Tool Tuesday 8/11/15

Wrenches and Socket wrenches.

These are more geared towards mechanics but still none the less handy for other things. There was a time you needed a set of SAE “standard” and a set of metric but in this day in age you really mostly need metric and a few SAE. The only SAE bolts/nuts I run into.

  • 7/16
  • 3/8
  • 1/2
  • 1inch

However I also have a set of SAE nut driver screw drivers that are used a lot with working on big home appliances that run in

  • 1/4
  • 3/16
  • 11/32
  • 5/16
  • 3/8
  • 7/16
  • 1/2

Reason being is a lot of cheap home appliances attend to use self-tapping screws.

Anyway, when tossing a tool box together for a example your car you don’t want to end up with a 100lbs box to keep in the trunk. Find out what typical bolt sizes the car uses. For a example my mini van uses 10mm, 13mm, 15mm and 16mm. I have a wrench for all of those sizes and two matching sets of sockets. One set of shallow and one set of deep well. The socket wrenches I keep are 3/8inch and 1/2inch. Three extensions for the 3/8inch wrench. I even have a 22mm socket I use for the lug-nuts since I hate using the lug wrench that came with the van. I also have a breaker bar to do the job. When putting together a tool box for a car you need tools to do basic repairs for if you get broken down. Specialty tools like a spark plug chaser, camshaft holder or even a steering wheel remover is not needed in the car.

If you fabricate stuff out of metal a typical wrench and socket wrench is helpful. I’ve used a socket wrench a few times to drive a tap into a pipe. Secured TV coaxial cable firmly and at times ended up using bolts instead of screws for projects because for some crazy reason it was cheaper to use bolts then screws let alone not able to find screws for the thread size or length. Comes in handy to install/remove standoffs to hold PCBs or brackets. Last thing you want is trying to remove a PCB and the screw turns forever and find out the standoff is trying to come up with it causing stress on the PCB.

Adjustable wrenches are a love hate relationship. Depending on what you plan to use it on is what it counts. You want a wrench that has minimal to no play with the adjustment screw. All it takes is a hair of play to strip a bolt/nut to screw up your day. Avoid cheap adjustable wrenches. Also avoid cheap socket wrenches. I have had cheap wrenches break after 10lbs of force. Spend a few extra bucks and get craftsman wrenches since they have a lifetime guarantee. A mater of fact I have two 3/8 inch socket wrenches that are at-least 50 years old and they have finally lost the ability to work. I hate to trade them in but hey, they don’t work.

Typical hand wrenches are also a hate love relationship. For the fact of the open end and all it takes is to end up in a slight angle and the wrench can slip. That is why I use the closed box end as much as possible I’ve met people that argue on the closed boxed end of wrenches and sockets on how many points the box end has. Typically they have 6 points because most bolt/but heads have 6 points. Yet people claim 8 or 12 points is better because you can get the wrench or socket on easier. Back 60 years ago bolts/nuts used 4 points and would be a total hassle at times to reach the correct spot for the wrench to make proper contact.

In all you don’t need every size wrench or socket, at one time I had every size from 1/4 to 3-1/2 inch sockets and wrenches. I had to leave them behind. Since then I only needed to buy a few. Recently I gave the first set I had from my first car to my youngest step son.


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