This is why we can’t watch infomercials. We see some “Why did no one think of that before!?” idea at 3 a.m., and two weeks later, a 12-tier food dehydrator arrives at our door, COD. Luckily, Craftsman’s Ratcheting Clench Wrench ($30) is a bit more refined than your average late night product pitch. It’s different than your standard wrench in several ways. For one, it folds out, just like a pocket knife—but it doesn’t need to fold all the way out to lock down, meaning you can wrench around corners. An adjustable “jaw” can clamp down on fasteners of multiple sizes. And, thanks to a cleverly placed spring, that jaw can actually ratchet, allowing you to tighten/loosen bits of metal in tight places.
“As with all of our tools, we think about user pain points and needs first,” Matt McDonnell, director of product management, hand tools, for Craftsman tells Co.Design. “In this case, we considered what happens when a DIYer finds himself away from his toolbox but in need of removing or tightening a fastener. This scenario raised additional questions such as what type of fasteners do DIYers run into? What sizes do they see most often? What activities are they doing?”
While Craftsman assures me that the pocket-knife look was an unintended, natural consequence of design parameters, I don’t think it’s something to apologize for either way. Pocket knives have passed the test of time—they’re portable, grippable and safe on your body—but how often do you find yourself in need of a knife in this day and age? You can’t use a knife to fix a leaky faucet or a wobbly table, let alone a DVD player or iPhone. (Furthermore, how many places would you get in trouble if someone knew you were carrying even a tiny blade?)
For me, it’s a wrench or a small screwdriver (possibly Torx) that has me cursing to dig up in a drawer of tools, which I guess makes me the target market. The small size does come with consequence—its jaws can’t accommodate larger nuts—but you know what they* say: Better to have the wrong tool for the job on you than the right tool for the job across town in your toolbox.
*I’ve never heard anyone use this expression, but they should. They really should.