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Wrenches: Finding the Right One

Guy using a adjustable wrenches to tighten a bolt
There are many different types of wrenches, find out which job is right for the job.

With so many different kinds of wrenches on the market, it can feel pretty overwhelming. Let Blain’s Farm & Fleet help you find the right wrench for the job with this handy tool guide.

Common Wrenches

Open End Wrenches

This has a U-shaped opening that grips two opposite faces of the bolt or nut. It is often double ended, with a different sized opening at each end. The ends are generally oriented at an angle of around 15 degrees to the longitudinal axis of the handle. This allows a greater range of movement in enclosed spaces by flipping the wrench over. Open end wrenches grip the bolt from the side. This is useful for working under the hood of a car or to hold a nut in place while ratcheting a bolt.

Box End Wrenches

These one-piece wrenches have an enclosed opening that grips the faces of the bolt or nut. The recess is generally a six-point or twelve-point opening for use with nuts or bolt heads with a hexagonal shape. The twelve-point fits onto the fastening at twice as many angles, an advantage where swing is limited. Eight-point wrenches are also made for square-shaped nuts and bolt heads.

Combination Wrenches

A double-ended tool with one end being like an open-end wrench, and the other end being like a box-end wrench or ring spanner. Both ends generally fit the same size of bolt.

Crescent Wrenches

Also known as an adjustable wrench it is the most common type of wrench. The gripping faces of the jaw are displaced to a 15 degree angle that is relative to the tool’s handle. This helps the wrench’s ability to be used in tight spaces.

Specialty Wrenches

Flare Nut Wrenches

A wrench that is used for gripping the nuts on the ends of tubes. It is similar to a box-end but, instead of encircling the nut completely, it has a narrow opening just wide enough to allow the wrench to fit over the tube, and thick jaws to increase the contact area with the nut. This allows for maximum contact on plumbing nuts, which are typically softer metals and therefore more prone to damage from open-ended wrenches.

Ratcheting Box Wrenches

Ratcheting can be reversed by flipping the wrench over, or by activating a reversing lever. This type combines the compact design of a box wrench, with the utility and quickness of use of a ratchet wrench.

Pipe Wrenches

Just like the name gives it away, it is great for plumbing projects. It helps to tighten and loosen plumbing connections.


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