If you ever helped a handy family member around the house when you were young, you probably were lambasted for using the wrong tool at least once. Maybe you opened a paint can with an expensive screwdriver. While repairing brakes, you may have tried compressing the piston by pounding on a block of wood with a large crescent wrench. Whatever it was, you were informed shortly thereafter in unforgettable terms that you should never, ever, do it again—and rightly so.
After all, using the wrong tool for the job risks damaging expensive tools and parts. However, there is one area where even skilled and experienced workers may use the wrong tools: when torque is a factor. While a good torque wrench is suitable for a wide variety of applications, there may be a better one available, and when doing a task repeatedly, a torque wrench that is even slightly better for the job can make a huge difference in the quality of the final repair.
Understanding Torque and Torque Tools
Torque is a measure of the rotational force exerted on an object. In rough terms, it can be thought of as the amount of force applied to a torque wrench times the length of the wrench. The longer the torque wrench, the greater the torque applied to the fastener per unit of force exerted by the user.
However, the length of the tool is far from the only factor to consider; there are other mechanisms that create a mechanical advantage. There are also a variety of power sources capable of exerting far more force than old-fashioned muscle power. Hydraulic, pneumatic, and electrical powered torque tools are widely available and capable of tightening fasteners to specifications with amounts of torque that range from minute to titanic. Determining which torque wrench is best for the jobs you face every day is largely determined by the size of the fasteners, the location of the fasteners, and the number of fasteners you will be tightening.
Determining Which Torque Wrench is Best for the Job
One of the most common uses for torque wrenches is repairing and maintaining mechanical devices. These can be completed in a fully equipped shop in the case of automotive repairs or snow vehicle maintenance. Maintenance and repair can also be done at remote sites in the case of commercial dishwasher repair or commercial refrigeration repair. In general, the best torque wrenches for maintenance and repair are those that derive their power from the operator. Manual torque wrenches work well in remote locations and can do most jobs in repair shops without the need to run air hoses or extension cords.
Click wrenches are more than adequate for the majority of jobs in automotive, snow vehicle, and heavy equipment repair or maintenance. The majority of fasteners used in machinery applications are heavy-duty, and adjustable click wrenches have a high range of torque values that covers most of the fasteners that hold vehicle mechanisms together.
The robust nature of the fasteners helps in other ways, too. Click wrenches derive their name from the audible clicks they emit when they reach the specified torque setting, but they lack a mechanism that actively prevents over-tightening. With the robust bolts found on vehicles, slight over-torquing is unlikely to cause a critical failure. Click wrenches make outstanding lug nut torque wrenches, for instance. Due to the fixed locations for tire stations, power assembly tools like pulse tools and pneumatic tools can also be used. Systems like brakes and other hydraulics, as well as refrigeration systems, tend to use softer metals like aluminum. In these cases, over-torquing can be a serious issue. In other tasks, the torque requirements exceed even the robust torque specifications of click wrenches. Fortunately, other types of torque wrenches and tools are built for these tasks.
Which Torque Wrench is Best for Specialized Jobs
Cam-over torque wrenches fully disengage at the set torque limit. Adjustable cam-over wrenches prevent damage to the fastener or the substrate when working with materials that are more sensitive to force. Although, sometimes the fasteners that hold these materials aren’t bolts but screws, in which case torque screwdrivers are the best tools for the job. Conversely, in heavy-duty roles, the best torque tool isn’t a wrench at all but instead a heavy-duty attachment.
In industries like oil, gas, and water management, the equipment uses intense pressure. The torque that holds the fasteners is equally powerful, ranging into several thousand foot-pounds (lbf.ft) of torque. The solution is a heavy-duty torque wrench paired with a torque multiplier. Hand torque multipliers require no power to operate and can reach up to 36,880 lbf.ft of torque. They work well for heavy-duty remote applications like tightening the flanges holding a pipeline together. In heavy-duty assembly jobs at fixed locations where power is available, pneumatic torque multipliers and electric torque multipliers provide both heavy-duty torque and a high level of precision.
In any job, it is important to use the correct tool for the job, and this is doubly important in applications where correct torque specifications are a factor. If too little torque is applied, a fastener can come loose due to vibrations; too much and the fastener or the component can be damaged. Choosing which torque wrench is best comes down to considering the specific application and finding a torque wrench from a manufacturer that understands the importance of using the right tool for the job.
Mountz, Inc. has built torque tools for nearly every application for over 50 years. When you’re deciding which torque wrench is best for your job, look to the dedication and precision of Mountz torque wrenches to ensure it’s done right. To see our full range of products, shop our store. Contact us anytime to ask a question. To inquire about price, request a quote. If you’d like to see our equipment in person, schedule an appointment.