11 Types of Wrenches and Their Uses – A Definitive Guide

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types of wrenches

Welcome to our types of wrenches guide. There are several DIY projects that you can undertake, provided you have the right tools. The chances are high you already have a few wrenches in your toolkit because almost all simple maintenance and repair jobs require a wrench of some sort.

Wrenches range in complexity, from straightforward ones to those that require ongoing calibration. There are several wrenches for different applications. Whereas some are suited for standard fasteners, others are built for metric applications. If you’d like to differentiate between the two, look at the color-coding on the specific wrenches. 

Before you go out looking for a wrench, here are some common types and their applications. We hope you find this helpful summary.


Video: Which is the Strongest Type of Wrench?

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What is a wrench? 

A wrench is used to tighten and loosen fasteners. It performs the same function as a ratchet. There are different types of wrenches that you can use depending on what you’d like to do or achieve. We will look to help you settle on the right one as you go about your renovation or building projects. 

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Types of wrenches

Adjustable wrench 

The adjustable wrench comes in metric and standard sizes. It has one open end and a box end, generally of the same size. This wrench is used for tightening and loosening nuts and bolts. 

Open-ended wrench 

This is perhaps the most common wrench. It is suitable for both left and right-handed individuals thanks to its open ends. The nut fits in the crescent moon on each side of the bar in case you’d like to fasten or loosen it.

Most people will show you this when you ask for a spanner. The sides are not necessarily of the same size as seen in the adjustable wrench. It is mainly used to fasten or tighten nuts that you can only access from one side.

Box ended wrench 

You can easily envisage these wrenches from their names. Box-ended wrenches are similar to open-ended wrenches, just that the ends are box-shaped. Therefore, while fastening or loosening the nuts, the end will surround the nut.

Instead of the crescent shape of the former wrench, it has loops of a polygonal shape. This type works best for relatively tough nuts. It also serves nuts of unusual shapes, which are usually found in internal fittings.

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Socket wrench 

The socket wrench is a common variation among many households or DIYers. It draws from the box-ended wrench just that its end covers the nut over the top. There is a reason for this: Covering the nut creates more friction between the spanner and the nut, which lowers the effort needed to loosen the bolt. You will need this wench when working in type spaces. Also, if you have a deadline to beat, this is the right tool.

Here are our recommendations for the best socket organizer.

Cordless impact wrench 

This type of wrench has several names. It is usually referred to as an impactor, air gun, rattle gun, or torque gun. However, please do not confuse it with the torque wrench since these two are nothing alike.

It has a handle and a nozzle and, therefore, resembles an electric drill. Unlike other types of wrenches, it uses either electricity or compressed air to loosen or tighten a nut. You will need this if you have a deadline to beat or need an easy time working on a project. Also, if you need quick access to relatively tight spaces, this is the correct wrench.

Here are our best impact drivers reviews.

Lug wrench 

The lug wrench is unique. It is a big cross whose ends resemble a socket wrench. Most people refer to this as the wheel brace because it is mainly used to change car tires. I hope that you now have the perfect idea of what we are talking about. 

Due to its build, it requires less effort to use, making it one of the best wrenches. It will easily fit between the spokes of the tires. However, keep in mind that you will need more space due to the four handles. 

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Monkeywrench 

This is one of the most familiar and oldest types of wrenches. It is an adjustable wrench with a smooth jaw that can be easily configured to fit nuts of different sizes. This wrench can be challenging to use but comes in handy in several applications. 

It is best used for heavy-duty work, including pipe fitting. It also delivers if you’d like to access tight spaces such as rounds surfaces. If you have a nut with a square head, this should be your go-to wrench. 

Strap wrench 

The strap wrench is quite different from the standard models. It is used for specific purposes, primarily on surfaces with unusual shapes and tightening around fasteners such as pipes. It comes with an adjustable rubber strap that keeps the nut in place. Like the monkey wrench, you can use this type for old fasteners. You can also use it to open tough jars.

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Torque wrench 

This type comes with a long handle that makes it effortless to use. It is mainly suited for tight nuts that other types of wrenches cannot easily loosen. One end has a box format, similar to the socket wrench. This wrench is unique. It has internal features that prevent the over-tightening of nuts. You can also set the specific torque that you need for your project. You will need this tool if your project needs high levels of precision. 

However, you must be careful when using it. If misused, you risk damaging the calibrations. Therefore, make sure that you follow the instructions and guidelines that come with it for durability. You can see our recommendations for the best torque wrench for the money here.

Pipe wrench

The difference between this and the monkey wrench is it has a curved mouth with teeth that enables it to slot around pipes and grip.  This is an ideal plumbers tool as it works for both PVC and metal pipes.

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Bicycle wrench

Cycling has seen a significant rise in popularity in recent years, and while you can use other types of wrenches to maintain your bike, it is best to use a specialty bicycle wrench. These wrenches tend to be smaller, so they can fit in the tight spaces on your bike without scratching the paintwork. Do bear in mind that some bikes come with their tools, so you would need to store them in a safe place, ready to use them.

Combination wrench

A handy wrench is standard in most toolsets. These have two types of ends, making them super versatile. One is open, and the other is closed, and they will come in different sizes, but as we say, they are most common in multi-packs, so you should easily find the right-sized one.

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