Sunday, March 05, 2023

Wrenches Of Every Size

      I love this chart, and I wonder: why doesn't someone make a wrench-of-every-size kit?  Just put 'em all in ascending order of size, none of this complicated sorting into SAE, metric, Whitworth and so on!

      When I'm looking for a wrench, I want the one that fits.  I don't care where it was smelted, forged and milled, or who designed the threaded hardware it fits or if some King of England or self-declared Emperor of France decreed the units in which is it measured: it needs to fit the nut or bolt, period, and if I have to get out rule, dividers and micrometer to figure it out, then I do.

      The stuff I get paid to work on and the stuff I work on for fun has all kinds of hardware on it, in it and holding it together.  One of the older transmitters I still fix was designed (and originally built) by a company in the UK.  They were bought by a U.S. company, who moved production to the U.S. -- but retained many UK-sourced subassemblies and added internationally-made off-the-shelf power supplies as the design evolved over time.  The resulting machine had a wild mix of SAE, UNF, BA and metric fasteners, including two different conduit and plumbing-pipe standards.  It required an "everything" set of wrenches and drivers to work on it.

      I was lucky; over the years my employer bought and expanded the chimera, Sears was running their ultimately ill-fated venture into stand-alone hardware stores.  A Sears Hardware outlet was a short drive from work and we had an account there, so, a tool or two at a time, I built a universal wrench, socket and nutdriver set, from 0.028" through 40mm. 

      But it could be more convenient.  The smaller sizes are especially problematic -- under a half-inch or so, there's no crossover.  Metric and SAE sizes fit in the gaps of their counterpart and there's no, "13 mm or a half-inch, whatever," about it.  Pick the wrong standard and you're rounding nut corners and hex keys.  Might as well line 'em all up side-by-side and pick the tool that fits.

1 comment:

Robert said...

Yup. I usta work on gear from the US, UK, and Germany. I had an extremely generous expense account. My boss once observed "You sure do like to buy a lot of tools". I replied "Only what I need to do the job".