If you got a DIY package or you’ve got the technical know-how to work on an automobile that requires a tool designed to loosen or tighten threaded materials such as bolts, nuts and screws then it’s likely that what you will need a wrench. Need to work in an area where a lot of torque is needed and there isn’t enough space to do it? A wrench is well suited for this situation.
Wrenches find application for peculiar situations and you will find that there is a different wrench for each situation.
Look out for the marking “Cr-V” when shopping for wrenches. These types of wrenches are a mixture of alloying materials Chromium and Vanadium and are meant to deal with the issue of corrosion for metals and for added strength respectively. They are the product of forged carbon alloy steel and are some of the best quality you can find. Plating with a chrome-nickel layer offers better resistance to corrosion and you will find this on many wrenches. Measurements that are permanently and clearly labelled are another way to identify good wrenches.
You should purchase wrenches in sets if you want to get the best value. Because there is no way to know what kind of fasteners you’ll find in the kit, be sure standard (SAE) and metric measurements are both included in your wrench’s set. Usually, measurements of increment for the standard (SAE) and metric are 1/16 of an inch and millimetres respectively.
Your fastener should be a good fit for the wrench you are using. Find the right fit by trying several wrenches until you get the tightest fit, if you are unsure of the fasteners exact size. The reason you want to have a snug fits is because it is easy to round off the edges of the fastener if the wrench is loose or too big. Most wrenches fall into a few major categories.
The most basic type of wrench is the Open Ended Wrench. With U-shaped open ends, the fastener can be gripped with either of its two opposite faces. You can usually find open ended wrenches with handles that have different sized ends while other designs have handles that have matching box end and open end style wrenches.
Another regular type is the Box Ended Wrench. The name box end wrench come from the fact the fastener is “boxed” in by the end of the wrench since the entire fastener is surrounded by the tool. The box end wrench normally has 6 or 12 corners or points. The 6 point is the most stable and effective for high torque applications because an equal amount of force is applied to all edges of the fastener. A 12 point box end wrench is handy because it doubles the amount of position that you can fit the wrench end on the fastener. This can be especially helpful in very tight spaces where there is a limited amount of space to swing the wrench. The trouble with using a 12 point box end for high torque applications is there is a possibility of round over or stripping the head of the fastener. More recently ratcheting box wrenches have become popular. These types of wrenches operate much like a ratchet and socket combo and make it handy to not have to reposition the box end of the wrench at the end of a turn.
Tube or Flare Wrenches are a variety of wrenches that serve a special purpose. A flare wrench looks much like a 6 point box end wrench except for a section of the ring is missing. This missing section is slipped over the tubing which then makes it possible for the wrench to be placed over the fastener. Typically the nuts used to secure tubing are some what delicate or made of soft materials like brass or plastic. The use of a regular open end wrench can lead to rounding off the corners of the nut since it does not contact all sides of the softer material. These types of wrenches are handy when working on car brake line systems or compression fittings on copper piping for things like dishwashers or ice machines.
The Adjustable Wrench functions just like an open ended wrench. With a mechanism to adjust the parallel distance between the jaws, just about any size nut or bolt can be fit. This is a great tool to use if you don’t have the right size wrench or you don’t need to apply a lot of torque to the fastener. The only negative side to this type of wrench is as you use the wrench, the jaws will move slightly which can cause you to slip off and round off the edges of the fastener. When using, you have to keep checking that the adjustment stays set so there is a snug on the fastener. These kinds of wrenches are available in various sizes to better accommodate the different sizes of fasteners encountered. Many times these are improperly called Crescent Wrenches, which is actually a trade marked brand name for one company’s version of this type of tool.
Another common, yet specialized type of adjustable wrench is the Pipe Wrench. These heavy duty wrenches have a fixed upper jaw and a movable lower jaw. The jaws are heavily serrated so that they can bite into the pipe they are turning and they jaws are usually pinned into place so they can be replaced when they wear out. Smooth jaws are also available so they don’t damage the surface that is being turned for certain applications. The handles are usually made of steel but there are some lightweight aluminum handle models available at a much higher price.
Ratchet and Sockets are a great substitute to regular wrenches. The advantage is that a ratchet can be fitted with numerous sockets that will fit varying sizes of nuts and bolts. Ratchets work on the same principle as wrenches in that they have a long handle that allow you to put a lot of torque on the fastener, with the main difference being the head of the ratchet moves and will only provide movement in one direction. This facilitates quicker fastener turning since you do not have to remove and reset the head position every time you make a turn as with a wrench. The most common drive sizes for ratchets are 1/4”, 3/8”, and 1/2”, but 3/4″ and 1” sizes are available for certain industrial uses. Ratchets work with both metric and standard (SAE) sockets as long as the drive of the socket matches the drive of the ratchet.
Sockets are cylinder looking with one end that has a square hole that matches one of the common ratchet sizes. The other end of the socket is sized to fit the fasteners, usually with either a 6 or 12 point configuration. The size of the socket is usually permanently stamped into the side of the socket for quick identification.