Can You Use a Ratchet Wrench as a Screwdriver?

Ratchet wrenches and screwdrivers may look similar and may even function similarly, but they are, in fact, two entirely different tools. A ratchet wrench is primarily used for driving nuts and bolts, while a screwdriver is used for tightening and loosening screws. One common mistake that many people make is using a ratchet wrench as a screwdriver, thinking that it can accomplish the same tasks.

However, using a ratchet wrench as a screwdriver is a risky move that can have severe consequences. In this article, we will examine the differences between using a ratchet wrench vs. a screwdriver, as well as the risks of using a ratchet wrench as a screwdriver.

Ratchet Wrench vs. Screwdriver

Ratchet wrenches have a square-shaped end, which is intended for fitting onto a nut or bolt. They use a ratcheting mechanism that allows the user to turn the nut or bolt in only one direction at a time. Ratchet wrenches are ideal when you need to turn nuts and bolts in tight or difficult-to-reach spaces, where a traditional wrench may not fit.

On the other hand, screwdrivers have a flattened end with a tip that matches the head of the screw. They are designed for the specific purpose of tightening or loosening screws. Screwdrivers come in various sizes and head types, such as flathead, Phillips, and Torx, among others.

While a screwdriver is used exclusively for screws, a ratchet wrench is utilized for nuts and bolts and must never be used as a screwdriver. The ratcheting mechanism on ratchet wrenches creates a higher risk of slipping off screws, damaging the fastener or surface that the screw is tightened to, or causing other unintended injuries.

Risks of Using a Ratchet Wrench as a Screwdriver

When using a ratchet wrench as a screwdriver, there are several risks involved. The most significant risk occurs when the wrench slips off of the screw while turning, causing injury to the user or those nearby. The sharp edges of the wrench or bolt may also damage the surface of the object.

In addition, ratchet wrenches have a higher torque than screwdrivers, which may cause screws, nuts, or bolts to strip or break. Also, as the wrench is larger and bulkier than a screwdriver, it can be cumbersome and challenging to use in confined spaces, creating a risk to the user.

Type of Wrench That Can Be Used As a Screwdriver

A socket wrench is a versatile tool that can be used to loosen or tighten nuts and bolts in different sizes. One of the most useful applications of a socket wrench is its use as a screwdriver. By attaching a screwdriver bit to the socket wrench, you can use it as a screwdriver. This is a great option if you have a socket wrench set with a variety of extensions and screwdriver bits.

What Are Socket Wrenches Used For?

Socket wrenches, also known as ratchet wrenches, are versatile tools used for tightening or loosening bolts and nuts. They consist of a handle, a ratcheting mechanism, and sockets of various sizes that can be attached to the wrench. The ratcheting mechanism allows the user to turn the bolt or nut in one direction without having to reposition the wrench for each turn, making this process faster and more efficient.

Socket wrenches come in different sizes, with larger sizes used for larger bolts or nuts and smaller sizes used for smaller ones. They are widely used in various industries, such as automotive, construction, and DIY projects. The ability to use a wide range of sockets also means that socket wrenches are versatile tools that can be used in many different scenarios, making them an indispensable tool for any tool kit.

Overall, if you are looking for a tool that can make fast work of tightening or loosening bolts or nuts, a socket wrench is an excellent choice. Whether you are a professional mechanic or a DIY enthusiast, with the right socket wrench and socket set, you can handle any job that comes your way.

Example of Inappropriate Ratchet Wrench Use

There are, of course, some instances where a ratchet wrench may be effectively used for a non-intended purpose. For example, it may be adequate for loosening a stripped screw by using the open end part of the wrench as a prying tool. However, situations like this are quite rare, and methods such as using a screw extractor or pliers are generally more appropriate and effective.


In conclusion, using a ratchet wrench as a screwdriver is a risky move that should be avoided. The ratcheting mechanism on the wrench creates a higher risk of the wrench slipping off the screw, causing injury, damaging surfaces, or even breaking the screw or bolt.

To maintain safety in DIY projects, always use the appropriate tool for the job. A ratchet wrench is ideal for driving nuts and bolts, while a screwdriver is designed to tighten or loosen screws. Check out the best ratchet screwdrivers here. By understanding the differences between the tools and their appropriate uses, you can avoid dangerous situations and complete your projects efficiently and safely. Learn more about ratchet screwdrivers here.