Taking the tool world by storm last year, the dog bone wrench was on more TV commercials than fat people losing weight by popping a miracle pill. Having succumbed to marketing hype before with "As Seen On TV" products, we wanted to know if these handtools had any merit. As a whole, the concept makes sense—convenient multiple sizes in one wrench, good leverage with a thick handle, and less clutter by way of leaving an entire wrench set at home. But, and these questions are the clincher, do they work and are they worth the money?
To find out, we performed several tests, including socket-size tolerances, torque angle, grip comfort, bolt pass-through, overall strength, tight confines measurement, and value. Though some wrenches were designed with ratcheting heads, it was surprising to see how similar the overall designs were. After exiting our test lab, no single wrench stood out as the clear-cut favorite, and it wasn't until we added up our scores that the winner was pronounced. Take a look at our results to see how they faired.
1. Husky 48-in-1 Ratcheting Rotary Socket Wrench
For the second time in three months, a Husky tool won our Truckin Tough tool test. With a thick, rubber-protected handle, the Husky was comfortable in our hands, had the second smallest turn angle of the ratcheting heads, and fit a bevy of different bolt head sizes and styles thanks to its splined socket design. Performing well in our torque test, the only area of concern was head flex from the ratcheting socket. One design flaw was the metric equivalent sizes stamped on the socket face were missing. For under $20, it was also the best value (for multiple socket sizes/styles). If you want less clutter in your glovebox or toolbox, this is the best multipurpose wrench out there.
2. Pittsburgh Pro Dog Bone Metric
Shining brightly in each performance test, the Pittsburgh Dog Bone has tight socket tolerances, is well constructed, and features the more commonly used socket sizes. As one of our testers wrote in the log book after the torque test, "It feels daggum solid." One area where it did suffer was comfort, as the handle has flatter edges than the others in the test, which dug into several of our user's hands after long use. Our one big gripe is the need to buy two different size wrenches, one standard and one metric, but for $14.99 you can have both for the same price as others who didn't perform as well.
3. Black and Decker Ready Wrench
This one really surprised us, as the last few Black and Decker tools didn't perform very well. Thanks to its thick rubber grip, tight torque angle, and good performance in all of the tests, the Ready Wrench finished just 0.5 points behind the Pittsburgh. It fits 16 different socket sizes from its six-point socket design and actually felt good when slid over bolt heads of all different sizes and styles. Readily available at Target, this wrench earned its Third Place finish.
4. Kobalt 15-pc Multi-Drive Wrench
If you own a television, you've seen this wrench being advertised more often than Kim Kardashian getting married then divorced again. At first glance, the Kobalt has everything you want and more from a multidrive wrench, however, after testing it, we learned differently. The clever pin design allows you to remove the larger socket end and install a real socket adapter and screwdriver bit holder. Problem is, that same pin hinders longer bolts/studs from passing through the socket, a benefit all the other wrenches have. Also, when using the wrench for anything other than bolt/nut removal/installation, it feels awkward and cumbersome. You get quite a bit for under $30, however, the Kobalt was outclassed by its competitors.
5. Black and Decker Ratcheting Ready Wrench
Looking like a tool from a spaceship, the Ratcheting Ready Wrench was the most unusual to use. It suffers from a steeply angled head on each end, and the sockets were too eager to move and flex when torque was applied. It's also the heaviest in the test, which proved to be a bummer when the socket head slipped off during our strength test and one editor had his finger smashed. The proof is in the pudding as they say, and this wrench wasn't up to the challenge.
6. Craftsman 8-in-1 Rotary Wrench Metric
Surprising everyone in our test, the Craftsman Rotary Wrench feels engineered well, handled our performance test with solid tension and little head flexing, and lead the pack in torque angle. So how did it end up last? The handle is not comfortable, it failed our small confines test (as did all of the ratcheting units), and it only fits standard or metric nuts/bolts depending on which model you purchase. That's right, for $29.99 you have to buy two of these wrenches to equal one of the lesser-priced competitors. Usually, you get what you pay for, but not in this case.
7. Craftsman Limited Edition Dog Bone Wrench
By far the coolest-looking wrench in our test, the Craftsman Limited Edition black Dog Bone featured splined sockets, allowing it to fit around 16 different bolt/nut sizes. A nice feature no one else had was a large magnet on the handle for securing loose nuts or bolts after removal. We wish the Craftsman Dog Bone had a more comfortable handle, and the splined sockets performed poorly in our torque angle test. During our strength test, the 13mm socket actually cracked and broke, quickly dropping it into last place.