How to Use an Adjustable Wrench

By: Contributors  | 
A close up of a hand using an adjustable wrench to tighten a bolt.
An adjustable wrench is a must-have in your toolbox. Peter Dazeley / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

  • An adjustable wrench, also known as a crescent wrench, is a versatile tool used to tighten or loosen nuts and bolts with its adjustable jaw, allowing it to accommodate a wide range of sizes.
  • To use, open the wrench's jaw to fit the nut, tighten the screw mechanism to secure it around the nut and turn the wrench clockwise to tighten or counter-clockwise to loosen the nut.
  • Adjustable wrenches are essential for tasks involving cars, bicycles or plumbing. They come in various sizes like 6-inch, 8-inch or 10-inch, with larger sizes suitable for heavy-duty applications.

An adjustable wrench, also called an adjustable spanner or an adjustable crescent is a tool, which can be used to loosen or tighten a nut or bolt. It has a "jaw" (the part where the nut or bolt fits), which is of adjustable size [source: Websters]. The adjustable wrench works by turning a screw, which is usually located at the bottom of the head. While ordinary wrenches can only be used on a particular size nut, an adjustable wrench can be used on a much wider variety of nut sizes [source: Comcast]. Adjustable wrenches are very useful when working with your car or bicycle or when doing some plumbing [source: Do It Yourself]. Let's learn now how to use an adjustable wrench.

  1. Identify the nut or bolt you want to tighten.
  2. Open the adjustable wrench by turning the screw mechanism. This will open the jaw of the wrench. Check if you opened it enough for the nut to fit in, or if it needs to be opened more. Make sure it is open a bit more than the size of the nut.
  3. Slip the open jaw over the nut and hold it in place. Turn the screw mechanism so that it clamps tightly around the nut.
  4. Turn the wrench in a clockwise direction to tighten it, or counter-clockwise to loosen it. Keep on turning it until the nut is tight or loose enough to remove.
  5. Remove the wrench by loosening the screw mechanism [source: Do It Yourself].


Frequently Asked Questions

How do I maintain an adjustable wrench to ensure its longevity?
Regular cleaning to remove debris and lubricating the screw mechanism can maintain its smooth operation and prevent rust.
Can an adjustable wrench replace the need for a complete set of fixed-size wrenches?
While adjustable wrenches offer versatility, a complete set of fixed-size wrenches provides precision and the right fit for specific tasks, making them complementary tools in a toolbox.