Ratchet wrenches are a huge part of the toolbox of many mechanics and tradespeople, from welders to carpenters to plumbers.
Ratchets come in all shapes and sizes and can be used for countless household tasks. But if you don’t know which one to purchase, it can be tough to choose the job right tool.
Here’s everything you need to know about different types of ratchets, how they work, and which one to use!
What Is a Ratchet?
A ratchet is a tool that has teeth inside a circular ring, and there are different types of ratchets. To use the ratchet, one simply turns the crank handle in one direction to tighten or loosen its teeth.
Nevertheless, unlike simple screwdrivers, there are no spaces for the teeth on either side of the ring. All the gears inside keep them tightly together, making it easy to tighten bolts.
However, some ratchets can come with a socket attached. This means instead of turning by hand when you need something tightened down more firmly, you would turn with a wrench.
Moreso, other ratchets can have different head sizes, so they can fit whatever nut size you need. Some might even be made specifically for use in cars!
Uses of Ratchets
Ratchets are very handy for jobs requiring a lot of heavy lifting. The lever-action design enables users to create up to twice the amount of force with less effort, increasing efficiency.
Moreso, to use the ratchet, place the tip on the bolt head that you want to be tightened or loosened. And press down on the handle while turning it clockwise.
Turn until tight enough, then move the lever off the bolt head or nut. Nevertheless, a ratchet is perfect for loosening a large object that was bolted together using bolts or nuts.
Different Types Of Ratchets
1. Gearless Ratchet
A gearless ratchet head contains two sets of interlocking teeth, with one side considerably larger than the other. As the head rotates, it brings these two sets together and forces them apart.
However, a pair of curved metal plates serves as a spring-loaded pawl carrier. They force the smaller set into contact with it as the larger set is forced apart.
Moreso, the teeth will meet when tightened but disengage from each other when released or undone. This offers increased safety for users since no moving parts are in contact with each other when not used.
2. Wire Ratchets
The wire ratchets have a fast and simple mechanism among all other different types of ratchets. All you need to do is pull the cable back and wrap it around the lock you want. And put tension on the cable with your hand, and then push it in.
However, you will feel the cable catch and then release as you give it tension. Once released, pull firmly on both ends of the cable until it is taut. That is to open the lock for your door or whatever it is you want to open.
Nevertheless, Wire ratchets can also be used for hoses when installing plumbing fixtures. Such as sinks and toilets requiring water lines that need connections under a slab.
3. Nut Driver
The nut driver is one tool you may not have but should consider adding to your arsenal. It’s often faster than a wrench because it fits into tighter spaces and can also be used as a nail hammer.
Therefore, if you’re driving a lot of bolts, the nut driver is easier on your wrist than a screwdriver. Another bonus is that it will often reach places where wrenches don’t fit in tight spaces. Allowing you more flexibility in the tight quarters!
4. Flex Head
A flex head ratchet is the simplest type out of all the different types of ratchets. It has a T handle on one end with the socket and drives the head at the other.
These are great for simple jobs, but you’ll need a swivel head ratchet or impact wrench for bigger jobs.
5. Swivel Head Ratchet
A swivel head ratchet will help you turn nuts or bolts in any direction, like some different types of ratchets. This is best used when you need to access it from different angles or when space is limited. If you often find yourself in these types of scenarios, then this type may be your best bet!
6. Deep Socket Ratchets
A deep ratchet is an important tool in any toolbox, providing much more torque than a standard socket wrench. Deep sockets come in sizes 8mm, 10mm, 12mm, 13mm, 14mm, 15mm, 16mm, and 17 mm.
However, a deep socket ratchet provides power transmitted from the topmost handle. That is through an open-faced drive head to the bottom end where the workpiece is located.
7. T Handle Ratchets
T-handle ratchets are among the most commonly used ratchets among other different types of ratchets. Because they offer more leverage when dealing with a heavy load.
However, when using this type, it’s important to understand which side is the inside and which is the outside. The side where the heads meet is considered the inside.
While the flat space on either side is considered the outside. Some handles have built-in lines that indicate where these borders are. But if not, use chalk or a permanent marker to make your own.
8. Single Handle Ratchets
A single-handle ratchet is a versatile tool used as a manual or an electric. Depending on your project, you can use this ratchet with a power drill and various attachments.
However, one-handle ratchets are perfect for tightening bolts in tight places. Or hard-to-reach spaces where you need the extra leverage afforded by a long handle. This ratchet will tighten flat and hex fasteners more than other different types of ratchets.
The ratchet is a simple but powerful tool that helps you turn stubborn bolts. It has two prongs with serrated teeth, which bite into the bolt head. To use it, simply attach the teeth to the bolt head on one side of the nut.
Nevertheless, keep tension on the teeth by squeezing the handle until they grip tightly. Then pull back on the handle while simultaneously rotating clockwise until you turn the nut tight.
Moreso, once you reach this point, simply release pressure from your fingers around the handle, letting go without hesitation. And so that you don’t strip or break anything or risk ruining all your hard work. That’s all there is to it!
10. Geared Ratchet
A geared ratchet is also known as a double-acting ratchet. The idea is that you can rotate the sleeve both ways. Moreso, this type is often used on nuts with an aperture. So you can use it regardless of whether the bolt is coming out or going in.
Therefore, if you’re removing something like a wheel, it’s best to put this one on first. Because it allows you to rotate the sleeve both ways like other different types of ratchets. Resistance will not affect the rotation once it passes two rotations.
Plus, these are easier for people with problems with their fingers. Because they don’t require a lot of pressure for action. One thing about this tool is that its ratcheting clicks may not be pronounced like those found on other tools.
These different types of ratchets can change the direction of a threaded fastener. Or make one’s life easier by loosening a bolt, screw, or nut. With the right know-how, ratchets come in handy at any given time.
Although there are plenty of brands to choose from, they all share one thing in common. They can be used in more than one way.
Understanding how these tools work and their advantages will help anyone decide which ratchet suits them best.