DIY Tools: Rebuild That Ratchet
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DIY Tools: Rebuild That Ratchet

Quality tools are expensive tools. A 1/2-Inch Drive, Quick-Release ratchet made by Snap-On would cost you $150.00. Snap On guarantees their tools for life and will replace one with no questions asked. The problem is that not many DIY people can afford to pay $150.00 for one hand tool. With a little judicial shopping around at flea markets, garage sales, Craigs List, and so on, you can find the same ratchet for a fraction of that cost and rebuild it to like new condition for a mere $10. Snap On sells the rebuild kits with all the necessary parts for those $150 ratchets for just $10.

If you are a typical DIY enthusiast, you love tools, quality tools. If your budget permitted, every mechanic's hand tool in your roller cabinet/toolbox and every mechanic's tool hanging on the pegboards over your workbenches would have the name Snap On or MAC emblazoned on them. Sadly, unless one is a professional mechanic with a lucrative clientele, few of us can afford to buy Snap On or even MAC tools new. Many of my mechanic's tools are Snap On but I found them at flea markets and yard sales while rummaging through boxes of tool with “$ as is” marked on the boxes. I have found ratchet that would have sold $150 new in those boxes for $5 to $15 and gladly paid it even though some of them had ratcheting mechanisms that stuck, worked erratically, or did not work all. Why would I pay $15 for a ratchet that was completely inoperable? I did it because I knew something that every that did not but did not know. I knew that I could order a rebuild kit from Snap On with all the moving parts that I needed to restore that ratchet to like new condition for just $12. For just $25 and a couple of hours work in the shop I had a ratchet would have cost me six times that to buy new. You can too.

Tools and supplies that you will need.

  • A ratchet rebuilding kit for your ratchet

  • Parts degreaser i.e. Gunk Degreaser

  • Internal/External snap ring pier set

  • Flat/Straight blade screwdriver

  • Shop rags

Disassemble and clean the ratchet.

Depending on the particular ratchet that you have, the ratchet mechanism may be retained in head with an internal snap ring, an external snap ring, or a spiral retaining ring. To remove an internal snap ring, jam the tips of the internal snap ring snap ring pliers into the holes and squeeze the handles together to compress and remove the snap ring. To remove an external snap ring, use the external snap ring pliers to expand and remove the snap ring.

This photo shows an internal snap ring being removed.

If the ratchet assembly is retained in the ratchet head by a spiral retainer ring, work the tip of the screwdriver behind the end of the ring and then slide it around behind the ring working it completely out of the groove as shown here.


Once you have removed the retainer snap rings, cover the ratchet with a shop rag to catch the flying spring. Slide the ratchet assembly out of the head. Clean the disassembled ratchet with the parts cleaner solution. If you have read my article on Naval Jelly, you know what a great parts cleaner that is but I do not recommend you using it on any tools with a chrome finish because it can dull the finish.

Rebuild and Reassemble



  • Apply the lubricant that came with the rebuild kit to all the parts, including the inside of the Ratchet body.

  • Reassemble the ratchet in the reverse order of the disassemble

Additional resources:

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Comments (8)

Jerry, another winning article from the tool master.  Great job my friend.  

Very informative Jerry, thank you.

can I just marry you and you do all the work?  lol

Jerry's the go-to-guy in DIY...

Great article and use as visuals. I am out of votes for today but I will Tweet this for you.

This is excellent, especially the accompanying images...

Back to give you a well deserved vote.

Guys like you are great to have around the house...fortunately, I married a Mr. Fixit!