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Speed wrench complete guide

Speed wrench

Speed wrenches come in a few different forms and various sizes. The one thing they all have in common is that they’ll save you time. Instead of having to reposition the wrench with every turn, they let you keep on turning without removing the tool until the job gets done.

When you’re carrying out maintenance work and undoing a lot of nuts and bolts, the time you’ll waste using a regular wrench soon mounts up. It gets worse if you’re working in a tight space and can’t turn the wrench far. A tool you only engage once becomes invaluable in that scenario.

Let’s be franck, speed wrenches are very standard those days. Many brands manufacture such tool and there is not much variation in terms of quality depending on the brand. The trick here is actually to be able to find the most suitable and handy package of wrenches at the lowest price. The ToolsSeeker team has spent some time trying to spot the best deals in the market to save you some time!

Our top pick

Our top pick
$49.9
WORKPRO 8-piece Flex-Head

Flexible and pivotal ratcheting heads

Multi size wrenches

Treated metal with enhanced grip^

Transportable packaging

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The common denominator in all speed wrenches is either a ratchet design or a design which enables a ratcheting action. This is what enables their use without continually removing them from the fastener. It’s what makes them so much easier and quicker to use.

To switch between tightening and loosening, you have to flip some wrenches over. Others have a handy lever which lets you change the direction of their grip. The latter necessarily include a mechanism, which means they’re likely to cost a little more money.

If you don’t plan to spend fortunes buying all types of speed wrenches, we highly recommend to buy « combo » speed wrench. By « combo », we mean speed wrenches with a ratcheting side and another side with a static opend end. Below is the best package we have found that match such requirement.

This package comes with the following wrenches characteristics:

  • Size:5/16, 3/8, 7/16, 1/2, 9/16, 5/8, 11/16, 3/4 inch.
  • 72-tooth ratchet gear needs only a 5-degree working swing arc
  • Universal ratcheting box end fits on 4, 6, 12 pt, spline, external Torx and even rounded fasteners
  • Box end head pivots 180 degrees to easily get around obstructions
  • Flexible rotation is convenient for small space operation and effortless operation

Different types of Speed Wrench

Speed wrenches have various designs, but you can break them down into two basic types: open-end and box wrench.

Open-End Wrench

An open-end wrench which turns both ways without undoing your work doesn’t seem possible, but it’s all in the design of the head. It has a more complex shape than a regular wrench. One of the two inner jaws has a curved profile with recessed and protracted areas. The wrench then either grips the fastener or lets it pass depending on direction, thus acting as a ratchet.

Regular Open-end Wrench with a static head

This type of wrench tends to be cheaper than box wrenches with ratcheting mechanisms, but it has practical uses, too. For instance, an open-ended wrench becomes essential when access to the nut is impeded by a connection to another object or when the angle of approach is limited.

Ratcheting Box Wrench

A ratcheting box wrench lets you remove nuts and bolts without needing to remove and re-engage the tool. Called a « ring spanner » in some countries, one of its benefits is that it encircles the fastener, so there’s less chance of slippage and injury.

Regular Ratcheting Box Wrench

Some ratcheting wrenches come in the form of combination wrenches, with an open-end wrench at the other end. Box wrenches are available in 6-point and 12-point varieties (hex and double-hex). The former is more secure, while the latter fits onto hex fasteners in twice as many positions, making it more versatile in tight spaces.

Flexible Speed Wrench (« combo »)

A variant of the ratcheting box wrench is the flexible box wrench. This is a box wrench with a flex head which gives access to fasteners from different angles. Like the standard ratcheting box wrench, it’s often found at one end of a combination wrench. This is basically the kind of speed wrenches we recommend to buy as they combine both advantages of the tools presented before.

Combo Speed Wrench

Allen Wrenches

By definition, Allen wrenches (or hex keys) are a simple form of speed wrench, since you only normally engage them once for each fastener. For extra speed, you can buy them in sets containing a ratcheting handle and common wrench sizes. The ratchet lets you make short, quick turns, which is again useful in tight spaces.

Regular Allen Wrench

Other Designs

A ratcheting socket wrench is also sometimes called a speed wrench since it fulfills the criteria for rapid use. The main advantage over a box wrench is that it can access more recessed fasteners, and takes up less space in a toolbox with its detachable handle and sockets. A complete toolbox will include all types of wrench.

Various forms of the spring-loaded adjustable wrench from past and present have also been called speed wrenches. They offer the benefit of being usable one-handed and with many sizes of hex nut. Their notable disadvantage is bulk, and many of them will damage or round out fasteners because they fit less tightly or use serrated teeth.

Getting Organized

One thing’s for sure; throw all your wrenches into a big toolbox or drawer, and sooner or later you’ll lose one of them. You’ll also waste time before or during each job finding the tools you need.

Wrench organizers place each tool at your fingertips, and you’ll quickly notice if one’s missing. They often come in the form of trays or inserts which fit into a tool cabinet. Mobile mechanics can buy roll-up wrench holders. Even if you’re not the disciplined type, getting your wrenches in order is a good idea.

Any other Speed Wrench sets to consider?

The best wrench is one that gets the job done quickly and easily over and over again. Like explained before, it’s kind of hard to differentiate them, but we think that this alternative speed wrench package might suits you as well. This includes a ratcheting box wrench and open-end speed wrench in one tool.

Naturally, the quality of materials and manufacturing are always primary concerns, and let’s be clear, GearWrench as a long lasting experience in this domain. Peer reviews help in the decision-making process, particularly if they’re from pro mechanics who use the tools day in, day out. And it seems that this one as surfaced among ther others.

Best alternative
$85
GEARWRENCH 16 Pc.

16 speed wrenches of all sizes

Rigid organizer to carry them

Hardened and treated steal for durability

GearWrench historical quality

Buy now

Here is what comes with this Speed Wrench set:

  • 72 tooth ratcheting box end needs a minimal 5° to move fasteners vs. 30° for standard wrenches
  • Off corner loading design on box end provides better grip and reduces fastener rounding
  • Pass thru technology works down any length of threaded rod and long bolts
  • Thin head and beam provide greater access in confined work areas
  • Size conveniently stamped on both ends of the beam for quick identification
  • Manufactured from alloy steel for better strength and longer tool life
  • Bright, full polish chrome finish wipes easily clean to resist rust and corrosion
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