Wrenches

Tighten your performance with a good wrench set

Wrenches come in different shapes and sizes and serve a variety of different purposes, including gripping, fastening, loosening and turning objects such as pipes, nuts and, of course, bolts. Generally speaking, there are two types of wrenches: first, the pipe wrench, which, as you might expect, is used for tightening and loosening objects with a cylindrical shape; and second, wrenches designed to tighten and loosen smaller objects like nuts and bolts. If you're about to start a home or work project, chances are you are going to need to know a few things about wrenches—here are some types of wrenches that are commonly used.

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Adjustable Wrenches

Adjustable wrenches from manufacturers like GearWrench include any wrench with movable "jaws"—parallel sides that open and close to fit tightly around nuts or bolts of varying sizes. A spring-loaded torque wrench can indicate how much torque is being applied and allow for adjustment. Monkey wrenches are perhaps the most popular adjustable wrench, since their width can easily be changed at the user's convenience. However, there are also many different types of fixed-size wrench.

Fixed-Size Wrenches

As the name suggests, a fixed-size wrench is not adjustable and is made to work with one particular size of item. The following are some examples of fixed-size wrenches:

  • Closed-end, or box, wrenches feature a loop designed to fit snugly around nuts or bolts. They're traditionally not adjustable and therefore usually come as wrench sets that include loop sizes for each type of nut or bolt.
  • Combination wrenches actually include both types of wrench ("open" and "closed"), one at either end. Once again, however, you may have to purchase an entire wrench set to accommodate each nut or bolt size.
  • Socket wrenches have a cylindrical design to fit over a nut or bolt almost like a closed-end wrench does, but their offset handle allows you to ratchet back and forth with minimal effort while quickly tightening or loosening the nut or bolt.
  • Allen wrenches, which use an L-shaped screwdriver and a six-sided nut, are growing in popularity. Many budget furniture manufacturers, in order to keep their production costs down, ship their wares in pieces, with components to be fixed together by the Allen wrench and its corresponding nuts and bolts.

If you are looking for an even more advanced option, you may prefer an impact wrench, which uses compressed air to almost instantaneously loosen and tighten bolts.

Wrench Tips

Whether you're using wrenches, screwdrivers or hammers, always use the right-size tool for the job—using a wrench that is too large or too small for the pipe, nut or bolt involved can wear down both the tool and the target, making both less valuable for future projects. When approaching a particularly stubborn nut or bolt, use slow, careful pulls, since this motion is much more effective and less likely to lead to hand, wrist or arm pain or injury than an abrupt jerking one.