The crescent wrench, which is sometimes called a spanner, has been an important tool that has been used for nearly two centuries. The physics of this tool are pretty simple: it works as a lever, has notches that help to grip items, and then torque is created by pulling the wrench along right angles to either loosen or tighten something. The first patents that were granted for the crescent wrench were given to Solyman Merrick, all the way back in 1834.
Not much is known about Merrick besides the fact that he was a rather prolific inventor when it came to hand tools. Here is a look at some of his other inventions.
In 1838, Merrick developed a punch that could be utilized for a number of different needs. Punches are a handy tool that can be used to help remove stuck bolts or other items. They can be used in an emergency to break out glass. They can be used to tighten objects as well! Punches are also used to create specific holes within manufacturing processes so that other items can be affixed to that product. If you’ve ever put together furniture at home that had holes for bolts, there’s a good chance a punch was used at some point. Merrick’s initial punch, however, was designed to work with leather.
2. Screw Wrenches
One of the unique wrench inventions of Merrick was the screw wrench. It was invented so that cylindrical forms could be more easily grasped by the jaws of the wrench. The jaws were also adjustable and had several teeth within them while the wrench itself was fairly adaptable to changing situations. This type of wrench, and especially the hook design of the jaws of it, survived until the beginning of World War II.
3. Rack Wrenches
Merrick had developed spring tension technology within the punch that he’d invented, so he began to wonder what would happen if that spring technology was included with a wrench. The first rack wrenches had a spring-tensioned collar that would hold the teeth of the interior sliding jaw of the wrench. Instead of having to screw or unscrew the wrench for it to be adjustable, the wrench could be rapidly moved up and down and later models would include both technologies.
4. Machines to Saw Staves
Staves are basic vertical wooden posts or planks. They’re most commonly found making up the sides of barrels. Sometimes staves are created from other materials, but tools are needed to saw the materials into staves so that they can reach the right size and shape in a consistent manner. Merrick developed a machine that would saw staves that were made of copper so that there would be no construction errors with the products.
Wrenches have been around for centuries in some form, so it could be said that Merrick didn’t actually invent the crescent wrench. He does, however, hold the first wrench patents that were issued and that is what gives him credit for this useful invention.
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