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Adjustable wrench

This tool is an adjustable wrench (or spanner) with a curved handle. The first patent for this object was granted in 1891 to the Swedish Johan Petter Johansson.

It is used to turn screws or nuts with hexagonal or square heads. The adjustable lower jaw of the wrench makes it possible to change its opening to fit the size of the object to be rotated. Because this wrench is adjustable and versatile, it can be used for a variety of purposes. Unlike a fixed wrench, it has the disadvantage of causing greater wear on the heads of screws and nuts.

Since the head of the tool is large, the curved handle allows easy access to narrow areas like locomotive engines. The length of the wrench is inscribed on the handle.

The 19th century is the golden age of the blacksmith shop in rural areas. In the cities, blacksmiths work in workshops or factories. The industrialization and mechanization create new machines, but also the tools to design and repair them.


Date: 1891–1950

Origin: North America

Owner: Forge Saint-Laurent. Saint-Anaclet-de-Lessard.


Smithsonian National Museum of American History. (n.d.). S-Wrench. Retrieved August 2, 2022, from https://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/search/object/nmah_1213002#:~:text=Called%20an%20%22S%22%20wrench%20because,century%2C%20roughly%201900%2D1955

Du Rietz, P. (n.d.). Johan Petter Johansson – Adjustable pipe wrench. Tekniska Museum. Retrieved August 8, 2022, from https://www.tekniskamuseet.se/en/learn-more/swedish-inventors/johan-petter-johansson-adjustable-pipe-wrench/

Dupont, J.-C. (1979). L’artisan forgeron [The craft smith]. Presses de l’Université Laval; Éditeur Officiel du Québec.

Illustration: Adjustable wrench