Shown here is my Wera 3/8″ sliding T-handle, model 8789B. I bought this about 4 years ago for $14, and it’s currently available for around $15.
Most people don’t have a sliding handle in their toolbox, many don’t even know they exist.
This is one of those tools that might sit unused for a couple of months before seeing heavy action with a certain project. I mainly use this with bit sockets or smaller machine screws, typically with a long extension.
I should tell you that this is a tool to buy after the first time you need it. But that’s not what I did, and that’s not the best advice. I bought one for the heck of it. It looked like it might come in handy, I had an extra couple of bucks left over in a gift card or “treat for me” holiday spending budget, or something like that, and bought it.
What I’m trying to say is that I bought this without any particular uses in mind, and it’s worked out great. Maybe I also thought to myself that it would be great to check out for ToolGuyd content, I don’t remember.
This has been one of my favorite tools to use. I don’t think there were any tasks for which this was the only tool for the job, but there were plenty for which this was the fastest, easiest, or most convenient.
Wera’s sliding T-handle, like other tools of this kind, is very simply designed. There’s what I guess you could consider a short socket extension with a hole bored through it, and a smooth rod with stoppers at each end.
Some sliding T-handles – or at least one that I’ve seen – have ball detents that allow you to passively lock the drive component at certain positions. Most, including this one, don’t. Most sliding T-handles have free-sliding drive components, but this never seems to affect their performance or usability.
One way to use this is as a L-wrench, or a sort of mini breaker bar. But instead of having to flip a breaker bar over with every rotation, you can slide the handle rod back and forth with every 180° rotation.
A great way to use sliding T-handles is as a custom T-handle speed wrench.
When used with an extension, especially a Wera Zyklop extension with free-spinning sleeve, you get close to the performance as with a dedicated T-handle speed wrench, or something like the Craftsman Mach Series T-handle driver.
Compared to T-handle drivers, sliding T-handles allow for greater customization. Plus, speed T-handle drivers are often quite large. With a sliding T-handle, you have a say in how large of an extension you pair it up with. And if you need a little more torque, slide the handle into an L-handle configuration.
Is there a downside to these tools? Not really, aside from the space they take up in a toolbox if not used for a while. For me, my Wera T-handle goes through cycles where it gets used heavily or not at all, and it averages out.
I really like my purchasing decision, and would do it again. The Wera 3/8″ T-handle is well made, and I can’t find anything to complain about.
I also have a 1/4″ T-handle that came as part of a small Wera socket set, and it’s a little small to be particularly useful. I more often use my 3/8″ handle with a 3/8″ extension and 3/8″ to 1/4″ adapter, or 3/8″ to 1/4″ adapter and 1/4″ extension when I need a lower profile tool to fit into tight spaces.
The Wera 3/8″ sliding T-handle is priced at $15, and other sizes are available for $15-18. Other brands make sliding T-handles as well, but my experiences have only been with Wera’s.
This wrench is about 6.5″ (165mm) long. Other brands offer longer T-handles that can provide greater leverage, but I never found my Wera to be lacking. If I need greater leverage, I use a ratchet or breaker bar first or last.
Wera’s sliding T-handles pair well with their extensions, which go for ~$10-20 via Amazon.
If you have a sliding T-handle as part of your tool kit, what kind of things do you use it for? Which brand or size would you recommend?