Who Invented the Wrench?

Who Invented the Wrench?
Like Tweet Pin it Share Share Email

The wrench is also called a spanner . It is one mechanical equipment that is used in providing strong grip when torque is being applied and used in turning objects. These objects are usually fasteners that can rotate like the bolts and nuts. The person who invented the wrench is a subject of debate amongst historians.


In Commonwealth countries, except Canada, the wrench is actually called a spanner. The name wrench is used to address any tool that can be used to loosen or tighten any non-fastening or fastening device.

In the English-speaking parts of North America, the wrench is its known name.

In America, the spanner is only referring to a particular type of wrench which has tabs or pins around the mouth. That part of the mouth is fit in the openings of a nut that is about to be loosened or tightened.

The commonest types of wrench are the ring spanner and the open-ended spanner.

The word wrench itself comes from English that was spoken in the middle ages. It was called wrench at that time. This word came from an older English version that was called wrenc. That version also has roots in the Proto-Germanic word wrankiz. This means twisting or turning.

The word was first mentioned in the year 1790.

The word spanner was first used in the year 1630 actually. The spanner was used to refer to a tool that was used to turn the spring in the wheellock firearm.

The word spanner itself also came from German origin. It is called spannen in German and this means to extend, connect, or join. Spannen is derived from the Proto-Germanic language in which it is called spannan. This means to spin, draw, or stretch.

Types of Wrench

There are so many types of wrenches.

The table below shows the types of wrenches, their American and British names.

British English US English
Open-ended Open-end
Ring spanner Box end
Combination spanner Combination wrench
 Brake spanner Line wrench
Ratcheting ring Ratcheting box wrench
Swivel head Saltus wrench
Pin spanner spanner
Flogging spanner Hammer wrench
 adjustable spanner Crescent wrench
Self-adjusting spanner Self-adjusting wrench
King dick Monkey wrench
Stillson wrench Pipe wrench
Socket spanner Socket wrench
Clamp ratchet spanner Clamp ratchet wrench
Power bar Breaker bar
Crow’s foot Crowfoot wrench
Ratchet handle Ratchet wrench
Crank handle Speed wrench
Torque wrench Torque wrench
Allen key Hex key
  Bristol wrench
Torx key Torx wrench
  Alligator wrench
Cone spanner Cone wrench
Die holder Die wrench
Drum key Lug wrench
Box spanner Socket wrench
  Bung wrench
  Fire wrench (for hydrant)
  Fire wrench (for valve operator)
Toby key Curb key
  Golf wrench
  Headnut wrench
Tire spanner Spider wrench
Chain wrench Oilfilter wrench
Multigrips plier Plumber wrench
Basin wrench Sink wrench
Dumbbell spanner Dogbone wrench
Spoke key Spoke wrench
podger Spud wrench
  Chain whip
Strap wrench Chain wrench
Tap wrench t-handle
  Tappet wrench
Piano turning lever Tuning wrench
  Wingnut wrench
Windy gun Impact wrench
  Power wrench

Designation of size on wrenches

The size that is written on the wrench is usually the size of the head of nut, bolt, or screw it was meant to be used on.

Who invented the wrench?

The wrench was not invented by one person. There is a whole lot of history and story behind each type of wrench that is in existence today. Below are some of the wrenches and their inventors with a little bit of history backing up each invention.

Buy a wrench on Amazon

Monkey wrench

Who invented the monkey wrench?
Photocredits: waheedpix, flickr.com

This is perhaps the tool with the most controversial story. There are so many misconceptions about who invented the monkey wrench Even the name of the tool is one that causes debate to rise among scholars and historians.

Many publications that are available say it is the American heavyweight boxing champion, Jack Johnson, that was the first man to invent the monkey wrench. Jackson was a black boxer who dominated the world of boxing in the 20th century.

He dominated at a time when discrimination against blacks was in an all-time high. He dominated amidst white supremacy; It was in a time when whites thought that they were superior to blacks and could do anything to them.

They thought they were physically stronger than blacks. But Jackson proved them wrong. He beat up every white man that ever had the courage to step into the ring with him; he humiliated them. He beat the black champion, Ed Martin.

He was not satisfied with the victory over blacks, so he started fighting with whites; he wanted to be the heavy weight champion. When whites saw he defeated anyone he fought, they forced Bob Fitzsimmons, a former boxing champion, to come out of retirement and beat Jackson.

The plan failed as Jackson won in the second round.

Next, they called Tommy Burns, and offered him thirty-thousand dollars. He agreed unwillingly. Jackson beat him to pulp. The police officer present had to stop the fight in the 14th round.

After that, the whites’ sought for a way to make Jackson pay. They charged him to court for violating the Mann act charge. He ran away to Spain where he was joined by his white wife, Lucille Cameron.

Years passed and he came back to the US; he was tired of running. He was put in Leavenworth Federal Prison in Kansas. It was there that he invented the tool called the monkey wrench.

Some historians argue however that what he did was simply a modification to pre-existing wrenches and not a new invention totally.

Solymon Merrick was said to have invented the first monkey wrench in the year 1835. He sold the patent to Bemis and Call, a company that was based in the US. The company was known for making tools.

Another man who is said to have invented the monkey wrench is Loring Coes. He had a company that made kitchen knives.

It was said that he invented the wrench in the year 1940. He sold them alongside his knives. The patent of the wrench was granted to him in the year 1841.

But it is worthy of note that the term monkey wrench was already being used in England, long before any of the men listed above were born.

Ratchet Wrench

Who invented the wrench
Photocredits: ChristianLeigh1982, commons.wikimedia.org

The ratchet wrench was invented in the year 1913. It was the same year that the inventor received the patent. The inventor of the ratchet wrench is Owen Roberts Jr.

Pipe wrench

13th September 1870 saw US grant the patent for the pipe wrench to a fireman that was known as Stillson Daniel; he was the inventor of pipe wrench. It is also known as Stillson wrench.

He had a design in mind and spoke to Walworth manufacturers about it. The design was one that had the ability to screw pipes together.

The piping and heating firm agreed to do so only if he made a sample that would be able to do what he said. He created the prototype and it was a huge success.

He patented his design and the company produced it. Mr. Stillson collected almost up to eighty thousand dollars as royalty payments while he was alive.

Video: How to use a pipe wrench

Introduction: This video shows how to properly use a pipe wrench.

Ratchetless wrench

This was invented by John Vranish.

Comments (0)

Leave a Reply