Whether it’s for a holiday or birthday, this Tools Under 30 Dollars Gift Guide Series shows you important, yet somewhat uncommon, tools that any gearhead would want.

Today, let’s talk about Finger Ratchets.


Finger ratchets come in a few styles, and many can be used with drive bits (screwdriver bits) too. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

Finger ratchets go by a few different names, including palm ratchets and thumbwheel ratchets.

In contrast to the long handle wrenches we talked about earlier, a finger ratchet is essentially a small drive ratchet that eliminates the handle in favor of a knurled wheel that you spin with your fingers.

Yup, you’re holding an entire socket wrench in the palm of your hand. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

While that does mean you won’t have near the leverage and turning force of a traditional ratchet, it also means these handy little gizmos can snake into really, really tight spots. And you’ll probably find them to be far easier to maneuver in blind areas without that ratchet handle clunking around too.

Better still, you can turn them really fast, so they’re helpful fatigue-fighters if you’ve got a bunch of extra-long machine thread fasteners.

Finger ratchets can be particularly beneficial when you’re working under or behind a vehicle dashboard, where space is a premium and you often won’t be able to see where you’re going. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

In addition to standard square drives (typically 1/4 inch), many thumbwheel ratchets can accommodate hex drive bits, like Torx and Philips heads. That increases their versatility outside of the garage, helping you make tight-spot fixes on electronics, appliances, and furniture.

When equipped with a Philips head bit, palm ratchets can be handy for removing rackmount equipment in A/V studios and computer networking installations too. (Image/OnAllCylinders)


But the best news? As handy as they are, thumbwheel ratchets are still pretty cheap, which means you can definitely find a good finger ratchet for under 30 bucks.

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Author: Paul Sakalas

Paul is the editor of OnAllCylinders. When he's not writing, you'll probably find him fixing oil leaks in a Jeep CJ-5 or roof leaks in an old Corvette ragtop. Thanks to a penchant for vintage Honda motorcycles, he spends the rest of his time fiddling with carburetors and cleaning chain lube off his left pant leg.