Different Types of Wrenches and Their Purposes

Wrenches or spanners are some of the most versatile and essential tools in any tradie’s arsenal. With so many types available on today’s market, it can be hard to keep up!

This article aims to solve that problem by describing some of the most common types of wrenches and their applications. This information will help you make a smart purchase decision when investing in new tools for your business.

Let’s begin!

  • Adjustable wrench

At RS Components the adjustable wrench is one of the most common types, thanks to its versatility and ease of use. These tools feature an open end with a fixed spiral screw that opens or closes as the user turns it. They’re also known as crescent wrenches.

Adjustable wrenches allow you to work with various fastener sizes without needing to reach for a different tool. They can serve the same purpose as a set of open-ended wrenches, although they are slightly thicker, making them more difficult to use in tight spaces.

Some common applications of adjustable spanners are plumbing, automotive repair, and furniture assembly.

  • Socket wrench

Socket wrenches have a closed socket head on one end (rather than an open-end, as you’d typically see). The most common socket wrench type is the ratcheting socket wrench, often called a ratchet.

Most socket wrenches have a six-pointed hexagonal head. To use the spanner, you’ll place the head over a nut or bolt and begin twisting. They’re a popular choice for repetitive work because of their speed and usability at difficult angles.

Socket wrenches have broad uses, from standard DIY work to the plumbing, automotive, and manufacturing industries. They’re a great option whenever you need to apply high amounts of torque and pressure to a nut or bolt.

  • Pipe wrench

Pipe wrenches are adjustable, specialised spanners designed for turning pipe fittings and threaded pipe. These tools are unique because their teeth grip as you turn the wrench in one direction, similar to ratcheting wrenches.

Plumbers commonly use pipe wrenches for disassembling and reassembling galvanised steel, black iron, or metal pipes, although they work with other pipe types, too.

  • Chain wrench

Chain wrenches turn or hold smooth, circular objects like pipes. They’re easy to use and incredibly heavy-duty, offering reliable, safe, and powerful torque.

The distinguishing feature of the chain wrench is its reversible dual jaws, allowing for ratchet action in both directions.

You’ll likely need a chain wrench for working with large steel pipes, driveshafts, and tubular materials. They’re a common sight in the plumbing and automotive industries.

  • Combination wrench

A combination wrench features a socket or boxed end and an open end, with each end usually the same size. They’re a ‘two-in-one’ tool offering more bang for your buck than a single socket wrench or open-ended spanner.

Suppose you’re working with a nut or bolt that’s hard to loosen. The socket end can loosen the bolt or nut, while the open end can unscrew it fully.


Across industries, wrenches are endlessly useful, helping with everything from turning pipes to assembling and disassembling furniture. Understanding the different kinds of wrenches will ensure you make the right choice when tool shopping for your business.

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