Wrench VS Ratchet: What Is the Difference?

Published on: June 13, 2022
Written by David Rowan / Fact-checked by Eric Devin

Although the phrases “ratchet” and “wrench” are sometimes used interchangeably, they are not synonymous. What exactly are they, and how do we utilize them?

wrench vs ratchet

What Is a Ratchet?

When working with industrial items, a ratchet is utilized to provide continuous linear or rotating motion in a certain direction. The ratchet is often used to tighten or loosen nuts and bolts. A ratchet, on the other hand, will not provide you with precise pressure and tightening.

You may use the greatest ratchet wrench when you need to remove any bolt or nut swiftly and rapidly. You’ll need a ratchet for everyday domestic tasks and automotive-related tasks that don’t require precise tightening.

Aside from Torque Wrench and Ratchet Wrench, you should have some basic tools in your garage for completing routine maintenance work, such as torx bits, sockets, and so on.

What Is a Socket Wrench?

A socket wrench (or socket spanner) is a type of wrench or spanner that turns a fastener, usually in the shape of a nut or bolt, using a closed socket configuration rather than an open wrench/spanner.

The ratcheting wrench, often known as a ratchet, is the most common kind. A ratchet has a reverse ratcheting mechanism that allows the operator to turn the socket by pivoting the tool back and forth rather than removing and replacing a wrench.

Pneumatic impact wrenches, hydraulic torque wrenches, torque multipliers, and breaker bars are all typical ways to drive sockets. Striking wrench tools with square drive and hydraulic impact wrenches are two lesser-known hybrid drives.

What Is the Difference Between a Ratchet and a Wrench?

Although the phrases ratchet and wrench are sometimes used interchangeably, they are not synonymous.

A ratcheting socket wrench is referred to as a ratchet informally. It is made up of two parts: a handle and a socket. The wrench has a handle. A mechanism on the ratchet handle allows the ratchet to engage and reverse direction to loosen or tighten fasteners such as nuts and bolts.

This section compares and contrasts a wrench socket and a ratchet in depth. Before you choose the best tool for your job, read it carefully.


Ratchets come in a variety of sizes like- 3/8-inch drive, 1/4-inch drive, and so forth. They have a gear drive, but gearless ratchets are joined or have a flex-head so they can reach even the most difficult spots.

Depending on the application, many types of sockets, such as SAE sockets, metric sockets, impact sockets, and Torx bit sockets, can be connected to the ratchets.


Metal is the stuff that both of them are formed of. However, some sockets have an oxide surface that provides total corrosion protection. Ratchets, on the other hand, are constructed entirely of metal.

Some socket versions are corrosion-resistant in this way, while ratchets are not.


Sockets can be used with breaker bars as well as wrenches. They may also connect ratchets to operate with them. Smaller sockets are compatible with smaller fasteners, whereas larger sockets are compatible with larger drive sockets.

Except for the gears that let the ratchet turn quicker with fewer rotations, ratchets usually do not have many attachments. Some locks make it easier for sockets to attach to ratchets. It also adheres to fasteners and travels more quickly than geared drives.


Ratchets are typically used in conjunction with a geared drive, which has more teeth and allows you to operate with a minor swinging motion. Gearless ratchets with roller bearings are also available. To speed the fasteners, they require even less movement.

There are additional ratchets with locks to prevent the ratchets from slipping out of the sockets. It also aids in adhering to the fasteners. Flexible ratchet handles can also be adjusted to assist you in tight locations.

Sockets may be used in a variety of ways depending on the kind of socket. The shallow sockets have a low profile and may be used in tight spaces. Deep sockets are useful for reaching the nuts on long threaded bolts. With deep sockets, you can even access recessed fasteners. More types of fasteners, such as square, star, and spline, can be accommodated by universal sockets.

Some sockets are flexible and contain built-in joints that allow them to be used at various angles in confined areas.

Socket Wrench vs Ratchet Wrench – Which one is Better?

When you compare two objects, it may appear that one is better than the other. However, when ratchets and sockets are used together, they generate synergy and assist you to produce superior results. When you use a socket and ratchet combination, you can spin fasteners like nuts and bolts without having to reposition the tool.

When utilizing the wrenches, however, you had to constantly readjust the position of the wrench for each round you performed. When working with wrenches in confined locations, you may find it difficult.

However, while using a socket and ratchet combo, you will be able to work more effectively in tight areas and corners, as compared to using wrenches, which allow you more space to work with. Using a socket and ratchet combo, you can quickly loosen and tighten the fasteners. That may be done with or without the use of extensions. When using wrenches, they can sometimes slide.

And the chances of their sliding will be greater if you work quicker than normal. However, utilizing a socket and ratchet combination will make it less likely for you to slide. The chances are slimmer if you use the wrenches. This occurs because the tools are designed to match perfectly with the fasteners.

Is a Torque Wrench and Ratchet the Same?

No. Torque wrenches are a subset of ratchet wrenches. A torque wrench may be set to “fail” at a specific torque. It clicks and releases some slack at this point, ensuring that you don’t over tighten a bolt. Torque wrenches should not be used as a general-purpose ratchet wrench since they are sensitive and can lose calibration, leaving them unusable for their intended use.

Can You Use a Wrench Instead of a Socket Wrench?

Yes, provided you have the correct wrench for the task, you may do it with a proper size wrench. If you try to cheat, you risk stripping the nut/bolt or injuring yourself by not using the right tool. Because there are no images of this job, it’s quite difficult to respond.

Bottom Line

The most frequent form of wrench used with a ratchet handle is a socket wrench. Because the ratchet only restricts the fastener’s movement to one direction, they enable quick work in tight locations. This saves time and effort by allowing you to reposition the wrench’s handle without having to remove the socket from the fastener.

You must realize that a contest between a socket wrench and a ratchet is impossible to win. Both of them are mixed together to form a new mixture. You will be able to do your task more quickly and effectively if you utilize the appropriate size socket wrench and ratchet for your work situation. This article will guide you to the precise knowledge you require.

Hopefully, using the guidelines outlined above, choosing the correct tool for your project will be a lot easier than previously. Always prioritize your project’s requirements before selecting the best tool for the job.

Read more:

Rate this post

About This Writer

david rowan author

Hello, I am David Rowan. I am a professional contractor with 10 years of experience in home building, different tools used, construction, home remodeling, and other home improvement work. I have already built many custom homes and continued to do several woodworking projects along with how to deal with all categories of tools.

Hello, I am David Rowan. I am a professional contractor with 10 years of experience in home building, different tools used, construction, home remodeling, and other home improvement work. I have already built many custom homes and continued to do several woodworking projects along with how to deal with all categories of tools.

Leave a Comment