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Wrench Buying Guide

Choosing the right wrench for a project involves more than just matching sizes. Use the right style of wrench to make your project easier.

Combination Wrenches.

Wrench Types

Wrenches are available in a variety of styles for a variety of applications. Some are designed to work with standard fasteners and some are for metric applications. Look for color coding on some wrenches to help you quickly identify standard or metric. Make sure you match the fastener to the wrench to make the work easier and to avoid damaging the fastener.

Here are some of the more common wrench types and their uses.

Type Uses / Features Example
Adjustable Wrench
  • Tightens / loosens nuts and bolts.
  • Moveable lower jaw to adjust wrench size.
  • Works with both standard and metric fasteners.
Adjustable Wrench.
Combination Wrench
  • Tightens / loosens nuts and bolts.
  • Metric and standard sizes.
  • One open end and one box end (usually the same size).
Combination Wrench.
Double-Box Wrench
  • Tightens / loosens nuts and bolts.
  • Metric and standard sizes.
  • Two box (or ring) ends (usually different sizes).
Double-Box Wrenches.
Open-End Wrench
  • Tightens / loosens nuts and bolts.
  • Metric and standard sizes.
  • Two open ends (usually different sizes).
Open-End Wrench.
Stubby Wrench
  • Tightens / loosens nuts and bolts in tight spaces.
  • Metric and standard sizes.
Stubby Wrenches.
Ratchet Wrench
  • Tightens / loosens nuts and bolts.
  • Metric and standard sizes.
  • Ratchet action on one end moves freely in one direction and engages the fastener in the other direction to tighten or loosen without removing the tool.
  • Some have pivoting ratchet ends for use in tight spaces.
Ratchet Wrench.
Ratchet and Socket Sets
  • Tightens / loosens bolts.
  • Ratchet handle connects to a variety of sockets to fit different sizes of metric and standard fasteners.
  • Sockets are available in standard and metric sizes.
  • Ratcheting action lets the handle swing freely in one direction and engage the fastener in the other direction to tighten or loosen without removing the tool from the fastener.
  • Some ratchets tighten and loosen with the twist of a wrist rather by a swinging motion.
  • Socket extensions are available to reach into tight spaces.
Ratchet and Sockets.
Torque Wrench
  • Tightens nuts and bolts to specific foot pounds.
  • Made to work with either 3/8-inch or 1/2-inch sockets.
  • Sockets are available in standard and metric sizes.
Torque Wrench.
Crow's Foot Wrench
  • Tightens / loosens bolts.
  • Standard and metric sizes.
  • Has no handle.
  • Operates with a ratchet handle / socket extension combination.
  • Designed to work in tight spaces.
Crow's Foot Wrench.
Basin Wrench

Tightens / loosens nuts and hose couplings under sinks and lavatories.

Basin Wrench.
Pipe Wrench
  • Turns metal pipes and fittings.
  • Moveable upper jaw to adjust wrench size.
Pipe Wrench.

Hex Key

  • Tightens / loosens hex-head screws and bolts.
  • Standard and metric sizes.
  • Available as separate wrenches or in sets where the wrenches fold up into a handle.
Hex Wrench.
Star-Head Key
  • Tightens / loosens star-head screws and bolts.
  • Standard and metric sizes.
  • Available as separate wrenches or in sets where the wrenches fold up into a handle.
Star-Head Wrench.
Strap Wrench

Tightens, loosens and turns a variety of different size items, such as plumbing fittings, container lids, etc., that don't have flat faces for a standard wrench to grip.

Strap Wrench.

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