What is a spanner tool?

What is a spanner tool? - Fix It Cape Town

The spanner tool, also known as a wrench, is a versatile tool used for tightening or loosening nuts and bolts. It consists of a handle and jaws or a socket-like opening that grips the fastener. Spanners come in various sizes, types, and designs, each suited for specific applications. In this article, we will explore the different types of spanner tools and their uses, as well as some frequently asked questions about this handy tool.

Types of Spanner Tools

There are several types of spanner tools available, each designed for different purposes. Here are some of the most common types:

  1. Open-End Spanner: This type of spanner has a U-shaped opening at one or both ends. It is designed for use on nuts with flat sides and provides a firm grip. Open-end spanners come in various sizes and are commonly used in automotive and plumbing applications.

  2. Combination Spanner: A combination spanner, also known as a combination wrench, features an open-end spanner at one end and a closed-end spanner at the other. The closed-end typically has a 12-point or 6-point profile to fit nuts or bolts with corresponding points. Combination spanners are versatile and widely used in industrial and household settings.

  3. Adjustable Wrench: An adjustable wrench, commonly referred to as a crescent wrench, has an adjustable jaw that can be opened or closed to fit various sizes of nuts or bolts. It is ideal for situations where multiple sizes of fasteners need to be handled. However, adjustable wrenches are not recommended for heavy-duty applications as they may slip under high torque.

  4. Socket Wrench: Socket wrenches come with interchangeable socket attachments that fit different sizes and shapes of fasteners. They offer a secure and precise grip and are commonly used in mechanical and automotive industries. Socket wrench sets often include a ratchet handle for ease of use.

  5. Allen Key: Also known as a hex key or hex wrench, an Allen key has a hexagonal-shaped head that fits into screws or bolts with corresponding hexagonal recesses. They are primarily used for furniture assembly, bicycle Repairs, and other small-scale applications.

  6. Torque Wrench: A torque wrench is a specialized spanner tool used to apply a specific amount of torque to a fastener. It features a calibrated scale or a digital display to ensure precise torque application. Torque wrenches are commonly used in automotive, aerospace, and engineering industries where accuracy is crucial.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. What does the size of a spanner tool refer to?
The size of a spanner tool refers to the distance across the flats of the fastener it fits. It is usually measured in millimeters (mm) or inches (in).

Q. How do I determine the correct size of the spanner tool to use?
To determine the correct size, measure the distance across the flats of the fastener using a ruler or caliper. Then, choose a spanner tool with a corresponding size.

Q. Can I use a spanner tool on rounded or damaged fasteners?
Spanner tools are not designed to work properly on rounded or damaged fasteners. Using a spanner tool on a rounded fastener is likely to cause slipping, which can damage the fastener or injure the user. It is advisable to use alternative methods such as vice grips or extractors for rounded or damaged fasteners.

Q. How should I maintain my spanner tools?
Proper maintenance of spanner tools is essential to ensure their longevity and optimal performance. Here are some tips:
– Keep them clean and free from dirt, grease, and debris.
– Store them in a dry and clean environment to prevent rusting.
– Lubricate moving parts regularly.
– Avoid using spanner tools for applications beyond their intended purpose.


Spanner tools are indispensable in various industries and household applications. Understanding the different types of spanner tools and their uses can help you choose the right tool for your specific needs. Remember to select the appropriate size and type of spanner tool to ensure a secure and efficient grip. Regular maintenance and proper usage will prolong the lifespan of your spanner tools, enabling them to assist you in various projects for years to come.

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