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Top 5 Basic Differences Between Wrenches and Spanners

wrenches & spanners

Differences Between Wrenches and Spanners

The use of both terms had been misunderstood often by some industrialists and technical-related workers. Ideally, the two words mean the same thing i.e. the same hand tool.

Differences Between Wrenches and Spanners: An adjustable spanner
Differences Between Wrenches and Spanners: An adjustable spanner

It somehow becomes a norm to see educated and uneducated technical workers referring to a particular category of the spanner as a torque wrench or wrench and calling some a spanner.

The difference that exists between the two names is not based on their types of hand tools but rather on their geographical locations.

The North Americans call the spanner a wrench while some others across the globe call it a spanner meanwhile, they all refer to one hand tool. For instance, British English also refers to the wrench as a spanner.

By definition, a wrench or spanner is a hand tool used for the driving of nuts and bolts by offering a mechanical advantage through the gripping force with the hand in other to apply torque to the object.

The use of the hand tool had been in existence far back when engineering started becoming acceptable to the global communities.

The term wrench used to be a general name for tools used on non-fastening devices like taps and pipes for those outside North America.

Though not formal; words like a pipe wrench, tap wrench, and other wrench names started coming up with the industrial workers but these words are not being used by the manufacturers in the hand tools name classifications.

Meanwhile, in North America; wrench is a standard name for spanners irrespective of the type of spanner, and such a term is recognized both in the informal use and the formal use.

A good example of such a name in the geographical location includes; an open-end wrench and a box-end wrench.

The American English recognized a special spanner that has a series of pins or tabs around the circumference such that the pins or tabs can fit into the holes or notches that exist in the object to be turned.

Such a spanner is usually referred to as a spanner wrench by the American commerce to distinguish it from other types of a spanner in the British term for spanners.

The making of the spanners or wrenches follows the same process in their various categories.

To ensure high quality, the manufacturers usually make an alloy of chromium-vanadium steel and drop-forged the material into the shape of the required spanner or wrench.

Here is a brief comparison between the British and American terms for the two words:


               Open-ended spanner           Open-end wrenchClé plate.jpg
             Ring spanner            Box-end wrenchKluc ockovy vysunuty.jpg
          Combination spanner          Combination wrenchKluc ockoplochy.jpg
         Ratcheting ring spanner           Ratcheting box wrenchPoint tailed ratchet spanner.jpg
Pin spanner/ hook spanner/c spannerSpanner wrenchSpanner wrenches various kinds from Colvin and Stanley 1910 p64.png


The above comparison is just a few of the hand tool name variations and terms being used in various places.

It is very important that engineers and technicians have the proper understanding of how these tools are being classified and their formal names so that uniform understanding can exist in the field of work and also assist others working with them not to be confused by the two words.

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