Tool Review: Stanley 55-119 FatMax FuBar

Tool Review: Stanley 55-119 FatMax FuBar

I saw some of these wicked-looking crowbars while browsing the big orange store back in April. Curious, I fired off an e-mail to Stanley about a review, and they happily obliged me with a free tool.

At 15.25″ / 38.74 cm long, the 55-119 is the shortest crowbar in Stanley’s FuBar line. It weighs in at 2.56 lbs / 1.16 kg and consists of a single piece of forged steel covered in a baked-on high-visibility yellow finish and wrapped in an 8.5″ / 21.6 cm medium-hard black rubber handle, which I split with a razor and removed for the photo above, so you can see what’s under the hood.

Features include a ground, hardened hammer-face, a board-grabbing jaw sized for nominal two-by lumber, and a fairly conventional pry-bar head at the pommel. But instead of a split end nail puller, the FuBar line sports a scalloped teardrop-shaped slot for pulling nails.

Now, about the name “FuBar:” Stanley insists it stands for “Functional Utility BAR,” but, well, we all saw Saving Private Ryan, right? Testostero-marketing elements like the naughty name and fantasy-battleaxe styling all seem rather carefully calculated to appeal to geekier, desk-bound men of the WoW generation, of which I generally count myself one. And in my case, at least, it works: Let’s **** something Up Beyond All Recognition! Not only will I be well-equipped to hang Xmas lights outside my house this year, I’ll be well-armed to fend off the neighborhood’s annual ninja-gang attack.

In fact, the actual uses to which I put the 55-119 were somewhat less exciting. Over the course of two months, it has hung on the pegboard hooks that usually hold my trusty claw hammer, which is staying at a motel until we can work things out. I used it for light-duty home improvement work and “demolition,” which consisted mostly of driving and removing nails on the interior and exterior walls of the house, and knocking down a couple of shipping pallets for a forthcoming reclaimed-wood project.

As a pry-bar, the 55-119 comes up short, quite literally. 15″ really isn’t long enough to make an effective lever for most demolition purposes, and I have a hard time imagining a situation (other than perhaps for hanging the tool up for storage) where the two-by board jaw would really be that useful: Sure, you can grab a 2-inch plank with it, but you’re going to throw your shoulder out of socket trying to pry on just about any construction using 2-inch lumber with a 15″ lever.

Even in the relatively light duty of pallet demolition, the hammering and nail pulling functions proved to be vastly more useful than the pry-bar. If I were going to buy a FuBar for any purpose besides driving and pulling nails, I’d go for one of the longer models.

As a replacement for my claw hammer in these functions, however, the 55-119 FuBar works well. In fact, I think I actually prefer it for strictly claw-hammer jobs: It pounds just as well, and pulls nails quite a bit bitter, IMHO—perhaps because of the seemingly increased leverage inferred by moving the nail puller down to the pommel, or by the improved action of the nail-puller slot over a traditional claw.

Plus it looks way cooler. Seriously: The appearance of a tool makes a difference in the pleasure you take in using it and, perhaps more importantly, in the impression it makes as a gift. And from a strictly functional point of view, the bright yellow finish makes it much easier to find when you drop it in the flowerbed.

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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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