The History of the Socket Wrench


The socket wrench has a ratcheting mechanism that allows tightening and loosening of a nut without refitting; usually, the sockets attach to the ratchet in a square fitting and a small lever behind the socket switches the wrench between tightening and loosening modes.


  • The socket wrench, with removable, multi-sized sockets, was invented by J.J. Richardson of Woodstock, Vermont. On June 18, 1863, Richardson filed his patent with the Scientific American Patent Agency.


  • The first illustration of the socket wrench ran in the April 16, 1864 issue of Scientific American on page 248.


  • Solymon Merrick patented the first standard wrench in 1835, and the Monkey wrench was invented shortly before the socket wrench by Charles Moncky.
    Robert Owen invented the ratchet wrench, a follow up to the socket wrench, and received a patent on September 9, 1913.


  • The Scientific American praised the socket wrench for tackling an issue in mechanics alongside its picture, stating that, "machinists and others very frequently experience difficulties in turning nuts or holding bolt-heads so that the nuts can be screwed on them when the same are situated in places where they cannot be reached by an ordinary wrench."


  • Since the first patent for the socket wrench, there have been inventors adding improvements. Several wrench patents exist today, one even belongs to the world's first African American heavyweight champion, Jack Johnson, who patented a wrench on April 18, 1922.

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  • Photo Credit Image by, courtesy of Casey Fleser
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