How To Use An Adjustable Wrench?

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The adjustable wrench is an efficient open-end tool with a joined movable jaw. You can use the adjustable wrench with different types of fastener heads. This type of wrench is also called an adjustable spanner or an adjustable crescent.

The adjustable wrench is used to tighten or loosen a bolt. It has an attached ‘jaw’ where the nut or both fits. The jaw is adjustable according to the bolt size—the adjustable wrench functions by turning a fixed, usually located at the bottom of the fastener head.

Adjustable wrenches are efficient to use while fixing a bike or a car and in plumbing works. While regular wrenches can work on specific bolt sizes, an adjustable wrench is usable on several sizes of nuts and bolts.

Adjustable Wrench

Ways to use the Adjustable Wrench

An adjustable wrench is useful for a variety of purposes. It is one of the most efficient hardware tools a person can have at home. One can purchase the set of wrenches with fastener heads to attach to the adjustable wrench.

Following are the simple steps for using an adjustable wrench:

  • Identify the bolt which the wrench will tighten.
  • Loosen up the adjustable wrench by moving the screw. This will open up the jaw portion of the wrench. Adjust the wrench jaw according to the bolt; if you need to open up the jaw more to fit the bolt, do it. Ensure that the wrench jaw entirely fits the bolt.
  • Open up the jaw over the bolt and hold it into place. Turn the screw mechanism around to clamp the bolt in the jaw.
  • The adjustable wrench should be turned in a clockwise direction to tighten and counter-clockwise direction to loosen it. Keep on turning the mechanism until the bolt is tight or loose enough to be removed from the jaw.
  • Remove the adjustable wrench from the nut by loosening the screw mechanism.

Adjustable Wrench

Types of Adjustable Wrenches

There are several forms of adjustable wrenches. One is the taper locking adjustable wrench, where one would require a hammer to fix the movable jaw into the bolt. There are also modern screw adjusted wrenches where the wrenches automatically adjust themselves to the bolt size.

The simpler models of adjustable wrenches use a toothed edge to fasten the movable jaw. With the advancement of technology, nowadays, we can also see the high-end sophisticated variants of adjustable wrenches, which are digital and use sheets or sensors to set the bolt size.

The fixed jaw on the adjustable wrench can withstand severe bending stress than the movable jaw. On its part, the movable jaw is supported by a flat surface located on each side of the guide slot. The adjustable wrench is designed and angled so that the contact area of the movable jaw is closer to the body of the wrench. This creates lesser bending stress.

However, it is advisable not to put excessive pressure on the tight bolts as it may cause the movable jaw to open up and would fail to fit bolts. In severe cases, the movable jaw can also break.

Another type of adjustable wrench has a base and movable jaws that form four different sides of a hexagon and perfect for hexagonal shaped bolts and cap screws.


Sizes of Adjustable Wrench

The regular wrench size usually has an equivalent metric wrench size and is used to accommodate the same size bolt. To get a suitable wrench size for the bolt, one should invest in wrench kits to get a diverse set of organized and different sized wrench sizes from the smallest size to the largest size.

Adjustable Wrench

Adjustable Wrench Use Guidelines

It is essential to follow the guidelines and tips to use the adjustable wrench correctly.

Always use the right wrench size

It is crucial to use the perfect-sized wrench to make the most of its use. To avoid damaging the wrench fastener head, choose a wrench jaw that effectively sits on the fastener and is of the right size. Additionally, ensure that the movable jaw fits the fastener well to avoid damage while applying pressure.

Pull, don’t push

While using an adjustable wrench, always pull and don’t push. If you do need to push, do it with the heel of the hand. That way, if the wrench slips from the hand, you wouldn’t harm yourself.  While using the wrench, position yourself in a way so that you pull it and not push.

Avoid using ‘cheater bar’ or pipes

Never use the cheater bar to add more leverage to the wrench. You will end up damaging the wrench. If you do need more leverage, use a longer wrench for the work.

You might also have seen someone using the pipe for gaining more leverage while fixing the fastener, but avoid it at all costs. Always avoid this for the following reasons:

  • It may damage the wrench by bending the handle of the tool or damaging the fastener head.
  • With additional pressure caused by leverage, you might end up rounding the fastener head if the wrench head is not of the right size.
  • There is also a chance of the ‘cheater bar’ or pipe slipping off the wrench’s handle while you are fastening it.


Never hit the wrench with a hammer

Never use a hammer to turn the stuck fastener. It will damage the wrench.

Never use a damaged wrench

Damaged wrenches are a strict no-no. If the wrench handle is bent, broken or the movable jaws are too broad, don’t use it. You will end up harming yourself in the end.

Invest in quality wrenches

Good wrenches are long-lasting and durable. Cheap wrenches break down more quickly and often slip when in use. Quality wrenches have a lifetime warranty and are good to use.

Good condition

Always maintain the wrenches and keep them in good condition. Regularly clean them and dry the wrenches before storing them in the toolbox. Immediately replace damaged or broken wrenches.



Is a used worn wrench strong like a newly purchased wrench?

A worn wrench can never be strong like a new wrench.  A worn wrench is most likely to break down when used on the worn fastener. Besides, a worn wrench may also damage the fastener.


What kind of wrench fasteners should we never reuse?

Wrench fasteners used in high strength applications must be avoided at all costs, even if they are in good shape. It is because wrench fasteners worn out with time and also gather microscopic damage due to fatigue.


If a person cannot turn a bolt by hand, should they use a cheater bar or an adjustable wrench?

An adjustable wrench is the best way to remove or fasten the bolt. It is also much safer than a cheater bar.


Wrenches are an excellent tool for use. They are usually made from a chrome-plated steel alloy that makes the wrenches durable and easier to use.  The adjustable wrench is the most common wrench type used in households.


Thank you for reading!

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