Ratchet: Types, Functions & Examples


A rachet is a mechanical tool that exhibits a continuous rotary motion in a particular direction and blocks the motion in opposite direction. A rachet consists of a handle that forms a firm grip on one end of the socket with the help of a square drive connector, while the other end of the socket is connected to a fastener. The function of a rachet is quite similar to that of a conventional wrench, i.e., to tighten and loosen up the fastener. The internal mechanism of the rachet works in such a way that when the handle is rotated in a clockwise direction, the fastener gets tightened and when the handle is rotated in the counterclockwise direction it gets loose. A rachet basically consists of two important parts, i.e., a toothed wheel or rack and a pawl. The toothed wheel is held in place and is rotated with the help of a lever. A ratchet is generally made up of elements such as stainless steel, cast iron, brass, steel, etc. A rachet is typically used in combination with a socket.

Working of Ratchet

A ratchet consists of a gear or a rack that contains teeth aligned at a particular angle. The gear or the rack helps the ratchet to move smoothly. The rachets are also known as ratchet wheels. Pawls are thin metallic strips placed in close contact with the gear or rack. The main purpose of pawls is to restrict the motion of a ratchet. A lever is used to rotate or move the ratchet in a particular direction. When the ratchet is rotated, the pawl rises and moves between the angled teeth of the gear or rack. When the ratchet stops rotating, the pawl rests between the teeth and a clicking noise is made. If the ratchet is rotated or moved in the opposite direction, the pawl and teeth tend to clash and oppose the motion. Some of the ratchets have a locking mechanism that keeps the socket and the fastener in place and does not let them fall. A push-button is used for the purpose of locking and unlocking. When the button is pressed, the lock gets disengaged, and the fastener gets released.

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Types of Rachet

On the basis of the size of the Ratchet

Ratchets are required to be compatible with different types of sockets, which is why they come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some of the most popular ratchets include a 1/4-inch ratchet, a 1/2-inch ratchet, and a 3/8-inch ratchet.

On the basis of the size of the Ratchet

On the basis of the drive mechanism used by the ratchet

1. Geared Ratchet

Most of the ratchets work with the help of a gear drive mechanism. The number of teeth possessed by the gear is inversely proportional to the magnitude of force required to turn the ratchet. This means that theĀ greater the count of teeth, the lesser the force required to rotate the tool.

Geared Ratchet

2. Gearless Ratchet

Gearless ratchets make use of roller bearings to exhibit a rotary motion. Such types of ratchets require comparatively more magnitude of applied force than the geared ratchets to turn fasteners.

Gearless Ratchet

On the basis of the construction of the ratchet

1. Jointed Head Ratchets

The joint head ratchets consist of a fixed outer structure that cannot be moved or adjusted as per the requirement.

Jointed Head Ratchets

2. Flexible Head Ratchets

The flexible-head ratchets are advantageous as they provide the user with the facility to adjust the angle of the handle as per requirement. This helps the ratchet reach the congested areas of operation.

Flexible head Ratchets

Uses of Rachet

1. Tighten a Nut

One of the prime applications of a ratchet lies in tightening a nut with ease. It helps to fasten the nut or bolt with less magnitude of applied force as compared to the traditional wrench. A Ratchet also eliminates the need of repositioning the tool, again and again, thereby simplifying the task and allowing the user to finish the task quickly.

Tighten a Nut

2. Turnstiles

A turnstile is a type of door that prominently makes use of ratchets to enable the movement of the gate panel in one direction, while simultaneously disabling its motion in the opposite direction. Such types of gates are used to direct human traffic in a particular direction. For instance, places like cinema halls, public transport, paid utility rooms, etc., use turnstiles. A turnstile is also known as a baffle gate or an automated gate.


3. Ratchet Spanners

Ratchet spanners consist of a ring head that gets fit with the fastener head perfectly. The fastener head remains fit in the spanner ring unless removed forcefully from each other. When the spanner is rotated in one direction, its motion in opposite direction is restricted.

Ratchet Spanners

4. Winders

Ratchet winders are typically used to hold the excess cargo present in a vehicle in place. It consists of a spring mechanism that is used to roll the excess strap around its body, thereby allowing proper storage of the straps.


5. Jacks

Ratchet jacks make use of a lever mechanism along with the technique used by the ratchets to lift or move heavy objects such as bulky boxes, vehicles, etc. Some of the ratchet jacks also employ the screwing action of the bolts for their operation. When a twisting or torsion force is applied to the bolt of a ratchet jack, the jack gets lifted steadily, thereby allowing easy and effortless relocation of heavy objects and vehicles.


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