Adjustable Wrench Types and Size that You Need to Know

It is always nice to have a tool that does the work of many. Yeah, I am talking about adjustable wrenches. As an adjustable wrench with customizable jaws, it can easily fit your different tasks. Depending on the size of pipes, you can reduce or extend the jaws to suitable faucets.

For Dying work, one must have an adjustable wrench in his toolbox. But, do you know, there are different types of adjustable wrenches?

You may be working with a type, but the other types of it probably can do your work efficiently.

In this article, I will tell you about adjustable wrench types and sizes and everything that you need to know.

What is an Adjustable Wrench?

When you have an adjustable wrench in the toolbox, you no longer need to buy different wrenches to work with the different size of nuts and bolts. It is one of the most widely used tools for basic repairing work and households.

Although an adjustable wrench is quite larger than a fixed bon-end or open-end wrench, it can do the work of multiple fixed wrenches. There are two jaws in an adjustable wrench for you to work.

One jaw is fixed, you cannot make it move, and the other one is adjustable depending on your demands, and that is the fun part. With the help of a worm screw, you can reduce or increase the size to fit a screw or a lightener or even pipes.

Some adjustable wrenches come with measurements to match with the exact size of the fasteners.

For this adjustable mechanism, this type of wrenches come every handy for home repairs and maintenance that work with both metric and standard fasteners.

Types of Adjustable Wrenches

Adjustable wrenches are of mainly four types. They all have some common characteristics and have their advantages and disadvantages as well. Each of the wrenches come with different shapes that makes easier to work in limited spaces.

1. Adjustable Spanners

Adjustable spanners are the most identical to adjustable wrenches regarding both design and working mechanism — this type of adjustable wrench also known as crescent wrench.

With its 15° angle between the movable jaw and the handle, you should be able to screw and unscrew some of the basic machines and equipment.

Are you looking for an adjustable wrench for plumbing purpose that includes faucets, elbows, and pipes?

In this case, an adjustable spanner can be a good option for you to go with.

If you struggle to open a lid with the strength of your hand, there is a subtype that can open up bottle lid with ease.

How to Work With?

When it comes to working with an adjustable spanner, you need to ensure the movable jaw is securely clasped around the pipe. It will prevent rounding which is quite annoying. Additionally, to avoid deforming the wrench, the position of the jaw needs to be in the side toward the rotations.    

2. Pipe Wrench

The pipe wrench is the elder brother of adjustable wrenches, due to its size. This F-shaped solid build wrench is used exclusively for the plumping purposes.

When the conventionally adjustable wrenches fail to reach difficult locations like tough corners and nooks, this is where a pipe wrench strikes. All credit goes to its sleek design that makes easier for it to reach hard areas.

A pipe wrench can grip cylindrical objects like pipe and conduit firmly. If your work requires to deal with round-surface fittings and soft iron pipes, a pipe wrench would be the best one to work with. It has a heavy model that handles plumbing and heating tasks swiftly.

Its adjustable jaws are quite flexible for accommodating different size of pipes. Pipe wrenches are designed according to the length of the handle. Different size of pipe wrenches will accommodate pipes of different size. A set of three would be sufficient for any plumbing task.

How to Work With?

You need to position the wrench on the side of the pipe for rotating it in a direction. And reverse to rotate it for another direction. The pivoting jaw opens and allows to slip over the pipe. And, when the pressure is applied, the pivoting jaw closes and tighten the jaws to grip the pipe.

Pipe wrenches are made in a manner that when the user pulls the handle forward, the jaws get tighter.

However, you should not use this wrench with hex nuts as the teeth of the jaws can damage the hex head. Furthermore, pipe wrenches are not suitable for fasteners with flat sides. Avoid using this wrench with normal fasteners to prevent damage and slippage of your fingers.

As I have mentioned earlier, depending on the length of the handle, the size of the pipe wrenches varies. Usually, pipe wrenches of 12 to 14 inches of length are suitable for most jobs in households.

3. Monkey Wrench

These type of adjustable wrenches do not have anything to do with monkeys, except for its shape. By the appearance, it looks like a monkey face, more accurately a monkey cap. That is why it got such a name.

Monkey wrenches have sharp jaws and a long handle that can grip objects firmly. If you are looking for a wrench for fixing the water system or vehicle purpose, monkey wrench would be an appropriate tool for you.

The tool is made of steel alloys that have to go through the process of heat-forging. That is why it has solid construction which gives the wrench remarkable strength to work with tough objects. Although this tool is capable of doing heavy duty works, its jaws are smooth.  

You do not need to worry about the weight you put while working with it; the wrench is capable of bearing that.

How to Work With?

After locating the nut that you need to work on, allow enough space for the wrench to sit around the head of the nut. Then, slip the jaws over the nut. Make sure you place the jaws against the flat edges of that nut.

When you apply enough pressure, the jaws will be securely clamped, and it will not slip off from the nut.

For tightening, you need to turn in a clockwise direction securely. Make sure the wrench moves slowly but smoothly.

4. Plumber Wrench

By its name, you can tell where it is used for. Plumber wrenches are used exclusively for plumbing purpose where other wrenches are not suitable. The jaws of this wrench are designed to fit hexagonal nuts properly.

How to Work With?

There is a key ring attached to one end of its handle. This key ring is used for adjusting jaws around the fitting or pipe. As the wrench clasps with a significant amount of force, you no longer need to focus on nuts' head.

5. Pillers Wrench

Pilers wrenches are pretty similar to plumber wrenches. This amazing tool combines both the elements of adjustable wrenches and adjustable pliers and introduces smoothly faced jaws that can grip nuts firmly. 

The lower jaw moves parallel to its upper jaw and ensures more clamping force on the edges no matter what the size is. It got a rubbery grip on the handles that reduce the risk of slippage or even rounding over around the corners.

The pillar wrench has a dedicated push-button mechanism that slides the lower jaw in both upwards and downwards. In addition, the lower jaw also moves to maintain a relationship to the upper jaw whenever the user squeezes the handles.

With the help of a pillar wrench, you can tighten and loosen nuts and bolts faster than other adjustable wrenches.

How to Work With?

When you are about to grip a nut or a bolt, push the button that is on the handle and makes sure you take more space than what you need to grab. Then, when you squeeze the handles, you will see the lower jaw clamps upwards to the upper jaw and still stays parallel the entire time.

To make it faster, after finishing a turn, release the grip a bit and let the jaws open and reset the tool. Then again tighten or loosen the nut or bolt. It is quite an easy rhythm of working that makes the work even faster.

Sizes of Adjustable Wrenches

There were more than two dozens of different standards used to measure the size of the head of a bolt and nuts. Then the standard sizes of the fasteners were set.

Now, there are three most common standards or measuring system that is used worldwide today.

1. Metric

Metric system measures the sizes of nuts and bolts in millimeters when it comes to the flats of the fasteners.

The metric measuring system is used in most of Asia including Japan, and all European countries. However, this measuring system is also gaining ground in the automotive industry in England.

2. SAE

"SAE" stands for "Society of Automotive Engineers." According to this standard, the referral value of the sizes of sockets and wrenches is 1/16th of an inch. In American industry, the size of the fastener is measured across the flats of the head.

3. AF

This measuring standard is rare these days and it can only found in cars and machinery made up to the mid-1970s.

An AF marked wrench will fit a fastener that matches to the size marked on the wrench. For example, a 3/8 wrench will match the fastener which is three to eight inches wide across its flats.

How to Properly Work with an Adjustable Wrench?

When you work with an adjustable wrench, make sure you set the jaws over the nut and bolt to fit precisely. Slightly rock the wrench after tightening it, to ensure the firmness of fitting. The nut and bolt should go as deep as possible into the throat of the wrench.

If the jaws do not fit the nut properly, it will cause the wrench to slip and make the corners of the nut around.

Even though the adjustable wrenches are pretty flexible, but they do have some limitations too. The extended handle design tends to slip easily if it is not tightened enough. Stubborn fasteners can increase the risk of hurting your hand.

To use an adjustable wrench correctly, you need to focus on applying pressure against the fixed jaw and frequently check the fit.

In the case of working with machinery, fixed wrenches are preferable.

Safety Tips of Using Adjustable Wrenches

  • 1
    Always use a correct wrench for the correct job.
  • 2
    Use pipe wrenches for plumbing fittings and normal wrenches for nuts and bolts.
  • 3
    At first, apply a little pressure before using full force.
  • 4
    Turn an adjustable wrench toward you for better leverage and stability.
  • 5
    Use your other hand for extra support.
  • 6
    Replace any damaged or broken wrenches.
  • 7
    Select jaw size correctly to avoid slipping.
  • 8
    Wear safety goggles or a face shield for working in harsh condition.
  • 9
    Adjustable wrenches should not slide open during the work.
  • 10
    Keep the wrenches properly cleaned with WD40 cleaner and oiled after every use.

Things to Avoid While Using Adjustable Wrenches

  • 1
    Do not try to push on your wrench.
  • 2
    If the handle is bent or damaged, you should not use the wrench.
  • 3
    Inspect jaw, knurl, and pin.
  • 4
    If the wrench is slackly attuned, do not attempt to pull it.
  • 5
    Avoid using a pipe wrench in case for lifting and bending pipes. And avoid on nuts and bolts as well.
  • 6
    You should not use wrenches on any moving system.
  • 7
    Avoid inserting a shim in wrenches for an even better fit.
  • 8
    Never strike an adjustable wrench with an object like the hammer or any similar objects.
  • 9
    Do not try to upsurge the leverage complementing a pipe to extend the handle length.
  • 10
    Never use the wrenches in an excessively heated area.

Final Words

Differently adjustable wrenches serve a different purpose. Therefore, you need to use the correct wrench for a particular work.

If you feel interested in buying an adjustable wrench, go for the one that is made of steel alloys, as this material is stronger and handles the stressful job at ease.

A chrome plated wrench will do the trick as it is corrosion resistant. Do not overlook the factors that can damage your wrench as well.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 1 comments
Pierre F. Lherisson - August 4, 2019

This is very informative description of tools but what was missing is the illustration or the picture of the tools you have mentioned; putting everything under the same roof would have been very helpful and save time especially for those 2.1 million people in the United States that still use AOL dial-up to connect to the Internet; of course, the reader has the options to googled the name of the tool + picture, i,e ( Adjustable Wrench + pictures ) to see how the tools looks like but having a picture of what you are talking about will attract more readers


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