Adjustable Wrench Types and Sizes You Need to Know

by Joost | Updated on:  September 5, 2020

It’s difficult to tighten and loosen nuts and bolts without a handy tool. When you are working with nuts and bolts that need turning, you must apply torque.

The one tool that is indispensable in such a situation is a wrench, also known as a spanner.

As a DIYer, the most crucial wrench you should have is an adjustable wrench, because it comes with jaws that you can customize to fit different tasks.

Adjustable wrenches types and size

You can extend or reduce the jaws to suit faucets and pipes of different sizes. That way, you can handle home repairs and maintenance routines for your machines and tools.

In this guide, you will learn the major types and sizes of adjustable wrenches that are available. With regard to that, you will get insight into the distinctive traits and the uses.

In addition, we will share some of our top picks for the best adjustable wrenches on Amazon:

Adjustable wrench Images
Best Small Adjustable Wrench: Irwin Vise-Grip (6″) Best Small Adjustable Wrench: Irwin Vise-Grip (6")

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Best Medium Wrench: Channellock 8WCB (8″) Best Medium Wrench: Channellock 8WCB (8")

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Best Large Wrench: Channellock 810W (10″) Best Large Wrench: Channellock 810W (10")

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Best Adjustable Wrench Set: HORUSDY 4-piece Best Adjustable Wrench Set: HORUSDY 4-piece

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What is an adjustable wrench?

An adjustable wrench also goes by the name of an adjustable spanner and adjustable crescent. But, all the names refer to one type of tool.

A wrench is used to tighten nuts and bolts. It is easy to tighten nuts and bolts with a wrench because it has jaws that are adjustable in size, so they offer the perfect grip.

For that reason, you can easily maneuver the wrench and tighten or loosen what you need quickly. An adjustable wrench is especially useful for working with tubes, pipes, nuts, and bolts.

What adjustable wrench types are there?

Adjustable Spanners

Adjustable-Spanner

Also called crescent wrenches, adjustable spanners are available in virtually every household these days.

The most distinct characteristic of the adjustable spanner is the 15° angle between the handle and the movable jaw.

Adjustable spanners are reasonably priced, and apart from that, they come in a broad range of sizes to suit any job you might have in mind.

They are best suited for unscrewing or fastening plumbing fixtures like elbows, faucets, and pipes.

If you don’t have enough strength to open bottle lids? There’s an adjustable spanner subtype that is meant just for you.

As you use the adjustable spanner, ensure that the movable jaw is clasped securely around the pipe. This will help prevent rounding, which can be a pretty annoying issue.

Also, be sure to position the jaw on the side toward which the rotations will happen. This will help avoid deforming the wrench. As well, this ensures a tighter grip as you start to move the wrench around.

Monkey Wrench

Monkey-Wrench

Looking for an adjustable wrench to use in large-scale projects like fixing vehicles or water systems for customers in your neighborhood? Then, you will need a monkey wrench.

What most distinguishes this adjustable wrench is its long handle and sharp jaws that grip objects very firmly.

The tool is crafted from steel or its alloys through a process known as heat-forging.

In most cases, the monkey wrench is used to clamp onto pipes, lug nuts, screws, and bolts.

The sturdy construction is what accounts for the monkey wrench’s remarkable strength. A monkey wrench is capable of bearing your entire weight as you push against it.

Pipe Wrench

Pipe-WrenchPeople often confuse the pipe wrench with the monkey wrench, as the two are very similar. Nonetheless, the pipe wrench, otherwise known as the Stillson wrench, happens to be sleeker than the monkey wrench.

Moreover, this wrench makes it easier for you to reach difficult locations like corners and nooks.

The pipe wrench is perfect when you’re working with round-surface fixtures and soft iron pipes. But, you shouldn’t use it with hex nuts as its teeth can quickly ruin the hex head.

The Stillson wrench is manufactured from steel or aluminum and can be bought in different handle sizes, including 10”, 18”, 24”, 36”, and 48”.

There are also jaw kits if you prefer repairing your old pipe wrench rather than purchasing a new one.

What is the difference between a monkey wrench and a pipe wrench?

A monkey wrench is a type of wrench that is not as popular as a common pipe wrench. It is only used for hex nuts, thus it has limited usability. The monkey wrench has serrated jaws that offer excellent grip and therefore, it is easy to use.

On the other hand, a pipe wrench is made to twist pipes, and it is mostly used by plumbers. Metal pipes require manual twisting and that’s when the pipe wrench comes in handy.

The most obvious difference between the two types of wrenches is that the monkey wrench has jaws that are straight out. In contrast, a pipe wrench has slightly curved jaws. These provide a better grip when used on round objects.

Plumber Wrench

Plumber-WrenchPlumber wrenches come with a key ring fitted to one handle, for closing the movable jaws around the fitting or pipe. Plumbers use this type of wrench to rotate the plumbing pipes.

This wrench clasps with striking force, and hence it doesn’t need to engage the bolt or nut head it’s applied to.

As the wrench is quite bulky, you should only use it where other kinds of wrenches don’t work.

When used carelessly, this type of adjustable wrench can cause dents or even break a pipe.

What to look for when buying an adjustable wrench

Ok, so you are on the market for an adjustable wrench. Here’s what you should consider when choosing one. First of all, keep in mind that one good adjustable wrench replaces several different types of wrenches.

Adjustable Wrench Sizes

The adjustable wrench is available in varying sizes. The most common sizes include the:

Best adjustable wrenches reviewed

It’s hard to rank wrenches based on what is best, but we can recommend several good options that you can find on Amazon. These are all highly recommended because they are easy to use and durable.

Best Small Adjustable Wrench: Irwin Vise-Grip (6″)

Best Small Adjustable Wrench: Irwin Vise-Grip (6")

(view more images)

Check the lowest prices here

Best Medium Wrench: Channellock 8WCB (8″)

Best Medium Wrench: Channellock 8WCB (8")

(view more images)

Buy it here on Amazon

Best Large Wrench: Channellock 810W (10″)

Best Large Wrench: Channellock 810W (10")

(view more images)

Check prices and availability here

Best Adjustable Wrench Set: HORUSDY 4-piece

Best Adjustable Wrench Set: HORUSDY 4-piece

(view more images)

Check the latest prices here

FAQ around adjustable wrenches

Why is an adjustable wrench better than a regular wrench?

With a regular wrench, it’s hard to have precision. Even the simplest of tasks can become complicated.

A regular wrench won’t fit the nuts and bolts exactly so it will keep slipping and you’ll waste a lot of time.

As well, the adjustable wrench is easy to use in small spaces because it has great ergonomics

. The design of this type of wrench is simple and the products themselves are durable, so they’ll last you many years.

Most importantly, a single adjustable wrench can perform the tasks of an entire set of combination or open-ended wrenches, which means one tool can replace many.

Therefore, you are saving money when you invest in a good quality adjustable wrench. It basically replaces the other types of similar wrenches.

Also read: this is how you remove rust from your old tools

Can I use pliers instead of an adjustable wrench?

In some isolated cases, you can but it’s not recommended that you do that.

Pliers are used for tightening small bolts and nuts but an adjustable wrench can do it better because it has a better grip.

Pliers can damage the fastener’s surface and they are much harder to use than wrenches that are specifically designed for tightening tasks.

Conclusion

As you look for adjustable wrenches, I recommend you go for those that are made of steel or steel alloys.

These materials are stronger and can handle stressful jobs without breaking. Furthermore, they last longer than other materials.

If you can get one that is chrome-plated, that’d be even better as it will be able to resist corrosion and also make cleaning easy.

Also read: how to organize a garage on a small budget