Meet Your Toolbox: Wrenches

There are many types of wrenches available at your local home improvement or hardware store, indeed you can get large sets of them. But if you are a typical homeowner doing small projects around the house, you may wonder if all that is really necessary and if it is, how can you convince your wife of it? Seriously, if you want to know what to buy to fit the highest number of situations you’ll probably come across, here are the basics.

An adjustable wrench is your best bet because it is versatile. It will fit many different sized nuts and bolts, without having to have an individual wrench for each size. But, you say, there are different sizes of adjustable wrenches, too. Yes, there are. One that opens to 5/16” should suit most of your needs. When you use an adjustable wrench, make sure that it is tightened as much as possible around whatever you are trying to turn or loosen. Otherwise, it may give and scrape the surface of whatever you’re working on or even worse, your hand.

Another common type of wrench that you will see around the home is the allen wrench. When you think wrench, these are not the image that pops into your head. They are usually L or S shaped and the head fits into the top of a nut (usually with a hexagon shape). The wrench is then turned to tighten or loosen the nut. You will see these a lot with bicycles, in-line skates, and probably at lot of assemble it yourself furniture that you get at warehouse or department stores. Oftentimes, these types of items that require allen wrenches will come with them, included with the rest of the hardware for the item, but you may someday need to purchase some yourself. You can get many different sizes available on a keychain for a relatively small price.

Box wrenches or socket wrenches come in individual sizes to fit standard and metric fasteners. These are the ones that come in the big kits. If you do buy a set, make sure you check to see if it is standard or metric or both. Standard will probably be best for most things around the house. If you’re working on cars, depending on the make, you may need metric. For sockets, look for ratcheting wrenches that do the turning for you to save your wrists.

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