Chain Wrench vs Pipe Wrench

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The chain wrench is better for very tight pipes and tubing that is brittle, and it works as a handy auxiliary pipe wrench for DIYer or Plumber, while the standard pipe wrench on the other hand is best for heavy duty pipe wrench work that involves fitting better and bigger pipes.

What is a chain pipe wrench used for?

A chain wrench, also known as a chain pipe wrench, is used for extremely tight pipes, it utilizes a chain instead of the hook jaw. The chain is placed around the pipe and tightened up till it gets a good grip, if you have never used a chain pipe wrench before then don’t worry because we are going to show you the proper technique here.

How does a Chain Wrench Work?

A chain pipe wrench is one of the single most important tools in your tool box apart from other pipe wrench types. It works by wrapping round a piece of metal (chain) with two different end pieces on them (one is called jaw and another end piece known as ring).

The chain is made of many links with a section in between them and the jaw and ring are located at the center. The chain wraps round the pipe and tightens up until it becomes a proper grip. This grip is enough for you to continue your work.

The second function of a chain pipe wrench, which makes it do so much more than just tightening pipes, lies in its versatility. It not only works on the larger pipes but also on small pipes that require precision with very small tubing sizes. With this you will be able to tighten down any type of conduit or tubing making even those very small diameter ones easy to work with.

Chain Wrench vs Pipe Wrench Differences

There are quite a few differences between the two tools that go beyond just one being a chain pipe wrench and another being a traditional pipe wrench. The different factors include:


Working with a chain pipe wrench is very different since you can slide the jaws around to ensure that they are in contact with the pipe which makes it possible to tighten them down completely.

However, you need to make sure that the jaw does not slip off because once they do then tightening will become quite cumbersome and difficult. It will not be as easy to control as it would be with a traditional pipe wrench or vice versa.

Another benefit a Pipe Wrench has over the Chain Wrench is that it can work with varieties of jaws, namely a hook jaw, serrated jaws, curved jaws, adjustable jaw, and heel jaw.

A chain wrench is mostly only using its handy chain.

By nature, the chain wrench is also comparable to a vice grip.

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Working Length

When working with a chain pipe wrench you have quite a few different options. The length of the working portion (which is the section that wraps round the pipe) can vary quite drastically and this is great since it gives you more flexibility when dealing with pipes.

It also means that you have some more wiggle room so any pipes that are slightly bent should not be a problem for you.

You only need to make sure that the chain pipe wrench is long enough to wrap around it properly and this will mean that it will have no problems gripping tightly enough to get your job done.


Again, when it comes to weight the traditional pipe wrench size makes it usually heavier. The heavier weight of a traditional pipe wrench is actually an advantage since it will make sure that even the most stubborn pipes will not be able to get away from you.

The chain pipe wrench on the other hand is not going to leave your wrist hurting simply because you are trying to get a good grip and tighten it down. It is usually light enough so that even if you are working with a large diameter pipe, the weight of the chain pipe wrench will still only make it feel like a regular tool.

Pipe Quality

The Pipe Wrench is made for diverse work with different kinds of pipes, mainly the threaded pipe, carbon steel polished pipe, cast iron polished pipe, galvanized pipe, and other kinds that are considered as a round pipe.

The chain wrench is designed to work the the more thinner pipes that are either brittle or delicate to work with, like pvc pipes or thinner threaded pipes.

Again, when it comes to weight the traditional pipe wrench is usually heavier. The heavier weight of a traditional pipe wrench is actually an advantage since it will make sure that even the most stubborn pipes will not be able to get away from you.


The straight pipe wrench is best for all kinds pipes, it is great for tackling work on a range of different pipes made of different materials.

This makes it a highly versatile tool and gives you the option to use it as you see fit without needing to worry about what kind of pipe your target pipe is. It does not matter if they are carbon steel or stainless steel, alloy or copper piping.

It is also one of the most diverse wrenches around with many kinds for specialty reasons, namely: monkey wrench, strap wrench, adjustable wrench, crescent wrench, stillson wrench, offset wrench, socket wrench, offset pipe wrench, regular pipe wrench, ratchet wrench, openended wrench, end pipe wrench, and the plumber wrench.

The chain wrench on the other hand is one of the specialty type of pipe wrench, versatile in tight spaces and tight-fitting.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who manufactures the best chain wrench?

RIDGID is the world’s leading manufacturer of all kinds of wrenches, they’re mostly known for their compound leverage wrench which can work in the tightest pipes that a chain pipe wrench can do as well as work on bigger pipes that mostly a straight pipe wrench works on.

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