Don't cheat with wrenches

The Hand Tools Institute

Among the many definitions of “cheat” listed in Webster’s Dictionary is the following: “To deceive by trickery.” This definition seems to aptly describe wrench cheating, an unorthodox technique used by the unwary to get “extra power” by adding a length of pipe or other extension to a wrench handle to gain extra leverage.

The trick is that the tool user is, in a sense, falsely telling the wrench it can do more than it was designed to do. When this is the case, something has to give and it could result in damage to the tool, damage to the fastener, injury to the tool user or all three.

The Hand Tools Institute, a trade association of American hand tool manufacturers, says that persons using this dangerous technique, knowingly or unknowingly, are playing a game of Russian roulette, and the odds are stacked against the tool user.

Simply stated, the main function of a wrench is for holding and turning nuts, bolts, cap screws, plugs and various other threaded parts. Since the threads of the product being turned act as a remorseless wedge, it is possible to strip the threads by applying excessive torque. Threads can be an integral part of costly equipment.

Here are some additional safety tips from HTI when using wrenches:

  • Select a wrench whose opening exactly fits the nut. Too large an opening can spread the jaws of a wrench. Too large of a box or socket wrench can mar or turn the corners of the nut. Exercise care in selecting inch wrenches for inch fasteners and metric wrenches for metric fasteners.
  • Never use a wrench as a hammer.
  • Always pull – never push – on a wrench, and adjust your stance to prevent a fall in case something lets go.
  • To free a “frozen” nut or bolt, use a striking face box wrench.
  • Always wear safety goggles when using hand tools to avoid eye injury.

Manufacturing plays a central role in the economic growth of our nation, primarily through a unique, interdependent system of innovation that affects all sectors of the economy. By nurturing innovations from concepts through to full-fledged improvements in products and processes, American manufacturing is responsible for providing the basis for more jobs, improved productivity, prosperity and a higher quality of life.

About the Hand Tools Institute
The Hand Tools Institute (HTI) is the trade association of North American manufacturers of non-powered hand tools and tool boxes. The objectives of the Institute are to promote and further the interests of its members relative to manufacturing, safety, standardization, international trade and government relations.

The institute prepares and disseminates educational materials, conducts statistical and market surveys, identifies legal, legislative, regulatory and economic trends affecting the industry. HTI actively promotes cooperation with other associations, the American National Standards Institute, the National Safety Council and government agencies. An important objective of the institute is to educate the hand tool user on the safe and proper use of hand tools. For more information, visit www.hti.org.

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