The 10 Best Torque Wrenches
10. Performance Tool M195 Newton Meter
- made with corrosion-resistant metal
- decent choice for gunsmithing
- resetting it is a bit of a pain
|Rating||3.8 / 5.0|
9. Venzo Wrench and Socket Set
- price is affordable
- solid construction
- instructions aren't very clear
|Rating||4.0 / 5.0|
8. Pittsburgh Pro 239 Professional
- generous length
- feels solid in hand
- may show stress above 120 ft lbs
|Rating||4.1 / 5.0|
7. CDI 3/8-Inch Drive
- torsion beam design
- built-in memory needle
- does not measure foot-pounds
|Rating||4.4 / 5.0|
6. ACDelco Digital
- great for motorcycles
- built-in audible torque confirmation
- shutoff timer cannot be programmed
|Rating||4.3 / 5.0|
5. Capri Tools 31100
- spring-loaded pull-down ring
- positive lock mechanism
- custom-fitted storage case
|Rating||4.3 / 5.0|
4. EPAuto ST-010-1
- helpful user manual included
- just about 18 inches long
- only measures clockwise torque
|Rating||4.5 / 5.0|
3. Precision Instruments Silver 1/2-inch Drive
- slim and sleek construction
- soft ergonomic grip
- made for the long haul
|Rating||4.7 / 5.0|
2. Tekton 1/2-Inch Click
- knurled nonslip handle
- won't break the budget
- no plastic parts
|Rating||4.9 / 5.0|
1. CDI Micrometer Adjustable
- rugged and sturdy construction
- convenient pull-down lock ring
- laser marked dual scales
|Brand||CDI Torque Products|
|Rating||4.9 / 5.0|
Choosing The Right Tool For The Job
To those of obtaining little experience with the use of hand and power tools, it might seem a bit baffling to consider the vast range of available drill bits, the many sizes of screw and nail, or the varied shape of hammer at the disposal of the professional or DIY enthusiast. But every tool exists for a reason, where some can be used across a range of applications, such as the common flathead screwdriver or the hacksaw. Other tools are so specialized as to properly serve in only one capacity.
While a tool with such a specific applications might seem silly to the uninitiated, it can actually mean the difference between a job done properly or one poorly executed. And choosing the right tool for the job certainly means much greater efficiency, especially in the hands of a trained and experienced professional.
If you were a plumber plying his trade in the year 1918, your life was about to become much easier. That's because 1918 was the year the world saw the first torque wrench after it was invented by Conrad Bahr, an employee of the New York City Water Department. Mr. Bahr developed the early torque wrench so that he and his associates could more easily and reliably secure the bolts on the water and steam pipes they serviced while updating and repairing the complex systems beneath the city streets.
The tools developed to meet that specific need would ultimately find meaningful applications well beyond the maintenance of New York City's subterranean infrastructure. Today, torque wrenches are used in industries ranging from the automotive to the aerospace to dentistry and well beyond.
Generally speaking, a torque wrench is used to make it easy to apply, torque, also known as rotational force, to a nut or a bolt. A torque wrench allows not only for easy application of this rotational force, but also for its precise application, helping to prevent the over tightening of a nut. This is of critical importance when working with sensitive machinery such as a car's engine, computer hardware, or any other mechanisms with moving and/or fragile components.
Manually Powered Torque Wrenches
While a manually powered torque wrench might not be able to deliver as much force as an electrically or pneumatically powered option, what it lacks in raw power it more than makes up for in terms of precision and control. Whether you choose a highly sensitive hand powered torque wrench with an adjustable range of foot pound settings (many hand torque wrenches can be set for anywhere between 30 to well over 200 foot pounds) or if you simply trust the deftness of your own wrist to stop turning when needed and choose a simpler, more affordable option, these tools can be a great asset to workers in various industries.
A hand powered torque wrench can also be useful for everyday use, making it easier to change a tire, build certain pieces of prefabricated furniture, or to loosen or tighten any of the many nuts and bolts found around the house. From the plumbing of the toilet to the shelves in the garage, you will find hardware almost everywhere you look that can be serviced by a compact torque wrench.
The only major shortfall of a hand operated torque wrench is its lack of speed, which can indeed be an issue when you have multiple nuts or bolts to service. For the professional working on an assembly line or servicing a large machine, there's no substitute for a good powered torque wrench.
The price range for manual torque wrenches is vast, so make sure to carefully consider you needs before you spend $150 on a top-of-the line manual option when a $25 torque wrench would have sufficed.
Electric Torque Wrenches
When you have lots of nuts and bolts to tighten, save your wrist and turn instead to a powered torque wrench. A pneumatic torque wrench can deliver loads of power, but these units also require a compressor; thus the popularity of the electric torque wrench both with professionals and amateur hobbyists alike.
A good battery powered torque wrench can deliver up to 1,100 foot pounds of twisting action, which is more than enough muscle for use in the automotive industry, for use in construction, or for any number of other commercial grade applications. Often, however, an electric torque wrench is at its most useful not when tightening a nut or bolt but rather when loosening and removing a piece of hardware.
Especially when it comes to older nuts or bolts that have been rusted in place or for that finicky lug nut stubbornly refusing to budge when you need to change a tire, an electric torque wrench can provide the reverse power needed to get the nut or bolt to back out.
If you want a decent battery powered torque wrench, you will need to be ready to spend several hundreds of dollars. But you will also be ready for almost any project that involves nuts and bolts. And if you suffer from arthritis or have hands or wrists weakened by age, injury, or infirmity, a power tool is a great way to save yourself from the discomfort caused by constant twisting motions.