Black & Decker Automatic Adjustable Wrench – A Look Back

Black & Decker Automatic Adjustable Wrench

Sometimes tools don’t quite live up to the hype. Not too long ago, we did a worst power tools video on youtube and one of the entries was the Black & Decker Automatic Adjustable Wrench. Billed as a tool for those who have everything, the Black & Decker Automatic Adjustable Wrench promised convenience and speed.

It truly delivered neither. Surprising, since Black & Decker actually makes some decent tools for DIY users.

The Promise of the Black & Decker Automatic Adjustable Wrench

Black & Decker designed the wrench to quickly and easily adjust the jaws without having to remove the wrench from a tight space. In theory, that actually made a lot of sense. You just activate the button and the AA battery-powered wrench opened as wide as 1-1/4 inches. That would accommodate even some of the largest bolts you’re likely to encounter around the house.

So what was the downside? Well, unlike a traditional tool—take Milwaukee adjustable wrenches for example—the Black & Decker automatic adjustable wrench is heavy. The extra weight comes from it having to house both a motor and batteries. It needs a bit more mechanics to do what it does.

A Bulky Mess

The product also had a lot of girth. Between the rounded handle and its rather large form factor, the whole tool felt a tad unwieldy. Where the Black & Decker automatic adjustable wrench shined was in its ability to fit into tight spaces. You could place it where a socket set might not fit. It also lets you get a tight grip on a bolt without the need for reaching your fingers in to twist the manual adjustment control.

Black and Decker made the jaws from heat-treated hardened steel. They claimed up to 220 ft-lbs of torque. We’re not sure how they got that number, but it likely had to do with the amount of manual torque the tool could handle. We know that measuring torque factors in both angle and force. It’s a difficult number to pin down for a tool like this.

Black & Decker Automatic Adjustable Wrench

A Battery Powered Adjustable Wrench?

The Black & Decker automatic adjustable wrench got its power from two AA batteries. Those contributed to making the handle so thick. The batteries powered the automatic adjustable wrench for up to 650 cycles (opening and closings of the jaws). While that should last quite a while, it wasn’t the main downfall of the tool. Also, the manual “override” ensured you could at least end up with a standard (albeit large) adjustable wrench if and when the batteries eventually ran out.

Why We Think the Black & Decker Automatic Adjustable Wrench Didn’t Live Up to the Hype

Overall, we thought of the Black & Decker automatic adjustable wrench as a unique tool. Like the almost useless Craftsman Hammerhead Auto-Hammer, it might even make a fun (notice we didn’t say good) gift. Like many DIY tools, this one simply didn’t match up to the needs of any serious tool user. Our key issue included that its oversized form required additional space underneath sinks. Targeting spaces with limited access, the tool actually ended up making most jobs more difficult.

More of a toy than a tool, we found that a standard adjustable wrench makes for a better experience. That even goes for those not as handy with the manual versions. It also priced anywhere from a high of $39.99 to just under $25—about 3-4 times the price of a standard adjustable wrench. For the rest of us, tools like the Irwin adjustable wrenches seem to be a much nicer solution and offer better performance in a smaller, more versatile package.

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