There are a few classic tools that everyone needs, whether you are a DIYer or a professional repair technician. One of those tools is a high-quality adjustable wrench. An adjustable wrench offers the ability to adapt a tool to several fastener sizes with just the twist of a screw, and it can also do the job of several wrenches at once, all of which saves time.
However, finding the best adjustable wrench sometimes isn’t cut and dry. Loads of low-quality wrenches are available, and they’ll lead to more stripped and rounded-over fasteners than they are worth. Instead, you need a high-quality tool that easily adjusts and achieves a good grip on a fastener. This guide will help you choose the best adjustable wrench for your repair needs.
- BEST OVERALL: Crescent 10″ Adjustable Black Oxide Wrench
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: IRWIN VISE-GRIP Adjustable Wrench Set
- BEST UPGRADE: Channellock 8WCB 8-Inch WideAzz Adjustable Wrench
- BEST FOR PLUMBING: RIDGID 31010 Model 10 Heavy-Duty Straight Pipe Wrench
- BEST FOR BIKES: TEKTON 23001 4-Inch Adjustable Wrench
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Adjustable Wrench
Quality is paramount when it comes to an adjustable wrench. Low-quality wrenches wear out quickly, and the poor fitment between the moving parts can create uneven surfaces between the jaws that can ruin fasteners in a hurry. The wrenches on this list are solid and reliable, but keep reading to learn the important considerations to keep in mind while shopping for the best adjustable wrench for your repair needs.
Your intended use has a lot to do with choosing an adjustable wrench or deciding if an adjustable wrench is even the tool for the job.
If you’re looking for a wrench you can keep in your tool box in a pinch, an adjustable wrench is a must. It’s the perfect tool for leveling refrigerator and stove legs, removing access covers from appliances, tightening plumbing hoses, fixing bicycles, and assembling furniture.
There are scenarios in which an adjustable wrench is not the right tool. Specifically, an adjustable wrench is not appropriate for auto repair. Automotive fasteners can be incredibly stubborn as oxidation and constant temperature changes have negative effects on them. Using an adjustable wrench is a sure way to strip one of these hex bolts or nuts. Other wrenches are better suited for working on an automobile.
When you’re shopping for an adjustable wrench, you’ll notice several different sizes are available. In general, these sizes refer to the overall length of the wrench.
Longer wrenches allow you to apply more torque to a fastener, which can make it easier to bust stubborn nuts and bolts loose. Shorter wrenches can slide into tight places, and they also fit better in crowded tool chests than long-handled options.
If you’re not looking to buy an entire set of adjustable wrenches, a good do-it-all adjustable wrench should be between 8 and 10 inches long. Heavy-duty fasteners that require a wrench much longer than 10 inches should be the work of a box or combination wrench.
Each adjustable wrench has a capacity (or range) of fastener sizes with which it can work. These sizes can run from minuscule to huge fasteners over one inch in size. Careful consideration of the fastener sizes most typical of your repair needs will help you choose the best adjustable wrench.
Overall, most fasteners you’ll manipulate with an adjustable wrench will be between ¼-inch and ⅞-inch. Fasteners smaller than that range are difficult for an adjustable wrench to grab on to, and fasteners larger than that range are rare unless you work with heavy machinery.
With that said, choosing an adjustable wrench with a larger capacity can be beneficial because it will give you plenty of flexibility. The primary issue with larger capacity wrenches is that they are usually thick, and their heads are bulky, even when closed. Weigh the pros and cons of a larger adjustable wrench to make a decision about the required capacity for your repair needs.
The handle design of an adjustable wrench is very important. Even if it’s a bare metal handle without any cushioning or coating, a properly designed handle will be comfortable and allow you to use it all day without hand fatigue or pain. Lower quality wrenches have thinner handles with square edges that can be downright painful when applying torque. The best adjustable wrenches use thicker designs and rounded edges to promote a good grip without wearing out your hand.
However, a coated handle is nice to have. Many adjustable wrenches use rubber over-molded grips that provide a nonslip surface and plenty of comfort. If you’re planning on using an adjustable wrench often, it might be worth spending more money on a wrench with a rubber grip.
Adjustable wrenches are all about versatility. Instead of owning and organizing multiple wrenches in both SAE and metric sizes, an adjustable wrench can take the place of all of them. One wrench can potentially do the job of two dozen wrenches—that’s versatility.
If you need more versatility, begin with buying a set of two different-size wrenches. These sets usually feature a smaller wrench (under 6 inches) and a larger wrench (at least 10 inches), allowing you to tackle just about any home repair.
Our Top Picks
Now that you have a little background on the best adjustable wrenches, you’re ready to start learning about some of the top products on the market. Keep all of the above considerations in mind to ensure you choose the best adjustable wrench for your repair needs.
If you’re looking for an adjustable wrench from one of the original names in the business, check out the Crescent 10-inch Adjustable Black Oxide Wrench. This wrench features a tension spring that stabilizes the jaw, creating a positive grip on fasteners to avoid slipping and stripping. Crescent uses heat-treated forged alloy steel, with special attention to proportions, to create a strong wrench with minimal weight.
This adjustable wrench provides a maximum capacity of over 1¼ inch, with laser-etched markings in both metric and SAE sizes. The black oxide finish is tough and provides a slip-resistant surface, while the handle is wide and rounded for a comfortable grip. Crescent also uses an oversized adjustment screw for easier and more secure adjustments.
The IRWIN VISE-GRIP Adjustable Wrench Set combines versatility with affordability. This two-pack of adjustable wrenches features IRWIN VISE-GRIP’s soft, nonslip rubber ProTouch grip. Your purchase will include a compact 6-inch wrench and a heavy-duty 10-inch wrench, both made from chrome vanadium steel for strength and durability.
You’ll have the flexibility to tackle almost any household fastener with these wrenches. Both wrenches feature easy-to-read, laser-etched adjustment markings: SAE on one side and metric on the other side. The 6-inch wrench offers a maximum capacity of up to 1 inch, and the 10-inch wrench provides a maximum capacity of 1¼ inches.
For an adjustable wrench with oversize capacity in a compact package, check out the Channellock 8WCB 8-inch WideAzz Adjustable Wrench. It boasts a maximum capacity of up to 1½ inches, while the four-thread knurled adjustment screw delivers positive, secure adjustments for the best results. You’ll be able to work up to the perfect size as well, given the laser-etched adjustment scales in SAE and metric sizes.
While the 1½-inch width is an excellent feature, it doesn’t tell the whole story. This adjustable wrench also features longer jaws than its competitors, creating a more slip-resistant grip on the fastener. For added slip resistance, it features a rubber over-molded grip that’s soft and comfortable.
Adjustable wrenches aren’t just for fasteners. Gripping plumbing pipes, metal fence posts, and other round surfaces requires a different approach. The RIDGID 31010 Model 10 Heavy-Duty Straight Pipe Wrench provides the grip you need to torque these smooth surfaces into place.
The jaws on this adjustable wrench can handle pipes from ¼ to 1½ inches in diameter, while the large knurled adjustment ring is easy to manipulate. The 10-inch long handle provides plenty of leverage for tightening or loosening any type of steel pipe, including black and galvanized.
Keep in mind that plumbing fittings often require two wrenches held in opposing orientation, so you might want to consider purchasing two of these wrenches for the best results.
Choosing the best adjustable wrench for repairing bikes takes a bit of thought. It needs to be compact enough to carry but large enough to tackle the hex fasteners you’re likely to find on modern bikes. The TEKTON 4-Inch Adjustable Wrench can meet those varied needs. It’s drop forged and heat treated for strength and durability, while the chrome-plated finish will resist corrosion caused by trailside repairs in muddy conditions.
This adjustable wrench is 4 inches in length, allowing you to pack it in a “bike packing” bag with ease. The jaws provide a maximum width of ½ inch, while the knurl allows you to make adjustments as small as 1 millimeter at a time. It includes both SAE and metric laser-etched markings on opposing sides of the wrench.
FAQs About Adjustable Wrenches
Hopefully you have a better idea of how to choose the best adjustable wrench for your repair needs. If you still have some questions, this section is for you. Below is a collection of the most frequently asked questions related to adjustable wrenches. Take a look below to see if there’s an answer to your question.
Q. Is a crescent wrench the same as an adjustable wrench?
Crescent is a brand, and they make plenty of wrenches, both adjustable and nonadjustable. The name is somewhat synonymous with adjustable wrenches because the company has been making quality models for years.
Q. Should you push or pull a wrench?
If it’s possible, you should pull a wrench toward you. You’re less likely to slip and smack your knuckles on the workpiece.
Q. How long do adjustable wrenches last?
A quality adjustable wrench that is properly used and maintained can last a lifetime. Spraying the adjustment screw with a lubricant a few times a year will help to maintain the longevity.