5 Types of Adjustable Wrenches

5 Types Of Adjustable Wrenches; Know Which One To Use

Wrenches are common to man, relatively ignored and abandoned by many, but appreciated by a few. For artisans, mechanics, plumbers, electricians, cyclists, bikers, and automobile engineers, they are indispensable to their survival.

They can’t be neglected, because wrenches come in handy when we are stuck with a flat tire on the road, or when the door is stuck and requires just a small key to be opened. Wrenches, therefore, are vital because they consist of a majority of homework toolboxes.

Generally, wrenches are used to tighten and loosen nuts and bolts which are ubiquitous in every engineering devices, mostly mechanical devices. They come in different sizes and shapes, virtually limitless in functions.

However, we seek to focus on types of adjustable wrenches here.

Different Types of Wrenches

Wrenches can be divided into various classes for the sake of simplicity. There are over forty classes of wrenches such as keys, socket, open-end wrenches, combination wrench, impact wrench, and crowfoot wrench, among many others. We will take a look at a few before we jump into the adjustable wrench.

The various classes of wrenches include but not limited to:

01. Spanners

They are wrenches used to turn a bolt head or nut, it allows you to apply torque (a fancy word which means rotation) to tighten a nut on to the bolt. Spanners are ideal for both left-handed and right-handed people and are not bulky, hence space-saving for your toolbox.

02. Lugs

Lugs are also called wheel braces. They have a cross-shaped design fitted with four sockets of different sizes.

These are the set of wrenches that are lifesavers when you have to change a flat tire.

They are specially designed to tighten or loosen the nuts on wheels of vehicles, thus found in the boot of every automobile.


03. Keys

These are another class of wrenches but very specialized as they are used to perform very few tasks. A glaring example of a key includes bottle openers and window cranks.

04. Sockets

They are used to tighten or loosen fasteners such as nuts and bolts. It is a spanner that has a socket attached to one end. The sockets are detachable, which enhances the features of socket wrenches.

05. Adjustable Wrenches

They can be likened onto a spoon among a set of cutleries. Anyone can use it; if you only had one cutlery, it had better be a spoon.

Adjustable wrenches can be used for any job. However, its versatility comes with its challenges too. These challenges include price and its bulky nature.

How Adjustable Wrenches Work?

For wrenches to be used to tighten or fasten bolts, they are made of some indispensable parts no matter its type. It has a handle. This is where the force is applied. And then, there is the jaw, which  is the part used to apply unto the bolt.

Types of Adjustable Wrenches

Types of Adjustable Wrenches

As earlier stated in the brief description of classes of wrenches, adjustable wrenches confer the advantage of diversity. They can be manipulated to be used for different purposes.

Though there are different types, the following are features of adjustable wrenches:

  • They are open-ended.
  • The jaws in the adjustable wrenches are mobile, not static. And this is the reason behind its name: adjustable. Its various types modify how mobile the jaws are.
  • They can also accommodate different sizes of nuts, bolts, and pipes.
  • They can also work with both metric and standard fasteners.

Adjustable wrenches, which you may not know by name but have used, include the following:

01. Adjustable Spanners

They can also be referred to as crescent wrenches. Adjustable spanners are ubiquitous and seen in almost every household on earth. A distinct feature of an adjustable spanner is the 150 angle between the handle and movable jaw.

Adjustable spanners are clothed with either chrome or chromium-vanadium alloy to prevent corrosion. The former is cheaper when compared to the latter. Its features include its affordability and the diverse range of sizes.

They are best suited for fastening and unscrewing plumbing fixtures like faucet and pipes.

02. Monkey Wrench

They come in handy when you have large scale projects which demand some resilience and tenacity such as fixing vehicles.

Monkey Wrench can withstand such pressures due to the following reasons:

  • It has long handles which you can hold with both hands.
  • It has sharp jaws which provide a better grip.
  • The monkey wrench is made from steel. It is shaped by hammering and pressed by heating to about 75% of its melting temperature. Heat forged metals such as monkey wrenches are stronger than cast or machined metal parts.

Therefore a monkey wrench is capable of bearing your total weight as you push against it without bulging. Unfortunately due to their size, money wrenches are not used for small tight spaces; instead, the adjustable spanner is better preferred.

03. Pipe Wrench

The pipe wrench is not the same as a monkey wrench. It is much sleeker than its partner.

The pipe wrench is otherwise known as Stillson wrench. It is perfect for round-surface fixtures and soft iron pipes. 

Pipe Wrench

The jaws are composed of hardened serrated teeth, which bites into softer metals to provide the grip needed to turn a pipe.

They can also be repaired when they get old, thus saving you some extra bucks rather than purchasing a new set of pipe wrenches.

04. Plumber Wrench

This is the last on our list, but not the least. Plumber wrenches were invented in 1888 by Johan Peter Johansson. The plumber wrench, which is quite bulky, comes with a unique feature which allows the movable jaw to be closed or locked unto the fitting or pipe. It’s used for rotating plumber pipes, hence its name.

These wrenches clasp with an unusual, striking force, unlike other wrenches which demand that you engage the bolt or nut head. However, care must be taken to avoid denting the pipe.

Adjustable Wrenches Sizes For Beginners 

Adjustable Wrenches Sizes For Beginners

To perform all the fantastic works wrenches do, they are made in various sizes. The size of the wrench determines the size of the bolt that fits into the jaws. They are measured in either metric (millimeters) or imperial measurements (inches).

Metric is used in most of Asia, Japan, and all European countries, while imperial measurements are used in American states.

The most commonly manufactured sizes include:

  • 8” to 10” double end
  • 6” to 8” double end
  • 8”
  • 12”

Precautions When Using Adjustable Wrenches

Generally, when it comes to wrenches, pulling is favored over pushing it away as it confers on you more control and minimizes the chances of you sustaining an injury. Always bear in mind that accidents do happen when using mechanical instruments and a wrench is not an exception.

Therefore the following precaution should also be adhered to:

  • Apply a SMALL amount of pressure before using the full force.
  • Turn towards higher leverage and stability.
  • It is advisable to use two hands for extra support and comfort.
  • Always keep your wrenches in clean and sound condition by wiping off the surface with a rag after every use.
  • Throw away and replace any old, broken, or damaged wrenches. Working with such instruments increases the risks of sustaining an injury.
  • Make sure to position the jaw to avoid deforming the wrench.
  • Ensure the movable jaw is properly clasped around the pipe to prevent rounding. This is a frequently encountered issue by newbies.

If you are going to have a wrench, it should be an adjustable wrench. Wrenches should not cost you a fortune if you opt for those made of steel, because they are much stronger. Thus, they can handle strenuous jobs without giving in and last longer.

The ones which have a  chrome finishing are better suited to resist corrosion though they would come at an extra cost.

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