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How It's Made? - Wrenches

How It's Made? - Wrenches
By Bill Dickson February 5, 2016 61039 Views

It’s one of the most common tools in the world. If you’ve tightened a nut or any sort of bolt, you probably used a variation of this tool. Whether you’re using a combination, pipe, ratchet or other variant…a wrench is a must have for anyone! This week on How It’s Made, Tool Parts Direct takes a look at the history and the manufacturing of a basic wrench.

The Early Beginnings And Its Use

Photo Courtesy of American Farmer via ESNPC’s Blog

Even though there has been wrench-like tools in use since the beginnings of the 15th century, modern wrenches didn’t come into popularity until the 19th century. The wrench as we know it was originally called a spanner in Victorian England. Solymon Merrick is widely credited as the creator of the modern wrench and he patented the wrench in 1835. Shortly after the patent, the many other inventors followed up on the idea and created different kinds of wrenches for different kinds of situations. Original wrenches were first made of cast iron, but eventually shifted to steel for stronger durability and longer tool life.

Photo Courtesy of Footprint Tools

The simplicity of the design is one of the main reasons why it’s widely adapted. It guarantees its easy duplication and ability to be mass produced all over the globe. It helps give enough torque to loosen and tighten bolts without stressing the person using the wrench.

Design and Science

The wrench’s physics are relatively simple and it’s used mostly as a lever. There are notches inside the wrench’s mouth to give a better grip. The end of the wrench is pulled at right angle to tighten or loosen nuts and bolts.

If you have an adjustable wrench, you can change the size of the head to accommodate the right size of whatever you’re trying to loosen or tighten. Wrenches can be used be just about anybody, but are must for mechanics, plumbers and others who work with a variety of machinery.

Other types of wrenches that are common include a pipe wrench, ratchet wrench, Allen wrench and the famous Monkey wrench.

The Manufacturing Process

Since there are so many types of wrenches, we’ll focus on the combination wrench since it’s one of the most common types of wrenches used by the public. First, a steel bar is sent into a die cutting machine which cuts the bars to a certain length. The bar lengths are then called billets.

Photo Courtesy of the Science Channel via Youtube

After the billets are cut to size, a machine then feeds each billet into an induction heater in order to heat the metal and allow it to be forged into a certain shape. Once the billets are heated to a certain temperature, the dies then forge the heated metal into the shape of a wrench.

Photo Courtesy of the Science Channel via Youtube

Once the wrench is forged into shape, another die machine trims the excess metal. The wrenches eventually flow down a conveyor belt and start to cool off. They’re then dumped into a pick-up box.

Photo Courtesy of the Science Channel via Youtube

After the wrenches are picked up, a factory worker begins to grind off the trim lines to give the wrenches a smooth finish. Then, the wrench is inserted into a bend machine to give the box end of a wrench a 15 degree angle.

Photo Courtesy of the Science Channel via Youtube

A vertical milling machine then drills a hole into the box end. A broach tool is also used to help give the wrench hole a hexagonal shape. Other wrenches go through similar methods as well. After that, the wrenches undergo a heat treatment to harden and strengthen the metal. The wrenches are then placed onto another conveyor and polished for eight hours with ceramic stones. Finally, the wrenches are inserted into a nickel solution and submerged in the liquid to protect the metal from corrosion.

Photo Courtesy of the Science Channel via Youtube

Once that is finished, the wrenches are washed and polished for another eight hours until they are shining. Then, they’re ready to be shipped out.


Today, wrenches are as common as any screwdriver or drill in any garage all across the world. While there are many different types of wrenches, you can be sure to bet that the wrench while relatively new…is here to stay.

Make sure you keep an eye out for our next feature brought to you from all of us here from ToolPartsDirect.com!