How to Use an Adjustable Wrench

By: HowStuffWorks.com Contributors  | 

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].

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Originally Published: Jun 13, 2011

Adjustable Wrench FAQ

What is the purpose of an adjustable wrench?
An adjustable wrench, also known as an adjustable spanner or crescent, is used to turn or loosen a nut or bolt. This wrench has jagged jaws, one of which you can adjust to get the grip you need.
What size adjustable wrench should I buy?
They come in many sizes, but you may want to try a 6-inch, 8-inch or 10-inch. These sizes work for most standard hardware and allow you to access tight corners and hard-to-reach spaces.
Is a crescent wrench the same as an adjustable wrench?
A crescent wrench is just a type of adjustable wrench that's commonly used.
What is a 10-inch adjustable wrench used for?
The company TEKTON makes one of these wrenches and says it can take on heavy-duty applications, such as farm equipment or automotive repair.
How does an adjustable wrench work?
Adjustable wrenches can be tightened/loosened by adjusting the worm screw, which is commonly located in the head of the wrench. While fixed-wrenches are only useful for a particular size of nut, adjustable wrenches can be varied according to the task at hand.

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