Of the many scaffolding tools used in commercial endeavors along with home projects, the scaffold wrench and scaffold ratchet are one of the more common types. The wrench and ratchet are handy tools can be found in automotive shops, construction sites, and for home use.
What is a Scaffold Wrench?
A scaffold wrench or spanner is a hand tool used for tightening and loosening fasteners used in the construction of scaffolding or staging. It is as the name describes a wrench that is in most cases 7/8-ths in size in the United States. This is because its primary use is to put together scaffolding which uses nuts that are 7/8ths. The wrench can be open or closed and quickly applied to nuts of different sizes depending on the size of the scaffold wrench.
The size of the wrench depends on the country and sometimes the brand of fittings. I have listed the most commonly used sizes below.
What is a Scaffold Ratchet?
This is a variation of the scaffold wrench that is designed with a ratchet mechanism for quicker tightening or loosening of nuts and bolts. It is basically the same as a scaffold wrench, but the ratcheting allows you to tighten or loosen without having to remove and replace the wrench itself thanks to the ratchet.
The above image shows Williams BS-63B: Best Selling Scaffold Ratchet
As with the scaffold wrench, the primary use is to construct scaffolding. It can work with the fasteners, clamps, and posts that are common with scaffolding. Although it is mostly used to tighten and loosen nuts and bolts.
Types of Scaffold Wrenches
There are several types and variations of the scaffold wrench in use today. The many different applications have helped to spawn the different variations of the wrench. Even today, new uses are being found that are being employed in different types of industries.
Scaffold Wrench Hex & Bi-Hex
The bi-hex design makes this wrench even better suited to put together scaffolding. The main difference between the standard hex and bi-hex can be seen in the design of the head which comes into contact with the fastener. While the hex is six-sided, the bi-hex has far more connection points and may appear almost round.
Scaffolding Wrench w/Swivel Head
This is a standard scaffolding wrench that has a head which can swivel 180 degrees. This allows a person who is in one place to tighten or loosen fasteners in different positions without having to move. While designed for scaffolding, the swiveling head makes this wrench perfect for automotive work when tightening or loosening nuts and bolts at different angles is quite commonplace.
This is the typical ratchet design used with a scaffold wrench. Some have interchangeable heads that allow for one tool to be used on multiple sizes of fasteners. The ratchet design is often used in automotive work where it can quickly tighten and loosen nuts and bolts used to hold engine parts together.
Scaffold Ratchet Hammer
Another popular variation is the scaffold wrench hammer. This is a typical scaffold wrench with a hammer attachment on the back side of the wrench. This allows a person to use the hammer to strike the surface to loosen build up or rush covering fasteners, then flip it to its wrench side to loosen them.
It can also be used to hammer nails, although that is not its primary purpose. The scaffold ratchet hammer is a two-in-one tool that allows for fewer tools to be carried to a job site.
Another popular variation of the scaffold wrench or ratchet, the podger is distinguished by having a pointed end on the opposite side of the ratchet. The pointed end (spud) is used to line up the bolt holes so that the bolts can be inserted. Then the wrench is flipped to add and tighten the nuts.
The podger is quite popular with scaffolding when the parts are separate and must be aligned properly for bolt insertion. The pointed end may also be used to chip away rust or other particles that may be interfering with the tightening or loosening of fasteners. But for the most part the pointed end serves only one purpose in terms of alignment.
Scaffold Wrench Size
As with standard wrenches, scaffold wrenches or ratchets come in a variety of sizes in both standard and metric measurements. It is important to note what type of bolts or nuts are to be tightened, so that you can use the right size of wrench.
What is the socket size of a scaffold wrench?
In the United States, the most commonly used scaffold wrench size is 7/8-inch and ratchet size is 19/21 mm. The wrench or ratchet size is country specific and also depends on the manufacturer of the fittings. The most common standard sizes are as follows.
- United States: 7/8″ and 3/4″ (19 x 22 mm)
- Most common Scaffold Ratchet (US): 19/21 mm
- In the UK: 7/16” Whitworth(21 mm) and 1/2″ Whitworth(23 mm)
- Australian Scaffolding: 1/2″ Whitworth (24 mm)
- Layher fitting: 22 mm
If you prefer to save this information for the future, here is a chart that shows the different sizes.
The common sizes do not include sizes for custom bolts, nuts, or fasteners that may have been created for something unique. However, these are the most common sizes.
You can also find the following sizes, although they are less common.
- 1/4, 5/16, 11/32, 3/8, 7/16
- ½, 9/16, 5/8, 11/16, ¾, 13/16
- 7/8, 15/16, and 1”
There are several common questions associated with the scaffold wrench. The most common is the origin of the name. But there are a couple of other questions that many people have about this type of wrench.
Where does the word scaffold come from?
The word scaffold is Anglo-Norman-French that originated from the Old French word (e)schaffaut.
Why is it called scaffolding?
As indicated, the name itself comes from its use in putting together scaffolding. Scaffolding is common at construction sites, hence the name stuck.
Is there a powertool that I can use instead of wrench?
Yes. You can use an impact wrench for scaffolding which is becoming very popular now.
Why Do Scaffold Ratchets have a Hammer Head?
The hammer is not designed to drive nails, but instead to help loosen fasteners on scaffolding. The hammer generally provides enough impact to loosen nuts and bolts without damaging the scaffolding itself. This is because there is not as much weight in a scaffold ratchet hammer compared to a standard hammer which is considerably heavier.
This means that you can use the hammer side to loosen a fastener that is stuck or is difficult to move without causing damage.
What is the hole in the Scaffold Wrench Handle For?
The hole found in the handle of scaffold wrenches allows for the tool to be hung on a peg board for storage. Or, a strap can be run through the hole to secure it temporarily on the job site. The hole itself allows for the wrench to be hung which in turn lets the surrounding air evaporate any moisture on the handle that may remain after cleaning.
Scaffold wrenches and ratchets are used around the world to tighten and loosen fasteners on scaffolding and a myriad of other items. They are considered an essential part of the workplace especially in construction and automotive repair.