Drummer and Crabby Tool inventor Doug Berglund has been a drummer in the music scene since the 60’s. During this time, he has been a consistent jobbing drummer, which means setting up and tearing down every night. It’s fair to say that drum hardware from the 1960’s to the mid-1990’s wasn’t always very rugged. To hold a drum or accessory in place, a drummer would occasionally need to over-tighten the wing nut. Often, they’d use a standard wrench, 2 drumsticks, or pliers, which would chew up the flanges of the wing nut or sometimes damage the hardware.
The Crabby Tool is simple. Developed over decades, it is simply a wrench to primarily tighten wing nuts, but with one unique twist; the wrench grips onto both sides of the wing nut from the front. This allows for added torque and important dexterous feedback to the person using it if the wing nuts have been over-tightened.
You may have seen advertisements for The Crabby Wrench on the web, in CityPages, or a write-up in the November 2019 issue of Modern Drummer. It holds a patent in the United States and in several other countries. It is machined out of 6061 aluminum, so it’s light weight. And it can also be useful beyond just drum-related applications.
Minnesota Drummer interviewed Doug Berglund to ask what is so special about this wrench/pliers hybrid, and to find out why every drummer should have this Minnesota product in their toolbox.
MND: When did you first release this wrench?
Doug: The first run, a small batch, was released in the summer of 2015. A friend of mine in northern Minnesota, named Tomlinson Schulz, bought three wrenches for his building company. They’ve been building high-end custom homes for over 30 years, and obviously have done well without any of my wrenches. But he could see their potential and had a bunch of ideas of where they could be used.
MND: How has it been received so far?
Doug: So far, all the feedback has been extremely positive. All drummers know exactly what they’re for and have an immediate use for them. And that’s rewarding. But non-drummers also buy them, usually for a specific need (storm windows, basement drainpipes, etc) or to solve a particular problem. And people are more and more buying them as gifts for drummers, or for that tool aficionado friend that’s always bragging about owning every tool. I actually sold one right in a local (unnamed) music store. Literally, right in front of the manager. I asked him if we should take our business outside the building, but he said, “No, go ahead. We don’t sell ‘em, so you’re not taking away any of OUR business.” Now that’s an experience you don’t have every day.
MND: Is there anywhere locally you can buy it or only through your website?
Doug: Well, the website so far is my main outlet. But I have them in three stores: Flatland Guitar and Lutherie in Fargo ND, the Guitar Factory in Perham MN, and also in a cool neighborhood hardware store, Nokomis Hardware, right here in south Minneapolis.
MND: How does this wrench work?
Doug: It has the same feeling of your standard pliers, but the opening jaws grab onto BOTH wings of a wing nut from straight on. You don’t go in from the side like you would a pliers. It actually goes around the screw part of the wing nut and allows you to clamp on super tightly. It works just as well with eye bolts, ceiling hooks and thumb screws. It’s simple. And I had been looking for one for years before I decided to take matters into my own hands. I’m still amazed that no one has ever invented one. A pliers can only grab one fin, one wing of a wing nut. This wrench clamps firmly onto both!
MND: Why do you feel every drummer needs to have this in their toolbox?
Doug: Well for sure it’s a time-saver. I just keep it in my hand the entire tear-down process and loosen everything quickly as I get to it. And for setting up, it’s perfect. You never have to hope you’ve secured a cowbell or cymbal stand. Every drummer has used the 2-stick parallel twist method. But you’re never really sure. With the wing nut wrench, a few turns and you know. Plus, as you’re setting up, you can tighten first by hand, and then once you’ve got everything exactly right, you or the crew can just go around the horn and securely tighten each piece one last time before the performance. It’s pretty basic: drummers hit things, and when you pound on something eventually it gets loose. But not with The Crabby Wrench.
MND: How did you come up with the idea for this wrench?
Doug: The idea came simply out of a need I had. I rarely had new equipment, so I’d always be mixing and matching pieces, or duct-taping things for the night. I’ve had many cymbal stands with last minute duct tape repairs collapse on me, or a cowbell that loosens and pivots away from me while performing.
MND: How did you develop your idea?
Doug: Thirty years ago, I used an acetylene torch on a metal cutter, pliers type tool and burned a hole right in the middle of its closed jaw. That hole would be for the screw part of a wing nut. It was very crude, but it worked. I could tighten and loosen wing nuts without any worry of them ever coming loose or being on to tight for me to loosen and pack up after the gig. I used it for years.
Many years later, I was teaching economics in a Minneapolis high school when I learned that the industrial tech department had a 3D printer. I was fascinated by it and asked the teacher if he had a student that might want to work on an independent project for me. He did, and the young man took my rugged handmade wrench and typed the dimensions into digital format onto a computer program he had. We loaded that into the 3D printer and crossed our fingers.
After looking into some different manufacturers, I came upon a great guy in Fridley, named Justin Stone, who runs a tight little shop called TFI. They do superior work and he was able to make them out of aircraft aluminum. They’re super strong.
MND: You have several patents in multiple countries. Can you tell us about patent protection and why you have them in multiple countries?
Doug: Yes, this was the biggest shock to me. You don’t just get one patent and you’re done. You have to get a patent in every country you plan on selling or manufacturing in. So, I have patents in Canada and Mexico, USA of course, and a beautiful, ornately-decorated patent for China. The best one though, is for the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) which covers, I believe, something like 17 of the 28 EU countries. So, I’m not selling there yet, but I’d hate to get the shot to sell there and not have covered all the angles.
MND: Did I recently see a write up in Modern Drummer and your ad in City Pages?
Doug: I’ve been advertising in the City Pages for over a year But when the wrench was featured in the New and Notable section of the November issue of Modern Drummer, I started getting more sales from all over the USA, not just Minnesota.
Once that issue came out, sales from all over the country started picking up. I love City Pages but Modern Drummer, both its paper and digital formats, has a wider and more specific readership base.
MND: Why do you call your business Crabby Tools? Are you a crab?
Doug: No, I’m typically a pretty happy guy. But I was crabby one night after talking with my Patent Lawyer about a name I had chosen. I had already decided on the name Cadence Tools & Accessories for the company. I registered the name in St Paul, I had a logo drawn up, the monkey on the drums, the CTA initials – everything was in place and on course. Nothing is easy when you’re starting up a new company, so when things started to fall into place, I was relieved and happy.
Then one night my patent lawyer, in one of his searches (this time state by state) came upon a small company in CA that made percussion equipment, music stands, drum keys and such…nothing like my wing nut wrench. But my lawyer advised me that because both companies had to do with music, both companies had to do with drums, it would not be unreasonable for somebody, at some time to confuse the two companies. Ouch! Now THAT made me crabby.
So, I’m driving home all mad thinking that I want to keep the monkey, the wrench logo, the drums and not having any ideas for a C for my CTA, and then it hit me: I was all crabby, what the heck…I’ll go with it! It wouldn’t be the first company with a unique name, there is Road-Kill T-Shirts, Angry Orchards Apple Juice, We Buy ugly Houses…why not use Crabby Tools? The name has stuck ever since. Looking back, I‘m pretty glad I made the change.
Yeah, Crabby Tools. I think it has a nice ring to it!
Be sure to check and pick up this wrench out at: www.crabbytools.com