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Many household tasks, repairs, and DIY projects require the use of at least one wrench, but not every nut, bolt, and fitting have the same size, so it's necessary to invest in a set of wrenches if you plan on tackling more than one project. The best wrench sets often come in a durable, blown plastic case that protects the wrenches from being damaged when they are not in use.
A case can also have labeled slots for each wrench, allowing you to keep the tools neatly organized. After all, it's much easier to retrieve the right wrench when the set is properly labeled. Keep in mind that wrenches don't just come in different sizes, they also come in different types and styles. Take a look at the list of carefully selected picks below, then keep reading for more information on how to choose the best wrench set for your workshop or garage.
Best Overall: GEARWRENCH 20-Piece Ratcheting Wrench Set
Balance is key to a dependable tool, and, if you’re in the market for a wrench set that combines functionality, affordability, and variety, then GearWrench’s 20-Piece Ratcheting Wrench Set is sure to be a welcome addition to your tool belt. With a whopping total of 20 sizes, 10 metric and 10 SAE, these double-sided wrenches—which boast both open and box ends—have got you covered. The wrenches you’ll find in this patented set range from 1/4” to 3/4" (SAE), and from 6mm to 18mm (metric).
Ideal for both professional automotive mechanics and amateur tool shed tinkerers, GearWrench’s products are known for their unparalleled strength—in fact, they meet or exceed a variety of torque specifications. And according to satisfied customers, these wrenches can really take a beating, meaning you’ll never have to worry about being a little too rough with them. Not only are they durable, but they boast slim head shanks that allow easy access to even the tightest spaces.
Satisfied buyers swear by the GearWrench 20-Piece Ratcheting Wrench Set. For a great selection of wrenches at unparalleled value, this set is a must-have for both the professional who uses his tools every day and the aspiring home handyman.
Best Budget: Crescent CCWS2 SAE Combination Wrench Set
If your career doesn’t require you to have the most cutting-edge tools around—or if you primarily use your tools for more minor projects—there’s nothing wrong with opting for a more affordable alternative to a higher-end set of wrenches like the 10-piece Crescent CCWS2 SAE Combination Wrench Set. This set contains ten SAE-sized, mirror polish-finished wrenches—ranging from 1/4” to 3/4”—that are perfect for a variety of smaller jobs, whether you’re a hobbyist or a seasoned pro.
It’s a big win for a hobbyist on a budget, but that doesn’t mean this set of heat-treated chrome vanadium alloy steel wrenches sacrifices quality to keep your wallet heavy. Crescent’s wrenches—specifically, their box ends—utilize surface drive technology to eliminate the wearing down, or “rounding,” of fasteners. Resistant to both abrasion and corrosion, these wrenches are a great buy, whether you intend to use them as backups or as your primary tools. Buyers even report them to be on par with many higher end sets. If anything, this set seems considerably underpriced—and that’s a good thing.
Best High-End: GearWrench 9602 Reversible Combination Ratcheting Wrench Set
Whether they’re fresh out of an apprenticeship or ready for retirement, no mechanic can resist a brand new set of GearWrench ratcheting wrenches. Not only do these professional grade wrenches share the same surface drive technology as their lower-end counterparts, but they possess reversible ratcheting capabilities, 15-degree offset on their box ends—key for protecting users’ knuckles from harm—and a gorgeous polished chrome finish. The wrenches you’ll find in this set range from 8mm to 25mm.
GearWrench’s 16-piece set—which comes with a free storage caddy—is a perfect first wrench set for entry-level technicians or amateur automotive aficionados. Working on older cars or imports means that bigger ratcheting wrenches—like GearWrench’s 24mm and 25mm pieces—are an absolute must.
Best Open-End: Craftsman Standard and Metric Flare Nut Wrench Set
If you’re in the automotive repair business, consider the Craftsman 9 Piece Standard and Metric Flare Nut Wrench Set your next go-to tool kit. Flare nut wrenches engage more corners of a fastener—they have a wider contact area—making them the ideal tool for removing and replacing nuts on fuel lines, brake lines, and other automotive parts that are prone to rounding and deforming. These steel alloy wrenches come in four of the most common SAE sizes and five of the most common metric sizes, ranging from 3/8” x 7/16” to 3/4” x 7/8”, and 9mm x 11mm to 19mm x 21mm.
Many satisfied buyers report putting these wrenches to good use on softer metals and worn-out nuts—materials that would otherwise slip through a wrench with less grip. Aesthetically, these tools are pleasing to the eye; they come in a beautiful polished silver that is sure to make you the envy of the guys at the garage. Craftsman is a brand you can trust.
Best Ratcheting: GEARWRENCH 9312 13-Piece SAE Master Ratcheting Wrench Set
Backyard mechanics and automotive professionals can rest easy knowing that the GearWrench 9312 SAE Master Ratcheting Wrench Set makes working in tight, restrictive areas—like the engine of your beloved ‘74 Lamborghini—a breeze. This set of 13 polished silver wrenches range in size from 5/16” to 1 ¼”. They also boast GearWrench’s patented surface drive technology on the box end of each wrench for optimum grip—and to prevent rounding, which could make it impossible to remove nuts in the future.
GearWrench combines the speed of a ratchet with the ease of a standard wrench—that’s why their wrenches boast 5-degree ratchet control and take less work to finish every job. When you’re done for the day, organizing your wrenches is easy thanks to the molded wrench rack that comes free with your purchase of this set.
Whether you’re restoring a classic car or performing routine work on your priceless ride, this set courtesy of GearWrench has every wrench you need for working in hard-to-reach places that you just can’t seem to access with your trusty socket wrench.
Best for Automotive Professionals: Sunex Tools 9930 SAE Stubby Combination Wrench Set
Sunex puts automotive professionals first, arming them with the tools they need for the trade. Crafted from only the finest grade alloy steel, the wrenches you’ll find in the Stubby Combination Wrench Set combine an open end wrench with a box end wrench to result in one excellent tool. Not only are these wrenches tough and durable, but their size and shape are perfect for working in cramped spaces—like under your car’s hood—meaning you spend less time working on your car and more time driving it. Sunex’s set includes wrenches ranging from 3/8" to 1"in size.
Sunex’s tools are just the right size, fit, and finish for a variety of jobs. When it’s time to clean up, just slip your new favorite wrenches into their complimentary heavy-duty canvas pouch and roll them up for easy and safe storage. Mechanics love these little stubby wrenches—in fact, Sunex’s satisfied customers all seem to agree that this is one high-quality set with a price tag that can’t be beat.
Best Offset: WORKPRO Box End Wrench Set
Offset wrenches are unique in that they’re bent on either end to accommodate for tight squeezes and awkward nut and bolt placement. Due to their odd shape, these wrenches serve extremely specific functions—but that doesn’t mean it’s not important to have them on hand in case a situation arises when they’re needed.
WORKPRO’s Box End Wrench Set is an excellent set to keep in your trunk or tool shed on the off-chance you’ll need one. This set includes wrenches ranging from 6mm x 7mm to 20mm x 22mm.
These offset wrenches are made of heat-treated vanadium steel—in other words, they’re as nifty to look at as they are tough, so don’t let their slender forms fool you. The elements don’t stand a chance against them, as these wrenches are coated with a rust-resistant chrome-plated finish. Finally, a free storage rack rounds off this affordable set of offset wrenches.
If you’re in the automotive repair business, chances are you’re going to run into a problem that an old-fashioned wrench just can’t handle. That may very well be when Sunex’s offset wrenches come in handy.
What to Look for in a Wrench Set
Type of Wrenches
A set of wrenches may contain just one type of wrench, or it could come as a variety pack with more than one type of wrench, so it's important to know enough about the various types to be able to recognize and differentiate between them. Some of the most common types of wrenches include combination, open-end, socket, and torque wrenches.
- Combination wrenches are the most common option for standard wrenches. They have an open-end side that is shaped like a crescent and a box-end side that is fully enclosed with a circular opening filled with teeth to grip the fitting. The open-end side is great for sliding the wrench into tight spaces, while the box-end side is better for loosening stuck fasteners.
- Open-end wrenches can also be known as crescent wrenches. They are similar to combination wrenches, except that they have two open-ended sides, instead of a single open-end side paired with a box-end side. The two open-ended sides are typically different sizes, giving the users two wrench sizes in one tool.
- Socket wrenches are made to be used with a variety of sockets, so the user doesn't need to change the handle of the wrench. Just choose the socket that fits the target nut, bolt, or fitting and attach it to the head of the wrench. In most cases, a socket wrench also has a ratcheting mechanism to allow it to apply force in one direction while spinning freely in the other direction. This makes it easier to crank the wrench without having to lift the socket off of the fitting to reposition it after every turn.
- Torque wrenches are specialized tools that can only be used for tightening fittings. They are not made for loosening fittings. Set the wrench to the desired torque level and begin tightening the fitting. When the fitting reaches the desired torque level the user will be notified by a sound, like a beep or click, to indicate that the wrench is no longer tightening the nut.
Number of Pieces
One of the main reasons to invest in a wrench set is that the set comes with more than one wrench, giving you a variety of sizes or types for different projects. The number of tools or accessories that are included in the wrench set is referred to as the number of pieces by the manufacturers. Small wrench sets can have as few as two tools included in the bundle, while large wrench sets can quickly exceed 100 pieces, though some pieces may be simple accessories and not full wrenches.
When looking for a wrench set, take some time to inspect the product details where the manufacturer typically notes the number of pieces in the set, as well as listing the exact tools or accessories that are included. Keep in mind that the more pieces in a set, the more expensive the set will be. Also, watch out for wrench sets that include the case as one of the pieces.
Size is a necessary consideration for just about any tool because you need to be certain that the tool can be used on the target fitting. A wrench can be measured in both length and fitting size. The length is important because, in some compact areas, a long wrench will be unusable, while in other situations a long wrench may be the only method for reaching the nut, bolt, or fitting.
The fitting size of each wrench is measured in inches (in) or millimeters (mm). If the wrench is measured in inches then it follows the SAE standard method of measurement, while millimeters are used for wrench sizes in the metric system. Many fitting sizes differ enough between the two measurement systems that a SAE wrench cannot be used on a metric fitting and a metric wrench cannot be used on a SAE fitting.
To make sure that you have the correct wrench for the job, it's recommended to invest in a wrench set that offers both SAE and metric wrenches.
What is a combination wrench?
Combination wrenches are one of the most common types of wrenches. They feature an open jaw at one end that can fit around a nut or bolt, and they have a box-end at the other side of the wrench that slips over top of a fitting.
How do you use a socket wrench set?
Sockets are made to fit over nuts, bolts, and other fasteners, while a socket wrench can adapt to many different sockets according to the size. Use a socket wrench by attaching a suitable socket and placing the socket over the target nut or bolt. Turn in the desired direction to either loosen or tighten the fitting.
Ratcheting socket wrenches will be able to be turned in the opposite direction without applying force to the fitting. This makes it easier to apply force in one direction, then reverse the wrench to reposition it without removing the socket from the fitting. Non-ratcheting socket wrenches will need to be removed from the fitting and realigned before they can be turned again.
How do you set a torque wrench?
Some torque wrenches automatically display the amount of torque being applied, with no limiter, but if you are using a torque wrench with a specific limit then this can typically be set by adjusting the dial on the handle of the wrench. Digital torque wrenches can be set with the buttons on the digital display.
Once set, the torque wrench can be used to tighten nuts and bolts to the desired torque level. It will beep, click, or prevent further movement once the set torque level has been reached, notifying the user that the nut or bolt is secure.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Additional research for this article is provided by Timothy Dale, a seasoned home improvement expert who specializes in a number of topics, including plumbing, construction, and product recommendations.