Are Adjustable Wrenches Good Or Bad? Here Are The Facts!

If you could only own one wrench, an adjustable one would be the best choice. Adjustable wrenches are a blessing and a curse.

What task is an adjustable wrench suitable for?

The ubiquitous adjustable wrench is used to loosen or tighten nuts, bolts, pipes, and pipe fittings they prove their usefulness many times over. If a nut and bolt are of the same size and you only have one wrench of that size, an adjustable wrench is a handy solution for the other end.

While generally not the best tool for heavier fastening tasks, adjustable wrenches are incredibly convenient.

The adjustable crescent wrench is found in almost every toolbox and home workshop. The classic adjustable wrench, often known by the trademark name Crescent, which earned its name thanks to the shape of its jaws, is a standard feature of most home workshops. This tool is an adjustable open-end wrench, designed to replace a large collection of fixed open-end wrenches. 

adjustable wrenches
conveniently replace many box or open-end wrenches

How does an adjustable wrench work?

An adjustable wrench is a handy size measuring tool. Adjust it on the bolt you need to move, then take that wrench to your toolbox to find the matching size of the spanner or socket.

It is good because it’s convenient

Adjustable wrenched is much more useful with cost-effective. If you put a handful of set wrenches for a certain job in your coverall pocket it’s much easier because they fit as they should.

Even if you have other wrenches and fastening tools at your disposal, an adjustable wrench might still come in handy to hold a coupled fastener in place while you turn its partner.

Somebody buy those large sets of spanners, but you can just need an adjustable wrench to hold a coupled fastener in place while you turn its partner.

adjustable wrenches
adjustable wrenches

If you don’t have a wrench of the required size with you, an adjustable wrench may work. They do best on nuts and bolts that are not too tightly fastened.

Crescent’s adjustable wrenches are still the best for the money. They offer good value and strong reliability with a timeless design. Klien adjustable wrenches are also nice. Diamond is also another quality wrench, too bad they are no longer made.

Some adjustable wrenches tend to bind so it’s hard to adjust after the force is applied, and slop in the mechanism prevents it from holding a size. Tighten it down on a nut, and force jams the adjustment screw, the jaws slightly open, but then slightly close when you pull it off the nut so it doesn’t go back on.

It is bad because it loosens on Its own

Adjustable wrenches have a terrible habit of loosening, no matter how tightly you adjust them, and this is exactly the wrong characteristic for a tool that needs to tightly grip a nut or bolt in order to work properly. 

In tests, some brands of adjustable wrench don’t perform adequately. The Crescent brand adjustable wrench had the least amount of play in the head; the Sears Craftsman adjustable wrench had a bit more (about 1mm), and a no-name KR brand adjustable wrench had about 2mm of play.

.Adjustable wrenches tend to have ‘sloppy’ adjustments and can and do slip with strong pressure applied often burring the nut. A set of fixed-size wrenches is always preferable.

adjustable wrenches
loosens on Its own

The adjustable is also much bulkier than a dedicated size wrench. Some little obstruction blocks anything bigger than a dedicated wrench.

They are generally not strong enough for high tension nuts or bolts and I have seen many shifting jaw spanners with broken teeth or worm adjusters or a loose screw that unwinds and falls out somewhere never to be found.

How to properly use an adjustable wrench?

In appropriate situations when the correct wrench is unavailable, an adjustable wrench can save the day. But, when the proper wrench is available, a dedicated spanner is definitely much more sturdy and strong, and it also fits in a tighter space. The mechanic is just too lazy to reach for it and instead puts his trust in an untrustworthy adjustable wrench, that is prone to rounding corners on nuts and bolts.

Adjustable wrenched shouldn’t be used for high torque. Even a top-notch adjustable wrench is mediocre as far as getting a really stuck or tight fastener.

Because they are adjustable slipping them into tight places often means the thumb wheel which adjusts the jaw size gets bumped and if you had set it on another same-sized nut it will now have jaws too open or too closed depending on which way the adjuster got turned. Rarely in use does the size stay the same where you can turn the nut a few flats at a time as a force on the jaw gradually causes the jaw to retract.

adjustable wrench good or bad
properly use an adjustable wrench


Each has its place. An adjustable can conveniently replace many box or open-end wrenches. But when you need a wrench that really holds under high torque, get combination wrenches for the usual sizes you need.

But sometimes an adjustable is really good too – when you have an odd-sized nut (I do have some Whitworth spanners too, but not US sizes – and occasionally that’s what the nut or bolt is on something). And of course, when carrying a lot of tools around, a single adjustable weighs much less than 10–15 different fixed-size spanners

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