One versatile tool turns nuts big and small
Instead of the knurled worm gear we associate with a Crescent wrench, this one's jaws adjust with a sliding knob. It's quicker and more intuitive than thumbing a gear, plus the jaws lock under pressure. It's a good tool to have in your kit for light-duty tasks around the home.
8-inch, about $15; Crescent
The extra-large jaws on this 1½-pound cast-iron plumbing wrench get a secure hold on any fitting a homeowner might encounter: eight-sided nuts, square nuts, unions, and packing nuts up to 2⅝ inches in diameter. The offset jaws and short handle make the tool more compact than a comparable straight-handled wrench, useful when you're working in tight spaces, such as under the sink.
9½-inch, about $35; ridgid.com
For all-around ease of use, it's tough to top this Knipex plier-wrench, which gets the editor's nod for its versatility. Its slim, satin-smooth jaws can reach nuts inaccessible to other tools, or put the squeeze on plated plumbing fixtures up to 2⅜ inches in diameter without damaging the finish. The unique cam-action design multiplies grip strength tenfold.
12-inch, about $45; knipex.com
This is the tool you need for scarred, rounded-over nuts. The Raptor's beak-shaped jaws grab firmly enough to turn even badly damaged fasteners up to 1¼ inches across. Fifteen jaw settings help keep the handle grip comfortable.
10-inch, about $45; knipex.com
This second-generation Bionic tool has a locking grip, so you don't need Superman's strength to keep the four serrated jaws engaged as you turn. the open-ended design fits nuts from ¾ to ½ inch, but the tool tends to hold best on large sizes, when the jaws are extended the least.
8-inch, about $30; loggerheadtools.com
The jaws really are wide—eight-inch handle wrenches, like this one, usually only have inch-wide jaws. It gives you an extra half-inch, accommodating more nuts and bolts in smaller spaces. Plus the adjustment is precise, the slim jaws firmly hold their setting, and the rubber grip is nice for heavy-torque turning.
8-inch, about $25; channellock.com
Crescent's new R2 RapidRench is easy to adjust, it locks securely, it ratchets in either direction, the jaws aren't impossibly large, the handle is rubberized for comfort, and best of all, it'll fit onto hex nuts, square nuts, and eye bolts no problem. The adjustment range is ¼ inch to ⅞ inch so it's not the universal answer, but it'll do for most of the nuts and bolts around your homestead.
8½ inch, about $45; Crescent