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Types of Wrenches

A wrench is a valuable tool for tightening and loosening fasteners. It’s usually crafted from steel alloy, which is chrome plated. Generally, people use one or maybe two types of wrenches for most of the daily jobs. However, you can find different wrench types meant for different purposes.

If you’re curious to know which wrench is suited for which purpose, read along. We have included some common wrench types for your reference. So, let’s begin.

Types of Wrenches

Open-end wrench

Open-end wrenchIt’s the most basic type of wrench, having double ends with different sizes to fit opposite faces of nuts and bolts. There’s a U-shaped cavity or opening on both ends that helps in gripping the objects as you can use the wrench from the opposite side.

It’s quite easy to use because of its flat nature. You can simply place it over the bolts and can rotate it easily, even in confined spaces. So, if you have a compact space where a large wrench won’t fit, you can go for an open-end wrench.

Combination wrench

Combination wrenchThe combination wrench is double-ended too. It has a box-end on one side and an open-end on the other. There’s a closed ring on the box side with different diameters based on what side of the wrench you possess. It’s a multipurpose tool where the open end helps in loosening and tightening in confined spaces, and the box end helps in achieving a good grip on nuts.

Allen wrench

Allen wrenchIf you have crafted some furniture that requires piecing together, you would have heard of this type of wrench. The Allen wrenches come with T or L-shaped bars and hexagonal ends. Such ends match the opening to screws and bolts both. As the Allen wrenches are small, you can use them for holding the objects together.

Socket wrench

Socket wrenchThe socket wrench comes with a hollow cylinder known as the socket at one end. The socket is placed over the nuts used to tighten or loosen the bolts or nuts. Now, the sockets are usually detachable. It means you can use this wrench for different sizes of objects.

If you haven’t heard of the socket wrench, you would have heard about the ratchet wrench. You can use this wrench at different angles, which makes the operation flexible and quick.

Adjustable wrench

As the name tells, the adjustable wrench can be adjusted according to the shape of the object you want to tighten. If your wrench is not fitting on the bolt or object, opt for the adjustable wrench. It’s usually slippery because of its versatile nature. So, make sure to avoid its use in most cases.

Below are the types of adjustable wrenches: –

  • Self-adjusting wrench

Self-adjusting wrenchSelf-adjusting wrenches are quite similar to adjustable wrenches. However, there’s a slight difference. And that is, this wrench automatically releases and grips fasteners using the fast-ratcheting actions. Such wrenches are perfect for PVC, black iron, copper pipes, and nuts & bolts. It comes with a quick-release and quick-grip function, which helps in easy operation using one hand.

  • Pipe Wrench

Pipe WrenchPipe wrench, as the name tells, is used to turn the fittings and metal pipes. It comes with an open end that has an adjustable jaw to grip the pipe according to the diameter or size. It’s mainly used by plumbers or professionals dealing with pipes & fittings.

Box-end Wrench

Box-end WrenchThe box end wrench offers better control than its central part with an open-end over the torque process. It’s because you can place one end of the wrench securely over the nut. And it prevents the nut from slipping off.

Ratchet Wrench

Ratchet WrenchYou may find the ratchet wrench similar to the box end wrench or the one with closed ends. But it is different. It’s because once you slip it over the bolt, the grab-and-slip holds on to the nut tightly. It happens when you pull the wrench handle in one specific direction.

It helps tighten the grip by turning it on one side and losing the grip by turning it to the other. So, you need not reposition it after each turn. You can use it in different situations, especially when tightening bolts or nuts. That’s the reason why this wrench is quick and effective.

Torque Wrench

Torque WrenchYou would be familiar with the torque wrench if you have worked on automobile components. This wrench, unlike others, does not work on mere guesswork. It only tightens the bolt or nut to a particular pressure. It’s usually crafted specifically for a particular type of bolts or nuts.

Let’s suppose you’re working on a later car model’s tire. There are lug nuts that keep the wheel in place. These nuts should be tightened up to a specific pressure which is measured in pounds/feet. To know what’s the correct pressure, you can refer to the car manual.

It will mention the pressure as well as the wrench head requires for the operation. When you find the right torque wrench and begin with the tightening, you’ll see an LED or a click sound. It’s usually to confirm that you’ve reached the specified pressure limit. This way, you won’t overtighten the nut, which will reduce the chances of breakage.

So, whenever you’re up to some mechanical or construction work that requires a specific torque, use the correct wrench always. It’ll prevent any inefficiency in the system.

Basin Wrench

Basin WrenchYou can think of the basin wrench as the extension bar used to reach those spaces behind the sink. You can reach those places and can tighten or lose the nuts easily. It’s available in different designs and is easy to use. Once you slide it over the nut, you can easily turn it.

Wench types and Uses

Wrench Type  Uses
Open-end wrench Can work with bolts of differing sizes
Combination wrench It’s mostly used for handling tough nuts
Allen wrench For holding and pairing the objects together
Socket wrench Used for different purposes including tightening or loosening nuts or bolts
Adjustable wrench Used for multiple purposes because of its versatile nature
Box-end Wrench It’s used in jobs where you can fully access the nut’s top
Ratchet Wrench It’s used when you deal with multiple bolts and nuts because of its quick nature
Torque Wrench It’s used in jobs that require specific pressure
Basin Wrench It acts as an extension bar for basin tasks in the kitchen

Types of Wrenches – FAQs

1. What type of wrench is most effective for loosening extremely tight bolts?

Ans: For loosening very tight bolts, a box-end wrench is often the best choice. It’s designed to work effectively in tight spaces, providing more leverage by fully enclosing the nut. This makes it great for loosening stuck fasteners with increased torque and reduced risk of causing damage.

2. How many categories or types of adjustable wrenches exist?

Ans: An adjustable wrench, also known as an adjustable spanner or crescent wrench, is an open-end wrench with one fixed jaw and a movable jaw that can be adjusted for different sizes of fastener heads by turning a screw. There are four main types of adjustable wrenches.

3. What is the term for a wrench with a bent or angled design?

Ans: An Allen wrench, or hex key, is a hexagonal bar bent into an L-shape. Each end is used to tighten or loosen hexagonal hole fasteners.

4. What is the term for a wrench that has one box end and one open end?

Ans: A combination wrench is named for its combination of an open-end wrench and a boxed-end wrench.


You might not need most of the wrenches mentioned above in your lifetime. The point here is to gain knowledge about which wrench is meant for which purpose. If you’re a versatile mechanic or an automobile worker, you’ll definitely find the above info useful.

To make the best use of the above info, you can refer to it when you have a new or unique job. This way, you’ll be able to find the right match always.

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