May 13, 2011

C.H. Hanson Automatic Locking Pliers - Review

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Everyone who's anyone has a set of locking pliers. Note: We're aware that they are more commonly referred to as Vise-Grips, but that is the name given to the tool by the most popular and influential manufacturer, Irwin. Swanson once sent lawyers after us for using 'Speed Square' in the generic sense, so we want to avoid having to deal with that BS again. Locking pliers are an essential part of the toolbox and their functionality seems to have remained fairly unchanged since the dawn of time. That is....until now (cue 2001: A Space Odyssey music).

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So, as we all know, the way that locking pliers work is that you have to adjust the jaws before anything is clamped. Ideally, they are adjusted so that when they are closed they clamp tightly around the nut, bolt, or whatever it is that you're looking to secure. This adjustment is done with a knurled knob at the base of the handle. It's a tedious process and at times it can lead to an adjustment, a test, and a readjustment. C.H. Hanson has put an end to this with their Automatic Locking Pliers.

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The way these work is simple: put the jaws around whatever it is you're clamping and close the handles just like you would any other set of pliers. The jaws close around the object and when the handles are closed, they lock. Seriously, it's that simple. No adjustments at all.

They unlock in a slightly different fashion as well. The maneuver is done with the skinny middle handle, but here the handle is shifted upward to unlock as opposed to downward. This simple change makes a big difference when using the tool. Now, the unlocking process can be done with one hand. Nice work.

Actually, the tool does have one adjustment. A small knurled knob in between the handles can be turned to set the grip pressure, but we set this once and haven't thought about it since.

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To say that these are faster than traditional locking pliers is something of an understatement. C.H Hanson claims that it's 7 times faster, which is a number that we wouldn't dispute. These new pliers will save a lot of time, particularly when you're going from different sizes. Think about it...locking pliers with no adjustments.

On the job, everyone we showed these to was impressed. Even the old-timers and that's saying something (these guys make it a point to not be impressed by anything).

We used the tool quite a bit and when you're in the thick of a work day, it's great to not have to deal with any adjustments on the pliers. It's a great concept and if C.H. Hanson hasn't slapped a bullet-proof patent on the technology, expect everyone and their mothers to be releasing similar items.

Depending on what model you're after, these will set you back anywhere from $13 to $40. We did a quick check over at Amazon and they're certainly more expensive than the old-fashioned kind, but when you think about time and convenience, these will pay for themselves in no time.

At Amazon.com

Read More in: All Reviews | Hand Tools | Metalworking and Welding

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Posted by Doug Mahoney at May 13, 2011 6:38 AM

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Recent Comments

Is this a new thing?
we have them for as long as i can remember in Holland (Europe).
The major brands like facom hazet stahwille and gedore sell them for years.


Posted by: bartos at May 17, 2011 3:54 PM
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