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What is a Pipe Wrench: A Guide to Knowing this Basic Handyman Tool

What is a Pipe Wrench

The fact that you’ve reached this part of the online world means that you are thinking of a specific question that has been asked by many before you: what is a pipe wrench and why do we need to know about it?

Whether you’re living alone, with your parents, significant other, or a roommate, it is recommended that you be skilled in doing even the most basic home repairs. This is so that you don’t have to waste money to hire a professional every time something gets broken around the house.

However, before you can even start learning the many trades that revolves around property maintenance, you first need to know about the tools that you will be using. For the purpose of this article, we are going to focus on the pipe wrench and all that it can offer.

So, What is a Pipe Wrench, Exactly?

A pipe wrench is an adjustable wrench that is used to turn soft iron pipes and round-surfaced fittings. It can be classified by the length of its handle. There are pipe wrenches that measure anywhere from three to 48 inches and longer.

Back in the day, all pipe wrenches were made from cast steel for durability and endurance. However, manufacturers now use aluminum so as to create pipe wrenches that are lighter in weight than traditional ones.

Parts of A Pipe Wrench

Basically, a pipe wrench has only three basic components—the handles, jaws, and nut.

  • Handle

The handle, which is sometimes also called the arm, is the part of the pipe wrench that allows you to generate a strong, twisting force. As the handle is turned, the grip gets tighter and tighter around the pipe. The most regularly used materials in the manufacturing of a pipe wrench handle are aluminum and steel.

  • Jaws

A basic pipe wrench has two distinct jaws. The first one is called the heel jaw or the bottom jaw, which is the horizontal surface found on top of the handle. The hook jaw or the top jaw, on the other hand, is the hook-shaped piece. Both of these jaws have treads or teeth that help the wrench bite into piping you wish to turn. You can adjust the hook jaw to grab on to pipes with varying diameters.

  • Nut

Just below the slot near the heel jaw is a rotating piece of metal called the nut. This component lets you adjust the height of the hook jaw, which then makes it possible to wrap the wrench around objects of varying diameters. This nut is often designed with grooves or other surface protrusions or indentations so as to allow you to turn them with your thumb easily.

Different Types of Pipe Wrench

Like many other handyman tools, pipe wrench comes in many different types that are also available in varying sizes. They are most commonly found in a plumber’s toolbox but can also be used to perform many other kinds of home repair projects aside from plumbing work.

  • Compound Leverage Wrench

If you need additional leverage when trying to turn a pipe, then use a compound leverage wrench. This is mainly used for joints that are frozen and very hard to turn because of build-up, damage, or age. A compound leverage wrench works by multiplying the turning force that was applied to a pipe, making it very useful for loosening frozen joints.

  • End Pipe Wrench

As the name suggests, the end pipe wrench is used to work on end pipes, which are commonly located close to the wall or between tight openings. Its teethed-jaws allow for a tight and secure grip onto the pipes, making it very easy to loosen or tighten.

  • Offset Wrench

Yet another pipe wrench designed to allow you to work on tight spaces and pipes at awkward angles is the offset wrench. It is further classified into two versions: the standard and heavy-duty offset wrench. It works by slipping vertically over the bolt head as it is impossible to wrench around the hard-to-reach bolt from the sides.

Normally, an offset wrench has a box end, which is a closed-end wrench that you can also use to tighten, loosen, and turn bolts and nuts.

  • Straight Pipe Wrench

If you are trying to find a pipe wrench that can be used for many applications, then you will be better off investing your good money in a quality straight pipe wrench. This is the traditional form of a wrench that is also the most versatile. Usually, it is made of a heavy-duty iron and designed with jaw hooks that have self-cleaning threads.

In most tools shops, you can find straight pipe wrenches in varying sizes from ¾ to eight inches. On the other hand, there are also heavy-duty straight pipe wrenches available on the market that are used for very large pipes.

  • Strap Wrench

For tightening and loosening oddly shaped pipes, you can rely on a strap wrench get the job done. It looks very different from the traditional wrench head that can be found in most toolboxes. While it has a normal-looking rigid handle, this type of wrench has a strap that is then attached to the pipe. The strap can either be made of rubber, leather, or metal.

This type of pipe wrench is used to turn, tighten, or loosen a variety of items in different sizes including plumbing fittings and even container lids. It is often used for items that do not have flat surfaces for a traditional wrench to grip onto.

Final Words

At the beginning of this post, we asked the questions: what is a pipe wrench? Well, a pipe wrench is an essential component that should be included in every man’s toolbox. Although it is mainly used for plumbing projects, it also can also handle other home maintenance and repair projects. For this reason, it would be very wise for you to invest in a set of wrench pipes in varying sizes.

Learning everything you need to know about a pipe wrench is only the beginning. There are tons of other tools around the corner waiting to be picked up and used to repair and create new things. When the time comes that you are already aware of all the basic handyman tools there is, we are confident that you can become the most reliable home repair guy there is. Good luck on your journey!

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