A ratcheting wrench is a tool which can come in handy if you're working in a narrow or small space and are unable to reach the spot with your regular wrenches. This is not to say that basic wrenches don't come in handy, they do, but there are times when a ratcheting wrench can prove itself to be more helpful than any wrench in your regular set of tools. Millions of people around the world still use basic wrenches which come along with their standard tool sets, but with a ratcheting wrench, you can apply force to fasteners without even having to remove the wrench on the bolt while moving it. This is something you can't do with regular wrenches. With regular wrenches, you sometimes even have to reset the wrench if you wish to move it. A ratcheting wrench can increase the efficiency and decrease the time required to do the work.
So how do ratcheting wrenches work? In this article, we are going to tell you how these wrenches work and not just that, we will inform you about their construction as well as use.
The ratchet wrench is made up of a wrench body, which consists of a geared part and at one end, a switching assembly. A ratchet contains a gear which then consists of two-step levers, commonly known as “pawls” and these pawls are loaded with springs. At a time, only one lever of the gear is used for each direction as it can then easily catch the teeth and spring into a hole which will make it easier for it to go in one direction and not backward. To understand this better, you can take the example of a zip tie, the same mechanism and concept are used for a zip tie.
As you move the ratchet wrench to fasten and tighten what you are using it on, the lever is pushed into the gear to keep it still and stable till you tighten it or complete your work. When you wish to move the ratchet wrench or change its direction and go backward, you’ll hear a clicking noise. Well, you hear that clicking noise when the lever releases the gear to allow you to change the direction or go backward without loosening what you just tightened with the wrench. Also, the gear in the wrench is connected to an output shaft of sorts that is accepted by sockets of all different sizes and varieties which will allow you to fit different fasteners.
How to switch directions?
Every ratchet wrench has a switch, button or lever, whatever you call it, which switches the step lever (there are two step levers, as mentioned earlier) in the gear to the other side which will make it go in the other direction and allow you to loosen instead of tightening the object and vice versa.
Non-switchable ratchet wrenches are also pretty common, but they can be costlier because to use a non-switchable ratchet wrench you will have to buy the complete set and not just a wrench with a few different sockets. There's a big advantage to unidirectional wrenches, and that is you don't require multiple parts to make it move in different directions and also, fewer parts mean less chance of breaking anything or causing any damage. These wrenches are made without the switching parts and just with a spring-loaded member on the geared part. To switch the direction of the ratchet, you'll just have to remove the wrench from the fastener and turn it to the other side. Ratcheting wrenches are great for hand tools for any mechanic, be it a switchable ratchet or a non-switchable ratchet.
These automatic ratchets use the same mechanism as the hand ratchets and apply the same concept to fasten and tighten. The only difference is that these are powered by motors and different applications and can prove themselves to be even more efficient. To switch directions for fastening and loosening on this type of ratchets all you have to do is press an automatic switch/button on it. These are used in more complex places such as a roller coaster safety track.
How to use a socket with a ratchet wrench?
Step 1: Select a socket
Choose the correct size socket for the fastener you are looking to turn. If you are not sure about the size, you can try a few sockets that look closest to the size you require till you find the correct one
Step 2: Attach the socket to the ratchet
Check if the drive square of your socket is the same size as the drive square of the ratchet if not, you will need an adaptor. Next, line the drive of your socket with the drive of the ratchet. After lining up, push the socket onto the drive of the ratchet.
Step 3: Check turning direction
Check if you are turning the socket in the right direction. To do this, take the socket on your left the hand and move its handle with your right hand in left and right direction. When looking for the ratchet head, it should move the socket clockwise to tighten a fastener and anti-clockwise to loosen a fastener.
If the direction in which it is moving is wrong, just switch the direction.
Step 4: Place the socket onto the fastener
Line the head of the socket with that of the fastener or bolt you wish to tighten or loosen. If it seems fine, place the socket head on the fastener head.
Step 5: Turn the fastener
Rotate the handle of the ratchet in the direction you wish to turn the bolt.
Step 6: Keep rotating
Keep rotating and turning the ratchet handle back and forth until the bolt is tightened the way you like it, or the bolt has been loosened and removed.
Step 7: Remove the socket from your ratchet
This step depends on the socket and ratchet you have. With the inexpensive ones, you just have to pull the socket from the square drive of the ratchet. This might require a lot of efforts but just be patient with it.
With the other ratchets, you just have to press a button present on the back of the ratchet.
So that is it. Ratchet wrench can be a beneficial tool if you know how to use it. In fact, it is a staple tool for most mechanics.