Monday, December 11, 2023

Introduction to pipe or tube wrenches

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The spout wrenches (or rather, for pipes) are among the most present tools among users. Plumbers, gas fitters and all those who work with pipes and tubes in general, from the simplest applications to industrial, oil or mining applications, for example, have various adjustable wrenches to facilitate their task.

Next, we will develop a brief introduction to learn a little more about this fundamental tool.

What is the origin of the spout keys?

The rise of adjustable wrenches, essential today for this type of work, began in the second half of the 19th century, when the North American inventor Daniel Stillson patented the tool named after him in 1869. Even today, the Stillson key is extremely popular, especially in the United States.

The history of the faucet wrench

On the other side of the Atlantic, many European countries were still far from enjoying the advances of the Industrial Revolution, and one of them was the now thriving Sweden. In 1887, a pioneer named Johan P. Johansson decided not to emigrate to the United States like many of his fellow Swedes, and instead set up his own repair shop in a town near Stockholm, drawing on his previous experience as a laborer, machine fitter, and blacksmith master In time, his workshop would become famous throughout the world.

At that time, the workers had to carry with them many tools different to cover all imaginable dimensions of pipes, bolts and nuts. Johansson could not afford the expense of a full set of tools for himself and his employees, so he was forced to find a solution to this problem.

From his skillful imagination there arose an enormous tool which he called “the iron hand”, which Johansson wields in this photo.

the iron hand

It was about the first two-prong adjustable wrench designed especially for pipes, whose jaws allowed handling pipes and jackets of various dimensions. But the invention came with an extra addition: in addition to condense in a single piece a multiplicity of tools of different sizes, could also be used as pipe clamping tool, a feature that made it superior to the single-branch keys used at the time, typically the one invented by Stillson.

What is the pipe wrench?

she’s witty tool It has two branches of different shape and construction:

  • a mango
  • an adjustment rod

The adjustment rod has a regulation nut which is used to close mobile jaws around the pipe or fastener (for example, a hex nut).

Spout Wrench

Spout Wrench

The adjustment nut is precisely the one that allows adjusting the clamps to the desired measure and size by means of its ascending or descending movement along the rod, and also enables the lock the key in the desired position.

The more pressure applied to the mango, the greater the clamping force of the jaws, to the point of being able to support the weight of an adult standing on the tool.

The jaws are usually made of high hardness and resistance steel. They feature progressive toothing for a powerful and secure grip on the workpiece, and the jaw design itself accommodates not only various object shapes (round, square or hexagonal) but also tight spaces.

Spout wrench - wide opening

Spout wrench – wide opening

The designs of the spout wrenches they have evolved significantly over time, giving rise to innumerable models that have different functionalities according to the specific needs of the application.

On the other hand, regarding the design, unlike the Stillson keys, let’s review the considerations of grip. The nut provided on the adjustment rod of the spout wrench It has a safety stop that not only prevents the nut from falling, but also provides a much more precise and safe jaw opening regulation mechanism.

On the other hand, and contrary to what might be assumed due to its length, a spout wrench is suitable for use in narrow and/or confined places. This is possible thanks to the various models currently offered by the trade, since we can find pieces with different head geometries, whose stylized jaws are oriented at 90 and 45 degrees, the latter, facilitating work in corners and corners.

Tap Wrench Models

Tap Wrench Models

Finally let us examine the construction details, since another question that we could ask ourselves is whether a tool so long it is heavy and difficult to maneuver. To this end, manufacturers have already addressed this questioning and today offer their spout wrenches with building designs managed to reduce its weight by 40% compared to the Stillson key and other used in plumbing and related tasks. The novelty is introduced by handles whose exterior is made of resistant folded steel sheet covered in plastic material to offer a soft, non-slip grip and, in some models, even ergonomic. The folded sheet metal core provides high resistance thanks to the steel alloy it presents, and is much lighter than a tool similar in size and material, but provided with a solid section handle.

Uses and applications of pipe wrenches

The exclusive opening and grip characteristics (the latter measured according to the recommended spout diameter) of these tools They make them extremely useful in an immense variety of applications in pipe installations, fastening and adjustment of various tubes, rods, and all kinds of circular section pieces. Here are just a few of those apps.

    • Industrial and residential installations of water, gas, compressed air and steam
    • Industry of the construction
    • Mechanical workshops, for work on the front end of vehicles
    • fire nets
    • Maintenance tasks in oil and mining facilities


Sometimes, fundamentally in plumbing, the pieces are stuck or stuck, either due to rust, lack of lubrication, etc. In such cases, the temptation to “lever” may arise, for this, a pipe is placed on the branch of the handle to extend it and a greater twist is made. The truth is that, although on occasion this may result, the safe use of the tool prohibits overloading the handle, because the torsion that is generated is much greater than that calculated to support it under normal conditions, this being able to cause a breakage of the handle. metal with the risk of causing injury to the operator. As we always remember, it is essential to make safe use of tools!

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