I don't own a torque wrench


I have a modest, one car garage. No, that’s not it pictured above (that’s part of the garage at Wide Open Baja). In my garage, I have my rolling tool chest and a number of tools that allow me to tinker just enough so as to fix the most minor of issues. I know I need more tools than what I have, but I don’t need all of the tools. There’s no room for an engine swap so I don’t have a stand or hoist. A lack of space for an air tank means a lack of air tools. One tool I should have but do not own is a simple one; a torque wrench.
I’m not sure why I don’t have one. When reviewing various repair procedures, I see a torque wrench referenced a number of times. Hell, my mountain bike has torque specs listed directly on it in certain areas. So beyond just car stuff, I can find a need to acquire such a wrench.
I figure it’s time, so I opened up a tab and zipped off to Jegs.com. But which one should I get? There are fancy digital ones, basic analog ones, cheap ones, expensive ones… basically I have a few choices here. 
Since I’m not a fancy guy, I settled on the non-fancy torque wrench. It will crank down from 10 ft/lbs up to 150 ft/lbs. That’s not low enough for my mountain bike but it should cover anything I need to do on a car. Now I can that delightful feeling that comes from clicking off the exact desired amount of torque that comes from a solid tug of the tool.
What tools are you on the hunt for at the moment? 
[Disclaimer: Jegs asked me to write a post with a link back to their site, and paid me to do so. I needed a torque wrench, so this seemed like a no brainer. I paid for the torque wrench.]

53 Comments

  1. I’m satisfactorily equipped with tools at the moment, but what I really need is a rolling tool chest. My stuff is literally hanging on the walls, sitting on shelves or the workbench, or stuffed into 3 or 4 tool boxes. The cost of them seems ridiculous to me, but owning one would really clean up my work space.
    (I should probably buy a welder, too, as I’ve been “borrowing” my dad’s for about a year now.)

    1. I bought a rolling chest big enough to handle more than a ton of tools, but found that it’s too big of a hassle to actually maneuver it, particularly for quick tasks. I ended up also buying a tool cart, and keep in it the 20% of my tools that do 80% of the mechanical work–basic sets of 1/4, 3/8, and 1/2″ sockets, some combination wrenches 3/8″ through 3/4″ and 8mm through 17 mm, a small variety of pliers, a battery–powered work light with magnetic base, a hammer, a knife, some screwdrivers, multimeter, and a hammer.
      Stuff that stays in the big toolboxes: power tools and accessories, air tools, levels, really big or really small wrenches, single–purpose items like chainbreakers and sharpeners, assortment of clamps, consumables like cotter keys, cutting tools.

      1. I found one on sale that was quite cheap, but also had decent drawer slides unlike the cheap and nasty ones. I also have the day-to-day tools in a tool bag in the car.

      2. Thanks for the tips. My wife actually wanted to get me one for Father’s Day, but I didn’t get the garage spring cleaning done in time, so she got me… nothing.

        1. Leading up to Father’s Day is a good time for sale prices (buy your big box at a big box store, of course), but since you missed that, Labor Day might be OK, unless you think you can hold out until Black Friday. Sears store closings used to be a good opportunity, but not anymore.
          Do you have an idea of your requirements and space limitations? Keep in mind that whatever you might think is “more than enough” now will soon become merely adequate, and eventually might have you looking for add-ons.

        2. I have seen some great deals at Home Depot. They have some HUGE boxes for about $600 that occasionally go on sale for a really good price. Also, they go on clearance when they change models. Clearance prices can be negotiated too!

    2. I’m a big fan of used tool boxes. I’ve picked up a set, top, middle, and roller boxes, of base model Craftsman toolboxes from 1996, and a pro grade tall roller and topper box set, also by Craftsman from 1988. The thing is, they’re old, they’re USA made and though all of the parts are exactly the same parts you find in tool boxes made today for a ton of money from China. The difference is they’re made of heavier better quality steel and you don’t have to worry about putting that first scratch on them. Also, I’d have paid $1200ish for them retail, and I’ve got 250 invested. Since they’ve got some age to them but are well cared for, I don’t look like a noob when people see them.

      1. I’ve been keeping my eye out on CL for a used roller, hoping to find exactly what you describe. Old but well-kept, sturdy, etc. I just hate to sink a ton of money into one.

    3. I resisted gettng a proper roll away for years, making every job a struggle that began with the question, “Where is…..” I bought one and the experience was so life-changing that I bought a second for the rest of my tools. I now need a third, but don’t have space for it.

    4. Do it. My tools were like yours, in several tool boxes and bins and I finally bought a rolling cabinet and chest several years ago. So much easier to work with. I need to add a middle chest as well.
      I watched sales and picked up a mid range Craftsman set for about $300. I have heard that the Harbor Freight boxes are a good value as well.

  2. JEGS has the selection, value, and support that people like us have come to know and trust.
    Now, it’s not a tool, per se, but if there were someone paying particular attention to this post that might have a Holley Sniper EFI Self-Tuning Kit with Classic Finish part number 550-516 sitting in a warehouse somewhere, it would more or less complete me, Jerry McGuire style.
    https://www.jegs.com/i/Holley/510/550-516/10002/-1

  3. Jeff,
    Sponsorship or no, Harbor Freight has an inch-lb wrench that regularly goes on sale for $10. Grab one for your bike (or your intake manifold, valve covers, etc.).
    As far as tools I’m hunting, I suppose a scanner that does pre-OBD2 tops my list. There are plenty of affordable options for OBD2 that use a dongle and a mobile phone, but there seems not to be much new tech available for cars that existed during the analog cellular era.

      1. Actually, the harbor freight ones tend to be better, they wearout quicker, by like 2 uses, but as of ~ 2014, I haven’t looked at them more recently.

  4. I didn’t get a torque wrench until I had to do work on a cylinder head. Right now I need (or want really) a half way decent veneer caliper. I have some plastic ones but I don’t trust them beyond a 1/16″

    1. I had to buy a new torque wrench for a head job, thanks to an angular torque spec. You know what’s pricey? A digital torque wrench that measures angles. But do you know who’s now measuring every torquing to the tenth of the ft-lb? This guy!

    2. I don’t think anyone makes Vernier scale calipers anymore. There’s some metric ones on Amazon, and the ultra cheapo plastic ones. I see them in flea markets a lot. Even knowing how to read those things is a rare talent, and you need good eyes or a magnifier.
      Cheap dial calipers can usually be trusted within three thousandths, and digital calipers are more accurate / less prone to shock damage (dropping them.) I like Vernier scales because they’re just as accurate 100 years later as they were the day they were made, as long as the other parts of the caliper don’t deteriorate.

  5. Tool storage is often a problem. I really need a better workbench and some pegboard so I can hang frequently used stuff and mount a vise.
    Torque wrenches are worthwhile and I recommend getting a 3/8 drive torque wrench for dealing with smaller fasteners and lower torque specs, especially on bicycles with carbon fiber components. If it’s just bike parts a Ritchey torque key is a simple and cheap alternative.

  6. What tools am I on the hunt for at the moment?
    The one that I need right now.
    I feel that I have all the tools that I need, and that match my mechanical ability.
    What I don’t have is the ability to locate the one that I need.

  7. I picked up a good torque wrench 4 years ago, but I’ve only ever used it twice, and only on other people’s cars because in 5 years I have never taken the wheels off the Insight myself. They will probably be coming off soon, though, because it sound like time for brakes. Hey, I should buy an actually good brake caliper compressor!

  8. Speaking of torque wrenches. Here are a few that are ‘human rated’. The fixed rated are 20, 30 and 35 Ncm. The adjustable is 10 through 60 Ncm. The bits (I have over 20 at $45 apiece) are shown. The fixed were $200 each, adjustable $500. I much prefer to buy the Harbor Freight versions, but my patients probably wouldn’t like ’em….. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/62b88013d19cef07177b96d10951e1e6d963307f0950af29db1326c5885ee865.jpg

      1. Dental treatment and research. I keep up on photonics due to an ongoing project in intraoral spectrophotometry.

        1. They wanted me to measure ozone diffusion into porous tooth material (i.e. veeery few molecules) by Raman spectroscopy using 532nm. Impossible in that configuration. I got a deal on an inlay though.

          1. Yeah, IIRC the Raman shift for PO4 is right in that area. Dentin absorbs that wavelength pretty well. Our camphoquinone catalysts for photoresins are limited by this. We use 480 – 525 for curing…..

    1. Dental implants? I have a set of screwdriver type torque screwdrivers in this range, though they cost me about $1 a piece used at an electronics salvage store. I still don’t know how they work or what I’ll use them for.

      1. The implant screws are 1.0 – 1.2mm in diameter and made of titanium. Over torque could strip and/or break the screw (I have an ‘easy-out kit’) or damage the bone around the implant. Thanx for reminding me of the torque screwdrivers. Somewhere, in a forgotten drawer, there is a Weaver Gunsmithing torque wrench.

        1. OMG, I’m imagining the tribulations of a typical broken easy-out going on in someone’s mouth. Are your punches, angle grinders, and torches equally tiny?

          1. I graduated dental school in 1981 when placement of gold foil restorations was required. The foil was cold-welded into the teeth by means of tiny punch like tips activated by an electromallet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wFHWszqI_4
            This dude shows the model I used in school 40 years ago (still have it for other uses).

          2. We still use contra angle hand pieces which are mini angle grinders.
            For torches, we have electro surgery units which utilize microwave energy to cut soft tissue. The ‘blade’ is a tungsten wire shaped to the contour one requires for the job at hand: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SejovzV0zGU

          3. Yeah, Easy out is a misnomer. Now, I only will do it for my own patients. For years, surgeons would send failed cases for me to repair. Sometimes it would take over an hour to remove the broken screw, ream and re-tap the implant for an over size screw (if I could acquire one). The patient could never be charged enough to cover my time. Imagine having me due this in the upper molar area of your mouth. PS – I wear an XL size surgical glove…..

  9. Right now I’d prefer a garage that could, at a minimum, house my Ram 1500 and my Challenger… (but I wouldn’t immediately reject a situation that allowed for a 3rd bay for future-proofing)… and it’d be best if the garage was attached to a house up for sale.

    1. Are you STILL looking for a house? It’s been what, a couple of years now – since we haven’t heard any updates I figured you’d pulled the trigger.

      1. It’s been about a year since I really started looking, though I’ve been grumpy with my apartment a little longer than that. I didn’t like what was available at my original price point and decided I needed to save up some more $$.

  10. I’ve only in the last few years invested in some torque wrenches. I think I got the Craftsman range of clickers on a black friday deal a few years ago and I rarely ever use them on anything outside an engine. I’ve always relied on experience and use a grading system of bolt and material to determine how much to tighten fasteners. It’s grown to something I can use with guys I’ve wrenched with because it’s very basic and seems to work. There are three torque settings, 7, 17 and 37. So if someone wants to know how tight I want my lugnuts torqued, they’re 17. Oil pan bolts are 7. 7 is torque with one hand, twist comes from your wrist. Axle nuts are 37. 37 is beast mode. 17 is, normal putting stuff together torque.

    1. Not sure what unit your “17” is in, but I’ve always torqued lug nuts to 100 lb-ft, as a general rule-of-thumb.

    2. I didn’t use a torque wrench repairing the water pump on my Trailblazer. Did you know that it really only need 6 of the 7 bolts to keep it from leaking? Also, the second time I replaced it (about 60k miles after the first), I found out the bolts were one time use and stretch to torque. Snapped bolts are no fun to deal with. Torque wrench is much easier.

  11. I really want a lift, but that is just a dream. Realistically, I need a good OBDII Scanner and another torque wrench. I have a nice 3/8″ model that does about 5-80ft lbs. and an ancient 1/2″ beam model that goes up to 150ft. lbs. or so for lug nuts. I would like to get one of the click style for lug nuts.

  12. I have a torque wrench, but I almost never use it. Very few fasteners are that particular about torque. Almost all of them have a torque specification, but as someone who often writes that specification, it seldom has any regard to the function of that fastener. Usually, it is just a certain percentage of yield, and is just to give the factory something to set their tools to.
    You know what “feels right” for a particular fastener. That’s fine 99% of the time.

  13. A MIG has been tops on my list for some time, but my garage is at capacity so I’m waiting until I pull the trigger on a detached shop.

      1. My BIL the farmer offered me one of his old round grain bins to start with and it would make the basis of a cool shop, but I’ve already alienated enough neighbors.

  14. I have a a beam style and a click style torque wrench that are about 40-50 years old. They have been life savers when rebuilding old motorcycles. I understand they need to be recalibrated periodically but I never have, but probably should. I would like to have an electric impact wrench…still using the old hand type to remove stubborn JIS machine screws from old Honda engine side covers.

  15. I’m slightly bothered by the fact that the title of your post was untrue by the end. 😛
    I only have a Craftsman beam torque wrench, I really ought to get something better.
    My big wish list item, now that I have the land, is a 30′ x 40′ or so shop behind the house. And a lift. The former has to come first, of course, and it’s a few years out.

  16. I could use some plastic razor blades. I bought a pack of two back like ten years+ ago. And they were incredibly usefully. But I haven’t seen them since.

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