How To Use Crowfoot Wrench

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Most people do not make use of all the tools in their toolbox. An all-important tool might be in the box, but it would not be used. This may be because the tool owner does not know how to use the tool. This is why we wrote this article, “How to use crowfoot wrench.”

how to use crowfoot wrench
Photo credits: WP-001, commons.wikimedia.org

In this article, we would not just teach you how to make use of a crowfoot wrench, we would also teach you different ways to use the wrench. There is also a need for you to know when you should employ the services of the crowfoot wrench. These and more are what we would discuss in the following paragraphs.

What Does A Crowfoot Wrench Look Like?

The crowfoot wrench is an open-ended socket that is useful for getting around obstacles. The crowfoot wrench is usually used when you cannot fit in a 12pt or 6pt socket wrench.

The crowfoot wrench is similar in looks to the box-end or open-end wrench but does not have its characteristic handle. It is different from the open-end wrench such that its opening is located behind the mouth of your wrench.

The crowfoot wrench is peculiar as it can fit on the side of a bolt or nut instead of the top like other wrenches. Due to this singular ability, it can be used in very tight conditions. 

You can use the crowfoot to do adjustments on the valve. You can adjust clutch or brake fittings, adjust the fittings of the power steering, fuel filters, abs modulators, and the air fittings that can be found on the OTR truck.

Sometimes, crowfoot wrenches can be used together with ratchets or the handles of torque wrenches. Many people love using the crowfoot wrench this way. 

This is because you have the function of two wrenches for one. The torque helps you in accurately measuring and applying tension on nuts and bolts. The crowfoot wrench helps you get to them even if they are in tight spaces.

It is called crowfoot wrench due to its shape. This particular wrench was popular in the days of the steam train. It was used to make repairs on the train. They could hold and reach nuts and bolts that were fixed in really tight spaces.

It was one of those hand tools that were vital for the inspection of locomotive steam engines from 1900 to 1955. Little faults that occurred on engines can be repaired in roundhouses. 

These houses are located in small terminals that are scattered along the railroad system. If the faults are large faults, the repairs are done in a large repair shop that is called a back shop.

Using A Crow Foot Wrench

Like we mentioned earlier, many people like using the crowfoot alongside another wrench. Most preferably the torque wrench. This combo is the best especially if the crowfoot wrench you are using is one that has great quality.

To learn how to make proper use of the crowfoot wrench, you have to take note of the steps that are listed below.

Step One – Make Correct Alignment

Before you kick off using the wrench, you have to make sure that your torque wrench handle is aligned properly with your crowfoot square spacing. You need to make sure of this alignment because you have to measure the different tensions of nuts and bolts.

Ensure that you accurately calculate the torque as you make use of the crowfoot. This is to help you work efficiently. How much torque needed on each bolt and nut depends on the measurements you get.

Step Two – Attach Your Crowfoot Wrench

If you want to easily turn the crowfoot wrench multiple times, you have to attach it to a ratchet. Attaching the crowfoot wrench to your torque wrench would be a good option mainly when the nut or bolt you are about to loosen is too tight or too firm. You would need the brute torque of the torque wrench to help take the nut off.

So, what you have to do is simple. Affix the head of your crowfoot wrench to your torque wrench. You have just made a strong tool that can be used to loosen any stubborn nut or bolt. 

Remember, the ratchet attached to the crowfoot wrench helps make it easier for the tool to turn multiple times while our torque wrench works like some sort of lever so one can get through to fasteners in tight spaces.

Video: How To Use Crowfoot Wrench

This video teaches how to properly use a crowfoot wrench.

Step Three – Make Use Of Snap-On

It is always advisable that you gather all your tools and accessories that are needed to work before you start. You should get accessories that can help the crowfoot work better and keep them handy.  So, you do not get stranded as you work.

The accessories are for you to use after you must have taken proper measurements. The kind of accessories that you need is also dependent on the angle you are hoping to get to.

Crowfoot wrenches are usually produced in such a wide variety of sizes, both in metric and standard sizes. But for those who are cost-conscious, there are some crowfoot wrenches that are adjustable and can adjust to fit into any wrench size possible.

Step Four- Fixing Your Crowfoot Wrench On The Fastener

After you have set the crowfoot wrench, you can now place the crowfoot on the fastener that would be used to loosen or tighten the nut or bolt as much as you want.

Step Five – Making Use Of The Ratchet

When all is set and the crowfoot wrench is attached to a ratchet, you could use the tool on the nuts or bolts that you are working on. Be careful while you are using the tool because it isn’t the electronic wrench and cannot adjust torque on its own.

One advantage of connecting the ratchet to the crowfoot wrench is that you have a choice to either adjust the ratchet or simply reposition your wrench and continue working. The ball is in your court.

However, there are some crowfoot wrenches that do not give you that choice of choosing. You would need to reposition your wrench after you complete every turn when you are tightening a bolt or a nut.

Buy A crowfoot wrench on Amazon

Some would require that you readjust your hand instead so you can place the wrench at the very first spot where it started turning. 

The crowfoot wrench can accommodate more extensions. So, if you add the extension and the ratchet or torque wrench you can get a much longer tool. This would help you reach tighter angles and spots.

When you are done using the tool, it is important that you store the crowfoot wrench in a cool dry place.

Advantages Of Using Crowfoot Wrench

Crowfoot wrench is quite the tool. It really does not usually work alone. In fact, most people do not see it as a tool on its own but as an accessory. This is because the crowfoot rarely does anything just on its own. You would have to combine it with other tools for effective working and use.

But what if we critique the crowfoot on an individual basis alone? Is there any benefit or advantage of using the wrench? Let’s find out.

Durability Of Material

One thing the crowfoot wrench does is to hold down the nut or bolt so that you can turn. Its job is simply to grab and hold down something so you can turn whatever that is with enough torque. What this means is that the crowfoot wrench is made of tough material. This is one of the selling points of the wrench. 

The materials are durable, and they do not easily break. Producers of the crowfoot wrench usually make use of an alloy of chrome and steel to make the crowfoot wrench. This combination or mixture gives rise to a material that is very durable and strong and can stand a high amount of torque or pressure.

One other reason why manufacturers love making use of the steel and chrome alloy to make crowfoot wrench is that the risk of the wrench corroding or rusting is quite small. No one would want to have tools that can easily rust or corrode.

The Tool Can Access Nuts And Bolts In Tight Spaces

At some points as DIYers, we may have been stuck in the middle of a repair because we could not reach where the nut or bolt was located. This may be because the wrench that you were using could not get to the nut or bolt. It could also be that they were in such tight spaces that the wrench you are using cannot effectively work on it.

Just as mentioned above, one of the fine things about the crowfoot is that it can serve as an accessory instead of the main tool. What does this mean for target fasteners that are in tight spaces, impossible to reach?

It means one can combine another tool with the crowfoot and you can get to your nut or bolt. One frequently used tool to combine the crowfoot with is the torque wrench. 

On some occasions, a ratchet wrench is also a fine addition. Once you combine them, you will find that you can get to angles that have been hard to get to before. You would also not need to stop working because the angle is too tight.

The CrowFoot Wrench Is A Great Fit For Fragile Materials

Sometimes, the equipment we want to work on is fragile and can be broken easily if brute force is applied. The crowfoot is a wonderful tool to use if the surface you are working on is made of soft materials and can get damaged easily. 

The crowfoot may be made of strong materials and can be tough, but it does not cause damage to surfaces. You can safely use them without issues or fear of breakages. Breaking or damage is not unheard of, but one would have really applied an extreme amount of torque for the damage to occur.


This may be the first time you are trying out a crowfoot wrench but do not worry. The more you use the wrench, the easier it is for you to use it in subsequent times. It takes some time to become accustomed to the tool.

The tool can also be employed to accomplish various tasks that you might have previously thought to be impossible. As you use it, you get to see how versatile the tool is. You would also see how much you can accomplish with the tool. You just have to give it a try.

Tough Tool For Tough Tasks

We mentioned earlier that the wrench is suitable for loosening nuts or bolts that are stubborn and unyielding. What you just need to do is to attach the ratchet or your torque wrench then place the combination around your nut or bolt. 

Once you do this, it becomes easy for you to apply pressure on such a fastener. This can be used even if the nuts or bolts are stubborn or rusted. 

The tool may just lie around and look like it has no use, but you have seen how useful the wrench is. Anyone who is a DIYer should know how to use the wrench.

You can check out these other posts:

What Does the Wrench Light Mean on a Ford

How to Remove a Faucet Aerator Without a Wrench

How to use a torque wrench

How to use a socket wrench

What is a crescent wrench?

What is an impact wrench

Disadvantages Of Using The Crowfoot Wrench

The crowfoot wrench length is what determines the result of the torque calculations. When you know the length and the right formula to calculate torque, you can effectively use your crowfoot wrench.

Crowfoot wrench has been found useful for getting nuts and bolts in tight spaces. This is both an advantage and a disadvantage. The advantage is that you can get into tight spaces. But the disadvantage is that the crowfoot wrench seems to be limited to working in tight spaces only. It seems not to function well in free spaces.

Lastly, not many toolbox manufacturers add the tool in the box since the tool is not as popular as, say, the torque wrench.


We have looked at the pros and cons of using a crowfoot wrench and have seen how the wrench looks like and its functions. 

Is it worth it? 

We say an emphatic yes!

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