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post-ratchet.jpgOne of the signs of a quality ratchet (at least according to my Father) is a small “sweep” — how much you have to turn it to engage the next “cog.”  A reader tipped us off to Northern Tool’s gearless ratchets this morning, and though Northern doesn’t say much about them on their website, this caught our eye: they offer a “less than 3 degree sweep.”  Compare that to GearWrench’s 5 degree sweep or common ratchet’s 12 degrees.

A smaller sweep lets you fit the ratchet into tighter spaces because you don’t have to rotate the wrench as much to make it “ratchet.” 

The bad news: We can’t tell you how it works.  We’ve never looked inside a “gearless” ratchet, so you’ll have to wait until next week when we can call around a bit and get the inside (literally) scoop for you.  (Unless, of course, one of you could enlighten us in comments?)  We do, however, remember hearing that Mac Tools offers a “gearless” ratchet as well.  We’ll check into that, too.

Thanks, Frank, for the heads-up.

Gearless Ratchet Set — 1/4″ & 3/8″ Drive [Northern Tool]


8 Responses to Finds: Northern Tool’s Gearless Ratchets

  1. Probably some flavour of one-way bearing. Here’s a site with diagrams of a few such things.

  2. Myself says:

    Freakishly cool, Daniel! Thanks for the link, that’s a question that’s bothered me for ages. Now to crack open such a mechanism and see if it actually works that way.

  3. MT says:

    I’ve heard of some other “gearless” ratchets, or clutch ratchets. Like the Britool (IIRC) 77 series, such as the A77. Seems cool. I wonder.


  4. MT says:

    I’ve heard of some other “gearless” ratchets, or clutch ratchets. Like the Britool (IIRC) 77 series, such as the A77. Seems cool. I wonder.

  5. Terry Kane says:

    I have a gearles ratcheting screwdriver that I’ve used and abused for 15 years, and it still works like new. I LOVE it. They are no longer widely available in the long size that I own, but Rockler has a stubby one for $6.99: item 31751 – Stubby Gearless Ratchet Screwdriver.

    I actually bought 3 more back in the day and expect to hand them down to my kids. The only ratcheting screwdrivers in my house are two “collectible” braces with 8″ and 10″ sweeps. Hard to beat the batteryless torque that a lever gives you 😉

  6. J.P. says:

    this is a sprag clutch. basically its an inclined plane with a spring loaded bearing. only turns one way. center pushes through to change direction.

    i’ve had my first 1/4 drive for 17 years. still works fine. just bought a 3/8, and 1/2 drive units a year ago. my snap on ratchets collect dust!!

    K.I.S.S. great product!!!

  7. Ken says:

    JP Where the heck can I get one of these sprag clutches?

  8. ray says:

    i just bought a gearless wrench from harbor fright…
    3/8″ drive you push the anvil threw the body to reverse it practical, affoardable, durable. got it on sale for $7.99 too

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