Black & Decker Ratcheting ReadyWrench - Review
There's been a lot of hay made lately about these multi-headed dog bone wrenches and many die-hard tool users seem to hail them as useless with such enthusiasm as to make us think the tool was some kind of genetic abomination like one of those seven-footed toads found near Chernobyl. The deal is that it's a double headed wrench with a rotating head at each end. The heads have four sides, each of which has a different sized socket on it. We've actually never handled one of these tools before, but Black and Decker was nice enough to send us their ratcheting ReadyWrench, (which adds a ratcheting feature to the mix), and for the past month we've used it for all kinds of things.
The ReadyWrench is a whole lot bigger than we were expecting. It has a good heavy feel to it and the one-piece metal body seems solid and durable. The rotating head pieces are also sturdy and the connection between them and the tool is good as well. The forward/reverse toggles, which take the form of a red ring at the each head, are the only visible pieces of plastic on the tool.
According to Black and Decker, the wrench is capable of handling 16 of the most popular socket sizes. Well....sort of. Sockets operate under two different size scales, metric and SAE, and while each SAE has a metric equivalent, the sizes are not identical. So each socket on the ReadyWrench fits the larger of the two sizes and also 'fits' the smaller as well. As carpenters, we boil at the idea that SAE and metric are interchangeable because, simply, they're not, they're two different sizes. Does each SAE size have a very close metric equivalent? Yes. Are they the same? No.
But (and this is a big 'but'), this is not a tool made for a carpenter. Black & Decker suggests a number of uses for the tool at their site and the list includes; lawnmower blade change, oil changes, and general household assembly. With this in mind, the SAE/metric problem diminishes greatly. Doing light-duty work as suggested by Black and Decker, you're less likely to get into situations where a small socket size difference is going to matter.
As far as the actual functionality of the tool, we noticed some things we liked and some things we didn't. Because of the size of the heads, it's difficult to use in tight areas and if the nut you're dealing with is right up against something, like the clamp on a battery terminal, this wrench won't do you any good. Also, because the handle is off-set from the nut, there is a bit of wobble, but that's really no big deal once we got a feel for it.
We liked the fact that the swiveling heads gave us some manueverability in areas where we couldn't position a wrench directly perpendicular to the bolt. In these circumstances, we could have the handle kicked out at an angle and still take advantage of the ratcheting action.
Overall we liked the ReadyWrench and think is a nice item for the DIYer. There are going to be situations where a regular old box end wrench will be easier, but because of the ratcheting action and the swiveling heads of the Black & Decker, there are going to be times when this one takes the lead. Not to mention that this one tool replaces a handful of standard wrenches.
The Black and Decker costs about $25-$35 which is about the cost of a halfway decent combination wrench set, so to us, this one sort of comes down to the amount of space that you want to devote to your tools. Like we said earlier, there is a crowd that will probably never accept these wrenches, but for someone looking to streamline the tool bag, we think this tool is a fit.
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Posted by Doug Mahoney at January 4, 2011 5:51 AM