Torque wrench from scratch

Morning all, hope everyone is doing ok and staying safe during these grim times.

I’m looking to start building up a good torque wrench kit, which will be mainly used for working on bicycles and DIY/home projects. I already have a ratcheting screwdriver I love, the Megapro Automotive Ratcheting Star Screwdriver, but need something with a bit more precision and a side handle.

My needs in order would be affordability, then ability to get in small spaces, compatibility (and availability) of good Allen bits, and so on. I’ve looked at Wera but it seems so expensive, but open to that if necessary. I don’t know the benefit of 1/4 vs 3/8 drive, or a pistol grip vs a “regular” wrench, so any assistance there would be awesome.

When working on bicycles - many folks use T-Handle torque wrenches. Some of these have fixed calibrations (usually in Newton-Meters)

Here are 2 examples

CDI (a SnapOn company) and Park Tool also sell adjustable ones:

In our Fabrication shop we used Utica and CDI manual torque screwdrivers - plus some Hios and Cleco pneumatic drivers. But since my reading of your desire for “affordability” translates into “inexpensive” - I see no reason to provide links to these tools that range from $150 to over $600 in selling price.

CDI-Williams-SnapOn also make good torque wrenches for mechanics - but may are likely to be more expensive than the Wera one(s) you looked at.

For real bargain-basement pricing you might take a look at a “beam-defection” style non-ratcheting torque wrench:

But “click-style-ratcheting” torque wrenches have more versatility. Tekton is a brand that seems to fit into the “affordable” category:

And if you get on Zoro’s mailing list they often do 20 to 25% off sales:

Generally speaking, torque wrenches are usually most accurate in the middle of their nominal range.

Thanks Fred!

Do you see value/a point in buying a kit like this: and adding on some hex bits, instead of something with a t-handle, if I decide that torque meter itself is less important?

The socket set that you link to seems OK - but I thought that you were interested in torque wrenches.
Perhaps I misunderstood your use of the terminology.
While all wrenches - and wrenching itself - plus screwdrivers/screw driving can provide toque (rotational twisting force) to a fastener, pipe etc. to either loosen it or tighten it. What’s generally called a torque wrench - or torque screwdriver is a tool that can be read or set to provide an exact amount of that rotational force. Some fasteners on bicycles, motorcycles, cars, machine tools, appliances etc. have manufacture specifications for how tight is tight. In other words the manufacture may tell you that a fastener should be tightened down to some specified torque value. That value might be given in lb-ft or lb-in - or Newton-meters or some other units for force working over some unit of distance. Some workers think that they just have a feeling for how much arm strength they need to apply to properly tighten a fastener. Often that’s just fine - but sometimes more precision is needed to avoid a fastener loosening up during use - or being over torqued- possibly breaking, stripping or binding during the fastening process. That’s where the torque wrench comes into play.

Back to your question about the Wera socket set in your link. It looks like a nice smallish set with 3/8 inch drive. That drive size is often where occasional users may start and end. Wera has a good reputation and some people like their Zyklop style ratchet for its versatility. Its probably not what you would see a professional auto mechanic using - but would probably serve well for what you say is your intended use. The downside of buying a set is that you may get components that you will hardly ever use - and the set may be missing ones that you need/want. The set you picked will only handle some metric sizes - no SAE (inch size) nuts and bolts. That may be OK for you - I can’t say. Then this set also fills in with a batch of screwdriver bits in sizes that you may already have - so you will be paying for redundancy.I does come in a compact fabric tool roll - nice for packing in the car.
As an alternative - you might take a look at Home Depot (Husky or Tekton) Lowes (Kobalt or Craftsman) or on Amazon (Gearwrench or Tekton) for small socket starter sets - which will likely cover a broader range of applications at a lower price point. There are lots of other decent brands - and professional brands like Proto and SK - should you want to buy USA-made. I’m no auto mechanic - but others might advise you about their preferences.

Back to Wera - should you decide to buy that set at KCTool - remember that they offer a 10% off with coupon code “TOOLGUYD4LIFE”

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Thanks fred, very helpful. I think I did originally misuse torque but now I get it - I don’t think I’ll be in a position where I need a specific X tension, mostly things that I can just “eyeball” (eg use my force to get). I will look into those other brands you mention; I have a thing for German tools which is why I had posted that Wera. Thanks again.

You might know that while Wera is a German Company - they seem to do much of their manufacturing across the border in the Czech Republic - and some in Taiwan. The set youl linked to - was made in the Czech republic - and should be of fine quality - but not German-made if that’s a deal-maker or deal-breaker for you,

Other German socket brands include Hazet, Elora and Stahlwille. I’ve always heard very good things about Stahlwille - and here’s a link to a small (1/4 inch drive) Stahlwille - German-made set (leftover from last Christmas) that may be a good deal:

It comes to $115.20 with coupon code “TOOLGUYD4LIFE”

I’m not pushing it - because its 1/4 inch drive and I still think that you might find more use from one of those a cheaper Asian-made 3/8 inch drive sets sold at HD or Lowes

I would say I’ve gotten by working on bicycles with basic hand tools - ratchets, drivers, etc and I don’t use a T handle though I see the appeal…

TO that end I would actually get a tekton ratchet set if that was one of your needs and meets the cost desire. And perhaps a T handle Hex set which you could get a number of versions of. I actually use hex bits in my standard bit holder or ratcheting handle. Again cost consideration. Short of dedicated tools.

I also don’t work on very high end bicycles so I’ve never had a issue with reach - and I do work on a trek and diamondback. metric hex bits and a decent bit holder (socket with retainer), has come in handy.

Wow thats a neat deal!

I will say that Stahlwille set is a decent deal considering that is their fine tooth 1/4 ratchet which is usually 100 or so dollars normally. The ratcheting handle is the stuby but that’s not so bad - and I will tell you the sockets will be fantastic. Their QR extensions are interesting if you’ve ever used one it has as much retention as a dedicated socket lock without the extra hassle.

I really want a ratcheting T-driver with open bit ends; I like the Fix It Sticks (but not from that company specifically)

I don’t know about ratcheting - I think megapro makes one. Dewalt had one once but I do remember seeing some spinning T handles that took bits or in one case was a 1/4 square drive or a 3/8 square drive.

I regret not buying that. T handle - spinner sleeve in the middle - 1/4 square drive on both bars. so long bar for reach short bar for torque. would take my bit holder socket, etc. I might get one one day.

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The T-Handle ratcheting bit holders from Williams (a SnapOn company) are worth a look:

They come in different lengths (shafts) and when I last looked they were made in the USA.

Bahco (another SnapOn company) sells this one:

The old Wera (4013288131720) pistol grip ratcheting handle is no longer available - and the Felo T-Handle does not have a ratcheting mechanism.

Shopping around for the Williams - might get you a better price - especially when Zoro is doing a 20% or 25% off sale (you need to be on their email list)

As far as Socket-drive T-Handles - with Spinner Collars - these are popular for work on motorcycles. Mottion Pro is one source:

Vim Tools is another source:

If you want ratcheting action you might add on a ratcheting adapter. I have 50 year old ones from Williams - and I know that Proto make ones - but here’s a listing for an less expensive variant:

Motion Pro also makes this:

Thanks Fred, helpful as always. I’m on the Zoro list but its always something like 20% off $200+ which is not something I typically drop.

We used to buy quite a bit from both Zoro and Grainger. Grainger rack prices were somewhat high - but you got back money based on your annual purchases. Zoro also used to do 30% off deals on say $500 - and we’d have an order list ready waiting on those. In our fabrication business we used quite a bit of the MRO items that they stocked and replenishing inventory when they were having a sale represented a decent cost saving.