9 Types of Wrenches That Belong in Everyone's Garage

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types of wrenches

In our routine life, we come across many different types of wrenches, and their uses can be confusing. Contrary to what sheltered people think, wrenches are used not only for mechanical work but also for various purposes at home.

A wrench is a tool that is used to tighten or loosen bolts and nuts. For instance, if you need to change the tire of your vehicle, a wrench provides the grip you need to rotate the bolts and hold them from turning.

There are various types of wrenches to perform different tasks. Wrenches are among those tools in your tool cabinet that you need every once in a while, and more often if you don't have them!

For this reason we're going to discuss the main 9 types of wrenches below for you to find out how and when they are applicable. Read on to find the right kind of wrench for your job.

9 Types Of Wrenches

Before reading about the most common types of wrenches, you should know that they're divided into classes. Generally, wrenches that are inserted and resemble the top of a screwdriver are male wrenches, whereas female wrenches have a socket for a stronger grip. Both of these have the same purpose.

Moreover, there are three types of wrenches, which are socket, key, and spanner. A socket wrench can be a standard part of your toolbox. It can be inserted into a socket either vertically or horizontally to turn the bolt.

However, if you need a small wrench to fix your bicycle, a key wrench is the ideal option. A key wrench is small or medium in size with a T-shaped socket. Its examples include bottle openers and Allen wrenches.

A spanner is the type of wrench that is adjustable. This is why users can use it to handle a variety of nuts and bolts. In the United States, a spanner is known to be a subgroup of wrenches. However, in British English, it's the standard term for wrenches.

Beyond that, there are two main types of wrenches: common and specialized. That's how we'll break them up below.

Common Wrenches

As the term describes, these types of wrenches have been commonly used in many households for years. Remember, when you decide to handle these tools yourself, make sure that you are respecting their limitations.

All of these wrenches work on the principle of torque and friction. All of these belong in every homeowner's garage or garage alternatives so they're always readily available.

Open End Wrenches

open ended wrenches are very similar to the fixed wrenches except the have the u-shaped sides on both ends at different angles
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These are one of the simplest types of one piece wrenches. It has two ends of different sizes for the bolts that are hard to reach. These two U-shaped ends can be used with several bolts, usually of different sizes in metric or imperial measurements.

As they are angle oriented, they can easily fit the target both perpendicularly and horizontally. Sometimes, this excellent tool is the only solution for loosening or fastening a bolt. It's a life saver!

There's another type of open-end wrench that has only one U-shaped jaw of a particular width. Open-end wrenches are light in weight and are preferable for carrying out small tasks. They're available in many sizes and often bought in sets or kits of every size.

Crescent Wrenches

crescent wrenches are possibly the best types of wrenches ever invented due to their ability to be adjusted to any size needed
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Crescent wrenches are also known as adjustable wrenches. These are widely popular because they are easier to use and you don't need a separate one for every size bolt.

They have a moveable jaw that is operated by a spiral screw. Additionally, it is thicker and can perform a variety of tasks that would require a set of regular wrenches to be done, typically.

This is the reason why it is the most used wrench today. Due to their adjustability, they're used to repair and complete a variety of projects. It was invented to be used in confined spaces.

That being said, they should be used carefully as they flatten the bolt's surface if too much force is applied. If that happens to you, we have a guide on how to remove a stripped bolt and how to avoid causing them.

Allen Wrenches

allen wrenches are often called allen keys or hex keys due to how they fit into a bolt head like a screw driver would
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Now that you know that Allen wrenches are a type of key wrench, you may have no difficulty in guessing its design. This type of wrench has hexagonal sockets with unequal arms.

Their head fixes in to the target fittings and drives screws. Because of its design, it is also called a hex key or Allen key. They typically are sold in sets that include every size you may need and head shape.

Like the other types of wrenches that are common, Allen wrenches are used in the assembly of tons of household furniture and electronics. In addition to that, it's used to repair bicycles as it has bolts with six edges. It is a simple L-shaped rod that can be kept anywhere.

Fixed Wrenches

fixed wrenches have both an open end and a closed end that loops entirely around a bolt head that provides greater leverage and less chance of slippage
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Fixed wrenches are easy to get, and they come in several different sizes. One side of the wrench is a closed-loop, and the other end is opened. When it comes to their design, they may have a less complicated shape, but they are used for difficult bolts.

The closed-loop can drive square-shaped and hexagonal square-shaped screws. They remove most of the annoyance of the wrench slipping off of the bolt head and can grip more securely a wider range of bolt head designs.

Fixed wrenches are famous for their efficient design. Also, they can easily loosen those tight bolts that you were not able to open for the last few days. Usually, fixed wrenches are small and light and can fit effortlessly into tight workspaces. They are also referred to as combination wrenches.

Box Ended Wrenches

Box wrenches have the looped end on both sides and are a common type of wrench
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This type of wrenches is closely related to the previous type. Box ended wrenches consist of a flat shaft that has closed loops on both ends. As a result, they have a better grip for fastening or loosening the bolts.

Due to the different shapes of the closed loops, they can slip around various kinds of bolts. Sometimes, the ends are slightly higher or lower than the handle or at an angle, making them even more powerful and controllable.

One of the most advantageous features of the box-ended wrench is that it works without rounding the nuts' edges. These types of wrenches are the ideal fit for your toolbox.

Pipe Wrenches

pipe wrenches are meant specifically for plumbers dealing with large diameter pipe fittings
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They were named so because they were made to work on pipe fittings. Plumbers mainly use them as they are designed for the assembly or disassembly of the metal pipes. Pipe wrenches can slip and slide on to pipe fittings.

They are heavy and more substantial than the other types of wrenches that are typically used for day to day tasks. Pipe wrenches work similarly as the adjustable wrench. But they are more likely to scratch the surface of the pipe, which is rarely a problem.

Pipe wrenches are F-shaped and have toothed jaws that can move in an upward and downward direction. Although the handling may seem harsh, it makes a useful component of your toolbox for any house owner.

Specialized Wrenches

These types of wrenches were manufactured to complete specific projects. They're specialty wrenches and are mostly used in particular industries in which they were custom designed for. Apart from industrial use, they're sometimes seen in movies or documentaries.

Although specialized wrenches are less standard, you're going to need them when your conventional wrenches are unable to fit your needs. They're designed in a way that allows you to apply moderate pressure to bolts, circular, and irregularly shaped objects.

Lug Wrenches

lug wrenches are designed to provide extra torque and are largely seen being used to change car wheels and tires
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A lug wrench or a spider wrench has four sockets. Like the other useful types of wrenches, it's versatile and straightforward looking piece of equipment. A lug wrench is a cross-bar shaped tool that is used when you need to change your vehicle's tire.

However, the length of this wrench depends on the form of the vehicle you own. We're all familiar with these types of wrenches, and you may have heard the term wheel brace before.

The X shape requires less strength and saves your time by providing leverage. Moreover, if the rods are longer, they provide a specific amount of torque enough to get your job done with satisfaction and ease.

Basin Wrenches

basin wrenches are used by plumbers or house holders for pipes under kitchen sinks that are hard to reach
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A basin wrench is a useful tool for the fixtures under the kitchen and toilet sinks. It is used in closed quarters that are not easy to approach by using other types of wrenches. A basin wrench comprises of a long handle with spring-loaded, heavily grooved jaws, and an adjustable head.

Generally, basin wrenches are made up of heavy-duty steel to repair or remove those faucets that you couldn't work on without a hired professional. It's a smart purchase to make if you no longer want to feel burdened by those home improvement errands.

Strap Wrenches

strap wrenches are used for odd-shaped items, jars, oil filters, and anything else that the hand or other types of wrenches can't grasp
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Strap wrenches are ideal for grasping and turning around objects that don't have a particular shape. These are made up of different kinds of materials like rubber, fabric, leather, etc.

These straps are stretchable and flexible, so they're useful for pipes, dowels, or jar lids due to their ability to provide a secure non-slip grip. You'll see them sold as kitchen gadgets often these days.

Strap wrenches are used during an oil filter change. Some surfaces are too greasy or hot for the other types of wrenches to work on them. That's where a strap wrench is utilized. It has a strap that is looped around the handle instead of a jaw. It's the perfect candidate for cylindrical objects.

Types of Wrenches For Every Job!

The nine options above are all you need for the large majority of any household chore or repair that needs to be made. If you have a collection of at least one of each type (and some of those might be sets of various sizes like with Allen wrenches) you'll never need to borrow or run out to buy a new wrench again.

It's helpful to memorize the names and associate them with the visual look and types of jobs each of the types of wrenches are designed for, so you can keep on moving when taking care of business.

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Rick Worst Headshot Rick is a home design consultant and enthusiast, who's life is consumed by all things home and garden. Starting as a hobby, Worst Room has grown into an information and inspiration wheelhouse for professionals and home owners alike. Rick serves as owner and editor for our many content contributors. Learn more about operation here.