Choosing the right wrench for a project involves more than just matching sizes. Use the right style of wrench to make your project easier.
Wrenches perform the same function as ratchets and sockets — tightening and loosening fasteners — but there are differences and situations call for one over the other. For example, a box-end wrench is a good option for loosening stuck fasteners because you can apply more torque without risking damage to a ratchet mechanism. A wrench with an open end fits around a fastener instead of over it, so you can slip a wrench into an area where there isn't room for a socket. Always make sure the tool you use is suited for the work you're doing. See the chart below for more information on wrench types and their uses. To learn more about ratchets and sockets, take a look at our Socket and Ratchet Guide.
Wrenches are available in a variety of styles for a variety of applications. Some are designed to work with standard (SAE) fasteners and some are for metric applications. Look for color coding on some wrenches to help you quickly identify standard or metric.
Here are some of the more common wrench types and their uses.
|Type||Uses / Features||Example|
|Short-Body or Stubby Wrench|
Tightens / loosens nuts and hose couplings under sinks and lavatories
Hex Key / Allen Wrench
|Star-Head Key / Torx Key|
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
|Wrench and Mechanic's Tool Sets|