The spanner is an essential tool in any tradesperson’s arsenal—but constantly twisting, removing, and replacing the tools is hard work! Thankfully, ratchet spanners are here to make the job easier.
In this article, we’ll talk about what ratchet spanners are, what you might use one for, and guide you through how to use these specialised tools.
What is a ratchet spanner?
A ratchet spanner or socket wrench is a type of wrench with an in-built ‘ratcheting’ mechanism, which allows the user to turn a nut or bolt only in a single direction. There’s no need to continually remove and reapply the tool as you would with a regular spanner—you can do it all with a few swift rotations.
Many ratchet spanners allow you to change the direction the tool can turn, either by adjusting a special lever on its head or handle or simply turning the spanner around.
The tools typically feature a flare, ring, or open-ended head and come in various sizes. You’ll usually be able to switch out the socket head for different jobs—some tools even come with a quick release mechanism to make this process easier.
Ratchet spanners are usually more expensive than other spanner types, but for many businesses, the time savings are well worth the extra costs.
Choosing the right ratchet spanner for your needs
Ratchet spanners are popular for workers needing to tighten and loosen several bolts quickly. The most common application is automobile repair and manufacturing, although the tools are useful across all trades, including engineering and construction.
The type of ratchet spanner you choose will depend on the type of fastener you’re working with and the space you need to access.
Firstly, select the appropriate socket—hex for hex fasteners, square for square fasteners, and so on.
You’ll then need to consider the length. The most common socket wrench length is about 8mm, which should be suitable for most jobs. You can find ratchet spanners up to 600mm in length for extra reach and leverage in hard-to-access spaces.
How to use a ratchet spanner
Now you’ve chosen the right type of ratchet spanner; it’s time to put it to good use!
Here’s a quick step-by-step guide.
- Attach the appropriately sized socket and attach it to the ratchet spanner’s handle. Make sure the socket’s bottom hole aligns with the drive tang and push it to attach.
- Ensure the turning direction is correct—for loosening, the handle should turn counterclockwise, and for tightening, clockwise.
- Place the socket onto the fastener and slide it over until it’s secure. You may need to rotate the tool for a tight fit.
- Turn the ratchet handle until there is no more room to move it. Then, rotate it back to its starting point, and turn it again, repeating the process until you’ve tightened or loosened the fastener.
Conclusion and quick summary
Ratchet spanners are a fantastic option for quickly loosening and tightening nuts and bolts. Whether your business lies in automotive manufacturing, engineering, or another trade, you’ll love the time-saving benefits of investing in these handy tools.
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