It’s been a while since I’ve talked about Channellock adjustable wrenches, and with this post, hopefully I’ll make up for that.
Here are 5 reasons you need one.
1. Smooth Adjustments
There are some adjustable wrenches that you can *kinda* adjust with your thumb, and others that respond with precision and control.
Channellock’s adjustable wrenches respond smoothly and effectively, making them easier to use.
2. Strong and Wobble-Free Adjustable Jaw
The “shake test” can tell you about an adjustable wrench’s quality. These wrenches have a 4-thread knurl, whereas lesser wrenches only have 3, and they’re “tighter.”
Overall, it’s a finer mechanism, and the jaws won’t change their spacing on you.
3. Non-Protruding Jaw
Due to how the knurl and moveable jaw are designed, the jaw’s gear rack won’t protrude out the bottom of a wrench when fully opened.
This can be an access or wrench-swinging issue with other adjustable wrench designs.
4. Comfortable to Use
I own Code Blue cushion grip-handled and plain-handled versions, and they’re both exceptionally comfortable to use. They’re among my favorite hand tools, because they’re simply a pleasure to use.
5. Jaw Opening Width
The chrome-finish, black phosphate, and Code Blue versions all have great opening width capacity, but the Code Blue open a little bit wider.
This can mean being able to carry and use a smaller wrench – say an 8″ wrench instead of a 10″, or a 10″ instead of a 12″.
Buy Now(8″ cushion grip via Amazon)
Buy Now(8″ Chrome finish via Amazon)
Buy Now(Other styles via Amazon)
Channellock adjustable wrenches are made in Spain by Irega. They are simply fantastic to use – comfortable, precise, and convenient.
I tend to prefer using combination wrenches. I’ll use a 1/2″ wrench when I need a 1/2″ wrench, a 5/8″ wrench when I need a 5/8″ wrench, and a 13mm wrench when I need a 13mm wrench. But even then, there are times when an adjustable wrench is convenient, or even required.
If you are fastening two things together via a hex bolt and a hex nut, you’re going to need two wrenches, at least one of which could be an adjustable.
I bought my first Channellock adjustable wrench 9-1/2 years ago, and have purchased several more since. I have also purchased a few Irega wrenches, but I found Channellock’s pricing and availability to be a lot better.
There are great adjustable wrenches. This is one of the few tools I’d say “you should try one!” for. If you don’t know which one to go for, I think that 8″ is a good general purpose size. The Code Blue cushion grip material offers wider capacity, while the chrome finish version is less expensive.
The wrenches are available in a range of sizes, and in chrome, black phosphate, or Code Blue versions.
Buy Now(8″ cushion grip via Amazon)
Buy Now(8″ Chrome finish via Amazon)
Buy Now(Other styles via Amazon)
I know that there are folks who will say that Bahco adjustable wrenches are better (more costly too?):
But we really liked the wide-mouth Channellock styles for use under the sink on drain lines and traps. While Knipex plier wrenches replaced adjustables in our tool kit for use on many fittings – there were times when a short and wide adjustable is indispensable.
They also come in slim-jaw variants that are useful.
I tried Bahco (and Facom too), but still very much prefer Channellock/Irega.
And while the Knipex Pliers Wrench can replace an adjustable wrench in some instances, it requires constant handle pressure. An adjustable wrench is sometimes easier to use, especially as the secondary tool. I’ve used the two together before.
Koko The Talking Ape
I still haven’t found a place where I can’t use the Knipex. I don’t mind the need to keep squeezing. The jaw leverage is so great that it doesn’t take much force, and it is nice to have bolt or nut really held firmly. Crescent wrenches have to have some slop, or else you can’t lift them off the bolt or nut when you make a turn.
I suppose if I couldn’t spare a hand for the second wrench, I might try a vise-grip kind of wrench.
Channellock is like many other brands that have started selling so much branded pointless Chinese crap that you pretty much discount everything they sell, even though a small portion is still the same old high quality they used to be known for. Kind of like Irwin, or Porter Cable or Husky.
Most, if not all, of their adjustable are made in Spain still.
Channellock is made in America, the iconic channellocks , side cutters, long nose, linesman, slip joint, the adjustable are made in Spain, just like Klein tools . The premiere tool line is still the same so you’re dead wrong on the China statement
The anti slip wrenches are Taiwan, the same as Icon, Milwaukee and Carlyle from Hi-Five or Infar . China stock is very limited.
Irwin is mostly China, along with most of Husky, not the same quality as tge old days . Thank God Malco is making USA Vise grips now
They have sold licensed tools through non-traditional channels (such as Costco), and also Do-it-Best stores, for a while. But it has never taken away from their core pliers and hand tool offerings.
I bought a electric or ratcheting screwdriver kit at Costco with the Channelock name, can’t remember which. Worst tool ever! I’ve been skeptical of the brand ever since, though I do own the traditional channelocks and like them. Good to hear about the wrenches.
As I understand it – they still make their pliers in Pennsylvania – but they contract out things like adjustable wrenches to Irega in Spain. I think that the wrench sets with the Channellock brand that you see at Do-it-Best come from Taiwan – but Zoro lists the COO as the USA for some of their other wrenches.
Husky – btw is just a brand name – no longer a manufacturer. In the 1920’s Husky tools were manufactured in Wisconsin – but the brand was sold to New Britain Manufacturing in the 1930’s. New Britain was acquired during one of Litton Industries buying sprees in the 1970’s who then sold it and the Blackhawk brand (as part of National Hand Tool Co.) deal to Stanley in the 1980’s. In the 1990’s Stanley struck a deal with Home Depot for exclusivity on Husky brand tools. Later Stanley either sold or licensed the Husky brand to Home Depot to source “Husky” tools from whatever OEM HD chooses. If you look at the first six digits ot the UPC on Husky tools – it will provide you an indicator of the OEM. Some examples of the OEM and UPC-prefix for Husky tools are:
AMES – USI INDUSTRIES INC. 049206
BAIN CAPITAL – APEX TOOL GROUP – COOPER 037103
BC PARTNERS – KETER PLASTIC LTD. 731161
BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY – MARMON CORP. 817086
BLACKSTONE GROUP LP. – GATES INDUSTRIAL – PLEWS 087817
CAMPBELL HAUSFELD 045564
E & H COMPANY – IRON BRIDGE TOOLS INC. 811187
ENERGIZER HOLDINGS 039800
GONG FONG ENTERPRISE CO. LTD. 4716609
GREAT NECK SAW MFRS. 076812
HAMPTON PRODUCTS INTERNATIONAL 051643
HOME DEPOT – HD SUPPLY – CROWN BOLT 030699
IDEAL INDUSTRIES – WESTERN FORGE 648738
JIANGSU JINLU GROUP 848949
JIXING ALUMINUM PRODUCTS CO. LTD. 6934050
KAPRO INDUSTRIES LTD. 739632
OLYMPIA TOOL GROUP 025997
ROCKFORD COMMERCIAL PRODUCTS 880540
STANLEY – BLACK & DECKER – NATIONAL HAND TOOL 051655
UNION RICH PLASTIC FACTORY LTD. 829676
I want to chime in here because I couldn’t disagree more with this statement. Channellock has remained committed to their core US production. When they’ve gone offshore, it’s for the purpose of expanding their product line. Regarding their Irega produced adjustables, they really are the best in the world. I’ve had a Klein 12″ adjustable (also rebranded Irega) that I’ve absolutely beat the heck out of for over 5 years now as a railroad track mechanic and it’s still good as day one.
A sixth point could have been the shape of the jaw. They are “pointier” than lots of other adjustable wrenches I’ve used and can therefore fit into tighter spaces. You may be able to swing it a few more degrees too.
I own the tiny 4.5″ and the 8″ (with code blue grips). Very nice tools, but I don’t use them very much anymore now that I have a couple pliers wrenches.
Still, they cost half as much or less than a pliers wrench and work so well that, after using lesser adjustable wrenches over the years, it’s still surprising whenever I pick one up.
I’ve had that exact Channellock in the photo for three years. It works great. I guess I’m ahead of the curve. So often I see items on this blog that I’ve owned and used for a while and it’s as if you all have just discovered them for the first time. (haha)
My first post about these wrenches was back in 2009. https://toolguyd.com/channellocks-wide-adjustable-wrenches/
9.5 years is longer than 3 years. =)
I’m sure there are still some brands and tools I can introduce you to. =)
And if not, you should be sending in more tips and post suggestions!
Mea culpa, missed that 2009 date. Keep up the good work
Has anyone seen cheaper (maybe in-store) pricing on these than Amazon’s? If so, where?
Yes, if you live close to a Menards store. Check this price. https://www.menards.com/main/tools-hardware/hand-tools/wrenches-wrench-sets/channellock-reg-8-adjustable-wrench/808w/p-1444426385271-c-9157.htm?tid=-5529174232567317326&ipos=3
I’ve purchased a couple Channellock branded Irega adjustables from zoro.com recently. I price-shopped first, and recall that Amazon and Zoro had the same regular price, but using one of Zoro’s frequent 20%-off coupons made them 20% cheaper then Amazon.
I wonder if anyone can give a detailed comparison to the Bahco’s. They look very similar and both have an 8″ wrench with a 1 1/2″ mouth. I know when comparing two great tools it comes down to nuance, but finding out about those nuances is why we all read blogs like this.
Might be a good candidate for a slim-jaw modification…..grind down thickness of jaw so you can slip onto a nut in a narrow space. I always find myself needing one of these when I can’t see the fastener and need the adjustability.
Should have cleaned up that link before I posted it… Sorry… hope it doesn’t link to my Prime, as I forgot to log out when copying. :-/
Link worked for me. Thanks.
Don’t worry, I usually clean ’em up.
First thin jaw one I saw came from Engineer (Futaba) to work on jam nuts and electrical panel nuts:
Made in a few different sizes
Bahco are slim,strong, and made better. These channellock I’d buy if made here.but they’re made overseas anyway…. cannot beat the bahco.
Patriotizm is good, but some “overseas” countries make better tools and products. For example, Germany or Japan.
Bahco was originally from Sweden, also “overseas”, but now are from Spain.
In fact, there are now only two major manufacturers of quality adjustable wrenches, both in Spain:
Irega – Most German brands such as Hazet, and others including Channellock.
Irimo- owned by SNA- all SNA brands including Bahco and Snap-on
From my experience, while vintage Sweedish Bahcos are the best, new made in Spain Bahcos have somewhat lower quality then Irega.
True, my point was buy American when possible, but if you must buy overseas at least buy the best ,… German,Swiss, just not Chinese…. Never heard of any Japanese tool being better then American or German made other then a pull saw.
Dunlap(very old craftsman) , proto Los Angeles (pre 1960’s), wizard (Western auto) , diamalloy (diamond calk horseshoe) are the adjustable wrenches that I use. All forged in the USA. There’s absolutely no wobble or movement in the bottom jaw on any of them and they don’t move out of place while in use. Adjustment is perfectly tight and smooth on every one. Four different brands from over 50 years ago that made something right is a testament to how the design of such a simple tool has taken a turn for the worst in what is considered to be quality by today’s standards. I also have these very same channellock adjustable wrenches. They don’t see much use.
Ive had a set of the 8″ code blue(extra wide) in my everyday toolbag for about 13 years, working as a plumber, residental maintenance, industrial maintenance. When my tools got stolen years ago its one of the first tools i replaced. I highly recommend for plumbing trim. The only tool ive seen or used that might replace them would be the knipex pliers wrench, slightly different applications but a lot of crossover. I havent invested in a pair yet though.
Stuart, have you ever used a Milli-grip adjustable spanner?
I think they’re better than any other type.
Not yet. I’ve seen the style, but not in person or at my typical retailers.
On one of my sojourns to the UK – I think that I saw this and a batch of other Monument plumbing tools. Some looked interesting – but some were (not surprisingly) rather specific to UK plumbing standards.
I found this too on Amazon UK:
Anyone have a fair comparison the Milwaukee’s offering? I have an 8″ wide jaw of theirs, and absolutely love it. No jaw play, as they have 5 thread knob for adjustment. I tightened up a nut on my trailer hitch to within 1/8 of a turn of what an extra long fitted wrench was able to tighten it.
Some discussion over on Stuart’s Tool Talk site may also be of interest:
Does anyone know when the Channellock last had U.S. made adjustable wrenches?
Bahco wide jaw, best adjustable wrench I have ever owned. I have a wide jaw channel lock one the blue handle slips off when put under pressure, it’s no longer on my tool bag due the this.
The Bahco wide jaw is almost essential for any plumber
The jaws on this 8″ Bacho Amazon B0012Y4ZJK fit in places others won’t. The wrench pictured on Amazon is actually a 9072 10″ not the 9031 RC 8″. Have abused this wrench for over a year and it still functions and looks as new. If I lost this wrench I’d order a new one right away.
Also on Amazon is this B005W0Z91I wide mouth wrench. Bought it to use as a cheap beater. It has a little rust on it from getting wet but overall it’s a good wrench for not a lot of money.
Over the years I’ve had a few cheapo sloppy crescent wrenches in my hands – which I would never adopt as go-to tools. I still have & use the Klein & Crescent wrenches I’ve been using for several decades now; I started using them up on poles where it didn’t make sense to have a bunch of fixed wrenches. I used them a lot, all day, every day.
I might appreciate the silky movement of a new fancier wrench but hardly enough to feel good about replacing something clearly tried & true, especially for the premium of some listed here. And, like most of us here, I get a Zen buzz from new/better tools – but not always!
For my job an adjustable wrench is required, so many odd sized nuts like half sized jam nuts that don’t have proper wrench sizes. I live by Irega made channellock wrenches. I do want to try a Bahco with the side nut shifter though.
I was turned on to the Code Blues back when I was going through my millwright schooling by my dad, a 40+ year mining plant veteran. I have used the stubby wrenches as backer wrenches in the shittiest places possible, and in a pinch, I’ve used them as sizing gauges. I have had 3 different pairs of 6 & 8’s grow legs and walk off, but those are something I always replace. I’m praying for the day Code Blue comes out with a hammer spud wrench.
Despite being a swed and of course owning plenty of Bacho adjustable wrenches it was a long time since i used one. The wide and slim jaws of Irega manufactured ones is just awesome.