What Is A Ratchet Wrench Used For?

There are several types of wrenches. In this article, we will look at the ratchet wrench.

What makes it unique? In what way does it differ from other wrenches? In short, what does a ratchet wrench do?

The short answer is that ratchet wrenches are tools used to fasten or loosen nuts and bolts. But regular wrenches can do that too.

Read on to find out what differentiates the ratchet wrench from other wrenches, what it does, how it does it, and why you should get one.

What The Ratchet Wrench Does

The ratchet wrench consists of two main parts: the handle and the socket. The handle is the wrench itself. The part you hold in hand and turn to tighten or loosen the fastener.

At the end of the handle is a square-shaped projection called the driver. The driver accommodates the socket.

The socket is a metal cylinder which you attach to the ratchet wrench. Sockets come in varying sizes. You buy a set of them. Each socket in your set will match a nut or bolt of a particular size.

Ratchet wrenches are made unique by their ratcheting mechanism. This is a gear mechanism which holds when you swing the handle in a particular direction, and releases when you swing in the opposite direction.

You see, when you attach a socket to the ratchet wrench and place it on the head of a fastener, and begin swinging the handle, the fastener will rotate in the direction of your swing.

If this were a regular wrench, when you make a full swing, you would have to remove the wrench, place it back in the start point, and then make another swing.

But with the ratchet wrench, you simply swing back to the start point without removing the wrench from the fastener. The ratcheting mechanism will hold, so the fastener won’t rotate back when you swing back to the start point.

This quality of the ratchet wrench enables you to work more quickly and efficiently. You can also have an easier time fastening or removing bolts and nuts in cramped spaces like behind an appliance backed against a wall.

Types Of Sockets

There are two types of sockets:

1. Shallow sockets

2. Deep sockets

Let’s look at the respective features and uses of shallow and deep sockets.

While many sets comprise one type of socket, larger ones may have both. Most comprise shallow sockets.

Shallow sockets are sufficient for most fastening and loosening jobs. They are also ideal for working in tight spaces. For instance, if you are working on a car or motorbike engine which has limited space, shallow sockets will come in handy. Plus, they are super portable.

For complex jobs, it’s better to use a deep socket. For instance, with bolted joints which have a recessed bolt, or for spark plug work. If you often work on cars, the deep socket should be part of your toolset.

Though shallow sockets will do in most typical situations, a set of deep sockets will prove a worthy investment in the event of an urgent complex repair.

A Summary Of The Uses And Benefits Of A Ratchet Wrench

  • To tighten or loosen nuts and bolts.
  • To tighten or loosen fasteners in tight spaces. This is something a regular wrench cannot do because there is no space to remove the wrench from the fastener head then refit it as you swing.

    Since the ratchet wrench does not need to be removed, you can conveniently swing back and forth in the tight space until the nut tightens or comes off.
  • The varying sizes of the sockets enable the ratchet wrench to work well with fasteners of varying sizes. This is something else it has over the regular wrench
  • The ratchet wrench’s sockets are available in both standard and metric sizes. This makes the ratchet wrench versatile in ability
  • It enables you to swing the handle in one direction and then back in the opposite direction without removing the wrench from the fastener. As a result, you can work much faster using a ratchet wrench than you would with a regular wrench
  • Some ratchet wrenches don’t need a full swing. With these ratchet wrenches, a mere tug or twist of your wrist will suffice to tighten the fastener
  • You can use ratchet wrenches without any difficulties in high vibration or cold areas. They have a high level of insulation.
  • Most ratchet wrenches have a textured grip on their handles. This gives you a greater sense of control. There is a lower risk of breakage. And your hand won’t slip on the handle while swinging it
  • The ratchet wrenches have flexible heads. Customizing them with add-ons is easy. It’s also easy to replace any parts that get damaged. You can change the heads and the size of the sockets, depending on the circumstances
  • Since ratchet wrenches enable you to use sockets that fit precisely, it’s less likely that you will round off a nut or bolt than if you used a regular wrench. Just ensure you use the right size fastener.

Who Needs A Ratchet Wrench?

1. Handymen

2. Plumbers

3. Carpenters

4. People in construction

5. Mechanics

6. Anyone who owns a car

7. And you. Yes, you. Every homeowner should have a ratchet wrench and a socket set or two.


As you have seen, ratchet wrenches are essential items in your tool set.

Nuts and bolts will always need tightening and loosening. Most of our appliances and other items in our homes, or our vehicles are fastened using nuts or bolts.

You can either use a ratchet wrench or a accurate digital torque wrench works. But as we have established, there are numerous advantages you stand to gain should you opt to use the ratchet wrench. For one, you will work faster, and more efficiently.

And you can continue to work smoothly in tight spaces.

So get yourself a ratchet wrench. Fixing things will get so much easier.

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