If you’re familiar with ratcheting box-end wrench sets, you already know why they’re indispensable in any professional toolchest. The ability to get a wrench on a fastener just once and then completely loosen or tighten that fastener quickly is required to get through a professional’s workday efficiently. To be able to work with extremely limited clearance is another benefit and a good reason to keep ratcheting wrenches on hand as well as sockets and basic combination wrenches.
While most name-brand tool companies offer some version of a ratcheting wrench set, GearWrench specializes in this mechanism and offers a number of different varieties. One of my favorite professional-level tool sets is the 14-wrench reversible 90-tooth (90T) set. This packaged set offers top-quality ratcheting wrenches from 1/4 to 1-inch, and offers the ability to reverse the direction of the ratcheting box end by flipping a switch, like a socket wrench. As an added benefit, this set of wrenches comes in a convenient tool roll suitable for mobile use, with labeled pockets for each wrench so you will know right away if you have misplaced a wrench.
How I tested the GearWrench 90-point Reversible Wrench Set
Naturally, anyone who is testing wrenches should have automotive experience in doing so. As someone who grew up in a racing family, I’ve been in and around motor vehicles my whole life. I’ve been a motoring journalist since 2002, writing mainly in the Portland Tribune Newspaper, but also as an Editor of numerous other magazines. I tested this wrench set in my own workshop, where I’ve worked on a number of vehicles over the years with tools I’ve been using for some 20 or so years.
To test the GearWrench reversible wrench set, I first set used a set of feeler gauges to observe the fit on regular nut and bolt heads. I then set about tightening a series of standard SAE fasteners. Initially, this was to the recommended torque and then above.
Next up was a flex and slip test. To perform the slip test, I overtightened the fasteners by around 25% before leaning on the wrenches until the fasteners come loose. This tested the amount of force used before the wrench slipped. Repeating the test, I then looked for flex in the wrench.
Testing the wrench set
The 90-tooth part of the product is critical. This means that the ratcheting gear inside the box end has 90 teeth, allowing a swing of just 4 degrees to “click” and allow you to make progress with the fastener. Less expensive GearWrench sets have 72-tooth gears, and we don’t think those are suitable for professional or serious automotive use.
On the open end of these wrenches, there’s another difference compared to the less expensive 72-tooth models (read Jeff’s review here). There are ridges in the open end jaws that help the wrench latch on to the bolt, reducing the chance of slippage. The 90T reversible set is also made to a tighter tolerance, just 0.010 inches or 1/4 of a millimeter, and this gives the 90T reversible wrenches a more confident feeling on any fastener, but especially a fastener that is beat up, dirty, or rusty.
A set of GearWrenches is an essential additional set of tools, not a substitute for a good set of basic combination wrenches. If you really need to put extreme torque on a fastener to break it loose, common sense dictates not using a GearWrench because there is a limit to how strong that gear can be, and most of us want our tools to last. Use a high-quality box-end wrench or impact socket for those jobs.
GearWrench 90-point Reversible Wrench Set Verdict
Another point to make very clear is that all brands of ratcheting wrench are most certainly not the same. Whether you buy GearWrench or another quality brand, you want to avoid the lower-cost ratcheting wrench brands that cannot offer the same quality of manufacturing at a lower price. The consequences of having a ratcheting wrench break while you’re working can be injury. At $12.85 (£10.50) per wrench, it makes little sense to go cheap on your ratcheting wrenches, when you could be working with GearWrench, which I consider the best professional-grade ratcheting wrenches.