I love comfortable hand tools. Whether its a nicely designed hammer, or a great handle on a screwdriver, a well-designed tool that fits your hand perfectly is all the more easier to use. The 11-piece Pliers & Wrench Tool Set from Kobalt Tools is beautiful to look at and easy to handle. Though these tools are made in China, they seem to have a decent heft and quality about them that lets you know they will be around for years to come.
The pliers come wrapped in the standard cobalt blue and gray comfort handles. These two-tone handles are double injected to give them their appearance and texture. We liked their feel and they worked well with gloved hands in our field testing. Each of the pliers is made of chrome-nickel and they are drop-forged, which is to say a humongous hammer pounds the hot metal into a mold during the forging process. It makes for a strong tool and is the common method used in creating tools like this.
We found the black powder-coated finish to be beautiful, but don’t expect it to last forever. In our testing it didn’t take much for the finish to come off with any bumps against metal or abrasive use. This comes with the territory, however, and anyone who expects their tools to stay perfect forever isn’t using them.
Testing and Use
We liked using the Kobalt pliers and wrenches. As we mentioned, they are comfortable and seem capable of holding up to extended use over time. The 8″ long nose pliers were excellent for stripping Romex in a pinch and bending the wire into a ‘J’ for insertion into a standard power receptacle.
We used the adjustable wrench and found it to be easy to configure. It also held its settings well, something that is a pet peeve of mine on cheap adjustable wrenches in general. The wrench also has an oversized mouth that opens it up just over an inch in width. Both sides have laser-etched markings in both SAE and metric sizes. The 8″ slip joint pliers were easy to adjust as well and we found it easy to place them on a variety of materials.
Both the 8″ long nose pliers and 7-1/2″ diagonal pliers had effective cutting surfaces and we found we could cut cleanly through 12/2 electrical wire without any real difficulty. Cutting was smooth and also afforded no undue strain on your hands, meaning that these tools have adequate leverage and don’t require excessive force to cut cleanly through thicker gauge wire.
One thing we did note, however, was that the five wrenches have such a smooth surface that when they become oily they slide out of the hand easily. With wrenches this can easily result in minor hand injuries, so either wear gloves or otherwise ensure that your hands stay on the tool. We’ve seen competing models with roughened textures that do a better job of keeping your hands on the tool where they belong.
These tools are easy to use and nice to look at – though that isn’t exactly the number one important thing to consider when purchasing pliers and wrenches. We don’t think the Kobalt wrenches included in this set will replace any of your professional wrenches anytime soon, but they will work for light duty jobs. Watch out when using the SAE wrenches around oil-based substances, but other than that we feel these are a good set of tools for the home or journeyman user.