Take Care of Your Torque Wrench

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August 2013

Interestingly enough, most of the times when we use our torque wrenches, it’s not so much the torque we’re interested in. It’s the amount of tension or crushing force we’re exerting on the assembly through the tightening of the fastener.

Because the threads, materials and finishes in high-quality nuts and bolts are standardized, a given amount of torque (or twisting force) on a given threaded fastener will produce a fairly consistent amount of tension in the fastener. Because it’s difficult if not impossible to directly measure the tension in the fastener, we do the next-best thing: we check the torque applied to the nut.

Only with correct tension can any fastener deliver its optimum strength. Thus it follows that the best-maintained structures may be built with fasteners that are as light as possible. The trade-off is that significant care must be used in assembly and maintenance. Since aircraft are designed closer to “optimal” (as opposed to, say, your wheelbarrow), aircraft fasteners need more attention.

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