]


slidehammerextpuller.jpgHaving the right tool for the job is always the best way to go, right?  So we guess the second best way to go is an adapter for the tool you already have. Thus, the best way to pull a expansion plug is with a plug puller kit, but if you, like us, are short a puller kit, then a expansion puller adapter for your slide hammer is an acceptable alternative.

The adapter screws to the end of a slide hammer on one end and connects to the plug in queston with the other — a handy solution for those of you needing to remove that subborn holdout.

They’re widely available on the web for around $24, and are a great way to expand your capabilities without leaving your wallet too thin.

Expansion Puller Adapter [SK Hand Tools]
Street Pricing [Froogle]


post-skgun.jpgOne of our best friends likes to tell the story about how he borrowed money to buy his first set of professional hand tools — the ones he used to make his living for a number of years after that.  Those tools were from S-K, and he still owns them today.  Needless to say, we’ve always respected S-K’s hand tool line.  Now, S-K’s expanding into the pneumatic industry with a new set of “Pro-Gun” impact guns and wrenches.

S-K’s press release indicates that the new line will include 3/8″, 1/2″, 3/4″ and 1″ heavy-duty “professional” impact guns as well as 1/4″ and 3/8″ air ratchets.  They say the guns include a “twin-hammer motor” whcih increases torque and delivers it more quickly than competing guns. 

Of course, we look forward to seeing the Pro-Gun line perform in person, but if past experience with S-K is any indicator, it’ll be quality gear.

(We’d love to link you to the product line, but it appears that S-K hasn’t added it to their site yet so you’ll have to live with a press-release link.  Rest assured we’ll pass along more information as we receive it.)

Press Release: S-K Introduces the Pro-Gun Line [S-K Professional Tools]


BBO1.jpgSK Hand Tools has signed on to sponsor one of our favorite build shows — Biker BUild Off — starting this fall.  The winning shop for each shows competion will roll away with a bunch of sweet SK tools.

The SK press release explains the new twist for the upcoming 5th season:

Although aesthetics are crucial to all the builds, the contest also requires the bikes to work; the builders must ride them as far as 1,000 miles to major bike events, where attendees vote for their favorite. The stakes, and tension, are raised with the fifth season.

Each builder/designer will be allowed only one packet of tools to use on the road to the competition, and there will be no backup truck packed with extra equipment. If a bike breaks down and the rider can’t fix it with what he’s carrying, he’s out of the competition.

In three of the Build-Offs the trophy will go to the fastest bike rather than to, as in the past, the most popular. The contestants in those match-ups will build track and motocross bikes, then go head to head for the top prize. 

Also, “Biker Build-Off” season 5 will feature a woman builder for the first time and the most multi-cultural, multi-national lineup of artisans ever.

We can’t wait to see a big time builder like Billy Lane stuck on the roadside with just a packet of tools and a busted bike, like the rest of us.  Wonder how that’ll fly?  Hey, we’ll tune in to find out.

S•K Sponsor of Biker Build-Off [S•K Press Release Page]