Ratchets are used for securing objects or materials. They come in different sizes and types. There are many kinds of ratchets available such as Phillips, Allen, Torx, T25, T30 and others. Most of them have a special head which makes it easier to use with one hand while still being able to grasp the object firmly enough so that it won’t fall off when tightened down. Ratcheting is usually done using a screwdriver or other small tool. However, some ratchets are designed specifically for use with your hands only. These include the ratchet used in the carabiner shown here:
The ratchet shown above is called a “carabiner” because it’s main purpose is to secure a rope or similar device to your harness, pack, etc. When you want to rappel down from a high place, for example, you’ll need something like this:
However, if you’re just trying to clip your shoes onto a climbing hold without having to untie your harness first, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t use the ratchet shown here instead:
It’s not quite as strong as the carabiner version (and it requires two hands), but it will do the job. And because it’s so cheap (about $2), you might want to keep several in your pack, so you’ll always have a spare.
To use this ratchet, just hold it firmly in one hand and quickly turn the knob with the other:
The ratchet will catch on the teeth making it much easier to tighten or loosen whatever you’re trying to secure. You can also use it to lock an object in place. For example, if you’re holding a plank that’s longer than your arms can reach, you could lock the ratchet and then move to the other end of the board before releasing it.
As shown in this next photo, the ratchet is not easy to use with just one hand:
You need something like pliers or large tweezers to grab the knob and twist it (which is why some versions have a loop on top rather than a knob). However, it’s still possible to use it with one hand if you happen to have a pen or pencil handy:
Here’s another example of a ratchet, this time one that is designed to be used without any additional tool:
These ratchets are meant for situations where you need a lot of leverage, such as when you’re trying to pull yourself up onto a ledge. They’re also pretty handy for untying knots (such as those found on climbing holds).
As with many of these tools, it’s not possible to tighten them completely by hand. For that you’d need a tool like pliers or large tweezers again.
Anyway, that wraps up our discussion of ratchets for now. In the next section we’ll talk about adjustable wrenches.
Advantages of Adjustable Wrenches
As the name suggests, adjustable wrenches allow you to adjust the width of the wrench for a tight fit when turning a nut or bolt. The two halves of the wrench can be moved towards (or away from) each other to increase or decrease the size of the gap between them. The closer the two sides of the wrench are together, the smaller that gap will be. As a result, it will be easier to turn a bolt or nut and therefore less likely you are to over tighten or under tighten it.
In addition to being adjustable, these wrenches work in a similar way to channel lock pliers (except that the jaws in adjustable wrenches usually can’t rotate as much). The two sides of the wrench are held together by a movable pivot. To use one, you just slip it over the nut or bolt that you want to turn and then turn the movable pivot with your hand. The nut or bolt will turn within the jaws of the wrench as you do so.
As far as choosing a good adjustable wrench goes, you should again make sure that it is sturdy and has a good solid construction. You can also get heavy duty adjustable wrenches that are made from thick steel alloys, which are virtually unbreakable.
Adjustable wrenches come in a few different sizes, so you will need to choose the size that is appropriate for the nuts and bolts that you most commonly work with. As a very general guideline, if you have small hands, then you’ll probably be looking for a 6-inch adjustable wrench, while those with larger hands will want an 8-inch wrench. You can, of course, get 12-inch wrenches or even ones that are smaller than 6 inches. The size that you choose really depends on your own personal needs.
It’s a good idea to have several adjustable wrenches of different sizes so that you always have the right one on hand when you need it. This isn’t always possible however, so having a few favorites is a good idea too.
Sources & references used in this article:
Attachable and detachable car top carrier by GOW Olson – US Patent 2,888,178, 1959 – Google Patents
Ratchet tie-down by W Breeden, R Johnson – US Patent 8,099,836, 2012 – Google Patents
Ratchet for load-securing tie-down strap by DM Pehar, JP Carlson – US Patent App. 29/333,278, 2011 – Google Patents
Winch for cargo tie-down straps by J Fortin – US Patent 7,108,246, 2006 – Google Patents
Slidable ratchet tensioning device and tie-down assembly by SD Jackson, JA Headd – US Patent 6,195,848, 2001 – Google Patents
Quick fasten and release tie down device by D Christensen – US Patent 5,271,127, 1993 – Google Patents