Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Proto, SK, old Husky USA (and Tekton) Combination wrench comparison

Proto, SK, Old Husky USA (and Tekton) Combination wrench comparison

(Top to bottom: SK, Proto, old Husky USA; 7, 14, 22mm)

It was my birthday recently, and after a beer I decided that maybe I should upgrade my old Husky USA metric combination wrench set. Now I love my old Husky's and have had no issues with them. The only negative thing that comes to mind is that on some heavy pulls the narrow beam can dig into my hands a bit. But otherwise I really like the almost dainty, jewelry like feel of the polished Husky USA wrenches. (I also have heard that some older Husky tools had some issues with the "made in the USA" mark, but regardless, the quality of mine has been fine.)

I should also say I work on old vintage stuff and I do some restoration work. I cannot really accept wrench damage to my fasteners. I typically use 6 point sockets on everything I can get them on, and I use box end wrenches occasionally and only use open end wrenches when necessary or it doesn't matter (like spinning an already loose bolt or working on something that I don't care as much about). I don't want any special ridges or teeth on the open ends that could "bite-mark" the nuts and bolts, so that eliminated Wright tools' WrightGrip and some of the other options.

Also, all my work is metric, but recently I ordered an inexpensive Tekton SAE set for those rare occasions I need a wrench with inch markings. (I won't reveal the horrid tiny open end wrenches I had been using when necessary before that!) So I have those Tekton wrenches for comparison too.

After finding I had a couple different brands of wrenches in my hands I thought other people might be interested, I decided to take a couple minutes and write this review comparing the sets.

First I ordered a full set of SK, the "SK 86224 SuperKrome 19 Piece 12 Point 6-Millimeter to 24-Millimeter Combination Wrench Set", $244.74 from Amazon. This arrived promptly, but I was surprised that this ships from SK in a brown cardboard box with the wrenches jangling inside a plastic bag. No individual cushioning or packing material at all. Also included were two plastic rails to hold the wrenches in your toolbox, but they were nothing special. The wrenches themselves seemed properly made (I saw a previous garage journal poster had some issues with his set). Some had a tiny bit of marking, possibly from shipping or storage, but nothing they wouldn't get with some light use. They seem to have a fatter beam, and that may be more comfortable to some in the hand. But, I was surprised how short they were, especially the small sizes! I don't think my old huskies were "long", but as I said, I was surprised. Short wrenches can be a great thing as they can help prevent over-tightening, so maybe that is good. I would think that being fatter in the beam would make them heavier than the other brands, but being shorter seems to even things out. I noticed that the open end's aperture is a bit less deep than on my old Husky USA wrenches. That seems functionally fine, just different. The SK size markings are only on one side of the wrench, which can be could be an annoyance. Very nicely, the set includes all the full millimeter sizes from 6mm - 24mm.
For me, in summary, I wasn't thrilled by the hand feel / extra thickness of the larger SK wrenches, the small ones looked tiny to my eye, and I just wasn't convinced I preferred them to my old Husky USA wrenches. Now, I should say, if you like a fatter wrench, without any open end gimmickry, you may love the SK wrenches. I do particlualy like the sweep of the wrech up to the box end.

So then, not being perfectly happy with the SK set, I ordered a set of Proto wrenches: "Proto J1200RM-T500 17 Piece Full Polish Combination Wrench Set, Anti-Slip, 7-24mm", $239.66 shipped from Zoro. These arrived in a colored cardboard box in a red cloth tool roll. I must admit I preferred this to the way the SK's clattered in the box. To my surprise, the Proto's are VERY similar to my old Husky USA wrenches. A quick bit of research showed the old Husky USA wrenches were likely made by Stanley/Proto. Hmm. The new Protos seem to be the same as my old Huskys except for the antislip design of the open end and they are just a bit longer and some have with a bit more angle on the closed end. To my eye, the "antislip" design seems to be just a bit of relief where the outer corner of the nut would be, so that most of the force falls away from the corner. There are no sharp ridges or teeth. For me, working on restorations, that seems good. Below size 10mm, the wrenches have normal open ends (no antislip design). I note the Proto, like the Husky, conveniently have size labels on both ends of both sides. It's dissappointing the Proto leaves the 23mm wrench out of this set. (Interestingly, my old husk set from 7mm to 22mmm skipped the 20mm! Who makes thses silly decisions?) Adding the 23mm and 6mm to the Proto set so it has the same sizes as the SK set would cost an additional $58 on Amazon.

Frankly, all of these wrenches seem good. Even the Tektons look nice next to the higher end wrenches. On the SK side, for the very close to the same price as the Proto, the SK set is more complete including the 6m and 23mm sizes. Personaly, I prefer the familiarity of the feel of the Proto (so very similar my old Husky) and I want to try this Anti-Slip Design" stuff. I'm hoping it will be a bit better than standard, and won't mark my fasteners.

On the other side of all this, I've found my old Husky USA set looks pretty good compared to these new sets. Frankly, when I place my first order, I had expected a bigger difference from the SK and Proto sets. If it wasn't for a little interest in this Anti-Slip design stuff, I would not not bother with anything newer.


(Top to bottom: SK, Proto, old Husky USA; 7, 14, 22mm)

(Top to bottom: old Husky USA 14mm, Proto 14mm, SK 14mm, Tekton 9/16")

(Same as last picture, other side of wrenches. Note SK has no size markings on this side)

(Proto Anti-Slip design on 14mm wrench)

(Proto Anti-Slip design on 14mm wrench, other face)

(SK above Proto; 7,14, 22mm)

(Proto above old Husky USA; 7,14, 22mm)

(SK above Proto; 7mm)

(Proto on left, SK on Right; 7mm. Note deeper aperture on Proto)

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