The new Stiletto titanium flat bars are 45% lighter than a steel flat bar of the same size, offer better shock resistance and they are just plain cool because no one else has one! “Powerful, Painless and Lightweight” is what Stiletto Tools claims and we are about to check this out first hand as we take a closer look at their newly released series of Titanium Flat Bars.
We first saw the prototype versions of these Stiletto titanium flat bars while we were out at the 2009 International Builder’s Show (IBS) in Vegas. Our initial response was “there is no way that is going to work!” Prying is some heavy duty work and even steel flat bars have been known to bend so how can you expect these to work? Well to start with we needed to give ourselves a little education on the titanium material to better understand what we were dealing with.
There are several key properties that make titanium a unique material. The most useful are its corrosion resistance and the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any metal. In its unalloyed condition, titanium is as strong as some types of steel, but weighs in 45% lighter. What makes Titanium interesting is that it is a very strong metal but has a pretty low density and it is quite ductile too. A ductile material is one that can be deformed (bent) without fracturing or breaking the material . Titanium is the ninth-most abundant element in the Earth’s crust and the seventh-most abundant metal. So now for the obvious question, why is it so expensive? Of course with all its good qualities, the negative is that it is much more difficult to extract and refine the metal from its natural state. The refining and production processes are in part what makes the finished product so costly. Also, due to its curious characteristics, it makes the metal more challenging to machine, forge and mold. With respect to other tools, titanium hammers are more healthy thanks to their reduced weight and greater potential for striking. Ok enough of the science class, lets get back to the review!
Our test tools arrived all ready to go after we took the plastic wrappers off. The particular tools we received for our review were the 15″ and 11.5″ flat bars and the 7.5″ Glazer’s flat bar. The tools all have a subdued gray finish with black lettering and logos on the main flat parts of the bars. Grinding marks are visible where the edges of the pry bars have been sharpened. There were no mold marks or other blemishes that indicated how the tools were manufactured and the tools edges were all smoothly finished. To further evaluate these tools, we will take a closer look at the two different types we received.
15” & 11.5” Flat Bars
These bars have numerous features that help set them apart from their steel counterparts that are so common on the market. Both the 15″ and 11.5″ bars featured the same great items, with the smaller bar being a scaled down version of the bigger bar. To give you an idea of how light these bars really are, the 15″ only weighs 1 lb 1oz and the 11.5″ weighs almost half of the bigger one at only 8.8 oz. Stilletto tells us to not let these lightweights fool you, though because they intended this tool to be used by the likes of serious framers, roofers, concrete workers, and finish carpenters. Some of the special features include front and rear nail pullers, a nail puller on the arch, built in staple puller and a bottle opener (do sodas need a bottle top opener this days? Of course no one drinks out on the job anyways – that’s for after hours when you are showing off your new prized pry bar to your buddies down at the local brew house!). With the long thin design, maximum leverage can be exerted even in tight spaces especially given the variety of nail pulling positions.
We figured the best way to see what these bars could do was to try the various nail pulling positions. We found that we had no trouble and that the bars worked almost effortlessly when we pulled loose a bunch of some 16D’s sunk in to a few 2×4’s. The staple puller was one of the really unique features that make these bars even more handy. How many times have you resorted to using a flat screwdriver to pry staples? We pretty much tried all the functions that the bars offer, including opening up a brew – and all was accomplished without fail. The lightweight feel of the bars made us feel like we had to baby it at first but after a short while we gained the confidence and treated them just like our steel flat bars. The one thing that we did notice is that the fine edges on the ends of the pry bars did get nicked up a little bit from our relatively small amount of nail pulling and hammering so we do wonder a little bit about their longevity. The good news is that the edges were able to be cleaned up with a few, quick strokes of a flat file.
7.5″ Glazers Flat Bar
These specialty bars are intended for folks who work with windows and doors, but of course we know that most carpenters will appreciate the smaller size of these bars for removing trim, scraping and lightweight prying. The Glazer’s Flat Bars utilize a long and thin shank with a scraper like end on it. Two nail pullers are integrated on the arch end, each with the ability to exert leverage in different ways. (Sorry guys no bottle openers on this size bar, you have to grab the 11.5″ Glazer’s Flat Bar to get that!) We used the bar to pry off some old trim and found that the slender, sharp blade-like end was easy to get between the wall and the trim. This little bar only weighs 3.4 ounces so when it is in your pocket or tool pouch, you don’t even know it’s there!
If your number one motivation in tool buying is that you have to have the absolute best, unique and specialized tools, then Stiletto is for you. Obviously, if you are in the market for some really cool pry bars like these, cash is not the issue as much as the performance you are looking for. These deliver in the performance department for sure with their lightweight yet strong as steel design along with some very innovative features. For our Performance rating we gave these an 8/10 because they definitely offer some great features, but we are a little held back by how they seem to nick up so easily. For our value rating, it was a little tricky for us to determine what is fair. The MSRP’s range from around $60 for the small bars up to $160 for the full size pullers. Given these are the only ones on the market, it makes them unique, but also, since they are relatively expensive, they can be hard to replace. We think that they just might have the tendency to “walk” off jobs sites pretty easily, so rather than providing a leash for them, Stiletto is now offering a “Personalization Program” that will help avoid theft and make the tools yours. All joking aside, we really liked these Stiletto Flat Bars and given the high cost of Titanium goods – even in other markets, we decided that we will give these bars an 8/10 for our Value rating. We think that these Flat Bars are worth the money to have the best and most unique tools around.