Sears Craftsman Extreme Grip
I can't resist ad copy for new hand tools, especially when
it announces a capability not currently resident in my toolbox. The
wilder the claim, the deeper I fall.
Tools and chocolate cake have the same
effect on me. A glance at either immediately
places my mind into some type of altered state, where
all resistance is futile, and the next thing I know, I'm
standing before the cash register, wallet in hand.
Thus it was when I first laid eyes upon
these new Sears Craftsman "Extreme Grip" wrenches.
Available in both inch and metric versions, I
immediately grabbed the metric 3-pack, which includes a
12x13 mm, a 14x15 mm and a 17x19 mm "open end" wrench.
My initial understanding of the purpose
for the Extreme Grip wrenches was that they had a type
of ratcheting capability, similar to the unique
wrench set we reviewed a while back. The word
"ratchet" is usually associated with a
or the very useful
Gearwrench ratcheting box end wrenches, or even
something like the
ratcheting screwdriver set.
But it is possible to design an open-end
type of wrench that can be used to apply torque in one
direction only. The wrench can then be "ratcheted"
back by the user, because the grip only works in one
An example of this type of wrench is the
unique Alden design, which work as a ratchet on a
fastener that cannot be accessed with either a box end
or socket due to space restrictions. But Alden
warns against the use of too much torque, probably due
to the spring-loaded mechanism that keeps one half of
the jaw on the fastener. My first impression of
the Extreme Grip wrenches led me to believe that they
are a variation of the Alden design that would allow
this type of ratcheting action, but would also allow the
application of greater levels of torque.
It wasn't until I got home that I
realized that the Extreme Grip is really designed for
loosening hard-to-remove fasteners that can't be budged
with a standard 6 or 12 point box wrench. They are
not designed to have a ratcheting capability. This
was good and bad news for me: they provide a new and
different type of functionality, but without the
ratcheting capability I desired.
Sears claims that the patented design of
the Extreme Grip "grabs and removes stuck fasteners".
I originally thought of a "stuck fastener" as a nut or
bolt with a head that was so stripped that a normal hand
tool could not be used to remove it.
photo illustrates the difference in length
between the Sears Extreme Grip wrenches vs.
Sears box end wrenches. The sizes are
(from top): 17x19 vs. 17x19 box end; 14x15
vs. 13x15 box end; 12x13 vs. 12x14 box end.
But after thinking about it for a while,
I realized that a "stuck fastener" could also be one
that has been installed using too much torque to break
free without exorbitant amounts of leverage, and it
might be located in a spot that doesn't allow access
with a long breaker bar on a socket.
Or maybe the previous owner used some
type of thread locking solution that makes it impossible
to loosen the fastener with normal hand tools.
Both of these situations are foreign to
me. I'm a very careful and obsessive mechanic, and
I honestly don't recall ever having abused a fastener to
such a state that it couldn't be removed by a common
Sure, I've run into fasteners that
needed some persuasion here and there, and others where
the previous owner may have gotten overzealous with an
application of torque, but I've found that a good set of
6 point wrenches or sockets will do the job most of the
So my initial joy at finding a new type
of tool was slightly diminished after realizing that I
probably wouldn't be using the Extreme Grip wrenches
very often. Nevertheless, a true tool fanatic does
not regret having an obscure tool stashed away, for
those "just in case" situations.
I tried the Extreme Grip wrenches on some fasteners,
just to see how they worked. The tools have a
clever design, with an aggressive "bite" that grips
harder as more pressure is applied.
They are designed to place the torque load on the
sides of the fastener only, rather than the corners, for
Normal box-end or open-end wrenches grab the corners
of the fastener, so there's always the possibility that
the corners will get rounded under severe pressure.
The wrenches are very slightly longer
than their box-end counterparts, for added leverage.
Sears claims that the Extreme Grip wrenches offer 35%
more leverage, but this would be hard to measure.
The lengths are so close to the equivalent box-end
wrenches that it's difficult to understand how the
Extreme Grip versions provide more leverage.
They do seem to make it much easier to
remove any type of fastener, besides those that have
been applied with high torque levels. The wrenches
might also be useful for someone with arthritis or other
wrist or hand problems; the extra length and their
strong bite on the fastener make you feel like you have
some extra muscle power.
The Extreme Grip wrenches are also
available in a three-wrench SAE set (Sizes 7/16x1/2,
9/16x5/8 and 11/16x3/4 in.) and a combination set
including the three metric and three inch sizes.
Craftsman branded tools come with a lifetime warranty.
Our set is robustly made, but the quality doesn't seem
as good as other Craftsman brand wrenches in our
toolbox. There are machining marks and some flaws
in the plating on our set that we hope won't affect the
performance of the tools.
The Sears Craftsman Extreme Grip wrenches provide a good
grip on a variety of fasteners. However, they
might not be as generally useful as, for example, a set
of Gearwrench ratcheting box-end wrenches for motorcycle
use. Plumbers or other mechanics may find more
applications for this type of wrench, but the nature of
motorcycle metallurgy generally precludes the need for a
wrench that can remove a fastener that is not removable
with common hand tools.
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Review: Sears Craftsman Extreme Grip Wrenches
Retail Price: $29.99
|Colors: Polished and plated
Comments: Provide extra grip on hard to remove fasteners, but
don't have a ratcheting capability. Useful in certain situations,
but probably won't be needed that often by motorcyclists.