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Best Wrench Sets

Updated August 2018
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 14 Models Considered
  • 68 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 98 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best wrench sets

    Last Updated August 2018

    Everyone needs a good wrench set. Wrenches are indispensable for dozens of jobs around the house and yard. If you’re an infrequent user, you might do fine with a budget wrench set; there are plenty available on today’s market. If you’re looking for something more professional, you have an equally wide choice.

    At BestReviews, we identified the wrench sets that offer solutions to every need. In terms of performance and value, the products in the chart above are as good as it gets.

    We also put together the guide below, which provides more detail about wrenches: the different types available, features to look for, and how much you should expect to pay.

    The popular term “monkey wrench” has nothing to do with animals! It comes from the name of man who invented it: Charles Moncky.

    Types of wrenches

    All wrenches do essentially the same job: they loosen and tighten nuts, bolts, and other fixings. However, there are differences between wrenches that you need to know about before selecting one for a job.

    Box wrench

    The box wrench encloses the nut or bolt much more securely, and the ratcheting box wrench is an improvement on this design. The ratchet allows you to rotate the wrench so you can continue working without removing it.

    Combination wrench

    The combination wrench is open on one end and boxed on the other. It’s popular because it can be used easily in a number of situations.

    A versatile solution, made to last

    Craftsman tools have delivered reliable performance and excellent value for generations. This 20-piece combination set, with both SAE and metric combination wrenches, continues the tradition. The wrenches are designed with ease of use in mind and are accurately forged and finished. The “Forever” guarantee ensures that quality standards are upheld.

    Open-ended wrench

    The open-ended wrench is arguably the most common wrench, and it is certainly the most simple. To use it, you slot it over a nut or bolt and turn it. The problem with open-ended wrenches is that they tend to slip off under pressureas many a scraped knuckle will testify. Because an open-ended wrench fits from the side, it can be used where access is restricted.

    Adjustable/pipe wrench

    Another common tool is the adjustable wrench or pipe wrench. With its expanding (and sometimes reversible) jaws, a single adjustable wrench can do the work of several open or box wrenches.

    The drawback is that the adjusting mechanism can get in the way, and the jaws have a tendency to work loose, causing slips. You could inadvertently round the corners off the nut or bolt, too. Still, an adjustable wrench offers lots of versatility, and we recommend one for every toolbox.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    A wrench shouldn’t be perfectly flat. The ends should be angled slightly so you have space to grip the tool without banging your knuckles every time you try to turn.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Box ends usually have six or 12 points. Most people find that 12-point ends are quicker to fit, but six-point ends have more bearing surface, so more force can be applied.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    In general, the bigger the nut, the more leverage you might need to undo it. That’s why you usually see the tools in a wrench set get progressively longer as they get bigger.

    Wrench set features

    All good wrenches are made from a chrome vanadium alloy. They’re almost always drop forged, which means they are pressed out of a molten ingot under very high pressure. Chrome plating is common, though some have a black magnetite finish. Both chrome plating and black magnetite resist rust nicely.

    Since the metal in all good wrenches is more or less the same, what are the differences between products, and what should you be looking for?

    • Range: Your most important shopping decision pertains to the range of wrenches you need. We’ve seen sets with as few as five and as many as thirty pieces. You also need to decide whether you want inch, metric (mm), or a combination of both.

    • Accuracy: After being forged, wrenches need further finishing to remove excess material and mold marks. The quality of this finishing makes a difference in how accurate the wrench is. Cheaper wrenches tend to be looser with a weaker grip and a greater chance of slipping.

    • Ratcheting arc: With ratchets, you don’t want to have to move the wrench very far to reset it. This is called the ratcheting arc, and the the smaller the arc, the better.

    • Leverage: The more leverage you have, the easier it is to apply torque (turning force) to the fastener, whether you’re loosening or tightening. However, there are times when your work space may be restricted. Short (stubby) wrenches are one solution in this scenario; offset wrenches are another.

    • Storage: It can be infuriating trying to find a missing wrench at the bottom of your toolbox! You may thank yourself later if you buy a wrench set that includes storage.

    Comprehensive wrench set at a budget price

    If you want a low-cost, high-value wrench set, the GRIP 89358 deserves a close look. It’s got both imperial and metric wrenches that are open on one end and ratcheting on the other. It has all the features we’ve discussed, and it comes in a handy tool roll with eyelets in case you want to hang it on the garage wall.

    Wrench set prices

    You can get a budget wrench set for around $25 that will have a couple dozen tools. At the other end of the scale, you can get a high-quality set from a well-known brand that might include half as many wrenches for five times the cost.

    So which price is right for you? If you’re an occasional wrench user, a low-cost wrench set – plus an adjustable wrench – will probably cover all the tasks you’ll ever need do. If you’re going to use your wrenches regularly, however, it’s worth investing a bit extra.

    Tools from a premium manufacturer can be considerably more expensive, but when you invest in better tools, you often get a lifetime guarantee.

    If you’re in a quandary over which wrench set to buy, we advise you to stick with a few good-quality tools rather than a lot of cheap ones. Quality wrenches, though they may cost a bit extra, are more durable and also tend to be more accurate.

    FAQ

    Q. What does SAE mean on wrench sets?

    A. SAE stands for the Society of Automotive Engineers. SAE tools are measured in inches and fractions of an inch. You might also see ASME, which is the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, on wrench sets. These acronyms reflect standards used by different bodies.

    The only additional marking you might see on metric wrenches is ISO. This is the International Standards Organization, and it means the wrenches conform to a particular degree of accuracy.

    Q. What are wrenches made of?

    A. Almost all wrenches are made of tool steel, a carbon steel alloy. The exact chemistry varies depending on the purpose of the finished item. Some can be brittle, so the alloy used for wrenches usually includes chrome and vanadium. These make for a very hard tool, but one that has ductility – a little bit of give. They’re less likely to fracture under pressure. Chrome also resists rust, although many wrenches have chrome plating for further protection.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Bob
      Bob
      Writer
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer
      Writer
    • Melissa
      Melissa
      Senior Editor