Sometimes tools don't work as advertised. A while back, we did one of the worst power tool videos on youtube, one of which was a Black & Decker automatic adjustable wrench. The Black & Decker Automatic Monkey Wrench is advertised as a tool for the man who has it all, promising convenience and speed.
It really doesn't provide that. Surprisingly, because Black & Decker actually makes some nice tools for DIYers.
The Black & Decker Automatic Monkey Wrench Promise
Black & Decker designed the wrench to quickly and easily adjust the jaws without having to remove the wrench from tight spaces. In theory, this actually makes a lot of sense. You simply activate the button and the AA battery powered wrench opens 1-1/4 inches wide. This even accommodates some of the largest studs you're likely to come across around the house.
So what are the downsides? Well, unlike traditional tools such as Milwaukee monkey wrenches, Black & Decker automatic monkey wrenches are heavy. The extra weight comes from it having to house both the motor and the battery. It needs more mechanisms to do what it does.
The girth of this product is also quite large. Between the round handle and rather large profile, the whole tool feels a bit bulky. The beauty of the Black & Decker Automatic Adjustable Wrench is its ability to fit into tight spaces. You can place it where an outlet set might not fit. It also lets you get a firm grip on the bolt without sticking your fingers in to twist the manual adjustment control.
Black & Decker manufactures the jaws from heat-treated hardened steel. They claim up to 220 foot-pounds of torque. We're not sure how they got that number, but it probably has something to do with the amount of hand torque the tool can handle. We know that measuring torque affects angle and force. With a tool like this, it's hard to pin down numbers.
Battery powered monkey wrench?
The Black & Decker Automatic Adjustable Wrench is powered by two AA batteries. These help make the handles so thick. The battery powers the automatic adjustable wrench for up to 650 cycles (opening and closing of the jaws). While this should last you a long time, it's not the tool's major downside. Also, the manual "override" ensures that you can at least use a standard (albeit large) adjustable wrench if the battery eventually dies.
Why We Think Black & Decker Automatic Monkey Wrenches Live Up to the Hype
Overall, we think the Black & Decker Automatic Adjustable Wrench is a unique tool. Like the almost useless Craftsman Hammerhead Auto-Hammer, it might even be a fun (note we didn't say nice) gift. Like many DIY tools, this one simply won't satisfy any serious tool user. Our key issues included its extra large size requiring extra space under the sink. Targeted at restricted-access spaces, the tool actually ends up making most jobs more difficult.
More of a toy than a tool, we found that a standard monkey wrench made for a better experience. This is even for those who are less comfortable with the manual version. It also ranges in price from $39.99 to less than $25 — about 3-4 times the price of a standard monkey wrench. For the rest of us, a tool like the Irwin Adjustable Wrench seems like a better solution and offers better performance in a smaller, more versatile package.