Aimed squarely at professionals, but keen amateurs will love them too. innovative and possible the end of skinned knuckles.
For the Wera uninitiated, the launch of a new range of spanners, or in Wera –speak – of Joker Professional Ratcheting Combination Wrenches, might not signify on their product radar. But more fool them I say, because they might have missed a product that despite being “only a spanner” could be very useful to them, in solving some of their working dilemmas.
I am not a mechanic by inclination, but even with a limited experience of doing simple jobs on my car, I could see where these Wera wrenches could be a major time and knuckle saver. For professionals, they would be a very useful and long – term investment in timesaving and high quality kit.
The new Joker Combination Wrenches cannot be faulted in terms of quality. They are made from high performance chrome molybdenum steel that is then plated with a nickel-chrome coating for high corrosion protection.
The steel combination means that even very high-torque applications can be confidently undertaken. Just the feel of the wrenches in your hand will confirm that –they are slimly sleek for comfortable grip and easy access to small spaces, but are clearly very strong.
Cleverly, Wera designers have incorporated the Wera Kraftform trademark into the wrench handles, right in the middle where extra strength is needed. The indentations of the design also serve as useful thumb and finger grips for greasy hands. As usual, the finish on the wrenches is super high quality – there are simply no traces of forging marks – just smooth matte metal.
But with four other useful functions to explore, it is time to move on.
The first of these is the practical holding function. What? a spanner that holds nut or bolt heads tight so that they can be located into position easily and then tightened. A closer look shows that the Joker wrenches have metal stop plates inset into the open ended jaws. With stop plate facing downwards, the nut or bolt head can be inserted into double-hex geometry of the jaws above. The stop plate has “ledges” on the inside of the jaws that prevent the nut or bolt from falling out. The double-hex geometry ensures that the nut is placed for best advantage. All the user then has to do, at worst, is put a thumb or finger over the nut and start tightening it.
With the wrench the other way up, the holding function becomes an integrated limit stop. With the stop plate on the upper face of jaws, it acts to stop the fastener from slipping through the jaws. This means that the user does not have to steady the fastener with a thumb or forefinger before tightening it. It also ensures that the full area of the wrench jaws is located firmly onto the flat driving faces of the fastener. This minimizes any risk of slipping on the fastener, and also the nasty knuckle-crash risk associated with slipping fasteners.
But the stop plate has one more trick up its sleeve, so to speak. A close examination of it reveals that there are a couple of rows of tiny teeth on the parallel jaw sides of the wrench. When the gripping plate is facing downwards on the fixing, these teeth, when under pressure, generate a form-fit connection to the fixing. The extra-hard teeth bite into the fixing and help prevent slippage under high torque loads. Once again, a bit of thoughtful design has reduced the danger of skinned (or worse) knuckles.
It is clear from the above, that the innovative addition of a stop plate to the to the Wera Joker Wrenches range has enabled users not only to greater levels of safety, but also to extra speed and convenience too. If they are not some of the goals of innovation in design, then you are welcome to your box of old-fashioned spanners, no doubt with built-in bumps, bends and oil stains!
The double-hex geometry combined with the straight head of the wrench mean that finding purchase on a fixing is a simple matter of moving the handle only 30 degrees to reposition the wrench onto it. Gone are the days of “tighten a bit, remove wrench, turn it over, reposition on fixing, tighten a bit, remove wrench….. etc.
The next bits to explore are the “ratcheting” and “combination” part of the Joker Wrenches. Looking at the other end of the wrenches, users can see an enclosed ratchet ring. This works as slickly as an oiled turnstile. The direction of travel of each ratchet is clearly marked with an etched arrow that won’t rub off with use. Selecting clockwise or anti-clockwise rotation is as easy as turning the wrench over.
The thickness of the wrench head is a shade over 10mm, so it is designed to fit into very small spaces. But perhaps more important to most users will be the fact that the ratchet has an 80 – tooth mechanism that enables a pivot angle of under 5 degrees. In practice it means that the very end of the handle travels less than 25mm to the next stop. Tightening or loosening nuts in a confined area is probably never going to be made easier than this. Also, it eliminates the need to remove the wrench from the fixing to find the next angle of purchase needed to carry on.
For a real life lesson, I used the Joker wrenches to help me replace a headlight on my Ford Focus. Easy you might think – but not on the nearside light. It involves removing the battery and battery holder in order to reveal the back of the light holders. The space is very confined and I was able to make full use of the versatility of the Joker wrenches’ ability to remove fixings in confined spaces. Having done this job a year or so with “conventional’ wrenches and sockets I was able to appreciate just how much easier the Joker made the job. Multiply this time saving many times for a professional mechanic or enthusiast to find out just how useful the Joker range could be. The Joker set used in this review was a six-piece set with popular sizes from 10mm to 19mm in it. Packed for dispatch and display in a sturdy card box, the wrenches are contained in a strong nylon case with a hook and loop closure. The wrenches have individual spaces in the case and there is a hanging loop on the case too.
For more information on Wera Tools, please visit www.wera-tools.co.uk