Monkey Wrench vs Pipe Wrench | Which One Should You Get?

Monkey Wrench vs Pipe Wrench

If you place a monkey wrench and a pipe wrench side-by-side, unless you are a veteran handyman, it would be quite difficult for anyone to tell them apart. However, despite the visual similarities they share, both of these wrenches differ from each other in many aspects. And that is what we are going to be exploring today. The answer to the question that has eluded us for so long is – what are the key differences between a monkey wrench and a pipe wrench? 

What Is A Monkey Wrench?

Let’s start by discussing what a monkey wrench is. It is a type of adjustable wrench that is primarily used to tighten and loosen nuts, screws, and bolts. Monkey wrenches have two jaws. The top jaw is a part of the wrench body, which means that it is permanently fixed and does not move. The bottom jaw can be moved and adjusted by the user. 

The typical length of a monkey wrench is around 24 inches. It is made from a flat piece of iron which is then molded to give its shape. The shape of a monkey wrench resembles a L or a F. And the flexible bottom jaw of the wrench can be moved using its screw mechanism as most people are familiar with it. The reason why these kinds of wrenches are called monkey wrenches is that the movement of the flexible jaw mimics the movement of a monkey climbing up a branch.

Monkey Wrench vs Pipe Wrench
Monkey Wrench

Another key characteristic of monkey wrenches is that they have smooth jaws which is why these wrenches are especially useful for twisting flat surfaces. As they don’t have any teeth, the jaws of a monkey wrench can tightly latch onto smooth flat surfaces, hence giving the user the necessary grip to remove or insert a fastener. On the other hand, monkey wrenches are quite ineffective against fasteners with a round surface as it is not able to get the necessary grip.

How To Use A Monkey Wrench?

First, attach the monkey wrench to the fastener that you wish to insert or remove. Then use the screw mechanism of the wrench to tighten it around the fastener. If you want to drive in the fastener, then turn the monkey wrench clockwise. And if you want to loosen it, then rotate the monkey wrench anti-clockwise. Once you are done with your task, use the screwing mechanism to let go of the fastener and safely remove your wrench. You can also use a monkey wrench as an emergency makeshift hammer, break or bend semi-hard objects, etc. 

Monkey Wrench vs Pipe Wrench

What Is A Pipe Wrench?

As you can probably guess from the name, the primary application of a pipe wrench is to deal with different kinds of plumbing systems. These wrenches work really well with threaded pipes and pipe fittings. Although you can use it in other scenarios that do not involve any kind of pipes given the design of this tool it does not come as a surprise why people specifically use it for plumbing work

Similar to monkey wrenches, pipe wrenches are also designed to look like a L or a F. However, one notable difference between the two wrenches is that pipe wrenches have a fixed lower jaw and flexible upper jaw. These jaws can be adjusted using the screwing mechanism. Furthermore, pipe wrenches are classified using their length which can range from 3 to 48 inches. And depending on the size of the wrench, they can be either compact or bulky. 

Monkey Wrench vs Pipe Wrench
Pipe Wrench

Pipe wrenches have serrated teeth within their jaws. This allows the wrench to firmly grip pipes so that the user can easily install or remove them. However, these wrenches are not very useful when it comes to flat surface fittings. 

How To Use A Pipe Wrench?

The way to use a pipe wrench is no different from using a monkey wrench. The only minor change is instead of adjusting the lower jaw of a monkey wrench, you will have to adjust the top jaw of a pipe wrench. Place the jaw of the wrench around the pipe you wish to adjust and then use the screwing mechanism to properly attach the jaw to it.

After which you can turn it clockwise to tighten it or anti-clockwise to loosen it. When you are done, use the screwing mechanism to release the grip on the pipe. Other applications of a pipe wrench include removing or breaking open rusty metal joints, loosening a rusty or worn-out bolt, assembling or disassembling regular hex or shoulder bolts, etc. 

Monkey Wrench vs Pipe Wrench

Monkey Wrench vs Pipe Wrench: What Are The Differences?

If you have read up to this point, then you should already have some idea about the differences between a monkey wrench and a pipe wrench. So, here is an in-depth breakdown of all their differences. 

Monkey WrenchPipe Wrench
Used for nuts, bolts, and screws Used for pipes and plumbing systems
Fixed upper jaw, adjustable lower jawFixed lower jaw, adjustable upper jaw
Length is approximately 24 inchesLength is between 3 to 48 inches
Do not have any teethHave serrated teeth
The adjustable jaw cannot be replacedThe adjustable jaw can be replaced
Ideal for hard materials like steel, iron, metals, etc.Ideal for soft materials like PVC, plastic, copper, etc.
Big and bulkyCan be compact or bulky

Monkey Wrench vs Pipe Wrench: Which One Should You Buy?

The best course of action would be to get both of them as they serve different purposes and have their own distinct functionality. However, if you are on a budget and can only choose one, then you should consider what project you are working on. If you are primarily going to be using your wrench for plumbing work, then you should go for a pipe wrench. On the other hand, if you plan to use the wrench for fastening screws, bolts, or nuts, then a monkey wrench would be a perfect choice.

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