A mechanical engineer and inventor shared his design for a new ratcheting socket wrench that features auto-adjusting jaws and robust all-metal construction.
Shown above is a proof of concept prototype, and we’re told that the production version will have a much smaller head. The design can also be scaled up or down to accommodate different fastener size ranges. The internal mechanism can also be tuned – before production – to provide more or less gripping force.
I couldn’t find any web-linkable references, but I am told the invention is under review for a non-provisional utility patent, number 14/274,027 in the USA and Canada.
Here are renderings that show what the final design could look like:
So how does it work?
After placing the tool over a nut or bolt head, the two parts of the handle are squeezed together. This causes the tool’s jaws to wedge closed and tight around a fastener. Then, use the tool as you would any other ratcheting socket wrench to tighten or loosen a fastener.
Here’s a video that demonstrates the use and practicality of the design:
The inventor made the following claims about the product:
- Easy to use and adjust with only one hand (no other tool allows this)
- Active forces grip bolts during using (no other ratcheting tool can do this)
- Force is applied on fastener’s faces, and not their corners, reducing likelihood of fastener rounding and damage
- 3 faces are engaged, instead of just 2 corners
- Pass-through design
- An extension can be attached that allows the use of the tool in tight or deep spaces without compromising the claimed advantages
- Handles can have a locking mechanism that can be locked in position once the adjustability is done, allowing for one-handed use while keeping the ratcheting ability available
Here’s my take on it:
There are a couple of advantages to the design, such as how the tool keeps fasteners in active engagement. With other styles of adjustable wrenches and sockets, such as the Stanley Twin Tec, jaw width is set, but could potentially loosen up a little when turned.
Because of how the jaws adjust, there is space throughout the middle of the tool head that allows it to function as a pass-thru socket wrench as well. The jaw design also means that turning forces are spread across fasteners’ flat sides, and not their corners.
Additionally, the tool is easy to adjust and use with just one hand.
The adjustable tool head is quite large in size, but we’re told that the production version would be appreciable smaller. Following is a rendering of what the slimmer version would look like.
Additionally, although active engagement is a benefit, it also means that the user must constantly squeeze the two handles together. There are times, such as when breaking fasteners free, that one might instead prefer to grip or move the tool differently in a way that releases pressure on the handles. This is a minor downside shared by very many different styles of pliers and adjustable gripping tools.
Although I have only examined the tool through various images, mechanical drawings, cut-aways, and parts diagrams in the inventor’s documentation and provisional patent paperwork, I find myself both intrigued and impressed with the tool.
I have seen a number of independent inventors’ tool ideas, and this one looks to be one of the best so far.
The inventor, who wishes to keep his name private for now, is looking for partners to help bring his invention to market. If you’re a retail buyer or product manager and are interested in taking this new tool design to the next level, the inventor can be reached at: [email protected].