Different Types Of Wrenches, And When To Use Them

Article about different types of wrenches. How and where they are best used.

Wrenches are one of the most useful and often used tools. Wrenches hold and turn all types of threaded parts such as bolts and nuts. Good quality wrenches are designed to keep excessive torque from stripping or damaging the bolt. They keep leverage and the load in balance. Wrenches come in American Standard Inch and Metric sizes. There are also many specialty wrenches that may apply only to a few select jobs or parts.

Whichever job you are using a wrench for, be sure to choose a size that exactly fits the fastener. If the wrench is too big, it may damage the outside of the nut. Box or socket type wrenches are safer than open ended. Individual sized wrenches are stronger and safer than adjustable wrenches. If the nut you are trying to loose is very tight, be sure there is enough room so if it loosens suddenly you are not left with skinned knuckles.

When people think of a wrench, the most likely image to come to mind is the open-ended 'C' spanner. It may be single or double ended. These wrenches typically have the jaws offset around 15 degrees for ease of use. They are the most versatile of wrenches since they can be used on many different job types. Some have a box end instead of a C end, with others having one on each end. If it has a C end and a box end, they are the same size. If either two C ends or two box ends, they are different sizes.

Socket wrenches come in non-detachable and detachable. Non-detachable socket wrenches have a fixed opening with either tee or offset handles. Socketed sets typically have one or two handled drivers and a set of different sized sockets that fit onto it. They are used to apply extra torque to nuts and bolts. There is a variation of this wrench called the wheel nut spanner that has spanners at right angles. A lot of pressure can be applied so care should be taken not to break the part.

There are adjustable spanners or wrenches that can work on a whole range of nut sizes. The difference in the wrenches is where the sizing thread is located. To resize the spanner, a wheel is turned to make it either larger or smaller. This wheel can be located on the top, bottom or inside the body of the wrench. Wrenches with the wheel located near the spanner are the easiest to adjust one-handed and is useful for tight fitting areas.

Another category of wrenches is pipe wrenches. They may look like an adjustable wrench but the jaws of pipe wrenches are serrated. Serrated jaws allow the pipe wrench to better grip objects such as smooth pipes. The serrations keep the wrench from slipping on smooth objects. They should not be used on anything good because they can damage nuts.

If it is important to leave minimal marks on a pipe, use a version called a strap wrench. A strap wrench has a metal chain that wraps around the pipe. When pressure is applied, the strap distributes the torque evenly. Another specific type of pipe wrench is the mole wrench. It is self-gripping with a tapering handle and adjustable screw on the end. The tool is adjusted and then squeezed onto the pipe. A quick release lever on the handle lets you release single-handed.

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