Adjustable wrenches are one of the most useful hand tools you can have. Adjustable wrenches come in many sizes. This keeps you from having to go back for the right size.

A monkey wrench is not the same as an adjustable wrench because it is a type of adjustable wrench. An adjustable wrench is a category of tools with many entries.

Many adjustable wrenches can be used across several different jobs. They can be used in everything from plumbing to automotive work.

The Common Types of Adjustable Wrenches?

When doing work on vehicles or under your sink, an adjustable wrench can save a lot of headaches. Monkey wrenches are especially adept at working with pipes.

NameJaw StyleCommon Uses
Pipe WrenchToothedGripping round pipes
Monkey WrenchSmoothAutomotive, tight spaces
Crescent WrenchSmoothJack-of-all-trades
Plumber’s WrenchSmoothWorking under sinks
Hex Wrench SmoothPipe wrench with smooth jaws
Basin WrenchToothedFastening nuts on drains, faucets, etc.

Since there are so many types of wrenches available, no matter the job you are working on, we will go over the most common types of wrenches on the market today.

A Wide Variety of Uses for Adjustable Wrenches

There is an adage that states you need the right tool for the right job. Having the right tool or wrench for the right job will save you a lot of agony on many projects.

Adjustable wrenches are the jack-of-all-trades of the wrench world. 

The trade-off of having a wrench with all sizes in one wrench is that they can slip easier than non-adjustable wrenches.

Whether you are a professional or a do-it-yourself weekend warrior, a good wrench is worth its weight in gold.

Pipe Wrenches

Pipe wrenches come in all shapes and sizes. 

They are usually tooth jawed with a stationary bottom jaw and an adjustable top jaw that is adjusted with a worm gear via a thumb screw.

Self-adjusting pipe wrenches are another style of pipe wrench. The self-adjusting pipe wrench allows the wrench to adjust itself to the shape and size of the pipe being worked on.

There are many more styles of pipe wrenches; these are just the most common ones seen around the US. They also have multi-angled varieties and specialty models.

Horudsdy 4 Pack Pipe Wrench Set$$
Boeray 2 Pack Self-Adjusting Pipe Wrench$$

Pipe wrenches teeth are great at grabbing onto round pipes and provide great leverage. They can also mar the surface of the pipe due to their hardened steel construction.

Monkey Wrenches

Monkey wrenches are often confused with a tooth-jawed pipe wrench, but they are a different tool altogether. 

Where a pipe wrench’s jaws are perpendicular to the handle, a monkey wrench has jaws parallel to the handle. They also tend to have smooth jaws.

The smooth jaws help the wrench from marring the surface of the material. They also are used to getting into tight places due to their typically thin frame.

Engineer Monkey Wrench$
Doitool Maintentence Monkey Wrench$

The most common uses for a monkey wrench are almost always plumbing or automotive related due to the tight spaces common to those two fields.

Adjustable Combination Wrenches (AKA as Crescent Wrenches)

The adjustable combination wrench became known as a Crescent wrench because the Crescent company made the tool’s first and most popular model.

They typically have a stationary jaw with an adjustable jaw driven by thumb-turned worm gear. The jaws are also parallel to the handle of the tool.

Irwin Vise-Grip Crescent Wrench Set$$
Crescent 3 Pc. Cush Grip Wrench Set$$

The Crescent wrench is the jack-of-all-trades adjustable wrench and by far the most common variety. 

If used correctly, you can use a Crescent wrench to tackle just about any job.

Plumber’s Wrench or Slip Nut Wrench

A plumber’s wrench, or slip nut wrench, looks similar to a Crescent wrench with jaws parallel to the handle and a worm gear. However, they tend to come in fewer size options.

The most common sizes tend to be between 1 and 3 inches due to the standard pipe and fitting sizes used in household plumbing; the slip nut wrenches are the most common use place.

Armour Line Plumber’s Slip Nut Wrench$
Amazon Basics 8-in. Plumber’s Wrench$

The plumber’s wrench or slip nut wrench is more of a specialty plumbing wrench for specialty nuts on plumbing fixtures such as slip nuts.

Offset Hex Wrench

The offset hex wrench is in the same family as the pipe wrench. The main difference is that the jaws are usually not toothy but smooth.

Perfect for the hex nuts on many plumbing fixtures.

The jaws are also offset to the handle to accommodate the enclosed and usually small spaces underneath a sink or where plumbing pipes tend to be.

Amazon Basics Offset Hex Wrench$
Getuhand Offset Hex Pipe Wrench$

These wrenches are great for taking apart the nuts that hold together your sink and P-trap pipes underneath most sinks.

Basin Wrench

A basin wrench is another specialty wrench for plumbers. They are typically used to get into odd places where a normal wrench or pipe wrench can’t get the job done.

They are long shafts with a T-handle at the top. The jaws are self-adjusting perpendicular to the shaft of the tool. 

They allow the tightening and loosening nuts in tight places much easier.

Duratech 11-in Basin Wrench$
Tekton 10 to 17 in. Telescoping Basin Wrench$$

Your average person won’t need a basin wrench, but they can be very useful if you are doing home plumbing.


A monkey wrench is just a wrench in the adjustable wrench tool category. There are many types of adjustable wrenches for various jobs and use cases.