February 16, 2009

Expedition Tools HK1 Hydrokinetic Wrench - Review

hk1.jpg

The HK1 Hydrokinetic Wrench is one of the more innovative items we've come across in quite a while. It's one of those tools where it seems like the manufacturer rethought the whole concept from the ground up. In it's most simple terms, the HK1 is an adjustable box-end wrench. But when you think through the idea a bit deeper, this little guy is capable of replacing a good chunk of your metric wrench set (7 to 19mm) as well as your SAE set (1/4 to 3/4").

hk1_valve.jpgWhere the innovation comes in is in the adjustment. The HK1 is built around the fact that fluid cannot be compressed. Expedition has placed in the center of the tool a cylinder of liquid that shifts from one side to the other as you manually move the wrench piston (when you move one side in, the other side moves out). When you have gotten the size that you want, you close off the central valve, a little twist knob at the center of the wrench, and lock the fluid in place, thus creating an adjustment that is, basically, as strong as steel. It's a funny idea and very simple and effective.

hk1_nut.jpgBeyond the adjustment system, the HK1 has a number of other well thought out characteristics. First of all, it's a very durable tool and much heavier than we were expecting. Also the heads are at a slight angle, allowing for a little knuckle clearance when working on a nut. As far as size goes, the tool is small enough to easily fit in any tool belt or pouch. Which is where we think it should end up. We carried ours around for a few weeks and it saved us a lot of time and anguish. Think of all the space needed for a traditional set of metric and SAE wrenches? And how many times do you pick the correct size the first time? Or do you sit there and try wrench after wrench until you get it right five minutes later? All of that is gone with the HK1, and while it's not big enough to get the leverage of your nice, long wrenches, it will work in a lot of cases, and that, to us, makes it worth the money.

hk1_head.jpgThe one issue we had with the wrench is that it takes a bit of hand strength to move the piston back and forth, and it gets pretty awkward, particularly when it's fully extended into the smaller of the two heads. It's not something that can be done with gloves on.

Even with that minor complaint, we would recommend this tool to anyone. A carpenter is going to love its portability and the tool belt-friendly nature of it, and the homeowner with the small basement tool kit can own one tool, as opposed to two dozen.

This is quite a lead-off item for Expedition Tools and we're very interested to see what else they've got coming.

The HK1 costs about $25 which we think is a more than reasonable price.

There is more information on the adjustment system at Expedition Tools.

At Amazon.com

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Posted by Doug Mahoney at February 16, 2009 4:24 AM

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