General Purpose Tools

Vise-Grip Locking Wrench

Essential wrench

There are some tools that belong in every tool box, and most of us already have locking pliers from one manufacturer or another. Irwin Tools, maker of the original Vise Grips brand product, is the best known. This new version of the tool looks and works nearly the same, but has a vastly improved jaw shape made specifically for grabbing on to damaged hex nuts and bolts.

I used mine just yesterday while working on restoring an old car for my daughter. I had to remove the heat shield from the exhaust manifold, and after 10 years of service those bolts were not in good shape at all. One of them was so bad that my sockets and box wrenches would just spin, getting no bite at all. My usual pair of locking pliers didn’t help either. The unique jaw shape on the Irwin Locking Wrench grabbed the head of the bolt from three sides and fastened firmly enough to do the job. In just a few seconds I had that old bolt out without having to resort to cutting it with an angle grinder or torch.

I’ve seen these online for less than fifteen dollars, and for the amount of headache they save I’d call it well worth adding to any tool box. If you’ve ever used regular locking pliers to try to get a stripped bolt out, you’ll find this new style of locking wrench works wonders.

-- Andrew Pollack 08/10/10

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