October 3, 2022
crescent wrenches

Popular Mechanics; Courtesy Crescent

Along with a hammer, tape measure and screwdriver, a crescent wrench is an essential part of any well-rounded toolkit. These handy tools have two jaws—one stationary and one that can be moved back and forth—allowing you to adjust the size of the wrench’s opening to fit a wide range of fasteners. This means that a single crescent wrench can essentially do the job of an entire set of fixed wrenches. Crescent wrenches almost always have size markings on the jaw itself, making it easy to set the correct size before you get to work.

We’ve personally used our crescent wrench as a caliper as well, using the size markings to accurately measure a fastener that needs to be replaced, or the diameter of tubing, without having to dig for a tape measure.

The Best Crescent Wrenches

What to Consider

The first thing to consider when choosing a crescent wrench is the size of fasteners you’re going to be using it on. All crescent wrenches will clearly state the maximum size their jaws can open, sometimes called the wrench’s “capacity,” so it’s fairly simple to figure out if your fasteners will fit or not. If you’re not sure what you’ll be using your wrench on, err on the larger side. A bulkier wrench that can still fit your bolts is definitely preferable over one that won’t fit them at all. If you really want to maximize the range of fasteners you can work with, consider choosing a set of crescent wrenches.

You should also think about how much torque you’re going to need. Generally speaking, the longer the wrench, the more torque you’re going to be able to apply. If you know you’ll be tackling stubborn fasteners, and you don’t mind the extra length, go with a longer option. On the other hand, if you’re going to be working with smaller components, like during bicycle maintenance, you can get away with a shorter wrench that’s going to be more convenient to use.

It’s worth noting that crescent wrenches are sometimes called “adjustable wrenches,” although not all adjustable wrenches are crescent wrenches (monkey wrenches and slip joint wrenches would also be considered “adjustable” wrenches, too). To make things even more confusing, “Crescent” is also a brand name of crescent wrenches.

How We Selected

We’ve used a variety of crescent wrenches over the years for plumbing tasks around the apartment, assembling furniture, roadside vehicle repair, and much more. We used this experience to help assemble our list of options, keeping in mind what would be most useful to the average individual, as well as providing options that run the gamut in terms of size and price. Our experience working in commercial factory settings also gave us an appreciation for “spud wrenches” (crescent wrenches with a tapered end for prying), so we made sure to include at least one of those, as well.

Whether you’re a beginner DIY-er looking for a tool to have on hand for occasional maintenance tasks, or a seasoned pro with a specific job in mind, you’re sure to find an option that suits your needs below.

For more great additions to your tool set, check out our picks for the best cordless drills, needle-nose pliers, and electric screwdrivers.

1

Best Overall

9071 R US Adjustable Wrench

  • High-quality construction
  • Black-oxide finish
  • Thermo-plastic grip is more durable than rubber

Key Specs

  • Length: 8 inches
  • Jaw Capacity: 1.25 inches
  • Weight: 1 pound

This Bahco wrench combines maneuverability and durability, thanks to a slim jaw profile and heavy-duty construction. The wide handle and thermo-plastic coating allow you to maintain a solid grip while you work, and the black phosphate finish will resist rust and corrosion over time.

Its 8-inch length should be sufficient for most day-to-day tasks, and the etched jaw measurements make it easy to quickly adjust the jaw size to your fastener. Plus, the slim head is convenient for use in tight or awkward areas.

2

Best Budget-Friendly Option

VISE-GRIP 2078610 Adjustable Crescent Wrench

  • Low price
  • Standard and metric measurements
  • Cushioned grip

Key Specs

  • Length: 10 inches
  • Jaw Capacity: 1 1/4 inches
  • Weight: 13 ounces

If you’re just looking for a basic wrench to have on hand for occasional use, and don’t have the budget for a higher-end option, this Irwin model could be a great fit. It’s priced significantly lower than most wrenches, but still offers helpful features like a measurement scale on the jaw—with both standard and metric scales—and a comfortable, extra-thick cushioned handle.

Its 10-inch size is large enough to generate the necessary leverage to dislodge stubborn bolts, and Irwin offers a lifetime guarantee if any issues arise.

3

Best Wrench Set

AC26810CV 3-Piece Crescent Wrench Set

  • Good value for the price
  • Comfortable grip
  • Standard and metric measurements

Key Specs

  • Length: 6, 8, and 10 inches
  • Jaw Capacity: 5/16, 1 1/8, and 1 5/16 inches
  • Weight: 6, 9.6, and 16 ounces

If you want to be prepared for a wide range of fastener sizes and working environments, this 3-piece set will have you covered. We’ve always been a big fan of Crescent brand wrenches, and this set highlights the brand’s strengths.

Their alloy steel bodies are tough enough to withstand a decent amount of abuse, and thanks to both the standard and metric measurements they offer, you’ll be able to quickly size them to whatever fastener you end up working with.

We’re also fans of the bright orange color of the dipped grips, which make them easy to locate in a cluttered toolbox or garage.

4

Best for Extra-Large Fasteners

9033 R US Ergo X-Wide Adjustable Wrench

  • 1 3/4-inch-wide jaws
  • Durable handle grip
  • May be too bulky for smaller fasteners

Key Specs

  • Length: 10 inches
  • Jaw Capacity: 1 3/4 inches
  • Weight: 1.36 pounds

Boasting a super-wide jaw capacity of 1 3/4 inches, this Bahco wrench can handle large fasteners commonly found in plumbing, electrical, or equipment maintenance work.

Despite the wide jaw, this wrench is surprisingly slim, and combined with the tapered jaw shape, can really come in handy when accessing fasteners in cramped areas. The Thermo-plastic handle, found on all Bahco wrenches, ensures that even if working in especially cold or hot conditions, it will remain cool to the touch. The large hole at the bottom of the handle is also big enough to be used for bending wire or pins.

5

Best Slim Jaw

806SW Xtra Slim Crescent Wrench

  • Easy to fit in small areas
  • Laser-etched measurements

Key Specs

  • Length: 6 inches
  • Jaw Capacity: 15/16 inch
  • Weight: 4.2 ounces

Sometimes a fastener doesn’t give you much surface area to grab onto, or is just too small for a normal wrench to grip effectively. This Channellock wrench uses an offset jaw shape that allows one side to be extremely slim—just 3/16 inches—while still providing 6 inches of handle to generate leverage.

We’ve used similar wrenches for dealing with slim pipe fittings, and several customers commented on this model’s ability to reach between frame and wheel components while performing bicycle maintenance. The slim jaws won’t be durable enough for heavy-duty use, though, so keep that in mind.

6

Best Spud Wrench

AT215SPUD Adjustable Construction Wrench

  • Spring-loaded knurl for maximum precision
  • Durable enough to take a lot of abuse
  • Expensive
  • Too bulky for smaller tasks

Key Specs

  • Length: 16 inches
  • Jaw Capacity: 1 1/2 inches
  • Weight: 2.35 pounds

This beefy, 16-inch wrench is long enough to generate a serious amount of torque, and a black oxide finish ensures that it will take a licking and keep on ticking. The handle tapers into a round tang—a “spud wrench”—which is extremely useful for aligning bolt holes when working with large hardware or building components, or just for general prying tasks.

The textured finish still provides a good amount of grip, and you don’t have to worry about a rubber or plastic handle getting ripped or torn during use.

7

Best Compact Option

AC24CVS 4-Inch Adjustable Cushion Grip Crescent Wrench

  • Comfortable handle
  • Low price
  • Laser-etched standard and metric measurements

Key Specs

  • Length: 4 inches
  • Jaw Capacity: 1/2 inches
  • Weight: 2.4 ounces

We love little wrenches like this 4-inch model from Crescent, and since they’re so easy to keep in your pocket or backpack, they’re readily available when you need them. This model is perfect for accessing hard to reach fasteners, and the short design allows it to pivot in places that longer wrenches could not. The dipped handle provides a nice grip, and as long as you don’t toss it around too much, it should hold up for a long time.

At this low price, there’s really no reason not to grab one or two and keep around the house or garage.

8

Best Splurge

9035 R US Ergo Adjustable Crescent Wrench

  • High-quality grip
  • Precision knurl operation
  • Very wide jaws
  • Expensive
  • Not a practical choice for occasional use

Key Specs

  • Length: 12 inches
  • Jaw Capacity: 2 3/16 inches
  • Weight: 35 ounces

If price is no issue, and you’re looking for a high-quality tool that can tackle a wide range of tasks, this Bahco wrench could be worth the investment. Its huge jaw size of 2 3/16 inches allows it to fit around large fasteners, but the tapered head also makes it great for sizing up smaller components, as well. The ergonomic, thermo-plastic handle ensures a comfortable and sturdy grip, even if your hands get wet or greasy.

The knurl provides an extremely precise size selection, and it won’t rattle or loosen up like lower-quality products.

9

Best Budget Set

4-Piece Adjustable Wrench Set

  • Four different sizes
  • Etched measurements
  • Low price
  • May have durability issues down the line

Key Specs

  • Length: 6, 8, 10, and 12 inches
  • Jaw Capacity: 3/4, 15/16, 1 1/8, and 1 5/16 inches
  • Weight: N/A

They’re probably not going to be durable enough for everyday use, but if you just want a basic set of wrenches to have you prepared for occasional household tasks, this set could be a great choice. Even at such a low price, you’re still getting four different tools, ranging from 6 to 12 inches in length, all of which include standard and metric measurements.

Even if you already have a set of high-end wrenches, it could be worth picking up a set of these and keeping them around as a backup in your glovebox or toolkit.

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