Get a Grip Irwin!

Today’s post falls into the PURE STUPIDITY category.  For Christmas, a good friend of mine gave me two vise grips from Irwin.  Whoa, before you jump to a wrong conclusion, this was not the stupid part, in fact, it was a great gift especially since I am always misplacing my wrenches.  No, the stupid description applies to the manufacturer of these products – Irwin.  Take a look at the side by side packaging for the two products:

I made it easy for you to see my issue with these two products.  One is supposedly SAE (English) and the other one is Metric.  Intrigued, I asked myself why an ADJUSTABLE wrench would need to distinguish between English units and Metric units.  Isn’t that the trade off between the skinny profile of crescent wrenches needing exact measurements vs. the more bulky but universal wrench.  Curious, I started comparing the packaging more and could only find two visible difference – that being a single digit off of the product number (2078601 – 2078602) and the SAE vs METRIC label.  They even doubled up the measurement indicator 8″ – 200mm on both packages. Turns out there was actually another difference underneath the wrenches, but I’ll comment on that in a little bit.

Somewhat surprised, I turned the packaging over assuming there had to a number of differences on the back to warrant all the duplicate packaging costs.

Unbelievable, there were only TWO differences.  One was the different bar code (one ends in 9 and the other ends in 8), and the span graphics has an SAE label on one and as expected a metric label on the other.  That’s it everyone, two completely different product packaging with 5 tiny differences.    If you were keeping score at home, you might have been surprised at the number 5 and not 4 per the images above.  There was actually another difference you couldn’t tell from the photo angle.  Underneath the tool was a matching picture of the wrench end.  Turns out, there is an engraving on the wrench end with the corresponding ruler increments.  The SAE one has an English scale:

It is very hard to tell from my photo, but there is a scale on the top of the wrench opening in 1/16″.  That engraving is actually on both sides of the tool.  Unfortunately, the metric picture is even worse than the SAE one.

This scale is in MM and as with the SAE one, is on both sides of the wrench.  Am I completely off base here, or is this as ridiculous as it seems to me.  Again, the exact measurement does not matter to me much when using an adjustable wrench other than if I want to take a measurement of the bolt in which case I’ll just slap a measuring tape across the nut.  That is the consumer view of this.  Let’s look at it from the manufacturer’s perspective.  They have to maintain two complete manufacturing product lines (well, at least the engraving step) , two complete packaging sets and keep two order/invoice sets for essentially the SAME product.  Carry this on to the reseller and now you have to have multiple tag sets, redundant shelf space and maintain two scanning/bar code price lookups.

And to top it all off, IT IS NOT A VISE GRIP (check the clamp teeth) it is a WRENCH.  Oh well, big thanks to Sung for getting me the gift, I can now keep one out in the garage and one in my toolbox to address my English and my Metric needs with the same tool.