I found a Craftsman Professional 10mm combination wrench recently. I have a set of these and I like them because they're almost as slim as Snap-On wrenches, yet they cost far less and they're perfect for bike work. Combination wrenches with thin wall sections are made from high-strength steel. Cheap wrenches have thicker walls. This usually isn't a problem when working on bicycles because access is easy. Working on cars is another matter, and since I still do automotive maintenance occasionally, I like having the better tools.
A cheap open-end wrench failed while I was trying to turn a frozen shaft one night. I punched my hand into a half-ton steel casting, and was very lucky that no bones were broken. If a wrench is going to fail, it will do so at the worst possible moment. This has to be a variation on Murphy's Law. Regardless, since I earn a living with my hands, I don't trust cheap wrenches.
There's an assortment of Craftsman, Proto, Williams, and Snap-On hand tools in various boxes. Park bicycle tools are well represented. All of these are perfectly functional, reliable tools, but I find some of the funky old ones attractive too. I like the VAR third hand, for instance, though to be honest, the Park Fourth Hand is probably more versatile.
Some weeks ago, our local Goodwill store had a tray of old tools on a shelf in the back. I found a Blue Point tappet wrench for 50 cents. Blue Point is a Snap-On trademark and the older tools have a stamp that indicates the year of manufacture. This one was made in 1949. I have another that came from 1951. I have just these two for now, but rest assured I'll be looking for more.
Labels: bicycle tool