Tested: Craftsman Ratcheting Box Wrenches

Craftsman's Ratcheting Box Wrenches are the perfect tool for nuts and bolts in tight places. From the April 2005 issue of Motorcycle Cruiser magazine. By Mark Zimmerman.

Working on motorcycles often means spinning a wrench in cramped quarters, or at least trying to. Sometimes there's simply no room to use a ratchet, so the only solution is a long tedious session with a standard wrench, unless you've got a ratcheting box wrench. I've been using these Craftsman ratcheting wrenches for a while now, and there's a lot to like about them. Like any Craftsman tool, these guys are reasonably priced, well made and strong. If they should fail they carry a lifetime guarantee, meaning they'll be replaced at any Sears store, no questions asked.

The thin head and low profile let you sneak them in nearly any place a regular box wrench will fit, and they need just a 12-degree swing to take a bite, as compared to the 30 degrees a standard box wrench requires. This makes removing those fasteners that fight you the whole way a lot easier.

The ratchet mechanism is always the weak point with this type of wrench. To eliminate any potential problems, Craftsman uses a robust, 30-tooth drive. I couldn't get one to slip, even when removing the largest, stubbornest bolt I could find. The open-end jaws fit the bolt heads well and resist spreading, which should prevent any undue damage either to the fastener or your knuckles.

My only gripe is that the otherwise comprehensive metric set contains 15mm and 18mm wrenches, which are commonly used in the automotive world rather than 17mm and 19mm motorcycle-friendly wrenches.

Be that as it may, this seven-wrench set, available in both fractional and metric sizes, is a worthwhile addition to any tool box. When I first got it, I thought the asking price of $100 represented a real bargain. However, in the interim, prices have dropped and you'll typically pay about half of that or even less on sale. Craftsman's ratcheting wrenches are also available in other combinations of sizes, quantities and configurations (e.g. both ends ratchet, ratchet/open-end, ratchet/extreme-grip, etc.), in both inch and metric sizes.

Craftsman Ratcheting Wrench Sets
Available from Sears stores

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