What are the five types of spanner?

What are the five types of spanner? - Fix It Cape Town

Spanners, commonly known as wrenches in the United States, are indispensable tools for any handyman or mechanic. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes, each designed for specific fastening applications. In this article, we will explore five specific types of spanners and delve deeper into one of the most commonly used ones – open-ended spanners.

Types of Spanners

  1. Open-Ended Spanner: These spanners are the most commonly used and recognized type. They have an open jaw at each end, with two different sizes for versatility. The jaws are usually angled at 15 degrees to provide better access in tight spaces.

  2. Ring Spanner: Also known as a box-end spanner, this type features a closed ring on one or both ends. The closed ring provides better grip on the fastener, reducing the chances of slipping and damaging the fastener or the tool. Ring spanners are ideal for high torque applications.

  3. Combination Spanner: As the name suggests, combination spanners offer the best of both worlds by combining an open-ended jaw on one end and a closed ring on the other. This versatility makes them suitable for a wide range of fastening applications.

  4. Adjustable Spanner: Also referred to as an adjustable wrench, this tool is equipped with a movable jaw that can be adjusted to fit different sizes of nuts and bolts. The adjustable spanner is a versatile choice when dealing with fasteners of various sizes.

  5. Socket Spanner: A socket spanner has a hollow cylindrical shape with a set of internal teeth that match the size and shape of bolts or nuts. These spanners require a compatible socket set for operation and offer a secure grip on the fastener. They are commonly used in mechanical and automotive Repairs.

Open-Ended Spanners

Open-ended spanners are a staple in any toolbox due to their versatility and ease of use. They feature an open jaw without any enclosures, enabling them to grip onto fasteners with two flat sides, such as hexagonal nuts or bolts. Here are some key features and advantages of open-ended spanners:

  • Size Variety: Open-ended spanners come in various sizes to accommodate different fastener dimensions. It is essential to choose the appropriate size to ensure a snug fit and prevent any damage.

  • Accessibility: The angled jaws of open-ended spanners facilitate easy access to fasteners even in cramped spaces. This feature proves invaluable when working on machinery or in narrow areas where other spanners may not fit.

  • Quick Application: Open-ended spanners are designed for quick, efficient application. The open jaws allow you to slide the spanner onto the fastener easily, making them ideal for repetitive tasks or working in time-sensitive situations.

  • Less Slippage: Although the open jaws of these spanners provide less surface area compared to ring spanners, they offer better grip on the fastener due to the increased contact points. This reduces the likelihood of slipping and minimizes both damage to the tool and potential injuries.

  • Cost-Effective: Open-ended spanners are generally more affordable compared to other types of spanners, making them an economical choice for both professionals and DIY enthusiasts.

  • Versatility: Open-ended spanners are suitable for a wide range of applications. They can be used on bolts, nuts, and other fasteners with flat surfaces, easing the hassle of finding the right spanner size for different tasks.


Q: What is the correct way to use an open-ended spanner?
A: When using an open-ended spanner, ensure that the jaws are fully engaged with the fastener. Apply even pressure while rotating the spanner in the desired direction.

Q: Can open-ended spanners be used on rounded fasteners?
A: Open-ended spanners are not recommended for rounded fasteners as they lack the grip of a closed ring. In such cases, alternative spanners like the adjustable spanner or socket spanner are more suitable.

Q: Are open-ended spanners prone to corrosion?
A: Open-ended spanners can succumb to corrosion over time if not properly maintained. Regular cleaning, drying, and lubrication can help prevent corrosion and ensure optimal performance.


Spanners are crucial tools for a wide array of fastening applications. Open-ended spanners, with their accessibility, versatility, and ease of use, are a popular choice for both professionals and DIY enthusiasts. By exploring different types of spanners, including open-ended spanners, you can ensure that you have the right tool for every fastening task at hand. Remember to select the appropriate spanner size, follow best practices, and maintain your tools for longevity and efficient performance.

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