Wrenches are one of those everyday tools that you may overlook until you need them. To tackle a project, you may frequently grab whatever wrench is nearby. However, there are many types of wrenches available, and many of them are specifically designed to handle a specific task.
Wrenches can be male or female. Male wrenches, similar to the head of a screwdriver, are inserted. Female wrenches have a socket that fits over or around the item being turned. Both are used for loosening or tightening nuts, bolts, screws, mechanical caps and casings, and much more.
Because there are so many, in our guide, you can learn all the names of wrenches, from the big wrenches to the little wrenches. You’ll see a combination wrench function and what a non-adjustable wrench can be used for.
By the end, you’ll see what is a wrench, and how a wrench makes your job easier, and how to pick the right wrench to work with all your nuts or bolts. Not only that, you’ll see when the right wrenches are used; they make things much more accessible and easier to deal with.
Common Construction Wrenches
Here are a variety of wrenches that fit a buyer’s needs. Here is a rundown of common construction wrenches and what the wrench is designed for.
1. Adjustable Wrench
Adjustable wrenches are generally used in plumbing, stored in a utility drawer or toolbox. This wrench with a U-shaped opening is widely available and most often used among home tools.
No fixed size opening for nuts and bolts; it is an open-ended wrench.
Its thick structure makes it difficult to use in confined types compared to other wrenches. Determining the correct size of an adjustable wrench is important. (Read Wrench Sizes Chart)
With these wrenches and their uses, you can adjust the size by turning the base’s screw.
The first type of wrench has adjustable settings. Regular wrenches can fit a wide range of nut sizes, but not this one. It is also known as the Crescent Wrench because of its shape.
Adjustable Monkey Wrench
The monkey wrench was a handyman’s tool; thus, you don’t need to buy a set of wrenches to tighten and loosen nuts of various sizes. Over time, adjustable wrench tools have surpassed the popularity of the monkey wrench.
The wrench is similar yet slimmer to a monkey wrench for round surface fixtures. Its jagged teeth can hold softer metals while turning a pipe. In addition, it is easy to repair and thus reduces money on new equipment.
2. Socket Wrench
This is also known as a ratchet wrench and performs similar functions. You can tighten or loosen a nut or a bolt without removing the circular wrench handle.
It is also reversible for more versatility. The wrench may reach the obstacle, but you can quickly reverse it to continue working. Its socket mechanism speeds up the tightening and removing process.
A socket wrench accepts various socket sizes. The most common drive size is 3/8” to fit the socket. (Read Socket Sizes in Order from Smallest to Largest)
Look for a quality socket set with a size of socket sizes. Look for a quick-release button. Always choose the right wrench size, not too loose or too large. Keep them organized for long-term use.
Ratcheting Socket Wrench
It has a ratcheting mechanism that can install and remove a nut and bolt without lifting the wrench at every turn.
Flex Head Socket Wrench
The drive head is swiveling, not fixed. Unlike ratcheting wrenches, it is rarely used. This is true for small-space construction.
Nut Driver Socket Wrench
A nut driver would help tighten a hexagonal nut and bolt. It is operated manually and has a socket head.
T-Handle Socket Wrench
T-handle socket wrenches are another basic type. On each end, it has a long vertical and horizontal beam. To fasten the bolt, simply grip the horizontal beam and insert the socket head.
Gearless Socket Wrench
The gearless socket wrench has an unusual design with a ball bearing for tightening and loosening. It lacks any application-specific gear.
3. Allen Wrench
An Allen wrench is a hex key wrench, which comes in two shapes: L and T. The T-shaped option has a handle.
Both wrenches are metal and work like regular screwdrivers. To easily fit screws and bolts, a male-style wrench has a hexagonal recess on its head.
Allen wrenches’ high torque allows them to work with extra-tight screws when you turn the wrench.
L/P/T Shaped Wrenches
It is an L-shaped, P-shaped, or T-shaped hexagonal key wrench. The T-shaped option has a handle. Both wrenches are metal and work like regular screwdrivers. The P-shaped wrench is the oversized L-shaped wrench.
An L-shaped wrench has a different handle for working on deeper screws. Its shorter end can be used as a handle. Overall, the Allen wrench may be best for more difficult maintenance and repair tasks.
4. Combination Wrench
Combination wrenches combine a box-ended, closed wrench end and an open-end wrench in one tool. An open U-shaped wrench for hex and square nuts is on one side.
The closed-end loosens the nut or bolt while the open end unscrews them. However, both ends have similar sizes.
A combination wrench uses are far and wide, so it is the most versatile type of wrench.
Stubby types of wrenches are a combination wrench’s shorter version. Its shorter shaft allows it to fit in tighter spaces.
Some units have a hinged head for better fitting a nut or bolt in tight areas. Unlike long wrenches, it is highly versatile for combination wrench use.
Working in tight spaces with a wrench is difficult, but a crowfoot wrench makes it easier. It looks and works differently than the previous wrench types.
An open-ended wrench without a handle is a Crowfoot type of wrenches with a single head with a ratchet handle to fit into a nut side.
Unlike socket sets that include a wrench. A unique opening in the wrench’s mouth. The crowfoot wrench is ideal for tight spaces like valve adjustments and fuel filters.
One such wrench is for restrictive project areas that larger wrenches can’t reach bolts and nuts. It has opposing faces of varying sizes for a firm grip. Each side can flip a variety of nuts and bolts.
These wrenches are used when you need to adjust the size to tighten nuts and bolts. The nut sizes make it ideal for car repairs and furniture making. Move its jaw to change the wrench’s size.
5. Box-End Wrenches
Here are box-end wrenches sold in sets. An enclosed loop at each handle improves grip. They come in various sizes to fit square or hexagonal bolts.
Box-end wrench uses are for more torque to loosen tougher bolts. It must clear a bolt head to adjust the wrench.
When you look at what is a box-end wrench used for, a box wrench vs open-end wrench provides better control by providing more turning clearance.
In box wrench uses, unlike other open-end wrench options, it does not round the edges.
6. Impact Wrench
An impact wrench can deliver more torque than other wrenches. An impact wrench means removing nuts and bolts much easier. It can handle multiple nuts but is not a wonderful choice for precision work.
7. Oil Filter Wrench
For periodic oil changes, here is another wrench tool. When a car runs, the filter cap tightens, slowing the car down. Oil filter wrench can prolong vehicle life. Buying the right size and shape can save any car from an accident.
Some buyers prefer generic tools to oil filter wrenches. It is possible to tighten a filter cap by hand, but it is not recommended. Buying an oil filter wrench can help. It can loosen the oil filter cap but not tighten it, which is done by hand.
So the wrench types like an adjustable wrench. To reach the bottom of the filter cap, use a ratchet handle.
This wrench has a chain with teeth to promote it easier to grip. It will be easy to remove and looped around the oil filter.
Metal band wrenches have loops on the ends. These tighten the oil filter in place. To remove the canister, turn the handle anticlockwise to create tension.
8. Open-Ended Wrench
This one has a U-shaped head with opposing sizes. One side is larger than the other. A multi-purpose open-ended wrench is always in toolboxes. It’s smaller than a box wrench and thus easier to store.
Its open design makes it easier to attach to hard-to-reach targets. It can be used vertically or horizontally. (Learn What Is Crescent Wrench)
Unlike box-ended wrenches, it must round the edges of a bolt. This tool has many construction applications. It’s a simple wrench that can easily turn nuts and bolts in hard-to-reach places.
9. Pipe Wrench
With its features, a pipe wrench resembles an adjustable wrench. Its F-shaped design is ideal for heavy-duty plumbing works like metal pipes and fittings.
It has serrated jaws and is commonly made of alloy steel. The wrench has high performance and durability.
Like a crescent wrench, the head of the wrench is adjustable. A screw can adjust its head. Also, its teeth can scratch chrome finishes, so avoid using a pipe wrench on visible fixtures.
End Pipe Wrench
This is for the end pipes that are in tight spaces. It has teeth on its jaw to help move the pipe. Not slip when tightening or loosening end pipes.
An offset wrench is useful when working at odd angles. It comes in standard and heavy-duty models.
It will slip vertically onto the bolt. Unlike other wrenches, it can fit in tight spaces.
A strap wrench replaces the standard wrench head with a self-tightening strap. It looks like a pipe wrench but is used differently.
With its quality strap design, this wrench is ideal for oil filter changes. A strap wrench is made of rubber, metal, or fabric. Strap twisted through the handle for added strength.
Compound Leverage Wrench
Build-up or damaged joint construction is benefitted with a compound leverage wrench. It requires a force to loosen the bolt; however, its design provides enough power to do the job.
Straight Pipe Wrench
This one is a traditional form of a wrench with jaw hooks. Heavy-duty versions are available as most sizes vary from three-fourths to eight inches. Its opening is parallel to its handle. The wrench applies for day-to-day pipe issues.
10. Ratcheting Wrench
The ratcheting wrench is another DIY mechanic tool—an open-ended, box-ended, and combination wrench all in one.
The only difference is the ratcheting device on one of its ends. Each side has unique functions for works. It makes tightening and loosening nuts and bolts much easier, even in tight spaces.
This eliminates removing or adjusting the wrench from the obstacle after each rotation. The wrench cannot be removed from the nut head until the task is done.
It fits in small spaces and speeds up the process. Buying a ratcheting wrench can also save money because of its versatility and useful design. (Learn How To Use Ratchet Wrench)
Ring Ratchet Wrench
It is one of the market’s unique wrenches. The wrench can be turned in any direction. It is ideal for DIYers and works.
This is the most common type of machine wrench. It is used with larger wrenches and comes in various types. It also withstands hammer blows and screws easily.
11. Torque Wrench
Tightening or loosening nuts and bolts can be difficult for mechanics. But a torque wrench adds precision to the job.
A torque wrench ensures that nuts, and bolts are secured. Torque wrenches come in both manual and digital tools. This shows that a torque wrench can be used for a wide range of over-tightening tasks up to its maximum torque level.
A high torque setting requires better control, so a good grip is important for dropping the wrench. A torque wrench also requires special maintenance.
Click Torque Wrench
This is the most commonly used torque wrench. It allows adjusting the torque to a greater value with just a click. The torque is length-dependent.
Pneumatic Torque Wrench
A pneumatic torque wrench is for larger torque needs. It comes with a gearbox, and once the set torque is achieved, it cannot tighten a fastener more than that.
No-Hub Torque Wrench
A hubless torque wrench makes pipe coupling tightening easier. Its preset torque values won’t harm the coupling. It has T-shaped handles for comfort.
Beam Torque Wrench
Simplest of all torque wrenches. Indicator scale and torque application beams The amount of torque applied at work can be read, but it varies depending on the angle.
Specialty wrenches also exist to meet specific demands. Any person rarely owns them because of their limited uses. The following types of the wrench are not commonly used in most industries; however, still present for particular tasks. These include:
1. Cone Wrench
A cone wrench is a flat version of an open-ended wrench. It is best used for projects where a normal wrench is too thick.
This wrench can repair bicycles and even washing machines. Other cone wrench functions are like double-ended wrenches.
2. Die, Stock Holder Wrench
Male and female die stock wrenches are available for threading a die. This wrench type can work with any die shape. Tapping is cutting threads with a die. This specialized wrench can only secure a die.
3. Dog Bone Wrench
It has a bone-like shape with box-shaped ends on each side. It’s also called a dumb-bell wrench. This is a box-ended wrench for bicycle repair. The dog bone wrench is difficult to store in tight spaces. Some dog bone wrenches have swiveling heads to fit into tight spaces.
Store the dog bone wrench properly to avoid rust and extend its life. In a toolkit with other home tools, it fits easily.
4. Drum Key
Instruments would benefit from a drum key wrench. It’s a square wrench with a T-shaped key for percussion. A drum key is used to tune instruments by tightening strings and rods.
5. Fire Hydrant Wrench
This is a pentagon-shaped box-type wrench. Only this wrench tool can open a fire hydrant. It has a notch for a hydrant nut and a steel handle for better grip.
No other wrenches can open a fire hydrant’s valve. It is tamper-proof and does not scratch when applied. A fire hydrant wrench has a longer handle for more torque. It’s also adjustable for maximum efficiency.
6. Flare Nut Wrench
A flare nut wrench is a combination of open-ended and a close wrench style. This fixed wrench is used to finish hexagonal nuts and fittings. It fits a tube or pipe. Unlike the other wrenches on this list, a flare nut wrench has multiple uses.
To avoid damaging the tool, use a flare nut wrench on softer metals. Its opposing heads loosen and tighten fastenings with less edge stripping.
No need to re-tighten the wrench between pulls. They can reach nuts and bolts under sinks and other hard-to-reach ones. (Learn How To Measure Socket Drive Size)
7. Hammer Wrench
Metalworking, electrical work, and even plumbing require a hammer wrench. It uses a hammer to hit the flat surface of the handle to produce more force. A hammer is used to loosen a nut, bolt, or fastener.
The hammer wrench is small compared to other wrenches. It’s also thicker than a box-ended or open-ended wrench. A hammer wrench has a longer handle than a regular wrench to allow for a hammer. It can tighten flange fittings that normal wrenches can’t.
8. Spanner Wrench
A spanner wrench is a multi-tool and specialized wrench type. Americans use spanners to refer to a wrench tool, so this term becomes obsolete.
Spanner wrenches are made of steel and chrome-plated to prevent rust. The most common type is a C-spanner.
9. Spark Plug Wrench
A wrench can help you safely unscrew a spark plug. A T-handle will help control the wrench. The purchase usually includes a double-ended socket and a T-handle. It is sold at auto repair stores and comes with two spark plug sockets.
10. Basin Wrench
Getting a plumber to fix your faucet can be costly and time-consuming. With basin adjustable wrench types, anyone can fix plumbing issues.
A basin wrench is a hard tool for beginners to use, but online tutorials exist for a reason. This wrench is used to tighten the nuts that hold the faucet fixtures in place.
It has a T-shaped bar to loosen or tighten the faucet’s nuts and bolts. To loosen the nuts, turn the bar counterclockwise, and to tighten them, turn it clockwise. The ergonomic handle makes turning the wrench in small spaces easier.
The basin wrench has serrated wrenches for better grip on nuts and bolts. Be careful not to scratch your faucet or toilet. A plumber wrench saw the end of the spud wrench where both ends were used for a certain task.
11. Lug Wrench
The lug wrench is also called a wheel brace. This double-sided wrench is used to tighten lug nuts. So the automobile industry uses this tool for car maintenance.
The lug wrench is L-shaped or X-shaped. The L-shaped lug wrench has one socket opening, and the X-shaped has up to four sockets of varying sizes.
Other similar tasks for automobile industries are performed by its wedge-shaped end. It also has a socketless design for tightening and loosening nuts and bolts.
12. Torx Key
A Torx key wrench is similar to an Allen key yet removes star-shaped heads. It’s a star-headed key wrench, not a hex bolt wrench.