Not all wrenches are created equal.
There is a huge difference between a monkey wrench and a pipe wrench so it’s important that you know the pros and cons of each one before you make your final decision. With this, here at Dweller Power, we’ve decided to write the Monkey Wrench vs Pipe Wrench comparitive guide.
That’s why it can be difficult for those who are just starting to build their tool collection to know if you should get a monkey wrench or a pipe wrench.
It’s easy to see how the misperception could arise. Both adjustable wrenches look nearly identical and are designed for squeezing and tightening nuts and bolts.
These two wrenches have different jaw designs that don’t match. So, you can’t use the flat-jawed monkey wrench for pipe work or the toothed pipe wrench for standard work.
Our Monkey Wrench vs Pipe Wrench comparative guide will help you decide whether a monkey wrench, a pipe wrench, or both is the best purchase for you. We’ll explain how to use each type of wrench and explain their differences. We even offer alternative wrench types and brand recommendations.
Short Version / TL;DR
Don’t have time to read through the article? Don’t worry, we get you – here’s a brief rundown on our Monkey Wrench vs Pipe Wrench guide:
Although they both have similar functions, both Monkey Wrench vs Pipe Wrench are used for different purposes.
Monkey Wrenches are necessary for assembling and repairing machinery and making plumbing repairs. The monkey wrench is a versatile tool used by plumbers, auto mechanics, and manufacturers. The common pipe wrench is actually a type of monkey wrench.
The monkey wrench is a specialized wrench used for tightening or untightening pipes and turning fasteners, especially in confined areas. It gets its name from the curved shape of its jaws and its resemblance to the teeth of a monkey.
The top jaw holds or grabs the bolt while the bottom jaw is free to rotate and tighten or loosen the nut. The monkey wrench is made of steel, aluminum, or other metal alloys. Its shape resembles that of an L or F. It is at least 24 inches long from end to end.
The Industrial brand Pipe Wrench was originally created for use in the plumbing industry. However, it is also used very often in the construction of vehicles or machinery.
Pipe wrenches are used in industries such as plumbing, gardening, and farming. They’re generally used to tighten or loosen nuts and bolts or remove threaded pipes.
Don’t have time To read? No worries!
Below are our top picks for your convenience
Dweller Power’s Best Pick
Best Adjustable Wrench in the Market
Channellock 8WCB 8-Inch
Channellock 8WCB 8-Inch Adjustable Wrench
- Best Adjustable Wrench for the Money
- Cushioned Handle
- Highly Durable
Dweller Power’s Best Pick
Best Pipe Wrench in the Market
RIDGID 47057 Straight Pipe Wrench
- Best Adjustable Wrench for the Money
- Aluminum Cast Handle
- Drop-Forged Steel Head
What is a monkey wrench?
To start of our Monkey Wrench vs Pipe Wrench guide, what you need to know is that nowadays, there are many types of wrenches available for different kinds of jobs. One such type is the monkey wrench; popular in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the name “monkey’s fist” for monkey wrench, might be a reference to the fact that the human hand resembles a monkey, it’s rarely used today.
Most mechanics prefer newer shifting wrenches for their ergonomic design. However, antique dealers and collectors value the monkey wrench for its history and nostalgia.
The monkey wrench is a tool used to tighten or loosen nuts and bolts. The monkey wrench has an L-shaped handle. The head of the monkey wrench is made of iron. Its dimensions are 24″ and the jaw measures 14”.
It works with jaws at an angle pointing in opposite directions, which when used by a user grasping the handle in one hand allow for increased torque to be applied to the bolt when turning.
The flat jaw on the monkey wrench is best for flat surfaces and offers no teeth. It’s therefore not good with rounded surfaces and is best for clamping fasteners such as lug nuts, bolts, and screws — all of which have flat surfaces.
Before you use a monkey wrench, first attach it to the fastener. Fit the lower jaw into place. Make sure both jaws firmly grip the sides of the fastener. To tighten the fastener, turn the monkey wrench clockwise. In contrast, loosen the screw by turning the wrench counter-clockwise. Whenever you are done, unscrew the screwing mechanism so you can safely remove the wrench from the object.
Kinds of Monkey Wrench
The adjustable wrench has been the staple option for professionals and amateurs alike. It is a fast, easy, and economical way to open tough lids and tighten loose screws. This versatile tool is often referred to as a crescent wrench or monkey wrench.
Adjustable wrenches are more popular these days. The traditional, oversized monkey wrench is less practical to use and harder to move around, since they’re so big. They also wear out the hand faster than you could imagine when used. Adjustable wrenches are easy to carry around and lessen hand fatigue, so they get the job done faster.
Monkey wrenches are an outdated tool for managing the fasteners on your projects. The adjustable wrench is a better choice. It is more ergonomic, more comfortable, and easier to use than a monkey wrench. For those who want to recreate the nostalgic experience of using a monkey wrench, you can purchase those as well.
How to Use a Monkey Wrench
Get the jaws of the monkey wrench operate by gripping in a clockwise motion onto the desired fastener. The head of the wrench operates similarly to a socket, allowing it to turn.
While holding the wrench in both hands, hold it face down and align the monkey wrench in the center of the bolt. With one hand gripping the side of the handle and the other hand on top of it, begin to rotate clockwise to tighten the bolt.
Monkey Wrench Pros & Cons
- Made for flat fasteners
- Simple Operation
- Not used as much anymore
- Heavy and Bulky
Adjustable Wrench Recommendation –
Channellock 8WCB 8-Inch
With our Monkey Wrench vs Pipe Wrench guide, we need to be fair to you and say that there is no more Monkey Wrenches available in the market. Adjustable Wrenches has now been an industry standard.
With that, the Channellock 8WCB is engineered to be the perfect size for almost any job. The Channellock 8WCB is a compact multi-purpose adjustable wrench. From repair jobs to yard work, it’s great for any task. At 8 inches long, the wrench has jaws that can handle everything from fat garden hoses to small bolts like those found on children’s toys.
With its unique design, it eliminates the need for multiple wrenches and helps you work in tight spots with ease.
The Channellock 8WCB Adjustable Wrench has a cushioned handle that lets us put real strength into a turn without worrying about sore hands afterward. After years of reliable service, the Channellock 8WCB Adjustable Wrench shows almost no signs of wear. With a few turns, it will loosen even heavily-seized nuts and bolts in a matter of seconds.
Great for plumbing jobs and automotive repairs, this adjustable wrench quickly tightens or loosens nuts and bolts. Whether it’s a stubborn pipe fitting or a loose-jointed hinge, the Channellock 8WCB Adjustable Wrench can do it all!
Adjustable Wrench Tutorial for Beginners
What is A Pipe Wrench?
For our second part of the Monkey Wrench vs Pipe Wrench Guide, a pipe wrench is a fastener tool used to connect accessories to threaded pipes and pipe fittings. The tool has a long handle attached to its end. This makes it easier for users to tighten or loosen the accessories.
Pipe wrenches have handles between 3 and 48 inches long. Designed for use on pipe wrenches are often used in modern applications.
The Pipe Wrench is a tool used to turn and tighten the bolt or nut on a cylindrical object. The pipe wrench is an L-shaped device with a stationary jaw that holds the object and a movable top jaw connected to the handle. While pipe wrenches come in a variety of sizes, they are usually bulky and heavy.
The pipe wrench (also known as a plumbing wrench) exhibits a functional design that makes it easier to use. It consists of a metal bar with flat jaws with teeth. It is used for gripping, bending, twisting and pulling pipes and other tubular fittings.
Its teeth allow it to grip rounded objects such as pipes or nuts and bolts. A monkey wrench, on the other hand, has no gripping surfaces and requires a smooth surface for twisting.
The pipe wrench and the adjustable wrench can be considered cousins. The adjustable wrench works like pliers do, by squeezing the handles together to grip objects. The pipe wrench is similar to the adjustable wrench, but it has teeth on its jaws that help it grip rounded objects such as pipes.
Kinds of Pipe Wrench
The Plumber Wrench is a professional tool designed by mechanics to offer an all-in-one solution for your plumbing needs. It’s extremely compact, easy to use, and features various key ring holes to perfectly match any diameter. Engineered specifically for plumbers, the Plumber Wrench is perfect for quickly and efficiently rotating pipes.
The plumber wrench is exceptional for loosening or tightening pipes and includes a ratchet mechanism for speed. The fact that it doesn’t use a nut or bolt to grip something, and instead grips using one of its prongs, makes it particularly useful for plumbing applications where space is tight.
As it’s a highly useful tool for plumbing, we recommend the plumber wrench for you if you’re comfortable using such a powerful tool or working on plumbing.
How To Use a Pipe Wrench
Pipe wrenches are designed like a clamp with a sturdier upper jaw and an adjustable lower jaw for gripping hardware. These wrenches come in various sizes and can be used to turn nuts and bolts with ease.
Make sure the lower jaw is positioned in such a way it is gripping the pipe but not pinching it. The upper adjustable jaw should be facing outwards.
Once you have the pipe center in the jaws, secure it by tightening the upper jaw. It should bite firmly into the pipe, giving you a good grip. If you want to adjust it, remove it from the pipe and re-insert. Keep on hand tight, so it will not slip.
Pipe Wrench Pros & Cons
- Very Common
- Variety of Sizes
- Easy to use
- Comfortable Grip
- Need multiple Pipe Wrenches for different Pipes
Pipe Wrench Recommendation –
RIDGID 47057 Straight Pipe Wrench
For the Monkey Wrench vs Pipe Wrench, we present to you the best Pipe Wrench found in the market. With the RIDGID 47057, keep your projects running efficiently with this sturdy, well-designed side handle pipe wrench. The handle is made of aluminum for stability during those long jobs, and the extra-long jaws withstand years of hard use. Oil and dirt will not build up inside the jaws, so you can clamp to your heart’s content. This RIDGID 47057 Straight Pipe Wrench is a great addition to any tool collection.
Delivering a trusted grip when you need it most, the 47057 pipe wrench is designed to handle 2-inch pipes proficiently. This RIDGID aluminum straight pipe wrench is manufactured with correct tolerances for superior durability and less wear.
This Ridgid pipe wrench has extra-large teeth that grip directly to the surface of your soft-metal pipes for added grip and control. The high-strength alloy steel material is easy and comfortable to use with thanks to the ergonomic design.
This pipe wrench is made of steel for use with metal tubing, and it only weighs 2.5 pounds. It’s easy to change out the pieces for use with your other wrenches, so you can save time on jobs.
This combination pipe wrench features a drop-forged steel head for superior strength and durability. The teeth are designed to clean without additional brushing, and they do not require extra brushing between jobs.
This Straight Pipe Wrench is a high-quality, professional grade tool created with comfort and ease of use in mind. The simplistic yet effective design allows for single handed operation. This professional high performance pipe wrench can be used to tighten or loosen production pipes, elbows, or tubing made of steel, stainless steel, aluminum or brass. Definitely one of the best deals you can get!
Pipe Wrench Tutorial for Beginners
Dweller Power’s Buying Guide
Both Monkey Wrench vs Pipe Wrench are very different tools, but some factors make one more effective than the other. As a serious consumer, you understand important factors such as the size and material when purchasing a new wrench. An in-depth knowledge ensures you can make a decision that is right for you and your budget.
When it comes to tools, you don’t want to be stuck with a ten-dollar wrench that snaps the first time you need to use it. A quality tool is durable, easy to use and made with high-quality materials. A research before buying wouldn’t hurt either, especially if the tool is expensive.
Professional tools can be more expensive than cheap tools, but you’ll probably use them more often. And with higher-quality materials and components, they’re likely to last longer too. When considering any tool, think about whether this will be a good investment in your time and energy over the next few years.
Size and Weight
Pipes and fasteners come in many shapes and sizes. Before you begin, make sure you choose a pipe wrench that is right for the job. Choose a pipe wrench with cutting teeth — not just fins or horns — to avoid damage to the threads on your pipes.
It is best to go for a wrench that is neither too heavy nor too light. If it is too heavy, then it might not provide you with the comfort and maneuverability that you need when working on your vehicle. On the other hand, if a wrench is too light, then it will be less durable than heavier wrenches.
The handle of a wrench plays a significant role in its lifetime. They can be made of iron, steel, copper, brass, wood, plastic or rubberized materials. The most common varieties are the wooden and metal handled models. These can range from more durable types such as steel and iron to the softest type of material which is wood.
When it comes to the best wrench, you’re going to want to look for one with rubberized on the handle that ensure a comfortable grip. These types of materials are often associated with higher end versions of this tool.
For rounded surfaces such as the pipe, it is best to choose jaws with teeth, which allow the wrench to better grip onto the pipe to loosen or tighten it. In contrast, you should choose a flat jaw for flat fasteners since it will provide a tight fit.
Monkey Wrench Vs Ford Wrench
They’re the same thing, just named differently.
The term ford wrench is also sometimes used loosely, usually by non-tradespeople, to refer to the monkey wrench (owing to their broadly similar shapes). But they’re the same thing!
The term “monkey” is a reference to an early-19th century American usage of “to monkey with” as meaning meddling or messing about with something. The monkey wrench was called a Ford Wrench because every Ford Car Model back in the early 1920s to 1940s was supplied with a Monkey Wrench and it became a staple hence most people coined it as such.
Crescent Wrench Vs Monkey Wrench
Crescent wrenches are the way to go. These ingenious tools have one fixed jaw and one movable jaw, which is designed to glide across the screw or nut you’re working on thanks to a neat little worm gear that you turn with your thumb. You can adjust these jaws by turning this gear, making this versatile tool perfect for pretty much anything.
They’re also frequently used in plumbing, but their uses are much more diverse and extend well beyond that single industry.
Compared to a monkey wrench the crescent wrench ‘s jaws are nearly parallel to the handle, and can slide along an object for greater spacing. The locking feature gives you the option of applying more force, since you can turn the gear to adjust the jaw’s position.
You’ll find crescent wrenches in nearly every tool kit there is; they’re great for pretty much any job that requires a wrench. Some examples of common uses include: changing tires, adjusting saws, tightening bolts, tightening or loosening nuts and screws, adjusting knobs on cabinets and drawers, tightening safety straps on scooters or bicycles, loosening nuts or bolts that have become rusted in place by corrosion or dirt buildup.
Monkey Wrench Vs Adjustable Wrench
An adjustable wrench is basically a tool which is made up of two jaws and a shaft. The user would hold one of the jaws and turn the shaft to adjust the size of the other jaw’s opening.
It’s basically used for adjustments, but also where two nuts or bolts are close to each other, requiring a wrench with an adjustable jaw opening.
An adjustable wrench is like any regular old wrench that we use every day including plumbers wrenches. The only difference is that it has an adjustment mechanism on one end so you can control how big of a span you have between your fingers.
When compared, the monkey wrench is just a very big version of an adjustable wrench or the adjustable wrench is just the downsized practical version of a monkey wrench.
They still do both the same job.
Stillson Wrench vs Monkey Wrench
In short, the Stillson Wrench is just another term for the Pipe Wrench. It is also known as the 18″ wrench, or a ‘set of Stillsons'”.
The key differences between the Stillson Wrench vs Monkey Wrench is that the Stillson wrench is used for mostly working with soft iron pipes and fittings with a rounded surface.
The overall design of the Stillsons jaw is to be adjustable and for free rocking in the frame. This means that any forward pressure when gripping the handle pulls the jaws more tighter and closer
The other difference between a Stillson Wrench and a Monkey Wrench is the Teeth of the Stillson Wrench is angled in to dig into the pipe.
Note also that they’re not intended for use on hard hex nuts because the head may get chipped and will be ruined.
Monkey Wrench vs Pipe Wrench
To conclude our Monkey Wrench vs Pipe Wrench Comparative Guide, remember that there are two types of wrenches: monkey wrenches and pipe wrenches. A monkey wrench has a flat jaw, while a pipe wrench has teeth on its jaw. You should use a monkey wrench for flat surfaces and a pipe wrench for round ones.
A monkey wrench and a pipe wrench are two things that should never be missing in your toolkit. Need we say more? Be sure to have both these wrenches since you never know what kind of projects you might be faced with. In our opinion, a pipe wrench is essential.
Also, we recommend to not waste time with antique tools like the monkey wrench. Today’s adjustable wrenches are easy to use and provide more power and security than their monkey wrench ancestors.
If you want to only buy one wrench, then you must choose one based on your intended use. Doing this will ensure that you select the best wrench for your project.
This ends our Monkey Wrench vs Pipe Wrench Discussion.
With that, please always remember that you need a good set of wrenches. If you can take our advice with our Monkey Wrench vs Pipe Wrench Comparative Guide. you would then know that you will find great success with your projects with the right kinds of wrenches.
We want you to be sure of what you plan to get, please don’t hesitate to ask for advice.
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Henry is a long time Trade Instructor at Dunwoody College of Technology. Henry has been teaching the trade of carpentry for over 15 years and is excited to share his knowledge with the next generation of builders. With his posts you will explore some general terms, tools, and techniques that are helpful for the beginning DIY Enthusiast!. He’ll also provide a list of all the best tips needed to start your building journey right away!