The Squeezewrench and similar tools rotate a nut or bolt by squeezing the handles. Only a half-inch thick, it fits many common metric and SAE sizes in tight spaces. The multi-pin Gator Grip socket (bottom) can handle damaged fasteners. Photos by Scott R. Nesbitt
With the season of giving (and getting) coming up, odds are too many techs will get ties they’ll never wear or gift certificates to stores they rarely visit.
Having just (again) reorganized my tool boxes, I came across a few cool tools that might make fine gifts. They reside in a drawer marked “special tools” — the kind of gadgets you grab when service situations get sticky.
I recently got out the Squeezewrench (above) when I saw less than 1 inch clearance between the engine compartment wall and the 10-millimeter bolts holding a water pump pulley. The wrench is about a half-inch thick and rotates the fastener 45 degrees with each squeeze. Its hex-socket head fits 14 millimeters (9⁄16 inch) and comes with adapters down to 8 millimeters (5⁄16 inch). There’s also a quarter-inch adapter to handle fasteners or quarter-inch hex drive bits.
In 30 years, the Squeezewrench has saved me countless hours and scraped knuckles. Websites offer competing versions from different makers. The best price I’ve found for mine is from the manufacturer, Spec Tools. There is a newer “Pro” model with a longer reach, a 3⁄8-inch square drive adapter, and mating extra-short hex sockets in 16, 17 and 19 millimeters (5⁄8, 11⁄16 and 3⁄4 inch). The Pro reverses ratchet direction with the flip of a switch, whereas my older model makes you flip the wrench over.
A Gator Grip multi-pin socket (also shown above) fits fasteners from 7 millimeters (about 1⁄4 inch) to 19 millimeters (3⁄4 inch), including rounded-off hex nuts and bolts. It will also grip squares, flats, multi-point Torx fasteners and other odd shapes. Online prices are low enough to give a Gator Grip as a stocking stuffer.
Step drills stay in my portable tool box because I’m a little clumsy and ham-fisted. I drop and/or break regular drill bits. A lot. Most of the time, I’m drilling holes in plastic or sheet metal, the latter of which has tendency to snag or break a drill bit just when the hole starts to open.
Step drill bits tolerate pressure and wobbling, and they can cut several sizes of holes in plastic and sheet metal. The shanks are quarter-inch hex-shaped, so they eliminate slippage in drill chucks.
My cone-shaped step bits handle pressure and wobble, and the quarter-inch hex shanks give a no-slip grip in keyless chucks. Mine range from 4.76 millimeters (3⁄16 inch) up to 35 millimeters (1 3⁄8 inch). My collection includes a tapered reamer that opens holes from 3 millimeters (1⁄8 inch) to 13 millimeters (1⁄2 inch). Online prices are also in the stocking stuffer range.
Lock ring pliers
Lock ring pliers have jaws that open when you squeeze the handles. They open up the spring steel rings used in engines, transmissions and other high-load assemblies, and they also work to install springs, remove hydraulic lifters from an engine block, spread brake pads when working on disc brakes — you get the idea.
Enjoy your holidays.
Scott R. Nesbitt is a freelance writer and former GCSAA staff member. He lives in Cleveland, Ga.