How Many Different Types of Wrenches Are There?
Hand tools, such as wrenches, are a core component of a toolbox. These simple tools have helped humans build entire civilizations. Thankfully, we have come a long way since the days of simple spanners that could only be used to tighten or loosen simple bolts.
In its most simple form, a wrench is a hand tool used to either tighten or loosen nuts and bolts. A modern but generic wrench has two jaws. One is fixed, and the other can move to tighten the jaws around a nut or bolt.
Today, you can find as many as 40 different types of wrenches that are designed to perform specialized jobs. Depending on what sort of bolt you are dealing with, you can be sure to find a wrench that works for you.
However, many of these wrenches are designed for such obscure jobs that you won’t find a need for them in everyday applications. Hence, we will list 10 of the most common and useful wrenches below, along with their uses and applications.
10 Common Types of Wrenches
Here are the most common wrenches you will find.
This is the most common type of wrench that you will find in most hardware shops. It has two jaws, one of which is fixed. The other jaw can freely move up and down by turning a spiral screw embedded within the body. It is also called a crescent wrench.
An adjustable wrench is a simple tool designed for tightening and loosening bolts. It is not ideal for narrow spaces and can only work well if the area surrounding the bolt is free of obstructions.
The combination wrench doesn’t have any movable parts. Instead, it offers two functions, as the head of the wrench is U-shaped, and the tail is a closed loop. The U-shaped head can be used on typical nuts and bolts, whereas the closed loop is meant for hexagonal or square nuts.
This type of wrench is perfect for “difficult” nuts that don’t want to come loose. You can get combination wrenches in sets that have different dimensions.
Just like combination and adjustable wrenches, an open-ended wrench is commonly used. These wrenches are basically combination wrenches minus the closed loop. They have two U-shaped ends of different sizes and are ideal for awkwardly placed nuts and bolts.
Ratchet wrenches are built the same way as combination or open-ended wrenches. However, the difference is that there is a ratcheting device at one end and an ordinary U-shaped device on the other end.
A ratcheting device allows for the turning of the wrench without having to remove and reposition it. This can save you a lot of time and effort. However, if you are working in a narrow space, you won’t be able to turn the handle all the way. This type of wrench also comes in sets of varying sizes.
Also referred to as a short-body wrench, this is essentially a shorter variant of a combination wrench. It does the same exact job as a combination wrench but is meant for tighter and hard-to-reach spaces. It has a U-shaped end for conventional nuts and a closed-loop for hexagonal nuts.
These nifty little tools are different from the types of wrenches mentioned above. Unlike a traditional wrench, these don’t have handles. Instead, they are designed to be attached to ratchet handles or socket extensions as standalone heads.
These are ideal for distant bolts where conventional tools fail. There is no limit to the length of extension you want to use depending on your needs.
As the name implies, a basin wrench is designed to reach the fixtures under sinks and toilets. It has a specialized T-shaped handle that ends in a curve.
The serrated jaw on the other end helps loosen or tighten nuts and bolts that are unreachable with conventional wrenches. This type of wrench is also referred to as a faucet wrench.
The pipe wrench is a heavy-duty version of the adjustable wrench. It has the same basic function but is vastly more durable with a sturdy metal body. It has two jaws, and the jaw on the top is moveable by turning a circular screw.
The jaws are also made to grip plumbing pipes with greater strength. However, due to the serrated jaws, this type of wrench can leave deep marks and scratches on surfaces.
Allen wrenches come in sets with a variety of sizes. They are also called hex keys due to their hexagonal shape, and they are simple tools with no moving parts.
You can use either end to loosen or tighten hexagonal screws. However, one side is usually longer than the other, forming an L-shape. The longer side, when used as a handle, allows greater leverage.
The Allen wrench cannot be used on ordinary screws and bolts. Instead, the screws need to have a hexagonal recess for the wrench to fit into.
The strap wrench is a simple yet ingenious tool that allows you to loosen oil filters or similarly constructed items. It has a strap that you can wrap around a tight circular object to loosen it by applying a counter-clockwise motion. The strap is made out of different materials, such as rubber, fabric, or metal.
There are numerous different types of wrenches that are specially designed to perform in various scenarios. However, most of these have specific functions that are not typically needed for everyday use. The 10 most common and useful types listed here can be used for various applications and by different workers, from car mechanics to plumbers and builders.
If you are looking to buy a toolbox, the adjustable, combination, and open-ended wrenches are a must-have. However, if you want to expand your DIY capabilities, consider getting the strap and basin wrench so that you can work on bathroom fixtures and change your car’s oil filter without needing a mechanic.