Types of Ratchets and Wrenches: A Basic Guide

Types of Ratchets and Wrenches

Ratchet and wrenches are necessary tools for many different jobs that you might have around your house. The ratchet is the most versatile of these two tools because it will turn in both directions, whereas a wrench only turns one way. This blog post discusses the different types of ratchets and wrenches so you can get the right tool for your job!

Types of Ratchets

The type of ratchet depends on their application. There are many types of ratchets for a wide variety of applications and they can be differentiated by drive type, head configuration, or length.

Drive Type

The ratchet can be defined by its drive type. The ratchet is determined by the way it rotates around a fixed axis, or fulcrum point, and this rotation can occur in either direction depending on how the head is configured.

There are three main drive types: square, round and double end. The square drive ratchet has a flat surface with 90 degrees of movement when turned around the fulcrum point which causes it to move in only one direction at a time. This type of ratchet can be used for light duty work because they don’t have much torque or power behind them, but are usually made from stronger alloy steel so that they won’t break under load.

The round drive ratchet works along similar lines as the square except that it doesn’t have an edge to stop rotation in both directions meaning you could wind up having your wrench rotate 360 degrees before engaging again if not careful. The round drive has the advantage of being able to turn in both directions though, which means you can wind up your fastener without having to switch direction.

Double-end ratchets are also called reversible ratchets because they have a square head on one end and a rounded head on the other for use in tight spaces where it’s difficult or impossible to fit regular wrenches.

The double-ended ratchet is used when there isn’t enough room between two objects that need tightening or unscrewing but there still needs to be some grip placed on them so this type of wrench gets around the problem by using different heads for each side.

Head Configuration

The configuration of the head helps identify what kind of work the ratchet is designed for. Ratchets have a number of different head types including open-style, ring or socket style, and box.


The most common type in use today has a 90-degree arc which can be used to loosen or tighten fasteners like an adjustable wrench except that it doesn’t need any tools because of its built-in pivoting action (which means you don’t get your hand caught).

Ring Or Socket Style

These are popular with mechanics who want more torque than what they get from standard wrenches but still require some accuracy when tightening things down like spark plugs since there is no way to stop rotation once begun. The open end on this kind of ratchet allows access into tighter spaces so it’s ideal for use in an engine compartment.


This type of wrench has a box-like head which lets you keep the torque applied to whatever needs tightening without having to hold onto the fastener itself, just like with socket wrenches but that means you have no way of keeping track of how much is being turned either so that requires some good judgment on your part when using one of these.


Ratchets are typically categorized by the length of their handle or frame, which can range from under six inches to over twelve, but there is no real difference between them regarding functionality.

The longer you have in your ratchet the more leverage you’ll have on whatever needs twisting so that makes for a stronger pull even if they don’t deliver much torque themselves, just remember that wrenches with short handles will give better access into tight spaces where long ones won’t fit at all so choose carefully depending on what kind of work you need doing.

How To Use A Ratchet

To use your new ratchet, first make sure that you have the correct size wrench as that will determine how much torque it can handle.

After inserting your socket into place on your fastener, tighten down on a secure surface to prevent slippage and give yourself more leverage so you don’t overdo things when trying to loosen or remove something.

Once all set up attaches the appropriate head onto the end of your ratchet by pushing straight down until firmly seated then pushing back towards open position while still applying pressure downwards with one hand. Once in this state keep arm muscles relaxed for better control and turn around base point once rotating only about 45 degrees further than where it was prior before loosening off again just enough to disengage from nut/bolt.

Types of Wrenches

There are many types of wrenches out there to suit your particular needs but the most common are open-ended wrenches, box end wrenches, and socket wrenches.

Open End Wrench

The simplest kind of wrench is an open-end which means you’re only going to get two directions (clockwise or counterclockwise) out of it when turned around whatever fastener you put in its jaws so that makes them best for light-duty tasks like loosening bolts before they need tightening again.

Open-ended ratchets can also be found with a screwdriver bit instead of one jaw if preferred since these kinds of wrenches work well as combination tools. This type works just fine on nuts too without having many problems getting into tight spaces between surfaces due to their thin jaws.

Box End Wrench

These kinds of wrenches have a 90-degree arc at the opening which is used to grip anything from nuts and bolts to spark plugs so you can apply torque without having your hands too close to whatever needs turning for safety’s sake, just like with an open-ended wrench but that means there’s no way for you to stop rotation once begun either unless it has another handle or bar attached somewhere else on its frame away from where the fastener sits.

The box end ratchet kind delivers good strength in most cases even if they don’t provide much torque themselves due to their long reach into tight spaces as well as being fairly compact, but this makes them impractical when working near delicate parts since those thin jaws don’t offer much protection.

Socket Wrench

The socket wrench is the most common kind of ratchet used in automotive repair shops, garages, and basements because it can handle just about anything thrown at it with very little trouble, thanks to their extremely easy way of changing sockets so you get a good range of motion when working around things like an engine block or under-carriage parts where other kids are too big to fit into even if they have enough length for better access.

Socket wrenches come in different sizes which means that if your bolt needs more torque than what standard ones provide then all you need do is use one designed for higher pressure applications instead but this also makes them unsuitable for delicate work since there’s no way to keep track of how much torque is being applied when you can’t see what’s going on.

How To Use A Wrench

To use a wrench you’ll need to select the correct size for whatever nut or bolt you’re trying to work on, place it over the end of the said fastener and then grip it with your hand. Next, you’ll want to make sure that any other wrenching devices like a ratchet are in zero-torque mode (if they have one) otherwise, there’s no telling how much torque is being applied even if all your components allow free movement which can lead to damage so be careful!

Once everything is set up correctly simply apply pressure until it loosens or begins turning before stopping at once because too much force can break things inside what needs tightening/loosening depending on where it’s located leaving broken parts behind possibly requiring replacement after removal occurs.

Combination Of Ratchet And Wrenches

If you don’t want to buy every one of the different kinds of ratchet and wrenches out there then it might be smart for you to get a combination set instead which means that you only really need one kind if parts are tight together or not; otherwise, this is also handy when working on cars since all your sockets will fit onto an open-ended wrench anyway.

These types come in many varieties but they usually have at least two ends with box end heads where opposite sides can flip over so that either way works depending upon whether turning clockwise (righty) or counterclockwise (left). Remember that some require flipping both ways while others can work either way depending on what side has been flipped around.

How To Choose The Right Types Of Ratchets And Wrenches For The Job

There are several things to consider when choosing which kind of wrench or ratchet to use for what you need. Here are a few tips to help you make the right selection:

Check The Material Use

Before using a ratchet or wrench for anything it’s important that you check the material is made out of.

Good-quality alloy steel and chrome vanadium are most common, but if your work will take you near sensitive parts like an engine then stainless steel models which resist corrosion better might be preferable to avoid potential damage from rusting or other kinds of chemical reactions since its very hard on both metals involved as well as their seals/gaskets so choose wisely just in case.

Check The Size Of Your Ratchet Or Wrench

As you might imagine, the size of your ratchet or wrench is going to matter a lot when it comes time to do some work. If it’s too small then doing anything difficult will be an uphill struggle which gets worse as wear and tear takes hold over time so make sure you’ve got what’s needed for any given task at hand before starting out on something big like major engine repairs for instance where large torque wrenches are required. You’ll also need different sizes depending upon whether you’re working with metric bolts or imperial ones.

Check how much room between head and nut there is because that dictates the length of turn possible before you need to move bolt or nut. But make sure it’s not too long because the extra leverage can result in snapped bolts if it slips off during a turn and remembers that longer wrenches tend to be heavier, so keep this in mind when making your selection.

Read The Manual Or Ask Your Mechanic For Advice

If all else fails then read the manual for advice on what type of wrench or ratchet you should use according to specifications laid down by manufacturers, but even more important is asking an experienced mechanic who knows their stuff which tools they prefer so at least there will be someone around who knows what works best given particular circumstances before starting work yourself.

Know The Difference Between Ratchet And Wrench

A wrench usually has a socket at one end, which fits the bolt head and ratcheting mechanism on the other side for turning. A good set of wrenches will contain several different sizes, either standard or metric depending on your needs.

Meanwhile, a ratchet is designed to provide you with more torque by using a sliding handle that’s attached perpendicularly to the main body of the tool so it can be swung from side-to-side during use rather than just up & down like most regular wrenches giving greater leverage.

This is easier when working tight spaces where there isn’t much room to maneuver around bolts too without fear of knocking anything off course accidentally while trying to turn something, especially if not paying proper attention since this is very easy to do.

Best Way To Store Your Wrenches And Ratchets

Wrenches and ratchets are essential tools in almost every toolbox. Whether you’re a professional or weekend warrior, it pays to have the right wrench on hand for any job that comes your way. Here are the different ways to store your wrenches and ratchets:

Storing Wrenches And Ratchets In Drawer

This is the best way to store wrenches and ratchets if you only own one set. Just make sure that your tools are organized by size or type, as some drawers can be too small for certain sized wrenches.

Hanging Tools Organizer With Wrench Pegs

A hanging tool organizer with wrench pegs may not be able to hold all of your different types of wrenches, but it’s a great solution if there isn’t enough room in your drawer. Most people use these organizers on garage walls near their workbenches so they don’t have to search drawers whenever they need a wrench.

Toolbox Organizer Tray With Wrench Holders

If you plan on getting more wrenches, this is the way to go. A toolbox organizer tray with wrench holders can be used for all your different types of wrenches and ratchets while still staying organized in one place. You’ll only have to take up a small amount of room in your drawer or garage floor since most trays will sit inside a larger toolbox.

Tools On Pegboard And Wrench Holder Stands

If you’re looking to store your wrenches and ratchets on the wall, buying a separate wrench holder stand will keep everything organized. A pegboard with tool holders is also another great option for those who want to hang their tools up where they can see them.

It doesn’t matter how many sets of wrenches or ratchets that you own. There are plenty of ways to organize them so that each set has its place. Just remember, if you plan on getting more in the future it might be best to invest in an organizer tray instead of trying to make do with what’s already available in your drawer or garage floor space.

Tips When Using A Ratchet And Wrench

Even though a ratchet and wrench are both very useful tools, they can cause some problems if you don’t know when to use them. Here are a few things that every person should remember:

Don’t Force It

If your ratcheting mechanism or movement of the handle is too stiff, then it may be time for a new one. You shouldn’t have to force any of your tools in order for them to work properly. If you do, then it may be time to take them out and examine the problem more closely before continuing with your project.

Don’t Use The Wrong Tool

It’s easy when working around bolts or nuts that are stuck to just grab whatever is closest to you. However, this can be a big mistake if the wrench or ratchet that you use isn’t designed for loosening bolts.

This will only cause damage and make it nearly impossible to loosen the bolt without using an impact driver due to over-torquing which could create more problems than before you started working on the project. You can also use an impact wrench with sockets to loosen stubborn bolts too.

Use The Right Amount Of Pressure

The amount of pressure needed to turn a bolt or nut varies depending on the size and type of tool that you’re using. Forcing too much tension can cause damage to whatever it is you’re working with, but not applying enough could leave you stuck there until someone else comes along to help (if they do at all). It takes some trial and error until you find the perfect balance for each specific job, so don’t give up if something doesn’t work right away.

Just keep trying different levels of torque until what needs to be taken off comes loose without any further difficulty afterward. Using ratchets and wrenches correctly will make every project easier whether it’s big or small and knowing the difference between each will save you a lot of time and frustration in the future.

Common Problems When Using A Ratchet And Wrench

When using a ratchet and wrench, there are some common problems that can be easily avoided:

Over-tightening Bolts

When you are using a ratchet and wrench, it is important not to over-tighten bolts. This can strip or damage the material you are tightening. If the bolt feels like it is going too tight when turning with your hand, stop immediately and go back in reverse one turn before continuing again slowly. If you continue to tighten a bolt too much, it can be very hard to remove in the future.

Slipping Off Bolts

In order to prevent slipping off bolts, follow these steps: First, make sure that the head of your wrench is positioned properly on a bolt.

Make sure you have a firm grip and are making contact with both sides of the socket at all times while turning in one direction only. While applying pressure, check to see if any movement is occurring. If so, stop and reevaluate your approach.

If you do not have a firm grip on the wrench itself to prevent slipping off bolts it may result in damage or injury.

Using A Wrench That Is Too Small

A ratchet and wrench should fit securely over the head of the bolt that needs tightening or loosening for maximum results when using tools such as these. Using a smaller tool can make it harder to turn a screw all the way loose or tighten down properly.

This will also cause more time spent turning, which could take up too much room, resulting in stripped screws being stuck somewhere they are not supposed to be within an item’s design. etc.

Avoiding These Common Problems

By using a ratchet and wrench properly, you will be able to avoid these common problems that can easily happen when attempting to use this tool.

Be sure to follow the instructions carefully and avoid over-tightening bolts, slipping off of nuts or bolts, and using a too-small wrench for the too-small head. These tips will help you complete any job with ease when adding this tool to your set of equipment.



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