A crescent wrench is a versatile tool that can replace an entire wrench set. The “jaw” of the wrench is adjustable, so you can fit it to a variety of different screws. 

Adjustable wrenches are compatible with a wide range of screw sizes, making them handy to have around when you’re working on a bike or car.

We’ve taken a look at everything you need to know about how these tools work.

How Does A Crescent Wrench Work?

 Unlike a typical spanner wrench that comes with a fixed jaw, crescent wrenches have an adjustable jaw that widens and narrows when you adjust the screw. 

You’ll want to make the wrench snug around whatever screw you’re turning.

You can follow these basic steps:

  1. Find the bolt or nut that needs tightening.
  2. Turn the screw on your wrench to open it.  
  3. Keep opening the jaw until the nut can fit inside, leaving a little room.   
  4. Put the jaw over the screw and hold it there.   
  5. Close the wrench screw until the jaw clamps around the screw.
  6. For tightening, you’ll turn the wrench clockwise. For loosening, you’ll turn it counter-clockwise. Continue this until you’re satisfied with the job.   
  7. Loosen the wrench screw and remove the jaw from the bolt.

It’s a fairly intuitive process, and most crescent wrenches are purposefully made easy to use.

When Should You Use A Crescent Wrench?

Crescent wrenches can be used for nearly any homeowners’ DIY assembly task involving screws, nuts, and fasteners. Because they can adjust to different size bolt heads, it’s easy to get the job done.

Is There A Difference Between An Adjustable Wrench and Crescent Wrench?

The terms “adjustable wrench,” “adjustable spanner,” “monkey wrench” and “crescent wrench” are often used interchangeably. 

Most adjustable wrench models use a crescent layout, however, some specialty tools like pipe wrenches come with “teeth” to bite into non-hexagonal pipe fittings.

With the crescent setup, one part of the head of the wrench fixed in place. But the other is adjusted using a screw. 

This allows you to fit the wrench to a number of different bolt sizes as you work.

What to Do When Crescent Wrenches Fail?

There are a few different problems you might run into, even with this very versatile tool.

One is that you might find a nut that’s too large or small for your particular model. Though crescent wrenches are able to handle a number of different screws, they aren’t guaranteed to be able to handle all of them. 

If you’ve got an extra big nut to tighten or loosen, a pair of Channellock tongue and groove pliers can be your best friend.

You might also run into trouble if the hex nut you’re working with has been stripped down and you can’t get a good grip on it. In this case, you’ll need a pipe wrench with teeth. 

If you’re working in tight spaces, you might not be able to get the crescent wrench into position. 

Here you can try a socket wrench or ratchet which are pretty handy in tight spaces if you have the right-sized socket head. 

Another potential issue is if the wrench stops working properly. Sometimes this is related to the adjustment mechanism. 

As time goes on, it can become harder to adjust the tool to the right size. It’s better to repair a wrench like this than replace it.

This problem occurs when the gearing teeth inside the wrench are stripped down. They can’t hold the wrench in place as you use it. 

The movable jaw might widen or “pop” when you try to apply pressure. But you can replace the teeth by simply picking up some tools from your local hardware store.

Final Thoughts

A crescent wrench is a must-have in anyone’s box of hand tools. Because the head is adjustable, it’s much more versatile than the average wrench. 

You can use it for tons of different bolt sizes around the home.

Using this tool is relatively easy. Just make sure that you’re maintaining it properly. If it wears down over time, you can repair it at home without any trouble.