What brand, size, or style of combination wrench set would you recommend to DIYers or homeowners?
My in-laws stopped by for a visit today, and I gave my father-in-law a 15″ adjustable wrench. A couple of months ago he had asked for a larger adjustable wrench, as whatever size he was using for a minor plumbing repair was just too small. So, I bought him a 15″ wrench, figuring that it should do the trick.
Do you happen to have a wrench set?
I know exactly what I’ll get him – a Husky 10pc inch combination wrench set (shown above), and a 10pc metric wrench set.
This is similar to what I purchased for myself a while ago, but better. I bought raised panel wrenches, which were decent, but short. These Husky wrenches are full-polish and look to be standard length wrenches.
Right now, as part of Home Depot’s Father’s Day 2021 tool deals, they have the Husky wrench sets for $20 each.
SAE sizes: 1/4″, 5/16″, 3/8″, 7/16″, 1/2″, 9/16″, 5/8″, 11/16″, 3/4″, 7/8″
Metric sizes: 8mm, 10mm, 11mm, 12mm, 13mm, 14mm, 15mm, 16mm, 17mm, 19mm
Buy Now: SAE via Home Depot
Buy Now: Metric via Home Depot
I think this is an unbeatable value to start out with. I don’t know what wrenches my father-in-law might have, but this should cover 99% of his needs.
I’m thinking back to when I purchased my first wrench set. I didn’t need all 9 sizes, I needed maybe 3 sizes. But the way the tools were priced, it didn’t make sense to buy them individually, so I bought the 9pc set.
With these Husky 10pc sets, there’s are more sizes than I got with my first sets, and I like the full-polish aspect.
These wrenches aren’t one-style-fits-all, meaning more advanced users might have different preferences or needs.
But for someone looking to get a wrench set to cover all of their bases, this will definitely do the trick. If these sets were available when I was first starting out, this is what I’d buy.
Right now they’re $20 special buy for Father’s Day, and you’ll need to get order them for in-store pickup.
Husky also has a Lifetime Warranty and no questions, no receipt required policy, which makes these sets even more compelling.
Buy Now: SAE Set
Buy Now: Metric Set
I think that these sets are all my Father-in-law will ever need.
For a more casual user, these sets might be the perfect upgrade over an adjustable wrench.
What about me? These would have been a good starting point for me, but I’ve benefited from expanding my wrench set over the years. Meaning, if I bought this 15 years ago, I would have added to it, but would probably still have it today.
The beauty of these wrenches is that they’ll still be useful even if a user ever needs or wants to upgrade or expand their kit, since many tasks might require two wrenches. I often use one wrench as a backer wrench, holding a nut or other rear fastener in place, and another wrench or ratcheting wrench to do the main work, turning a bolt head or other front fastener.
My mind is set – I’m heading out to Home Depot to pick up these Husky wrench sets, but I’m curious to hear if you have any other recommendations.
What about ratcheting wrenches? I think that combination wrenches are a better option to start out with. Let’s say you’re using a socket wrench and need a backer wrench. I’d rather use a non-ratcheting 12pt box end over a ratcheting box end. I think that a ratcheting wrench set is a great next-step, though.
If you were shopping for a combination wrench set for a DIYer, homeowner, or similar user, would you go with these sets, or something different?
Maybe harbor freight or kobalt. Personally I’d go with kobalt. I have a few wrenches I got in a 200 piece set as a high school graduation gift. And they’re pretty good.
I went with Tekton. They’re ok. If I had to do it again, I would get Gearwrench 6 point non-ratcheting wrenches. I’ve stripped a few bolts with my 12 point “more position” wrenches.
This Kobalt set covers my homeowner’s needs 100%. I bought it “just in case”, and in the last 4+ years didn’t use a single one of them. (I use some nut drivers, SAE and metric, from time to time.)
An adjustable wrench made in Spain.
That’s what I gave my father a few years ago – Channellock WideAzz wrench with cushion handle, and also Irega in other sizes that I bought from a Woodworking Show liquidator.
It’s the way to go. Even over our beloved pliers wrench (because they will get frustrated) . I just can’t see anyone that isn’t either a mechanic or a tool nut like you and me wanting to have to deal with wrenches and sockets in general.
Sometimes accessibility requires a smaller wrench head, an offset box end can save one’s knuckles, or one might want or need two tools for a task.
A lot of times an adjustable wrench or pliers can do the job, but a combination wrench might make things a lot easier, or deliver better results.
Combo wrenches wouldn’t be in my “DIY starter tool kit recommendations,” because as you suggested it’s more of a deliberate-use tool. It’s not as general-purpose as other tools.
I found this interesting to think about – both Husky sets, combined, are priced lower than just (1) Knipex Pliers wrench of ANY size.
That pricing is pretty incredible when you compare to the Craftsman offering at the same price from Lowes. I know SBS is selling some decent wrenches under Craftsman…but not for $20. For twenty dollars, you get their version of the raised panels (and they are rough).
I would suggest the Dewalt yellow covered top tough case sets. They are much more expensive than your listed options. I like them for their organizational usefulness, keeps everything in it’s place. For sockets I get the impact sets. As gifts, they could be given a different set on several occasions (Father’s Day, birthday, Christmas, extra.). A lot of sets to choose from(sockets & impact versions 3/8, 1/2, nut- bit driver set, combination wrenches, deep socket sets , extension & adapter sets.). Just some thoughts.
Those are also good bargains.
Matt the Hoople
Not the Husky sets. There’s 4 skipped sizes between the two sets. 9/32,11/32,9mm,18mm. All are sizes I use periodically (don’t recall using the 18mm but a couple of my 18mm wrenches look used. If they offer the skipped sizes as open stock So I could fill in the gaps, I might consider. Otherwise, I’d probably get something like the Tektons for diy as they are 1/4 to 1” and 8-22 with no skips. They may be a little pricey depending on one’s “level” of diy.
I use 11/32″ frequently, and have learned to accept that most brands won’t include this size in their smaller wrench sets. To get this size, you need to spend much more on a 12pc set or similar. The same with commonly skipped metric sizes.
Back when I bought my starter sets, I had to fill in 11/32″ with McMaster Carr purchases. That might have been among my first introductions to Armstrong.
Husky has open stock – their 11/32″ is $3.47 at stores. It won’t fit in the same holder, but what can you do – this is the same with most wrench sets on the market, especially at retail.
“Do they have an 11/32″ wrench?” is a test I often use to determine the breadth of brands’ open stock lineups.
For Tekton 1/4″ to 1″ and 8-22, you’re looking at $131 shipped via Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OXUPFDU/?tag=toolguyd-20 .
Or, $136 for the sets with pouches – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FWBPPY7/?tag=toolguyd-20 .
That’s very good, and I’d consider these options more as upgrade-to sets.
I use this one:
and have this one as part of a Proto “Ignition wrench” set:
Matt the Hoople
Yep. Need that. Just went to install some new #8 stainless screws in the boat. The nylok nuts are 11/32. The screws go down in from above the deck and I have to put the nuts onto the underside reaching in through a hatch. This is the perfect application for a ratcheting box end. So, I just realized they neither my standard Gearwrench nor my reversible sets have an 11/32. Drat. So now I’m gonna need to spend like $25 for two open stock little wrenches. And make due with a standard box end in the meantime.
I still like the old school craftsman raised pannel wrenches. I would probably go with Carlyle as my first choice, maybe tekton or masterforce
Pittsburgh until something breaks.
A while back I bought myself a Dewalt SAE and Metric ratcheting wrench sets. While I have a few old sets from Ace hardware, Craftsman, a few wrenchs I’m not sure have brand names. And while they all work for the needed task I use them for, nothing beats a ratcheting wrench. I bought the Dewalt for a unbelievably low price, but I love them, that haven’t failed me yet.
You would seriously not believe how many wrench sets I own. But what I am using now, every day, is Tekton. I put all my SK combination wrenches in storage and went Tekton about year ago. Kobalt is OK, and the Gearwrench switchable ratcheting wrenches are good. If I were to move away from Tekton, it would be to Stahlwille, Gedore or Facom.
Kind of hard to beat the $20 price point on those Husky sets. Maybe a professional auto mechanic would scoff – and their SK, Proto, Stahlwille or SnapOn et. al. sets would be superior – but a casual DIY’er might never really put them to the test. In the fabrication shop – we had mostly Williams and Martin wrenches – with a smattering of Armstrong thrown in – mostly used in maintenance work.
BTW – Powerbuilt (Alltrade Llc) is running a 15% off promo for Father’s Day. I don’t think I’ve ever used any of their stuff – so I can’t attest to quality or price.
I’ve got SK, Proto, Stahlwille, et al, and I honestly do not think they’re superior.
For the average DIY-er, Husky is just fine. And with Home Depot being on almost every corner, returns are very easy – on the off-chance you manage to break a combo wrench.
I’ve had basically good luck with HF wrenches, but as a gift to family, I’d go a step up for the bling factor.
For work, I’m debating a set of Tekton just for the inclusive sizes – I’m generally a fan of their products anyway.
I’ve only ever had one issue with a Husky wrench – the 15/16 combo wrench didn’t fit the nut I was working on; just a hair too tight to fit and the head was too thick to fit easily in the confined space.
Cresent wrenches say their tools meet new ANSI & ASME ratings.
The Husky set is.probably a good deal for a casual DIYer. For heavier use Tekton is a step up and IMO gear wrench above that. Pittsburg are OK for the price but I’d say it’s worth spending more for Pittsburg Pro.
+1 on 6-point wrenches for box, combination and socket.
There may be an argument for 12-point on box and combination because it cuts in half the degrees required to obtain a “bite” but 12-point rounds off too many corners. As for sockets, since they’re used primarily on ratchet handles, there’s no need for more than 6 points.
Those would be just fine for a suburbanite. Pretty hard to beat since they’ll lay in a drawer 99.9% of the time anyway, and when they’re needed, they’ll do the job. Husky is made to lay in a drawer, not be used a lot–perfect fit for your application.
I won’t buy a set of metric that skips a size (we need 18mm a lot for instance) but I have a working shop that fixes heavy machinery daily and I won’t buy a set that stops before 1-1/8 or 24mm but my uses are different than most on here.
Combination wrenches are the first sets to buy for sure.
It’s a Taiwanese company that manufactures for many other famous brands.
They have a very extensive line, with almost all styles (flat, ring, angled, semi-open, quick-action, etc).
I have a friend that has an auto-mechanic shop and he said that Toptul holds better (much better, his words) than traditional 1st tier brands such as Facom, Hazet, Gedore, Stahlwille.
And did I mention that you can get them somewhat cheap?
Not sure that most Toptul offerings are readily available in the US. They have an extensive catalog online – but only a few offerings on Amazon and eBay – and not many other sources that I can find.
Some European brands (like Beta, Elora, Gedore, Hazet, Heyco, Stawhille), Japanese brands (like Ko-Ken, Lobster, Supertool) and Taiwanese brands (like Listol) also seem to have not made significant inroads into the US marketplace. Other once venerable USA brands (like Martin and Wright) seem to still be in business – but not very visible in the mass market arena.
Well said, I have lots of Toptul stuff and I’m more than happy with all of it. The satin chrome looks good with all my Wera and NWS stuff too. There’s a new US seller of Toptul, check out JMToolCo.com
Aint nothing wrong with that Husky set for a homeowner. Unless your father-in-law is a hardcore wrencher (which he probably isn’t, given the fact that he doesn’t have his own wrench set already and is using adjustable wrenches you gave him) this set will absolutely fill his needs. It’s a Gearwrench wrench set labeled as “Husky” at a discount.
I guess it depended on what the particular DIYr was going to be doing. house repair type work – light automotive or others – then yes I see nothing wrong with that wrench set for the price.
I also find I like roll up pouches for my wrenches more than I like trays, I’ve gone back and forth a few times.
If on the other hand the person was doing more bike and automotive repairs I tend to look for a set that is full. and I often give a metric only set. Why – unless you are going to work on something that is older than 91 then you really just need metric. So I get them a full set metric (and here I like tekton currently). If on the other hand you need to work something SAE on your house. more than likely a metric equivalent will work fine. When trying to take brake calipers apart a SAE equivalent might not.
Also for plumbing work I actually use combination wrenches. I get odd looks as to why I don’t have adjustables. I put them in the bag but more often than not I use the combinations. why they fit snug and I get easier pull with them.
ALso odd question does anyone else try a wrench in the store against bolts in the store? IE take the wrench set off the shelf and go to the hardware aisle and try the fitment on bolts there. My biggest wrench pet peeve is sloppy fitment.
I learned early on that many full-thickness combination wrenches would not work for many bicycle tasks. Open end cone wrenches (used in pairs) need to be super thin. And every time one of my kids friends came by with a new bike I’d find that a new size might be needed. Then try using a 15mm cone wrench on a pedal – thin enough but not strong enough – while a regular combination wrench might be too thick.
In our plumbing business – if we were doing a hi-rise the guys favored using ratcheting flare nut wrenches to speed up the process. And once we discovered Knipex plier wrenches use of some other wrench styles seemed to fall out of favor. The Irega-made wide mouth Channellock adjustables also gained favor once they became available.
For the occasional DIYer, you gotta go ratcheting. They likely aren’t going to be using them in super torque applications or using a backer wrench with the box end. And the ratcheting action practically eliminates the need for an additional ratchet and socket set.
I’ve borrowed ratcheting wrenches to DIY homeowner types of friends and family, most of them didn’t even know that was a thing. They immediately went out and bought their own sets.
In my opinion nearly any brand will suffice for light duty homeowner or DIY use. I certainly have developed preferences for wrenches over the years: my most commonly used ones are Snap-On; my jumbo sizes and lesser-used types like ignition wrenches, flare-nut wrenches, crowfoots, offset box-ends etc, are mostly Craftsman Professional. My ratcheting sets are Gearwrench. I have a few MAC, Facom, and Stahlwille too. But while those are my preference it’s extremely rare I’ve had others fail. For this kind of thing I would shop by value (price). I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Harbor Freight, Husky, Tekton, Kobalt, or similar for this kind of application. Whatever’s on sale for the best deal, really. If it’s a somewhat decent name brand it’s hard to go wrong. The only things I’d steer clear of are the no-name imports, or the really bottom-of-the-barrel ones like Great Neck.
I live in Canada so I have one option most of you don’t. This 30-piece full-polish Mastercraft set is where I would put my money if I were a casual user:
They’re good wrenches even if your needs progress. Regularly “on sale” for about $50-60 CAD (our tools prices are typically 30-50% higher than USD for context). Metric sizes from 6-22mm without any unreasonable skips (there’s no 9mm for example, but how many 9mm fasteners do you come across?). Also a lifetime exchange warranty (and there are way more Canadian Tire stores here than Home Depots).
Then, as if it were a heaven-made match, I would absolutely pair it with the Ernst Wrench Tower (30-holder version obviously). Working from the wrench tower with a complete set of wrenches is just the bees knees.
If not for the Mastercraft set, I would go with Husky. Tekton or Gearwrench as upgrade options (though I would find it hard to not “upgrade” to ratchet wrenches if the budget were larger).
I know Craftsman raised-panel wrenches (which SBD cloned) are another popular choice in the budget category. I have a set I bought in high school – but I don’t think they’re anything special. I prefer full polish.
I really think Mastercraft and Husky are the clear winners for cheap wrenches that are still good wrenches.
Just FYI 24 piece Mastercraft wrench set with satin finish is also on sale – for about $40.
I’ve used both styles. I own a smaller set of the satin finish wrenches and my aunt owns the full-polish set (not sure why, I’m pretty sure I’m the only person that uses them when I work on something at her place). I prefer the full-polish and would pay the extra for the larger set. I treat my satin wrenches as “beaters” since I now have many nicer wrenches to use. Spending more for the larger set is also way more economical than adding the extra wrenches to the satin set later – and the polished wrenches are nicer.
P.s. the “Maximum” branded ratcheting wrenches sold at Canadian Tire are made by Gearwrench. They used to be co-branded with “Maximum” on one side and “Gearwrench” on the other. Not entirely sure if that’s still the case – and it’s possible they are made to different specs. However, the “Maximum” branded ratchet wrenches often go on sale for significantly less than I can find the corresponding offerings from “Gearwrench” and minus the branding they visually seem to be the same tools. Sometimes a set will include different size-selections or cases.
I have a few different styles – I’m particularly fond of the double box-end extra-long ratchet wrenches. I see they recently started selling a FLEX head double box-end XL set… do I need to get that too?! 🤔I mean, I have flex-end wrenches and the double-box XL, but both in one wrench also sounds sweet!
Tekton set all the way, no size skips and pretty affordable.
Probably most sets skip some oddball sizes like:
19/32 ( Wiha-Heyco 40049) – used on some old starter motors
21/32 – for shower valves
25/32 (Wiha-Heyco 40053 wrench) – vintage Ford main bearing bolts
27/32 – for shower valves
31/32 (Ampco W-670A wrench)
Working on an old British motorcycle gets you to recognize that Whitworth standard hex bolts may have different head sizes than SAE standard ones. Another obsolete (British Association) standard (BA#0 to BA#16) was used for some smaller fasteners with the largest BA#0 being 10.5mm across the flats.
While on the /32nd theme – I might have also mentioned that the only 15/32 wrench I’ve recalled seeing was an Elora (146-15/32X15/32)
I don’t think I ever saw a 13/32 – but Gedore has a socket (1997149).
21/32 , 27/32 and 31/32 wrenches might be available – but the only tools I’ve seen in that size are shower valve sockets
21/32 , 23/32 and 27/32 – also seem to be the sizes for some Weatherhead fittings – and the Sunex makes sockets to fit them
I have this set https://www.homedepot.com/p/Husky-SAE-Metric-Combination-Stubby-Wrench-Set-34-Piece-HW34PCMIX/202934547 same price as buying the two sets but adds some stubby wrenches to. Personally I really like the Husky wrenches, they are a tad thicker than many others on the market but are the same thickness as standard nuts of the same size. This makes it nice when using two standard nuts as jam nuts.
I’m a big fan of Tekton, if for nothing else that their customer service is fantastic. The wrenches are solid, but the most I ever put one through was a 3/4″ at around 160 ft-lb (changing a outdoor faucet pipe, torque guessed based on wrench length and body weight). But when I broke one of their sockets, using it probably above it’s rating, I called and they sent me a brand new one, no questions asked. Their prices have gone up in the past five years, but more stuff is made in America, and even the new Taiwan stuff feels better than the older stuff.
Love my Snap-on combination wrenches.
$nap-on is great… but only if you can afford them and work in a place where a $nap-on truck comes around regularly. For my money, I’d get J.H. Williams wrench sets which are like having $nap-on but at 1/4 the price.
These are both terrible, even “horrendous” recommendations… for a first wrench set for a DIYer. 😜
I’d go Proto reversible ratcheting spline drive with an ASD box end – but Williams (no longer “J.H.” Williams) is a solid choice and probably more affordable.
A neighbor of mine has some Ultrapro wrenches that impressed me (a Napa brand – I think you get Carlisle in the USA, but I’m not sure if they’re identical). The open end was a very precise fit on fasteners, a little skinnier looking than most and actually felt different while applying torque – like it was stiffer. I’m typically annoyed when I have to use someone else’s wrenches – but not that time! Actually made me consider whether I should source a set (and I am well-stocked on wrenches, let me tell you).
That comment should have said “Proto reversible ratcheting spline drive with an ASD *OPEN* end”
ASD means “anti-slip design” and is like a halfway point between Snap-on’s “Flank Drive” and “Flank Drive Plus” wrenches.
The Snap-on “Plus” wrenches have teeth to help grip fasteners – but they can also mar the fastener flats. ASD is more subtle and doesn’t damage things.
All diyers need an flex ratcheting set of Protos
I have to pile on with Tekton.
I do 99% of all my own auto/truck/jeep repairs and builds. I have very old craftsman wrenches I started getting (under the tree for xmas) when I was a kid, and bought my own later on. That was through the 70s, when Craftsman was it.
Well we saw that change.
I than start with a lot of GearWrench, which originally came out as craftsman, the ratcheting box wrench design. Those were a life saver in tight areas.
But you really cant get into a lot of torque with the ratcheting box drive , so still need the normal combo box wrench.
As I forget where I put a basic wrench (non-ratcheting), never to be found again, or yet another 10mm socket (and others) I’ve been replacing them with Tekton, and can’t complain at all. I’m rough on my tools, and need to live with a torque wrench to be sure a few more degrees of a turn isn’t too much resulting in a snap.
I also can’t complain about Husky. I carried them in the field for 12 years working on large DC power systems. Why Husky, HomeDepot at 5am in the morning to round up tools for a job I flew into, or walked into and needed tools. If I had a choice, I do think I like Lowes’s Kobalt a bit better. But my work bag was filled with Husky due to access and availability and they didn’t fail me.
But for my garage tool boxes, it’s been craftsman vintage 70s’, and Tekton and GearWrench for the normal basics.
Of course there are a ton hex wrench sets and alike driver sets from Husky… again, can’t complain at all.
Between jobs at one point, I turned wrenches for my friend in the garage he owned. I used all his snap on tools. The only positive I came away with, at the time, was their socket design, which now everyone copies. And also the benefit of mid length deep sockets- lol. That year taught me, no need to spend the money on snap-on and invest in some 3/8 mid length/deep socket sets. And I really hated their ratchets. Lots of bruised knucles when the pawls slipped from not being able to handle the torque. Never had a craftsman do that to me, nor most of my GearWrenches, but for one box set of the 120tGW ratchets,, have to be careful with them. That is one of the only GW ratchet sets I can’t say all great things about. I have other 120ts and 92’s and 72’s, never an issue of opening up and bust’n the knuckles.
You busted knuckles on Snap-on ratchets? You must work out. 😄
I also think Kobalt wrenches and sockets are pretty good – here in Canada though (maybe the same in the USA) they are considerably more expensive than Husky.
I bought a few Kobalt socket singles to help expand my socket set (e.g. instead of the typical ~10-19mm in 3/8″ drive, I bought smaller and larger sockets (from a variety of brands) so my set goes down to 6mm and up to 24mm). I think the fit and chrome are really good. I have a couple flex-head ratchet wrenches too that seem as good as anything in the mid-tier range.
i am a fan of the Gearwrench line. Especially the X Beam line . You are pushing against a flat surface not an edge. These are ratcheting