If you are a serious DIY enthusiast you might know the difference between a ratchet and a spanner, but even the most accomplished handyman might need to plug a few gaps in their knowledge to get the right tool in their hand for the job ahead.
Here is a look at the subtle and obvious difference between the various hand tools available and what sort of jobs you might use them for. There is an overview of the various types of spanner from open-ended to podger, plus a look at how to apply controlled force using torque, and why you will be pleased to have a ratchet to hand.
Know your spanners
If you are shopping for spanners on a site like rs-online.com you will quickly discover how many different options and sizes there are to choose from.
There are at least fifteen distinctly unique spanners that you might need to make room for in your toolbox, including the popular open-ended spanners that most of us are familiar with to more specialist spanners like pin spanners and podgers.
You are most likely to be picking up an open-ended spanner for a number of regular jobs around the home and their u-shaped jaws are designed to give you a firm grip when positioned over the width of the nut or bolt head that you are trying to loosen or tighten.
If you are not familiar with a podger, it is a spanner that comes with a profiled head at one end and a spike at the opposite end. You use the spike or drift-pin is pushed through of two workpieces, making it easier to line them up in order to make it easier for the bolt to pass through.
Even if you don’t think you will have a need for a podger, it is highly likely that you will face a task where you need a ratchet spanner, box spanner, and even a spark plug spanner.
One thing is for sure, there is a spanner to cover virtually every eventuality.
When you need to use controlled force
If you have done enough DIY jobs you will be familiar with the dilemma you sometimes face when you need to make sure something is on tight enough to be secure and safe, but when you overdo the force and it is too tight, you run the risk of damaging the thread or breaking the bolt completely.
The solution to that problem is to use a torque-wrench.
All you have to do is to choose the right size of socket for the job, then set the torque to the desired pressure setting and take the guesswork of whether you have gone too far in your tightening efforts, or not far enough.
Helping hand with a ratchet
There will be times when you are glad that you have a spanner or wrench with a ratchet mechanism.
This offers you the ability to continue fastening without the need to disengage and it helps you to get the job done quicker without the accompanying hand fatigue if you were doing the same thing without a ratchet.
The next time you have to fix or loosen something, hopefully, you will have the right tool in your kit to help you carry out the task with the minimum of fuss and as safely and efficiently as possible.