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Buyers’ guide to a ratchet spanner

Buyers’ guide to a ratchet spanner

A ratchet spanner works to allow the unloosening or tightening of nuts and bolts without the need to remove the spanner from the fastener. Ratchet spanners can be purchased as double-ended, with each side a different size, or as a combination open-ended spanner on one end and the ratchet on the other. 

How does a ratchet spanner work?

The ratchet consists of gear with pawls (thin metallic strips) set in close contact with the gear which restricts the movement of the ratchet. As the ratchet is rotated by the lever the pawl rises and moves between the gear teeth. When the movement stops, the pawls drop between the teeth allowing movement in only one direction. 

The gearless ratchet on a ratchet spanner makes use of roller bearings to produce a rotary movement and operates in a similar way. Combination and double-sided ratchet spanners are sized from 8mm to 30 MMS, measured by the length of the handle. Though ratchets are generally universally measured in inches, the ratchet spanner offers metric measurements. 

High-quality ratchet spanners like the Bahco 5 Piece Spanner Set will operate on a five-degree action-angle, providing excellent torque. These tools are also reversible. 

Reversible Ratchet Spanner

Reversible ratchet spanners come with a small switch on the handle of the spanner. Flipping the switch will conveniently allow the ratchet to operate in the reverse direction, allowing for both tightening and loosening.  

How many ratchet spanners will my business need?

Ratchet spanners can be purchased individually or in sets ranging from four-piece to around 12 pieces, offering a range of sizes. If your business is centred around one type of mechanical work such as automotive or heavy industrial, you may need only a limited set of sized spanners for each team member. For precision work, a larger range will be required. 


Most ratchet spanners are constructed from chrome-plated hardened chromium-vanadium steel, which is a steel alloy characterised by durability and hardness. Chrome plating seals the metal and protects the spanner against corrosion, rusting and scratches. For a smoother finish, nickel plating is used. Satin chrome plating is also applied for ratchet spanners that will be applied in harsh environments.  

Insulated ratchet spanners are also available such as the Sibille Ratchet Ring Spanner which is insulated to 1000W.

Cases and Pouches

To keep your set of ratchet spanners together for easy access during a job and to prevent damage, store your ratchet spanners in a secure case or pouch. Many sets can be purchased with a case included. For those that don’t, ensure you have a toolbox with space for small tools or purchase a spanner pouch to ensure your items do not either get lost or damaged.

The ratchet spanner is a mainstay of a tradies tool kit. Advances in ratchet spanner design continue, so even if your tradespeople have a full set of tools, the productivity and precision work of your team will increase with an update. Consult with an expert for more information on ratchet spanners. 

To find the best ratchet spanner for your needs visit  RS Online today! 

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