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How to Use an Adjustable Wrench

Using an adjustable wrench, sometimes referred to as an adjustable spanner or adjustable crescent, all starts with choosing the right size for the job at hand. With adjustable wrenches available in 6" to 18" sizes, you shouldn't have any problem finding the right tool for your task. If you're shopping for at-home use, 6", 8" and 10" styles will all be functional, useful tools to have in your lineup.

With the right tool in hand you're ready to learn the basics of how to use an adjustable wrench. Follow this step-by-step guide to master this incredibly handy tool.

Skill Level: Beginner
  1. Step 1 Learn the Anatomy of your Wrench

    Learn the Anatomy of your Wrench

    Learn the anatomy of your wrench. A standard adjustable wrench is made up of a contoured handle with a grip. This grip is often rubberized to help you keep a firm handle on your wrench even in difficult work situations. A hanger hole that allows you to attach your wrench to pegboard or any other storage solution in your garage will also be present at the back end of the handle.

    At the head of the wrench, you'll find the adjustable jaw and the fixed jaw. Just as it sounds, one moves while the other stays stationary. This is what allows you to tighten your grip on a nut, bolt or other fastener.

    The gap between these two jaws is referred to as the span. You can set the span and tighten or loosen your wrench via the recessed thumbscrew just below the two jaws.

  2. Step 2 Adjust the Span to Fit your Task

    Adjust the Span to Fit your Task

    Adjust the span to fit your task via the recessed thumbscrew. You can do this visually by holding your wrench up to the nut, bolt, pipe fitting or other item you wish to adjust before you begin. Don't force the wrench on. Instead, make the span a little wider and adjust once your wrench is in place.

  3. Step 3 Make Any Fine Adjustments Needed

    Make Any Fine Adjustments Needed

    Nest the wrench by pushing up or down so the part you are adjusting is fully within the jaws of the wrench. Make any fine adjustments needed to tighten your wrench if the span is a little wide.

  4. Step 4 Apply Pressure

    Apply Pressure

    Make sure the fixed jaw is always receiving the pressure. The fixed jaw is stronger and can handle more force. Applying pressure toward the fixed jaw will also help ensure that your connection stays tight while you're working.

  5. Step 5 Use your Adjustable Wrench for Special Tasks

    Use your Adjustable Wrench for Special Tasks

    Use your adjustable wrench for special tasks. One common way to use a pair of adjustable wrenches is to turn them in two different directions at the same time to make a secure connection between pipe fittings. This same method can also be useful for disconnecting large, stuck nuts and oversized bolts on household items like water heaters or when handling basic car maintenance and repairs.

  6. Step 6 Use it to Fix Other Tools

    Use it to Fix Other Tools

    Learn how to use a wrench or pair of adjustable wrenches to fix or adjust other tools you use. By keeping an adjustable wrench handy, you can quickly perform tasks like switching out blades in electric saws. An adjustable wrench is also helpful for opening a standard cordless drill when the bit has been tightened in place and left there for a long period of time.

    No toolbox could ever be considered complete without an adjustable wrench. Useful around the house for everything from minor plumbing repairs to car maintenance, adjustable wrenches are also mainstays for professional builders, electricians, carpenters and tradespeople from all walks of life.

  7. Step 7 Use it for All Kinds of Projects

    Use it for All Kinds of Projects

    Make use of adjustable wrenches at home for day-to-day tasks so you don't have the call in the pros for repairs. An adjustable wrench can help you tighten a leaky shower or bath faucet connection and secure plumbing connections around toilet fixtures and sinks.

    Adjustable wrenches are also handy for water heaters and an assortment of items like outdoor grills and pieces of patio furniture that need a little TLC.

    An adjustable wrench is a mainstay in every garage whether it's a pro car repair shop, a builder's workstation or your average household. In fact, an adjustable wrench could easily be the tool you reach for most when making minor repairs on a jobsite or in your very own home.

    Learning how to use an adjustable wrench won't take you much practice either. If you keep the steps laid out here in mind as you work, you'll quickly find yourself proficient with this go-to tool.

    Whether you want a single adjustable wrench for light household duty or you're shopping for a high-quality, do-it-all set with a range of sizes so you can tackle any task that comes your way, we’ve got the tools you need at The Home Depot. Find an assortment of adjustable wrenches ranging from small 6" sizes to extra-large 18" options for heavy duty work.

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