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What is a scaffold spanner?

What is a scaffold spanner?

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Scaffold spanner has a socket head on one of both ends of shaft. A scaffold spanner usually has a box-shaped or ‘socket’ head on one (single-ended) or both ends (double-ended) of the shaft (or handle).
Scaffold spanner podger with ratchet ring head. The term ‘scaffold spanner’ is also used to refer to podgers (see What is a podger?), usually with ratcheted ring heads.
Scaffold spanners are used to erect scaffolding for building work. Scaffold spanners are essential tools for all builders who erect scaffolding for building work.
Scaffold spanner usually has a bi hex or 12 point profile. Scaffold spanners often use a 12-point (bi-hex) profile which can reduce the space that is needed to turn the fastener because it provides more possible positions for the spanner to fit onto the head of the fastener.
Whitworth scaffold spanner sizes were developed in the industrial revolution. They come in two Whitworth standard sizes to fit hexagonal fasteners: 7/16″W (Whitworth) and 1/2″W. To keep new pieces of scaffolding compatible with the older parts, scaffolding still uses this old size standard developed during the Industrial Revolution.
Scaffold spanners are between 200 and 300mm in length. The length of most scaffold spanners is between 200mm and 300mm (8-12″).
Scaffold spanner head pivots around joint so it is flexible. The socket heads of scaffold spanners are flexible (see What is a flex-head spanner?), which is useful in obstructed spaces. Some have a double head on one end which spins within a stirrup.
Titanium is a stronger, lighter metal than steel so is great for scaffold spanners which need to be used all day. Most scaffold spanner heads are made from steel but some are made from titanium, a much harder, lighter metal. It is more expensive than steel but well worth the investment if you are erecting scaffolding every day.

Types of handle

Users of scaffolding spanners use they all day, every day. Handles are one of the main differences between scaffold spanner designs. Because they are designed to be used every day, all day, by the user, each person has a preference for handle shape and a range has been developed. The largest width of the handle is usually given in the product description.
Scaffold spanner with round cylindrical spanner.


Round handles are cylindrical with a diameter of 14 or 16mm. They can be knurled (see below) or smooth.

Flat sided scaffold spanner handle is easier to use.


Flat handles are made of a cylindrical base with two parallel flat sides that have been ground away from the handle. The flat sides can help with keeping the user’s hand in an optimal position while using the spanner.

Scaffold spanner with a knurled cross hatched etched handle.


Knurled handles have a cross-hatch of lines etched into them. This improves the user’s grip on the handle.

Scaffold spanner with a poker handle which has a bulge to fit into the palm of your hand.


Poker handles are cylindrical handles that bulge in the middle, taper towards the end and have a knob on the end. This is quite a comfortable handle to use as the bulge fits in the palm of the hand and the knob prevents the hand slipping off the end of the tool. On the other hand, the bulge makes the handle thicker so it is less likely to fit into a confined space.

Scaffold spanner with a stepped handle for better reach.


Stepped handles have a thinner section near the head and a thicker section where the user grips the tool. The thinner section allows more movement of the spanner so it is better able to turn fasteners in tight spaces.

Scaffold spanner with socket end and podger end for lining up bolt holes.


A podger end is a tapered end which is pushed through bolt holes to line them up. See What is a podger? for more information.

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