Choosing the Right Wrench: A Detailed Guide to Wrench Types and Uses

Choosing the Right Wrench: A Detailed Guide to Wrench Types and Uses

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1. Introduction

Wrenches are the go-to tools for anyone tackling domestic work or a technician working on complex machine systems. Be it impact wrenches, ratchet wrenches, or cordless wrenches, they provide:

  • A firm grip.
  • Utilize the principle of leverage by extending the length of the force arm, thereby making it easier to tighten or loosen bolts.
  • Holding the nuts, bolts, and fittings.
  • These wrenches are multi-taskers and must-have tools for every professional and hobbyist. Automotive, construction, manufacturing, and maintenance sectors are the primary consumers of the wrenches.

    2. What is a wrench?

    A wrench is a tool that is also called a spanner in some regions. This tool is used to apply torque to tighten or loose the fasteners. A wrench has major two types; manual and electric. These types are further divided into different categories mentioned below:

    2.1 Manual Wrenches:

    There are four types of manual wrenches:

  • Combination wrench
  • Open-ended wrench
  • Box-ended wrench
  • Adjustable wrench

  • 2.2 Electric Wrenches

    There are two types of electric wrenches:

  • Impact wrench
  • Ratchet wrench

  • 2.3 Special Types of Wrenches

    There are two types of electric wrenches:

  • Spark Plug Wrench
  • Crowfoot Wrench
  • Choosing the right wrench directly depends on the nature of the job, required torque, and accessibility. Manual wrenches are more reliable in terms of control and precision. On the other hand, electric wrenches offer excellent speed and heavy-duty tasks.

    3.Types and Uses of Manual Wrenches

    Manual wrenches are popular as a significant machine tool. Since these tools are constantly developing according to the needs, it is very difficult to know the entire list of manual wrenches.

    3.1 Open-End Wrenches:

    Design Features: An open-ended wrench comes with a U-shaped opening on one or both sides. It is available in different sizes. Each has its application following nut and bolt head fitting.

    Applications: Open-end wrenches are used in tight spaces. It is best for objects where a closed box wrench cannot operate effortlessly.

    Usage Tips:

  • The wrench size should match the nut/bolt head. It will help in avoiding slipping and damaging the fastener.  
  • For an excellent grip, apply your force on the pull side of the open-end wrench.
  • This type of wrench is not suitable for high-torque applications. It can cause slipping
  • Brand Recommendation:  GearWrench, Craftsman, and SK Tools.

    3.2 Box-End Wrenches:

    Design Features: A box-end wrench comes with a closed loop on one or both ends. It helps in ultimately capturing the nut or bolt head. A tight grip allows higher torque application.

    Applications: Excellent for tightening and loosening the objects. It also works efficiently where it is hard to access the desired object. Get a more secure grip with box-end wrenches.

    Usage Tips:

  • Select the appropriate wrench size. It should fit the entire head of the fastener.
  • You should apply force directly onto the handle. It will generate maximum torque.
  • Using excessive force can damage the wrench.
  • Brand Recommendation:  Snap-on, Matco, and Proto.

    3.3 Combination Wrenches:

    Design Features: Combination wrenches prominently feature both open and box-end wrenches. Combination wrenches an open-ended wrench on one side and a box-ended wrench on the other side of the metal bar.

    Applications:This tool works effectively in tight access or space.

    Usage Tips:

    Choosing the appropriate end base will help in meeting the torque requirements.  

    Brand Recommendation:  GearWrench, Craftsman, and Tekton.

    3.4 Adjustable Wrenches:

    Design Features: An adjustable wrench features a moving jaw, unlike other wrenches with fixed sizes. You can effortlessly adjust the jaw following nut and bolt sizes.

    Applications: Adjustable wrenches are helpful in applications requiring a tool with different fastener sizes. In this scenario, there is no need to carry the complete set of tools.

    Usage Tips:
  • Adjust the wrench's jaw according to the size of the nut or bolt. Remember! Do not over-adjust it, as it can damage the fastener or wrench.
  • Only use these wrenches for general tasks where precision is not necessary.
  • Brand Recommendation: Crescent, Bahco, and Knipex.

    3.5 Torque Wrenches:

    Design Features: Torque wrenches are special tools that provide good precision. They also produce good torque. It is based on the click mechanism, which tells about the applied torque.  

    Applications: This wrench is suitable for overtightening or under-tightening. Generally, torque wrenches are used in engine assembly and suspension work.

    Usage Tips:

  • Carefully read the manufacturer's instructions to choose the best torque wrench.
  • Always pre-set the torque value.
  • To avoid over-tightening, do not apply excessive force.
  • Brand Recommendation: CDI, Snap-on, and Stahlwille. For more affordable options, consider brands like GearWrench and TEKTON.

    3.6 Pipe Wrenches:

    Design Features: The major role of pipe wrenches is to adjust partslike pipes or fittings. This tool features a long, adjustable jaw with teeth. It perfectly clamps onto the pipe. Furthermore, pipe wrenches provide a reliable grip.

    Applications: Plumbers, electricians, and HVAC technicians use pipe wrenches for different tasks. These tasks can be tightening or loosening threaded pipe connections.
    Usage Tips:

  • Adjust the jaw size properly to avoid any damage.
  • Turning pipe wrenches to tighten or loosen pipes.
  • Avoid using excessive force.
  • Brand Recommendation: RIDGID, Knipex, and Irwin.

    4. Types and Uses of Electric Wrenches

    Electric wrenches are one of the most common equipment in car garages. Similarly, they are equally famous among home DIY enthusiasts. Find out how they differ and which key will work better in your conditions.

    4.1 Impact Wrenches:

    Design Features:Generally, they are used to unscrew and tighten bolt, which are easy and hassle-free access. They replace open-end, ring, or socket wrenches.  impact wrenches operate by delivering high torque output with minimal exertion by the user, thanks to a hammering mechanism. This mechanism allows them to produce a sudden rotational force (impact) that loosens or tightens bolts more efficiently.The purpose of using an impact wrench is, of course, to increase work efficiency and minimize the effort required.

    Torque output range: Typical impact wrenches range from 250 ft-lbs to 1,000 ft-lbs.

    Battery life: Battery life varies depending on the model, battery capacity, and field of application. Generally, it ranges from 30-60 minutes on a single charge.


  • To tighten lug nuts on wheels
  • To remove seized bolts and nuts
  • Repairing heavy-duty machinery
  • Construction projects
  • Automotive repair
  • Product assembly lines
  • Usage Tips:
  • Choose a good socket size.
  • Try to start with a lower torque. Later, you can gradually increase.
  • Do not use excessive force.
  • Brand Recommendation: Milwaukee, DEWALT, and Ingersoll Rand.

    4.2 Ratchet Wrenches:

    Design Features: An electric ratchet wrench is quite similar to a manual ratchet wrench. Ratchet wrenches use a motor to power the ratcheting system. These wrenches allow swift tightening or loosening of fasteners compared to a manual wrench. Electric ratchet wrenches not only facilitates access to tight spaces but also reduces wrist strain, making them ideal for prolonged use in automotive and assembly tasks.

    Length: Electric ratchet wrenches have multiple lengths. Popular lengths range from 6 inches to 18 inches.

    Tooth Count: The tooth count refers to the total number of teeth in the ratcheting system. A higher tooth count offers a smoother operation and enables the wrench to engage with the fastener with less movement.Hence, it provides more precision and control. Joint tooth counts include 48-tooth, 72-tooth, and 96-tooth.

    Advantages:Electric ratchet wrenches deliver better speed and reduce fatigue than manual ratchet tools. This feature makes electric ratchet wrenches a prominent choice for repetitive activities in closed spaces.


  • Assembly and disassembly of different objects
  • To tight hose clamps and fasteners in closed spaces
  • Repetitive tight objects where speed is necessary

  • Usage Tips:
  • Always choose the appropriate socket size.
  • Choose the right direction on the switch.
  • Apply moderate pressure to keep the work smooth.
  • Brand Recommendation:ONEVAN, and SKIL offer a diverse range of ratchet wrenches.

    5 Types and Uses of Special Types of Wrenches

    A brushless cordless wrench is a great choice when working outdoors due to its efficiency and battery life. It is worth remembering to charge the battery before a trip to avoid situations where the device suddenly discharges during operation. A significant advantage is the tool's high power and the work's ergonomics. Please remember that batteries with a large capacity will last longer. Beyond standard wrenches, you can see there are specialized wrenches made for particular applications. We have discussed some special types of wrenches:

    5.1 Spark Plug Wrenches:

    Design Features: A spark plug wrench is a tool used to remove and install spark plugs in internal combustion engines. It has a long, thin socket to reach spark plugs deep within the engine. Some spark plug wrenches have a magnetic insert to securely grip the spark plug without doing any damage.

    Applications: Spark plug wrenches are only used to install spark plugs in gasoline and natural gas engines.

    Usage Tips:

  • Always choose the correct size spark plug wrench following engine types.
  • Make sure the wrench is well connected with the spark plug.
  • Tight the spark plugs according to the manufacturer’s recommended torque
  • Brand Recommendation: Lisle, GEARWRENCH, and Sunex.

    5.2 Crowfoot Wrenches:

    Design Features: A crowfoot wrench has a wrench head angled at 90 degrees from the handle. This spectacular design enables access to fasteners in tight spaces where a straight socket wrench cannot fit. Crowfoot wrenches are available in different sizes and can be used with a standard ratchet or breaker bar.Crowfoot wrenches are especially valued in plumbing for reaching nuts and fittings behind sinks or toilets.


  • It is used to tighten or loosen nuts and bolts
  • Working on brake calipers
  • Removing or installing nuts and bolts
  • Usage Tips:
  • Keep them clean
  • Checking for battery health
  • Checking for Socket wear condition

  • 6. Comparison of Manual, Corded, and Cordless Wrenches

    6.1 Features of Manual Wrenches:

    A regular wrench is a hand tool widely used in many different environments such as repair and maintenance of motorbikes, cars, mechanics, electricity, and auto repair and maintenance activities. The compact and convenient size makes it easy for users to carry anywhere. The diverse combination of functions mainly holds and tightens nuts, bolts, latches, and threaded parts.

    6.2 Features of Corded Electric Wrenches:

    Corded electric wrenches are known as powerful tools. These wrenches are designed to do most demanding tasks that require uninterruptable power. These wrenches deliver increased torque, essential for heavy-duty tasks, including those in construction where robust performance is required. These qualities make corded electric wrenches perfect for jobs such as removing lug nuts or undertaking construction projects that require consistent power and easy handling.

    6.3 Features of Cordless Electric Wrenches:

    Cordless electric wrenches have advantages in other areas. The possibility of using the device in all conditions and its compact dimensions - makes them a popular choice. The high torque output and sometimes adequate rotational speed of quality cordless electric wrenches allow for loosening even very stuck screws or nuts. It will certainly be useful, for example, for changing wheels in a car. Any driver who has had to manually remove bolts from a punctured wheel in the middle of the night knows why an electric impact wrench is a useful tool.

    6.4 Comparison of Manual, Corded, and Cordless Wrenches:

    Feature Manual Wrench Corded Electric Wrench Cordless Electric Wrench
    Power Source Muscle Power Electricity (corded) Rechargeable Battery
    Portability Highly Portable Limited by Cord Length Highly Portable
    Torque Output Varies, Depending on User Strength and Wrench Length High Moderate to High
    Cost Most Affordable Affordable More Expensive
    Weight Lightest Lighter than Cordless Heaviest
    Maintenance Minimal Brush Cleaning Battery Maintenance/Replacement
    Ideal Applications Light-Duty Tasks High-Torque Applications Moderate-Torque Applications
    Typical Torque Range 10-250 ft-lbs 250-1000+ ft-lbs 75-750+ ft-lbs


    7. Types of Wrenches for Car Repair:

    Car repair garages incorporate a diverse range of wrenches depending on their needs and car maintenance requirements. Car repairs involve a variety of tasks, each requiring specific wrenches for optimal efficiency and safety. Here are some common types and their applications:

    7.1 Adjustable wrenches:

    Adjustable wrench is a wrench with variable jaw opening, enabling the unscrewing and tightening of screws and nuts of various sizes. Some adjustable wrenches, thanks to the strong pressure and friction of the toothed jaws, are also suitable for working on cylindrical surfaces.

    7.2 Fixed wrenches:

    The fixed wrench has a mouth end made of super durable quality steel. Mechanical structure includes: 1 contact end and 1 closed shank end. This is a specialized tool in the thermal power industry.
    The technician will use a hammer to apply a strong force to the other end of the wrench to create high torque, helping to remove and install bolts that have been rusted for a long time or are large in size that a normal wrench cannot tighten. The fixed wrench is used to screw in or remove large bolts and nuts that require high torque.

    7.3 Torque wrenches:

    Torque wrench with mechanical or removable head is currently the most commonly used and popular type on the market. More specifically, Tony Torque is a company with strengths in torque wrenches. Torque wrenches are highly popular in the market due to their performance and good price for users to experience. This is also a line in the mid-range segment and is the most suitable torque wrench line for today's garages.

    Application Examples:
  • Oil change
  • Tire rotation
  • Spark plug replacement
  • Battery replacement
  • Engine component removal/installation: 

  • Selection Advice:

    If you are a professional car mechanic, it is crucial to get a variety of important wrenches for reliable car performance. It is wise to also have an adjustable wrench on hand to avoid any issues. For swift operation, it is recommended to consider acquiring a torque wrench for precision work.

    8. Types of Wrenches for Home Improvement and DIY Projects:

    Any home requires gradation and maintenance with time. To fix the objects carrying nuts and bolts, you require a variety of wrenches for different home tasks. Here's a breakdown of some widely used wrenches along with their applications:

    8.1 Open-Ended Wrenches:

    Open-ended wrenches are usually made of chrome-plated steel, have high hardness and bearing capacity, are rust-resistant, and do not bend or break when used. This tool includes ring wrenches, socket wrenches, and socket wrenches.
    An open-ended wrench is designed at an angle of 15 degrees compared to the body. This type helps users operate quickly when screwing or tightening nuts.

    8.2 Combination Wrenches:

    Combination wrenches have both open and box end on the same wrench. Open end is considered best to approach fasteners in tight areas. On the other hand, box-ended side is good for providing excellent grip to apply required torque.

    8.3 Pipe Wrenches

    An adjustable jaw is fastened to each end of the pipe wrench's head. The A adjustable jaws is fastened to each end of the pipe wrenches head fits over hex or square bolt heads and can loosen even the toughest bolts with the proper torque. Each end has a unique-shaped box, which can effectively handle operations with tight spaces and where precision is paramount.

    Application Examples:
  • Furniture assembly
  • Sink faucet replacement
  • Light fixture installation
  • Doorknob or lock replacement
  • Building a deck or installing shelves

  • Selection Advice:

    To work on pipes to be effective, the adjustable wrench must have a special, reinforced structure. Therefore, these tools are usually hardened to guarantee the correct torque. Moreover, their jaws are often covered with teeth or grooves, which significantly improve the grip of pipes.

    9. Types of Wrenches for Professional and Industrial Uses:

    Industrial and professional applications require a separate set of wrenches to handle some of the most demanding tasks. We have discussed a list of widely used wrenches here:

    9.1 Socket Wrenches:

    Socket wrenches often come with a ratchet handle that can be used with various sockets of different sizes. The usage of the ring wrench is similar to the two types above

    9.2 Combination Wrenches (High-Quality):

    The type of wrench has two circular ends, with each end having a different size such as 6-7, 8-9, 10-12... Combination wrenches will help us limit problems such as belt deformation screws and are used for nuts that require strong impact force.

    9.3 Ratcheting Wrenches (Specialty):

    The ratcheting wrenches are quite commonly used and applied in many different industries. This type of wrench is a combination of two types of tools: ratcheting box-end wrench and socket head. The operating structure of the rat-tail wrench is based on the ratchet principle, providing maximum turning capacity.  

    9.4Torque Wrenches (High-Precision):

    This type of wrench can adjust the force on the object that needs to be tightened. When using a torque wrench, the tightening force required will be displayed right on the screen, making it easy to read and determine the appropriate level of tightening force.

    Application Examples:
  • Machine assembly and maintenance
  • Construction work
  • Auto repair (professional)

  • Selection Advice:
    In commercial/industrial work quality is everything. Without maintaining precision, strength, and performance, you cannot expect optimum results. It is highly recommended to invest in high-quality wrenches according to your industry requirements. Pay attention to wrenches with comfort grips, and quick-release mechanisms.

    10. Conclusion

    There is a huge variety of manual and electrical wrenches both come with tailored specifications. Cordless wrenches provide better efficiency and convenience to operate in tight spaces with limited range. Impact and ratchet wrenches deliver seamless performance for tough fasteners.
    ONEVAN Tool is a leading manufacturer of electrical wrenches at the best affordable prices. You can order the following cordless wrenches from our website:

  • ONEVAN 1/2'' 1000N·m Brushless Electric Ratchet Wrench
  • ONEVAN 1/2" 1200N·m Brushless Electric Impact Wrench
  • ONEVAN 1/2" 1800N·m Torque Brushless Electric Impact Wrench
  • ONEVAN 1/2" 520N·m Torque Impact Wrench
  • ONEVAN 3/4" 3100N·m Brushless Impact Electric Wrench