Adjustable wrenches, also called "crescent wrenches" or "spanners," are must-have tools in any basic tool collection. With one stationary jaw and one moveable jaw, these tools let you get a good grip and apply more force than you could muster up with your hands alone when loosening or tightening nuts and bolts.
While there are many cheap adjustable wrenches on the market, Deane Biermeier, a licensed carpenter and contractor as well as member of The Spruce's Home Improvement Review Board, cautions, "An adjustable wrench can be the best tool in your toolbox or a headache every time you use it. The difference is in the quality. A high-quality adjustable wrench might cost a few more dollars but is worth every penny over a low-quality tool that you will probably end up having to replace after it breaks or develops too much wiggle in the jaws."
While these are basic tools, there are many sizes and configurations available, so we evaluated adjustable wrenches based on durability, performance, and versatility. Our top pick is the Channellock WideAzz, which has jaws that open to an impressive 1 1/2 inches and a comfortable, easy-grip handle.
Channellock 8WCB WideAzz 8-Inch Adjustable Wrench
Wide jaw capacity
Comfortable to hold
Edges of jaws are sharp
A few complaints of wiggle or loose jaws
The Channellock WideAzz 8-Inch Adjustable Wrench is likely to become your most reached-for wrench, thanks to its superior design, which incorporates just about everything you might look for in a crescent wrench. While it's also available in a 10-inch length, we like the 8-inch model because it is long enough for reaching most nuts and bolts, but not so long that it's awkward to turn in a tight spot. Plus, the jaws expand to an impressive 1 1/2 inches—the feature that gives the tool its name. You'd generally need to use a 12-inch wrench to get that kind of jaw capacity.
The jaws are a bit thinner and longer than most other 8-inch crescent wrenches, making this a great choice when reaching into awkward or tight spaces. Once you have the wrench tightened around the nut, you'll find that the WideAzz grips tightly without easily slipping out of place. There's a scale on one side of the wrench showing SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) measurements in fractions of inches, and a metric ruler on the other side, which is helpful when you need to tighten a fastener precisely. The four-threaded adjustment knob—sometimes referred to as the "knurl"—helps reduce jaw "wiggle," which is a common but annoying issue with many adjustable wrenches.
The wrench is made of chrome vanadium steel for durability. The handle is covered with slightly rubbery blue plastic, which helps you keep a firm grip on the tool even if your hands get wet or sweaty.
Price at time of publish: $42
Length: 8 inches | Jaw Capacity: 1 1/2 inches | Measurement Scale: SAE and metric | Weight: 12 ounces
Irwin Vise-Grip 2078610 Adjustable Wrench
No "teeth" on inner edges of jaws for extra grip
You can get a reasonably priced adjustable wrench without sacrificing quality, and the Irwin Vise-Grip is the proof. This 10-inch wrench has a 1 1/4-inch jaw capacity, which is large enough for most common uses around the home or garage. It's made of chrome vanadium steel for extra durability, and the handle is covered with a comfortable plastic grip that keeps the tool steady in your hands even when working on wet plumbing fittings. One side of the wrench has metric measurements between the jaws, while the other side has SAE measurements in 1/16ths of an inch.
While the adjustment knob of this wrench has only three threads, it doesn't suffer much from annoying wiggle or play when gripping a nut. For the price, this is a great addition to your tool box, whether you use tools daily or just once or twice a year. The wrench is also available in a 10-inch length if you need something a bit bigger.
Price at time of publish: $28
Length: 10 inches | Jaw Capacity: 1 1/4 inches | Measurement Scale: SAE and metric | Weight: 1 pound
Knipex 86 05 180 Pliers Wrench
Combines pliers and adjustable wrench in one tool
Only metric scale
A few complaints that it's tricky to get the hang of adjusting the position
This ingenious tool combines the functions of an adjustable wrench and pliers into one handy device that not only grasps nuts and bolts for easy tightening or loosening but has many other uses as well. It can be used to snap edges of tile, hold pieces together while an adhesive dries, cut cable ties, and hold, turn, bend, or clamp just about any other object that can fit within its maximum jaw capacity of 1 3/8 inches. Unlike typical crescent wrenches, this tool does not have an adjustment screw but rather has a push-button adjustment function with 13 possible positions. This allows you to angle the self-ratcheting tool into the angle best suited for your needs while maintaining a secure grip without wiggle or slip.
The Knipex Pliers Wrench is made of chrome vanadium steel and has ergonomically designed comfort-grip handles. It has a slim head that easily reaches into tight spaces and an overall length of 7 1/4 inches. While you might not need this admittedly expensive wrench if you rarely open your tool box, it's well worth the investment if you work as a handyperson, plumber, or mechanic, or just like being able to carry one reliable tool in place of several wrenches, sockets, and pliers.
Price at time of publish: $52
Length: 7 1/4 inches | Jaw Capacity: 1 3/8 inches | Measurement Scale: SAE and metric | Weight: 10 ounces
Workpro 4-piece Adjustable Wrench Set
All four common sizes
Not the highest quality
Jaw capacities are slightly lower than average
If you do a lot of work on plumbing or other projects that require a variety of wrench sizes, it's convenient and also economical to buy a set rather than purchase individual wrenches. And with this 4-piece set from Workpro, you get a 6-inch, 8-inch, 10-inch, and 12-inch adjustable wrench, all made from strong chrome-plated steel. While this isn't a professional-level set of tools, it's more than adequate for basic repairs and other commonly handled DIY tasks around the house or garage.
The 6-inch wrench has a 3/4-inch jaw capacity, the 8-inch wrench opens to a maximum of 15/16ths of an inch, the 10-inch wrench has a 1-1/8-inch jaw capacity, and the 12-inch wrench's jaw capacity is 1 5/16-inch. That's slightly below average for crescent wrenches, so you won't want these if your projects often involve very large nuts and bolts, but they will handle the most common sizes of fasteners.
Price at time of publish: $25
Length: 6, 8, 10, 12 inches | Jaw Capacity: Varies | Measurement Scale: SAE | Weight: 3 pounds for the set
Olympia Tool 01-015 15-Inch Adjustable Wrench
Wide jaw capacity
No "teeth" on inner jaw edges for extra grip
This beast of a wrench measures nearly 15 inches in length and weighs almost 3 pounds, so it's going to take up quite a bit of space in your tool box. But if you need a sizable wrench for tightening or loosening equally sizable nuts and bolts, then this is your best choice. Made of chrome-plated alloyed steel, this sturdy tool has a jaw capacity of 1 3/4 inches, and the adjustment knob works smoothly without excessive wiggle or play. A bit unusual for a crescent wrench, this one does not have "teeth" on the inner surface of the jaws for extra grip. That can be a good feature, however, if you are concerned about damaging the object you are turning.
This is a very useful adjustable wrench for automotive work, plumbing or irrigation projects, attaching or detaching trailer or boat hitches, or similar tasks that involve large fasteners. If 15 inches isn't big enough for your needs, Olympia Tool also makes the same wrench in 18-inch and 24-inch sizes. All are reasonably priced, durable options that are good additions to a handyperson's tool box.
Price at time of publish: $13
Length: 14 3/4 inches | Jaw Capacity: 1 3/4 inches | Measurement Scale: SAE | Weight: 2.98 pounds
Best Slim Jaw
ENGINEER TWM-07 Super Thin Jaws Adjustable Wrench
Very thin jaws
No SAE scale
Might be small if you have big hands
Some tasks, such as working on bicycles, garden equipment, furniture, and home appliances, call for an adjustable wrench that has thinner jaws than the average tool, thus allowing you to grasp a small fastener easily. That's when you need a slim-jaw option like this one from ENGINEER. Its extra-thin jaws are only 2 mm thick and are slightly pointed, so you won't struggle to get a grip on small nuts and bolts. Made from chrome-vanadium steel, this is a sturdy tool that will last.
The overall length of the wrench is 6 1/2 inches, and the maximum jaw capacity is 15/16ths of an inch, so this is a fairly small crescent wrench that weighs a mere 4.6 ounces. You won't be able to exert a lot of force with this wrench, but that's not usually a requirement for the fasteners it's sized for. The wrench has a metric scale but no SAE measurements.
Price at time of publish: $26
Length: 6 1/2 inches | Jaw Capacity: 15/16 inches | Measurement Scale: Metric | Weight: 4.6 ounces
Crescent AT210SPUD Adjustable Construction Wrench
Useful spud design
A few complaints of excessive wiggle or play in the jaws
Also called an "adjustable construction wrench," the adjustable spud wrench differs from the typical adjustable wrench with its tapered handle that ends in a point. The pointed end is used to line up bolt holes in various types of construction jobs, such as plumbing, installing parts, or setting up scaffolding. This spud wrench from Crescent is 10 inches long and has a maximum jaw capacity of 1 5/16-inch. It weighs a little less than 1 pound.
The wrench is made of alloy steel with a black oxide finish that resists corrosion and rust. It has a tension spring to help stabilize the jaw and reduce play or wiggle. The tool has both metric and SAE measurements laser-etched between the jaws. The wrench is also available in a 16-inch length if you need a construction wrench for oversize fasteners.
Price at time of publish: $36
Length: 10 inches | Jaw Capacity: 1-5/16 inches | Measurement Scale: Metric and SAE | Weight: 0.95 pounds
Fujiya Tools FLS-28G Pocket-Size Adjustable Wrench
Ideal for tight spaces or small fasteners
If you need a pocket-sized wrench for use on the smallest of fasteners or in the tightest of spaces, then this compact adjustable wrench from Fujiya is our recommendation. This beautifully designed tool measures a mere 4 1/4-inches in length and weighs only 3.6 ounces but still manages to have an impressive jaw capacity of 1 1/8 inches. The jaws are long and narrow for easier grasping of small fasteners and are specially designed to reduce the chances of "rounding off" or damaging nuts and bolts as you turn them.
You won't be bothered with a lot of wiggle or play in the jaws of this tool, which has a smoothly functioning adjustment knob that keeps the wrench steady once in position. The alloy steel wrench has a rubberized grip around the handle to help keep it securely within your grasp. It's marked with a metric scale but not SAE measurements.
Price at time of publish: $24
Length: 4 1/4 inches | Jaw Capacity: 1 1/8 inches | Measurement Scale: Metric | Weight: 3.6 ounces
Best for General Use
Crescent AC210VS 10-Inch Adjustable Wrench
Slightly wider-than-average handle for comfortable grip
Large adjustment knurl
A few complaints that adjustment knurl is rough
If you want a good but basic adjustable wrench for your tool box, then it's hard to go wrong with this tool from Crescent, the company that invented the adjustable wrench over 100 years ago. This heat-treated alloy steel wrench has a chrome finish to ward off corrosion and rust and is designed to fit comfortably in your hand. This model is 10 inches long, which is a very versatile size, but if you want something shorter or longer, Crescent makes those as well. This 10-inch wrench has a maximum jaw capacity of 1 5/16 inch and is marked with both metric and SAE scales.
The handle of the wrench is a bit wider than many similar tools, which makes it easier to grasp firmly and also helps you apply more torque when facing rusted or tight fasteners. The adjustment knob is also a bit larger than average, which makes it easier to turn but doesn't increase jaw wiggle or play. The jaws are designed to grip the fastener tightly without slipping and without stripping or damaging the nut.
Price at time of publish: $18
Length: 10 inches | Jaw Capacity: 1 5/16 inches | Measurement Scale: Metric and SAE | Weight: 0.92 pounds
Best Wide Jaw
Bahco 9033 R US X-Wide 10-Inch Adjustable Wrench
Wide jaw capacity
If you need an adjustable wrench that opens up wider than most, then the Bahco X-Wide is the tool for you. This alloy steel tool with a black phosphate finish measures 10 inches in length and has an impressive maximum jaw capacity of 1 3/4 inches, which is larger than just about any other adjustable wrench of the same length. That means you can tackle oversize fasteners without having to deal with an extra-long wrench that might not be able to turn in the allotted space, and at 1.4 pounds, it isn't too heavy.
The slim head and tapered jaws of the wrench make it ideal for work in confined spaces, such as underneath the sink or behind the toilet. The handle of the wrench is covered in a grippy plastic material that makes it easy and comfortable to hold. While admittedly more expensive than most other options, this tool is ideal for plumbers, electricians, or maintenance workers who regularly need to use a professional-quality wrench in less-than-ideal quarters.
Price at time of publish: $56
Length: 10 inches | Jaw Capacity: 1-3/4 inches | Measurement Scale: SAE and metric | Weight: 1.4 pounds
Best for Plumbing
Proferred Tools T08004 12-Inch Adjustable Plumbing Wrench
Extra-wide jaw capacity
If you do a lot of plumbing work, deal with natural gas fixtures, or even do automotive repairs, then you'll appreciate this adjustable plumbing wrench. With its extra-wide jaw capacity of a whopping 2-1/4 inches, extra thin jaw thickness, and extra deep jaw depth, this 12-inch wrench is the tool of choice for reaching large fasteners that are inconveniently located; something that's just part of the day's work for plumbers and repair workers.
Professional-quality, this wrench is made of steel with a black phosphate finish and a padded ergonomic handle that's easy on your hands, even when you need to apply extra force to turn a stubborn bolt. Both metric and SAE scales are etched into the wrench's jaws. If you need a smaller wrench, Proferred Tools also offers this same model in 6, 8, and 10-inch lengths.
Price at time of publish: $31
Length: 12 inches | Jaw Capacity: 2 1/4 inches | Measurement Scale: Metric and SAE | Weight: 1.9 pounds
Best for Bikes
ENGINEER TWM-08 Stubby Adjustable Wrench
Rubbery ergonomic handle
Ideal for small fasteners or tight spots
Hard to grip if you have large hands
You aren't going to use it for plumbing fixtures, but if you need a compact adjustable wrench t,hat's ideal for work on bicycles, motorcycles, furniture, home appliances, or even musical instruments, then you'll appreciate this stubby wrench from ENGINEER. At a mere 4.3 inches in total length, 0.4 inches in the width of the head, and only 0.08 inches at the tips of the jaws, this tiny adjustable wrench still manages to have a maximum jaw capacity of 15/16ths of an inch. It only weighs 3 ounces, so you can easily stash this wrench in your pocket, tool belt, or tool bag.
The wrench is made of chrome-vanadium steel with an ergonomic, rubbery handle that's comfortable to grip, although if you have large hands, you might find it a bit small. Still, for precision work on small fasteners, this is the wrench to own. It has metric, but not SAE, measurements marked between the jaws.
Price at time of publish: $22
Length: 4.3 inches | Jaw Capacity: 15/16 inches | Measurement Scale: Metric | Weight: 3 ounces
If you want an adjustable wrench that has a wide jaw capacity without being excessively long, feels comfortable in your hand, and has thin jaws that reach into tight spaces to easily grasp smaller fasteners, then we recommend the Channellock WideAzz 8-Inch Adjustable Wrench. But if you are looking for a set of adjustable wrenches to cover the most common sizes, then the Workpro 4-Piece Set, which includes a 6-inch, 8-inch, 10-inch, and 12-inch adjustable wrench is your best bet and is reasonably priced to boot.
What to Look for in An Adjustable Wrench
Every tool box should have at least one adjustable wrench, or crescent wrench if you prefer to call it that. These basic tools are your go-to when loosening or tightening nuts and bolts, plumbing fixtures, hose sockets, and other fasteners and fittings that need more than your own finger strength to turn. Here are some of the most important factors to consider when choosing your wrench.
The length of an adjustable wrench refers to the entire tool. The most common sizes are 8 inches, 10 inches, or 12 inches, but there are wrenches as short as 4 inches and beasts that are 2 feet in length. As a general rule, the longer the wrench, the more torque (turning force) you can apply, but the more difficult it is to fit the tool into a tight space. Most people will find that an 8-inch or 10-inch adjustable wrench is sufficient for common uses around the house or yard.
If you’ll be using your wrench on large nuts and bolts, you’ll need a tool with enough jaw capacity to open wide enough to fit around the fastener. Typically, the longer the wrench, the wider its jaw capacity. As a very rough guideline, the average 8-inch wrench has a 1 1/8-inch jaw capacity, the average 10-inch wrench opens to a maximum of 1 1/4-inch, and the average 12-inch crescent wrench has a 1 1/2-inch jaw capacity. However, some manufacturers make adjustable wrenches that have extra-wide jaw capacities on shorter-length tools.
It can be difficult to fit a regular wrench around small fasteners or into tight spots. For those situations, an adjustable wrench with “thin” or “slim” jaws is the solution. These wrenches are especially useful for more delicate work, such as repairing bicycles or other items with small nuts and bolts. Note that the slim jaws don’t necessarily mean the wrench has an equally slim jaw capacity; many of these wrenches have the typical length and jaw capacity of regular wrenches, it’s only the tool’s jaws that are slimmer than those on a more typical tool.
Adjustable wrenches are designed with a knob that you can turn with your thumb to open and close the tool’s jaws. A good wrench has an adjustment knob—it's also called the "knurl"—that’s easy to turn, but not so loose that there’s “wiggle” or excessive play in the sliding jaw. Take a look at the adjustment knob of any wrench you are considering: As a very rough rule of thumb, a better wrench will have four threads on the knob, while lower-quality tools will have three. The extra thread can provide steadier performance with less wiggle, but the difference can be quite slight.
Many adjustable wrenches have bare metal handles, but the handle should be designed to sit comfortably in your hand without pinching or digging into your flesh. There are also adjustable wrenches with lightly padded or rubberized handles, which can be a little bit more comfortable to use, as well as easier to grip, should your hands get wet or sweaty.
Most adjustable wrenches have a measurement scale marked out on the head of the tool, which is helpful when you need precision. Most wrenches have a measurement scale in both SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) and metric, with one measurement scale on each side of the wrench, but there are some adjustable wrenches that only have metric scales, and a few with only SAE scales. If that's an important consideration for your needs, be sure to check before buying.
What's the difference between an adjustable wrench and a crescent wrench?
The first adjustable wrench was produced by the Crescent Tool Company in the early 1900s. These early adjustable wrenches were often called "crescent wrenches" after the brand, and the name has stuck. An adjustable wrench and a crescent wrench are the same thing. You might also hear this tool referred to as a "spanner," which is the commonly used term in the UK.
What is an adjustable wrench used for?
Adjustable wrenches are used to turn nuts and bolts or to tighten or loosen other types of fittings, especially those used in plumbing or on large equipment. Depending on the size of the wrench, the tool might be used to loosen or tighten small fasteners on furniture or on a bicycle, to loosen a frozen garden hose fastener, to turn rusted plumbing fittings, or to make repairs on a car, motorcycle, or construction equipment.
What's the best length for an adjustable wrench?
When it comes to the best length for a crescent wrench, the answer is: It depends. While longer wrenches allow you to apply more torque—turning power—to the tool, which makes it easier to loosen tight, rusted, or frozen bolts, a long wrench might be difficult or impossible to turn in a confined space. Many DIYers, handypeople, or contractors like to keep a variety of adjustable wrenches on hand, with different lengths and jaw capacities. That makes it possible to match the right tool to whatever situation you are currently facing.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Michelle Ullman is the home improvement/tool expert for The Spruce. She has extensive experience not only in writing about all things related to the home, but also in carrying out various DIY projects, including landscaping, painting, flooring, wallpapering, furniture makeovers, and simple repairs around the house and yard.
For this roundup, she considered dozens of adjustable wrenches, evaluating each for durability, jaw capacity, versatility, ergonomics, and overall value. She also considered feedback from customers, both positive and negative. Deane Biermeier, a licensed carpenter and contractor, as well as a member of The Spruce’s Home Review Board, provided further input.