IRWIN VISE-GRIP Adjustable Wrenches

By ralph mroz on Remodeling

IRWIN VISE-GRIP Adjustable Wrenches

Adjustable wrenches are a staple in any pro or DIYer tool set.  And IRWIN VISE-GRIP Adjustable Wrenches are high-quality ones, the kind that you ought to own.

Adjustable wrenches a tool we reach for, or carry into a work space, every now and then; for all of us they are the right tool occasionally.  Yes, the right-size open-end or socket wrench will always turn a nut better, but they aren’t always practical.  Sometimes you’re heading up on a ladder or into a crawl space and you don’t know exactly what you’re going to run into.  Sometimes there isn’t room to turn an open-end wrench or socket.  Sometimes you have to run with a minimal kit.  That’s why we all need a good set of adjustable wrenches

You want better than good enough

Now, I’m a big proponent of the strategy that often, with lesser-used tools, “good enough” versions really are good enough.  I mean, if you aren’t using a tool much it doesn’t have to be bomb-proof, and any aggravation that comes from using the sub-par tool doesn’t happen much, by definition.  This strategy can be penny-wise and not pound-foolish…with tools that you don’t use often.

That’s the approach I took for years with adjustable wrenches.  I used a set of store-brand inexpensive ones from one of the big boxes…and I more-or-less, kinda-sorta got by with them.

But then recently I spent few hours over a couple weeks under a kitchen sink, inside a cabinet with a center stile, trying to find and fix a leak.  (Turns out there were two leaks which is why it took me so long to figure out; fortunately this was in my own house so only my wife and I were inconvenienced.)  In that very cramped space I had to turn a couple different-size nuts, and the various pipes and hoses there didn’t give me much room to do so.  An adjustable wrench was the ticket.

But it was also in that tight environment that the shortcomings of the “good enough” adjustable wrenches I was using became painfully apparent.  I’m sure you know what these faults were.  The adjustable jaw didn’t hold its position – it had too much slop, and merely brushing against the thumb-wheel worm gear moved the jaw.  So basically the wrench would not hold its adjusted position for beans!

IRWIN VISE-GRIP Adjustable Wrenches

IRWIN VISE-GRIP Adjustable Wrenches are available in seven sizes.  I have the 4-wrench set (model 2078706 ) that costs only $50 on Amazon.  This set consists of 6-, 8-, 10-, and 12-inch wrenches (referring to their overall length) that open from closed to 1-inch, to 1 ½-inchs wide.  These are the sizes that will handle 99% of jobs for 99% of the people.  They have both imperial and metric rules on the jaw, although most of us simply snug the jaw up onto a nut rather than try and set the jaw width ahead of time.


  • Chrome vanadium steel
  • ProTouch™ grips
  • English and metric scales
  • Hang hole for easy wall storage or tethering
  • Machined jaws
  • Meets or exceeds ANSI specifications

Good, not “good enough”

The IRWIN VISE-GRIP Adjustable Wrenches have a definite heft and quality feel to them, and they are nicely finished.  This is in stark contrast to my previous “good enough”, probably cast, store brand wrenches.  The drop forged/machined/heat-treated jaws are precise, substantial, and quality.

The ProTouch™ grips are a good feature.  They are a pretty hard polymer, with just enough “give” to be secure and grippy, but not mushy.  IRWIN did a good job in selecting this material, which remains grippy even when wet.  The handles are sized “just right”: hand-filling but not too big; a littler chunkier than you’re used to in a wrench but also more comfortable.

But it’s the worm gear/adjustable jaw interface that really sets the IRWIN VISE-GRIP Adjustable Wrenches above “good enough” ones.  There is of necessity a little (very little) play in the adjustable jaw, but the worm gear does a superb job of keeping that jaw in place.  The worm gear lock-up (so to speak) with the adjustable jaw is tight and doesn’t move unless you deliberately spin the gear…and then both the gear and jaw move smoothly.  My life under the kitchen cabinet just got easier!

Well, well worth the difference

I mentioned that this 4-wrench set is only $50.  That’s maybe only a couple coffees more than you’d pay for a cheap set.  Because cheap adjustable wrenches, no matter how seldom you use them, are frustrating to use, particularly in tight confines, it’s really a no-brainer to pick up a good set like these IRWIN VISE-GRIP Adjustable Wrenches.  Highly recommended.

Just remember to turn the wrench towards, not away from, the adjustable jaw whenever you can for maximum leverage.

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About the author

ralph mroz

Ralph Mroz grew up in an extended family of tradesmen, and worked at the trades summers and weekends through school. He put those skills to good use in renovating the five houses he and his wife have owned. Even while working in the white-collar and law enforcement worlds, he's always had one foot in the construction trades.

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