Review: The SK X-Frame ratcheting wrench
In our shop, we have zero brand loyalty. Tools aren’t held on a pedestal and brands aren’t cheered for in any way, shape or form. About the only lean we have is towards American made stuff… but even then, if a paycheck is depending on it we would use a tool made in North Korea if we absolutely had too. At the end of the day, the pride in our shop comes from the cars that leave it – not the tools that enter it.
That being said, we were recently approached by SK and asked if we would be interested in using a set of their new X-Frame ratcheting wrenches for a while. I agreed with two conditions:
1. Whatever SK sent could be abused and sent back in pieces without charge.
2. Our review would be unedited and completely honest with no strings attached.
SK never answered my email. Instead, they blindly sent us a set of their new wrenches. We set them in the box next to two other sets of ratcheting wrenches – a Craftsman set bought at the store five or six years ago and a Snap-On set bought off the truck about a year ago. Then, we just used them as we normally would…
But before I get into that, let’s get into the technical side of the wrench. Like any new wrench on the market, the X-Frames come with all kinds of “ground breaking” marketing terms that will supposedly change your life in the shop. Here’s a short list:
– 6 Pawl Technology – Essentially, this is SK’s way of saying that these wrenches have a super fine mechanism. A 1.7-degree swing to be more specific. This is achieved by using 6 dual-opposing pawls rather than the more traditional single pawl. Yeah… I have no idea what a pawl is either…
– The mechanism is also strong. In fact, it can handle five times the ANSI spec for toque.
– SK SureGrip – This is what SK calls the design of the open end side of the wrench. It’s relieved in areas and kind of knurled in others in an effort to keep you from stripping bolt heads.
– SK I-Beam Handles – This one is obvious. The wrenches have an I-Beam design that supposedly makes the wrenches more balanced in the hand and ensures more evenly distributed forces when torque is applied.
There’s more, but I’m tired of re-typing the product page. And frankly, I don’t care about any of the above. All I literally care about is usability and durability.
So, how have the SK wrenches done in our real world work environment?
Honestly, these are the best wrenches we’ve ever used… And I say that for a few different reasons. First, is the swing. Remember that “6-pawl technology” mumbo jumbo? Well, whatever the hell that marketing refers to, works and works in a big way. These are absolutely the finest geared ratchets we have in the shop and this is huge when working on bolts in restricted areas and tight spaces. Put plainly and simply, this feature alone is worth the cost of admission. No doubt.
Second, these are 6-point wrenches. I prefer 6-point wrenches because I just like the security of them, but at times they can be a pain the ass when trying to lock onto a bolt in a tight space. With the 1.7-degree swing this just isn’t an issue. It’s like have the best of both worlds.
Third, was something that kind of surprised me. Before I used the X-Frames I never really considered wrench balance all that much. I mean, I have a set of Snap-On open ends that feel really tactile in my hand and I love them. But these wrenches literally feel shaped for the hand. They just feel good.
And, it’s hard to argue against the look of the I-Beam. They are gorgeous if only for a little while… as ours will be beat to shit in no time I’m sure. BUT, given that these are made in the USA and given the build quality that is obvious when you use them, I’m fairly confident that these are going to be in the tool box for a longtime to come.