Well, we would like the start the article with a universal definition for the Spanner, “A wrench (or spanner outside of North America) is a tool used to provide grip and mechanical advantage in applying torque to turn objects—usually rotary fasteners, such as nuts and bolts—or keep them from turning.” So, the wrench is another term used for this versatile, day-to-day tool. This versatile tool has a long history, and historians have mentioned it in the 15th century too.
Anyway, modern manufacturers have modified it to what it is today. Many Spanner types are available in the market for various applications and under different names. Let’s discuss the wrench types in the next few paragraphs along with their uses.
Parts of a Spanner: Well, depending on the tool type, the parts may vary. Anyway, we can highlight common parts here:
* Head (one or two.)
Most spanners are one-piece tools and are made of alloy metal. The head is the part that fits over or around the fastener that you want to tighten or loosen. The shape of the head is its profile. It is the part that gets contacted with the fastener. You can buy a Spanner that has a fixed profile or one that you can adjust according to the fasteners’ size. The tools that you can adjust are more expensive than one-piece tools. The size of the wrench is determined by the width between two flat sides of the profile.
The shaft is the handle of the tool that lets you turn and exert the required force to tighten or loosen a fastener. The longer the handle, the more force you can exert. Anyway, the manufacturers have limited the handle’s length depending on the profile size (a greater force can damage the fastener.) You can increase the handle length by manual methods for applications where a greater force is required.
How does your Spanner work?: Well, take a look at this picture to understand how it works (https://www.wonkeedonkeetools.co.uk/media/wysiwyg/29SP-Spanners-Rebecca/29SP04/29SP-4-2.jpg.) As you can see in the picture, when you exert a clockwise or an anti-clockwise force by turning the handle; you can loosen or tighten the fastener/bolt. So, a tight grip is necessary between the fastener head and the Spanner head. And, that is why you should use the right wrench size depending on the fastener head or the bolt size.
Using a bigger wrench will lead to a slipping effect, preventing you do the job efficiently. So, the handle of the tool acts as a lever that magnifies the force you exert. As mentioned, you should limit the amount of force that you exert on the fastener head as a greater force can damage the fastener head completely, preventing you to loosen or tighten it again.
What else can you use instead of a Spanner?: Breaker bar, adjustable wrenches, slogging spanners, torque wrenches, and socket ratches are the other alternatives available in the market today. All these tools do the same job though. The breaker bar is a heavy-duty tool to use for applications where a greater force is required. Its long shaft provides greater leverage, hence excellent for stronger and large fasteners. Fixing tires to vehicles is the common use of a breaker bar.
Materials: Most wrenches are made of alloy metal. Chrome vanadium steel is the widely-used alloy for spanners today. Adding chromium to steel increases resistance to rusting. Spanner manufacturers use different amounts of chromium when producing their product ranges (12% and 20%.) Well, expensive metals such as titanium are also used for manufacturing expensive wrenches. Titanium is strong, light-weight, and longer-lasting. The high price is the only downside of titanium products.
Spanner types: Over 20 types are available in the market for unique applications. Some wrench types are specially designed for specific applications. For example, the Dental Key is used by dentists for pulling teeth (you cannot use other Spanner types for pulling teeth.) Follow this link to get a better idea of wrench types available for different applications (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wrench.)
Well, are you confused about the two terms we have used so far (wrench and spanner?) In the UK, a tool that comes with a fixed profile is called a Spanner. A wrench, on the other hand, can be used to turn non-fastening components too. The term “wrench” is used when the tool has an adjustable profile. Anyway, both the terms are interchangeably used across the world today (except in the US.)
We would like to discuss a special Spanner type here. Is it safe to use a metal tool for applications such as electrical circuits? Metals are electrical conductors, hence cannot be used for applications where electricity is present (you can die if you do so.) The manufacturers have introduced a special Spanner to use for such applications (the insulated Spanner.) Take a closer look at this picture to understand its function (https://ebuy.craig-international.com/images/products/GIBB/4c0911d25ce8c_101009.jpg.)
As you can see in the picture, the whole tool is insulated with a plastic coating. The profile is the only part without plastic insulation. Well, many types of insulated wrenches and spanners are available in the market today. The price of these tools is a bit higher than the ordinary (a slight difference though.)
Different spanner types (just the names):
Open-ended, flare-nut, ring, combination, Podger, pin, rachet, box, spark plug, fixed-head, scaffold, box-end wrench, tube wrench, ratcheting box wrench, flex-head, smaller, slugger, hammer, striking face, C Spanner, self-adjusting wrench, pipe wrench, socket wrench, crowfoot wrench, speed wrench, Allen wrench, Torx wrench, Bristol wrench, cone wrench, drum key, fire hydrant wrench, 4-way lug wrench, oil-filter wrench, plumber wrench, dogbone wrench, spoke wrench, chain whip, spud wrench, chain wrench, tuning wrench, and impact wrench.Each above-said type is designed to fulfil a specific application.
o, you should have a chat with an expert in the tool industry if you are not sure about the right type to use for your specific application. For example, using an ordinary Spanner for electrical applications can kill you instantly.
A quality Spanner will serve you for a lifetime. Clean your Spanner thoroughly before storing it in the toolbox. Moisture can cause corrosion on cheap tools. A thin coat of oil can keep your tools safe if you don’t use them for a while. Damaged tools can damage fasteners, hence inspect your tool before using it on a fastener.