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Buying a Wrench

There are many great tools to have in your workshop, but a wrench is one of the most valuable devices to have on hand. From construction projects and furniture assembly to plumbing and car repairs, no tool box is complete without a wrench to handle a wide variety of jobs. When buying this device, it's important to consider which types of projects you're looking to complete. Here are some key factors and specifications to weigh when choosing a new wrench.

Why buy a wrench?

A wrench is an indispensable tool for both amateurs and professionals. It provides enough torque for gripping, loosening or tightening nuts and bolts.

A wrench comes in various configurations to handle a wide range of projects, including home repairs, flat-packed furniture assembly, plumbing issues, oil changes, or loosening a stubborn jar cap.

A specialty wrench has a special configuration or mechanical add-on to provide ample power and optimal grip. This type of device can make even difficult jobs like removing a rusted nut or bolt much easier to complete than with a standard wrench.


Features of wrenches

  • Provide proper leverage to eliminate strain and excessive manual force
  • Different models are constructed in a wide variety of sizes to handle multiple fasteners
  • Many wrenches are compact for easy operation and on-the-go tasks
  • These tools are versatile and can handle projects of any skill level
 
 
features of wrenches

Types of wrenches

Adjustable wrenches

This type of wrench features an adjustable lower jaw to accommodate different nuts, bolts and fasteners.

  • Price range: $10-$75
  • Length: 5-25 inches
  • Maximum opening: 3/4-2 inches
adjustable wrenches

Adjustable wrenches are best for…

A beginner's tool box: Since it accommodates different sizes of bolts, pipes and nuts, an adjustable wrench is ideal for a novice's tool box. It's designed to handle a wide variety of simple do-it-yourself tasks.

Household jobs: When faced with general repairs or major projects around the house, an adjustable wrench is a handy, versatile tool for a homeowner. It can be used for tasks such as tightening faucets, pipes and other objects secured with all types of fasteners.


Combination wrenches

A combination wrench features an open and a closed-end wrench on opposite ends.

  • Price range: $10-$430
  • Length: 3-32 inches
  • Maximum opening: 3/4-1.75 inches
combination wrenches

Combination wrenches are best for…

Handling medium to heavy-duty tasks: Since a combination wrench features an open wrench as well as a ratcheting or box wrench, it delivers the best of both worlds when you're tackling more advanced projects.

 

Tight fasteners: The box wrench end offers a great grip when loosening a stubborn fastener. Once the fastener is loose, you can easily flip the tool to use the open-ended wrench and completely remove it. The ratchet and box wrench end also works well in cramped spaces.


Double-box wrenches

A double-box wrench features two box wrench heads on opposite ends, providing more options for handling different sizes of fasteners with one tool.

  • Price range: $5-$145
  • Length: 3-21.5 inches
  • Maximum opening: 1/2-2 inches
double-box wrench set

Double-box wrenches are best for…

Specialized tasks: A double-box wrench can typically handle tough jobs without causing damage to hex-head fasteners, nuts or bolts. This type of tool allows you to slightly adjust position in small increments to get the best fit.

 

 

Projects in tight or awkward spaces: This wrench can be positioned to work effectively in narrow and tight spaces. Some feature an offset or angled handle, which makes it easier to maneuver the tool.

 

 


Open-end wrenches

An open-end wrench, also known as a crescent wrench, features nonadjustable jaws to securely tighten and loosen specific fasteners.

  • Price range: $5-$420
  • Length: 5-27 inches
  • Opening: 1/2-3 inches
open-end wrenches

Open-end wrenches are best for…

Simple projects: An open-end wrench features an open jaw that enables you to quickly access the nut, bolt or fastener you're trying to loosen or tighten.

 

Maneuvering: When completing a simple task, it's important you can freely move and operate your tools. This type of wrench is much easier to use in tight spaces than counterparts with large sockets at one end.  


Crowfoot wrenches

A crowfoot wrench is similar to an open-end wrench but has no handle and is designed to fit on the side of a fastener.

  • Price range: $5-$20
  • Length: 1.25 to 2.5 inches
  • Opening: 1/3-1 inches
crowfoot wrenches

Crowfoot wrenches are best for…

Automotive projects: This type of tool is ideal for tasks underneath the hood. A crowfoot wrench can be used for on power steering fittings, valve adjustments and brake line tunings.

 

Hard-to-reach spots: This wrench gives you reach, versatility and power for working in tight spaces, ranging from car engines to uniquely designed hardware.

 


Flare nut wrenches

A flare nut wrench has a small opening that creates more surface contact on softer metal, minimizing damage to the fastener.

  • Price range: $10-$45
  • Length: 4-8.5 inches
  • Opening: 1/4-1 inches
craftsman flare nut wrench

Flare nut wrenches are best for…

Working with soft fasteners: A flare nut wrench is ideal for handling flare nuts and fasteners made of brass, copper or other soft materials. This wrench's design allows it to grip a nut at more points without causing the scraping that another type might.

 

Weathered hardware: When working on old materials or objects exposed to harsh conditions, it's important not to strip any of their fasteners or fittings. A flare nut wrench has the proper grip to tighten or loosen slightly damaged fasteners.

 


Pipe wrenches

This tool features an adjustable jaw designed to turn pipes and other cylinder-shaped objects.

  • Price range: $10-$160
  • Length: 8-48 inches
  • Maximum opening: 2-2.5 inches
 
 
craftsman pipe wrench

Pipe wrenches are best for…

Plumbing projects: A pipe wrench has the durability and grip strength to handle metal pipes and fittings for amateur or professional-grade plumbing jobs.

 

Heavy-duty machinery: Although primarily a plumbing tool, this device can also be used on industrial machinery or equipment built with metal piping.


Ratcheting wrenches

A ratcheting wrench allows you to loosen or tighten a fastener with one end while freely using its handle to reverse direction without affecting the fastener.

  • Price range: $10-$60
  • Length: 4-17 inches
  • Opening: 1/4-1 inches
craftsman ratcheting wrench

Ratcheting wrenches are best for…

Automotive work: Because of its ability to provide a 360-degree grip, a ratcheting tool is essential for any mechanic's toolbox since it's able to operate in tight spaces. The longer handle also provides the leverage needed to easily maneuver a nut or bolt.

 

Removing rusted nuts and bolts: Rusted or stubborn nuts and bolts can be loosened quickly without repeatedly losing your grip thanks to a ratcheting wrench's unique continuous motion.

 


Torque wrenches

A torque wrench allows you to use proper torque with a built-in electronic or manual measuring mechanism.

  • Price range: $15-$1,000
  • Length: 14-72 inches
  • Torque drive size: 1/4-3/4 inches
  • Torque ranges: 0-60 inch pounds to 25-250 foot pounds
craftsman torque wrench

Torque wrenches are best for…

Heavy-duty automotive maintenance: A torque wrench provides ample power to tighten or loosen certain nuts and bolts on any car, truck or SUV.

 

 

Accurate fastening: When a fastener needs to be tightened to a certain limit, a torque wrench will allow you to find the exact setting. It's very useful when you’re following mandatory settings for water mains or other pieces of industrial machinery.


Strap wrenches

A strap wrench consists of a handle and rubber strap, which is typically used to grip large circular objects and prevent slipping.

  • Price range: $5-$25
  • Diameter capacity: 1.5-5 inches
craftsman strap wrench

Strap wrenches are best for…

Gaining leverage on oddly shaped objects: A strap wrench is crucial when you need to grasp hard-to-hold items. The device can grip anything from an engine pulley and alternator belt to a pipe and PVC conduit.

 

Opening jars and other containers: Thanks to its firm grip, this type of wrench can help you open the tightly sealed lid on any jar or container.

 


Bottom Line

Whether you're a novice mechanic or professional handyman, a collection of wrenches helps ensure your next job can be completed quickly and efficiently. With a wide selection of models, your tool chest can be packed with the right tools for any task. It's important to carry multiple types of wrenches so you’re ready to handle anything from emergency home repairs to automotive maintenance.