Thursday, Sep 27, 2012

Socket to me
One tool instead of a mess
By MAG RUFFMAN, Special to QMI Agency

A new ratcheting wrench replaces 16 socket sizes with one tool.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever had the “Just kill me now” reaction to using a wrench.

No? You don’t feel irritated pawing through your hand-me-down collection of sockets, ratchets, spanners and crescent wrenches, squinting at faintly stamped numbers to sort the metric from the imperial, trying a bunch of them on the offending nut to find the correct fit, realizing you don’t have the right size, then turning in desperation to an adjustable wrench that doesn’t quite hold its setting and has to be continually retightened so it doesn’t strip the nut?

You’re a big person, then. Big of mind, heart and soul. Probably big of toolbox, too.

I keep trying to scale back my tool collection. One excellent multi-bit screwdriver instead of a zillion individual screwdrivers. A single cordless drill instead of one in every room. Thirty hammers instead of 47.

For inspiration, I read minimalist blogs like or I don’t let myself open the Lee Valley Tools Christmas catalogue. Yet. And I try to avoid, the Web’s most fabulous compendium of new gadgets.

So it soothes my weary mind and wallet when I find a single tool that carries 16 of the most commonly used socket sizes in a ratcheting combo.

Whether you’re changing your lawnmower blade, raising your bicycle seat, repairing a tire or assembling a swing set, Black & Decker’s Ratcheting Ready Wrench can simplify the job and possibly brighten your mood.

The wrench has two spinning heads, each of which carries four socket sizes that handle both metric and imperial sizes. Is this because of some advanced offset design that matches half of the hexagonal segments to imperial and half to metric? Nope. It’s just that, for example, a 19mm metric socket is pretty bang-on 3/4-inch (if you want to get technical, 19mm is .7480315 inches).

Each end of the tool also sports a ratcheting mechanism, meaning you don’t have to continually lift the tool off the nut or bolt and reposition it in order to make another turn.

In some instances, the size of the head will be a limiting factor, because standard wrenches are smaller and fit into tighter spaces.

But as a minimalist wrench, it’s a pretty good deal at $30. You can buy a ratcheting 21-piece socket set starting at $35, but then you have to store it and track all the pieces. And those socket heads won’t fit over long bolts, so you’ll appreciate the open-centre design of the ReadyWrench, which slides easily over any length of exposed bolt to reach a nut.

The Racheting ReadyWrench is brand new this fall and will be available at all major home centres and hardware stores in November. It also carries a lifetime warranty – and your lifetime could be longer if you avoid excessive hypertension from, say, sorting through your wrenches.

Mag Ruffman appears weekdays on Real Life on CTS. Visit her online at

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