Gear test: LoggerHead Tools

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LoggerHead Tools of Palos Park, Ill., manufactures a line of products it says combines the versatility of an adjustable wrench with the simplicity of pliers, replacing a drawer full of assorted wrenches.

LoggerHead Tools of Palos Park, Ill., manufactures a line of products it says combines the versatility of an adjustable wrench with the simplicity of pliers, replacing a drawer full of assorted wrenches. I was provided the LoggerHead 8-inch Bionic Wrench along with their latest addition, the ImmiX 10X multifunction tool, for testing and evaluation.

 

The ImmiX tool measures 6 inches long by 4 inches wide by 1/2 inch thick and weighs less than 8 ounces. It is constructed from a hardened, cold-rolled steel laminate with a corrosion-resistant electrolysis nickel finish. The 10X (a 20X model also is available) includes a selection of 10 tool bits fitted into a molded rubber bit carrier/cushion grip in one side of the handle, while the opposite handle houses two retractable stainless steel knife blades. It comes with a nicely fitted synthetic carrying case with leather belt loop. The 8-inch Bionic Wrench measures 8 inches long by 5 inches wide, and weighs 12 ounces. Like the ImmiX, it also is constructed of hardened, cold-rolled steel laminate but with a black oxide finish and thickly cushioned grips.

Both tools use the same principle for clamping down on the hex nut. By riding in cam slots, six hardened steel jaws converge evenly on the flat sides of the nut when the handles are squeezed, equally distributing the gripping force where it should be. The jaws grip on the flat sides of the nuts, not the corners, as sometimes occurs with poor-quality wrenches.

Putting the tools to the test, I assembled a series of standard grade-5 SAE bolts and nuts, clamped each bolt head in a vise, and applied the recommended dry torque to each assembly. I used a calibrated, 16-inch torque wrench to tighten the fasteners. The torque value used was representative of a correctly tightened fastener that is applying the appropriate amount of clamping force on the assembled parts. I attempted to loosen each nut several times with the appropriate LoggerHead tool, observing the effort required as compared with conventional wrenches. As I had no practical method of measuring the physical effort required to loosen the nuts, I’ll offer my opinion as to the effectiveness of the LoggerHead tools.

Using the ImmiX on 1/4-inch fasteners that had been torqued to 10 foot-pounds, I was able to loosen the nut on each attempt. The tool gripped the nut as advertised and remained centered on the flats. By the third attempt my hand began to get sore, caused by gripping the handle around the bit holder and the retracted knife blades. In my opinion a proper 7/16 box wrench or socket would do a better, more comfortable job, if one were on hand.

Moving up to the 5/16 fastener with a torque value of 17 foot-pounds, the ImmiX again was capable of loosening the nut without damaging it, but the additional grip required to keep the jaws closed became uncomfortable. I would attempt to locate a better tool if there were more than one fastener to work with.

Switching to the Bionic Wrench was a different story, however, as the larger grip area and double-cushioned grips made the task simple. I used the wrench on 3/8 and 7/16 fasteners torqued to 36 foot-pounds and 56 foot-pounds, respectively. The Bionic Wrench proved up to both jobs, without damaging the flats of the nuts or rounding the edges, provided my grip remained firm. These were two-handed jobs for me, and I use similar tools on a daily basis. In other words, these tools take a bit more effort than standard wrenches for the simple reason that you’re squeezing the handles while also working to loosen or tighten the fastener.

The ImmiX 10X isn’t quite a replacement for some of the better-known multitools, but it does deal with small hex nuts and bolts, which is something other multitools cannot. The magnetic bit holder in the bottom of the handle serves well as a pistol grip driver for slotted, Phillips, Torx and Robertson screws. LoggerHead says the tool replaces U.S. wrench sizes from 1/4 inch through 9/16 inch and metric sizes from 7 mm through 14 mm. It might fit them, but if any but the smallest have been properly tightened, you might need to head for your wrench collection, in my opinion.

The 8-inch Bionic Wrench has none of the multitool features of the ImmiX, but it serves well as a wrench replacement in a pinch. It covers SAE sizes from 7/16 inch through 3/4 inch and metric sizes from 11 mm to 20 mm. Again, I would stick with the smaller end of the spectrum.

Both tools are well-constructed of what appears to be quality-grade materials with appropriate coatings to inhibit rust and corrosion if reasonably maintained. Due to their overall sizes, they could be awkward to use in tight or restricted areas and with hard-to-access fasteners, but don’t discount their value. They are certainly much more convenient and practical to have around than a pocket full of wrenches; just don’t expect to rebuild your diesel engine or Quadrajet carburetor with them exclusively.

They are made in the United States and carry a full lifetime guarantee from the manufacturer. They have been recognized with an International Design Forum Product Design Award, a Good Design Award from the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture, and a Popular Mechanics Editors Choice Award. The ImmiX retails for $74.95, the 8-inch Bionic Wrench for $32.95, and both can be ordered directly from LoggerHead at www.loggerheadtools.com .