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Bike repair, furniture assembly, a leaking faucet…there’s always something that you’ve been putting off fixing, building, or maintaining for a while now. A good wrench can (literally) fix these problems, and is something that should be in everyone’s toolbox.
While most wrenches are pretty all-purpose for a variety of different tasks, you’ll see a ton of options available online, from different handle lengths to sizes. Think about what you’ll be mostly using the wrench for, and how often. Maintaining a scooter may require a wrench with entirely different sizes and features than one used to tighten loose bolts around the house.
What to Look For When Buying An Adjustable Wrench
Material: Chrome alloy, forged alloy steel, chrome vanadium steel – there are a ton of different and varied mostly-steel materials that make up a wrench’s body. All are strong, but some are better at resisting the effects of time — think oxidation and corrosion — than others.
Fit and Grip: Cheaply-made wrenches can still wiggle even when tightened to their fullest. A solid grip is a must-have feature, and leaves fewer rounded bolts when trying to tighten or remove them.
Measurements: Make sure it has your preferred system of measurement etched in before buying. Having to convert from Metric measurements to the US Customary System (or vice versa) every time you work on a project can not only be annoying, but lead to errors as well.
Handle: A padded handle isn’t just for extra comfort (though it does really help prevent cramped hands), it’s also important for grip too. A sweaty palm and a hot, slippery steel handle don’t mix well on a summer day.
Storage and Convenience: Hanging hooks are a nice bonus to keep things organized around your bench. A “worm” (the fusilli-shaped screw which tightens or loosens the head) that slides smoothly and lets you set the sizes with your thumb is extremely convenient too.
It’s hard to go really wrong with a wrench when using it for general purposes, but it’s still worth a little research before buying. We’ve picked out three to get you started no matter what your next hobby or home improvement project calls for.
1. TEKTON 23002 6-Inch Adjustable Wrench
Crafted from carbon steel for extra durability, this wrench features a corrosion-resistant satin chrome finish, and meets (or exceeds) all ANSI (American National Standards Institute) performance standards.
Adjusting the jaw size is easy, thanks to its laser-etched size markings in both metric units and inches. The knurling on the worm guide responds quickly too, with just a flick of your thumb, and without getting too loose.
It’s precision-machined to ensure a tight grip, making contact in three spots for a solid hold. Don’t be afraid to rough this up either: the satin finish keeps the wrench looking fresh by hiding scratch marks that could otherwise be seen in a regular chrome finish.
PROS: Easy measuring and a wide jaw. Scratch-resistant and ideal for jobs around the house.
CONS: While this is great for hobbyists and minor repairs, another option may be better for heavier projects.
2. Channellock 8WCB 8-Inch Adjustable Wrench
Much like a snake unhinging its jaw, the Channellock may measure just eight inches, but it has a disproportionately huge capacity of a 12-inch wrench. The minimal head width means it can narrow down to small sizes to get in tight spaces, where other wrenches might be too big to fit. And, conversely, itncan open up wide to handle a big, bulky bolt as well.
Opening it wide is a smooth adjustment, plus the long length of the thin jaws help it grip even better.
The padded handle is extremely comfortable, and allows you to put your full force into it without having sore hands afterwards.
PROS: Solid build quality, smooth thumb tightening, minimal wobble, and can last a long, long time with little wear to show.
CONS: While comfortable, the padded handle can be hard to get a good hold on when turning.
3. Olympia Tools Adjustable Wrench
Olympia has been cranking out all sorts of quality tools since the early 1970s. This 15-inch adjustable wrench comes in a lot of different sizes, and is versatile enough to be used for a variety of jobs and repairs.
With precision-built jaws and a knurled adjustable worm, the Olympia opens wide, at about 1.75-inches tops. The grip is firm, the torque is tight, and its bare-bones build is ready for rough jobs and the test of time, as it doesn’t rust, fade or corrode thanks to its chrome-plated steel.
PROS: Solid, strong, and holds up to heavy weight.
CONS: There’s zero padding on this, and after a while can really hurt your hands when turning it tight.