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Getting The Job Done Right

Types of Wrenches

By: Darion Robinson

If you have ever tried to detach a stuck nut using a pair of pliers in a pinch, you will be aware of the difficulties associated with the process. To be specific, being able to scrape and damage the outside edges of the nut is easy when you don’t have the correct tools. Thankfully, for all sizes of nuts and bolts, there are various types of wrenches that can provide a snug fit. The nuts work by exerting pressure on the handle of the wrench. More so, using pressure on the nut will safely improve the twisting force required to either tighten or loosen the nut. Read on to learn about the best types of wrenches that you can find on the consumer market:

types of wrenches

Shopping Tips

Being able to invest in proper tools for your needs and project work is highly essential. For instance, when investing in wrenches, you will notice that there are two common metrics available for the wrenches. These are millimeters and American Standard inches, which often classify in the 1/16-inch increments. With either system, you can use these units to measure the nut or bolt that will require twisting. 

Most wrench handles average between 5 inches to 2 feet long. The length of the handle is directly proportional to the torque force you can acquire from the wrench. The long handles tend to be unwieldy in tight locations. That said, the ideal wrench relates to the project task you have available. 

In most cases, the best way to invest in a wrench is to get them in sets that feature graduated size openings. This way, you have a proper tool on hand for any project that lands on your to-do list. Furthermore, if you are a frequent user of the tools, then it’s good if you get a robust and comfortable tool for your needs.

Top 10 Wrenches Worth Knowing

Open-end Wrench

There is hardly any DIY toolbox that is complete without a set of good open-end wrenches. One or both ends on this type of tool usually comes with flat interior C-shaped jaws. However, if both wrench heads or open, then they often have varying sizes.

The varying sizes mean that they can provide a snug fit on the sides of a bolt or nut. This way, you can exert torque pressure in either direction when working with the wrench. Once you turn the nut, you will have to calibrate the wrench again before using it again.

open end wrench

Suitable for: Narrow locations where you can only access the side section of the nut. If you don’t have sufficient room to place a box end wrench on the top part of the nut, then consider using an open-end wrench. For a good starter set, consider using the Max Torque 9-Piece Premium Combination Wrench Set.

Box-End Wrenches

For tasks in which you have to access the top section of the nut, then consider using a box wrench. The box wrench offers improved control over the torque process, as when compared to the open-end wrenches. The main reason for such an occurrence is that once you position the wrench over the nut, it is less likely to move off.

Whether you want to get a single or double box wrench, the box ends often have the same appearance with interior shapes, which have either six or 12 sides. More so, the openings should also fit perfectly over the hex head bolts and nuts.

Furthermore, the box end wrenches with the 12-sided rings also have a similar fit but will provide enhanced mobility when it comes to handle positioning. This is a handy feature when you have limited space to move around. Other wrenches on the market even feature offset handles, which reduce any issues such as injury when working.

Suitable for: this type of wrench is ideal for use around the home and automotive use. Similar to open-end wrenches, the box end wrenches are non-customizable. Thus, it’s good to consider the TEKTON WRN77164. The box and heads pivot 180 degrees to make it easy to get around obstructions. 

Combination Wrenches

A combination wrench will allow you to enjoy the best features of an open-end and box wrenches. While the double open end and box end wrenches have different ends on each side, a combination wrench has similar heads on each end. Thus, you can flip the wrench around as you work on your projects, and both ends can fit same nuts. 

combination wrench

Suitable for: Ideal for professional car repair and use around the house. Furthermore, it’s also a great wrench which you can stow in a bicycle bag for your roadside repairs. Consider the DEWALT Combination Wrench Set (DWMT73810).

Adjustable Wrenches

Arguably, if you have one wrench, then consider investing in an adjustable wrench, because of its dynamic design. However, tough undeniably dynamic, you have to implement high levels of care when using this tool.

Otherwise referred to as the “knuckle buster” in the DIY industry, and due to its tendency to slip off a nut, the adjustable wrench is a standard woodworker tool. You can easily reduce any instances of knuckle injuries by ensuring that you pull the handles of the wrench correctly. Also, consider rotating the adjustment screw to be able to clamp the jaws of the wrench to provide a snug fit around the nut. You can also calibrate the wrench accordingly, and in relation to the specific nature of your project. The jaws on some of the customizable wrenches tend to loosen easily as you work, thereby increasing the risk of issues such as slipping or nut damage.

Suitable For: Ideal for plumbing use, including being able to tighten water supply line nuts or when you can find a non-adjustable wrench with a specific size. Unlike most wrenches you will come across, the adjustable brands are often available as a set. We really like the WORKPRO 4-piece Adjustable Wrench Set.

Hex-Key Wrenches

Otherwise referred to as the Allen wrenches, hex key wrenches are short six-sided bars of steel with a unique L-shaped design. Usually, one side is shorter than the other.

Instead of fitting it around the hex head nuts like the other wrenches in this guide, these types work quite differently. You have to turn them by ensuring the nut fits correctly into the six-sided loops that exist at the central section of each nut.

All the ends of the wrench can install a hex head nut, which have similar sizes. Once you insert one end of the hex key wrench into a proper nut, you can use the other end too as a handle to rotate the nut. The inclusion of “cheater bars” or small tubes that you place over the end of the wrench handle will also provide enhanced user leverage.

Suitable for: installing or removing hex head bolts that you can find in various components around your property. These include components such as faucets, doorknobs, and more. Furthermore, these wrenches are also suitable for assembling various types of cupboards, furniture, and upholstery. Usually, if you have an item that requires assembly, then the exact wrench required will be included with the entire set. However, it is also convenient for you to own a set of wrenches such as the like TEKTON’s 26-piece Long-Arm, Ball-end Hex-Key Wrench Set.

Ratcheting Wrenches

Even though a ratcheting wrench has the same appearance as a box end wrench that features one or two closed heads, it functions quite differently. You have to place the wrench of a bolt or nut to grip tightly when you pull the tool in one direction. This way, you can easily loosen or tighten a nut by rotating the handle forward and back, thereby eliminating the need for repositioning each time.

Ratcheting Wrenches

Suitable for: Completing woodworking projects fast. A ratcheting wrench is ideal for use in any instance where you can also use a box-end wrench. Furthermore, if you have to handle various types of bolts and nuts, then consider using the ratcheting wrench to reduce the time required for the process. Consider getting a set of wrenches such as the GearWrench 9312 13-Piece. The wrenches are made using high-quality alloy steel that has a bright and full polish finish. Furthermore, the ratcheting box also features an off-corner loading for an enhanced grip.

Socket Wrench

A socket wrench works in the same way as a ratcheting wrench. However, rather than requiring a specific size of bolt, the socket wrench has a single ratchet bar and customizable sockets. Therefore, the socket wrenches are usually available in sets, but you can also get replacement sockets when needed.

Depending on the brand, the set you purchase might also be available with various types of extension bars. Thus, the tool works well for reaching bolts and nuts that are in compact spaces.

socket wrenches

The ratcheting section of a socket wrench is found on the handle. Once you place the socket over a nut, you can easily tighten or loosen the nut by moving the handle around in the same way as a ratcheting wrench.

Suitable for: Automotive repairs and on bicycles. Most socket wrenches are available in various metric sizes that can fit different types of nuts and bolts. Thus, ensure that you invest in a wrench that suits your tools or vehicle. A good socket wrench example would be the Dewalt (DWMT73804). This set is highly portable between work areas and made using durable steel and aluminum alloy material.

Torque Wrench

It’s easy to tighten a nut until its secure with various other types of wrenches. However, in some settings, this is not good enough, and you often don’t have the freedom to guess. In this case, a torque wrench works well to tighten a nut or bolt in relation to a specific pressure level. These types of wrenches are often available individually and are commonly used for automotive purposes.

Torque Wrench

A single torque wrench can fit a particular type of bolt or nut, and more. For instance, if you want to change the tire in a new model vehicle, the lug nuts will require a specific amount of pressure to release. Usually, the car manually will provide accurate information on the lugs that can fit on the wrenches. When using the wrench, you might come across a click sound or observe a response from an LED unit. 

Suitable for: Automotive purposes, even though some types of materials might require a specific level of fasteners. Its recommended that you get a torque wrench that relates to the specifications of your chosen lugs. For instance, consider the TEKTON 24335, which is ideal for working on trucks, garden equipment, and more.

Finally

Being able to invest in a good set of wrenches, can easily take your professional work or DIY projects to the next level. Thus, with this list of best types of wrenches, you have a convenient solution for working mechanical or even carpentry projects. A good wrench is not only useful for your needs, it is also durable and simple to use as well. 

We have identified some of the best types of wrenches, and along with specific brands for you to consider. Getting a good wrench is not only simple to use, but it also dynamic enough to suit different use applications. Thus, get a suitable wrench to take your mechanical projects to the next level.