Ridgid says this about their USA-made pipe wrenches:
Count on RIDGID pipe wrenches to get you through the toughest jobs on any pipe size.
Are they right? Can you count on RIDGID’s pipe wrenches?
When water (or worse) is spraying into the air…
When you need a repair completed ASAP…
When you need a tool you can trust to get the job done…
Is RIDGID the brand of pipe wrench you want in your hands? Everything I have ever experienced and heard about the company says YES.
RIDGID is *the* name in pipe wrenches, with different sizes and styles to suit every need or application.
Thank you RIDGID for being a ToolGuyd sponsor, and for providing a shiny new USA-made 14″ pipe wrench for this story!
Shown here are my grandfather’s RIDGID pipe wrenches.
I was going to clean them up and restore them, but I just didn’t have the heart to do so. They’re not dirty, they have character, and I don’t want to scrub any of that away.
And, they still work quite well. I would have thought the threads would need some attention, but they’re still smooth to adjust.
I tried to save money a long time ago, when I purchased a cheap pipe wrench. These RIDGID wrenches, with decades of use and grime, work better than that cheap pipe wrench did on Day 1.
I don’t know what my grandfather used his pipe wrenches for, but their wear and scarring tell a story.
I asked my mother if she knew how my grandfather used these wrenches, and she simply said “he used them for everything.” My grandfather was a baker, among other things, and from what I’m told he liked to install and maintain his equipment – both at the bakery and at home.
My grandfather wasn’t really a tool person, or at least not as I knew him, but he was certainly a results person.
RIDGID sent over a 14″ heavy-duty straight pipe wrench to complement the 18″ wrenches I inherited.
I wish I could say that I’m surprised at how little RIDGID’s pipe wrenches have changed over the years, but why mess with perfection?
I cannot remember when I first learned of RIDGID as the de-facto pipe wrench brand. But even if I erased all of my experiences with the brand and their tools, and everything I have heard about their products, their pipe wrenches will always prove their mettle and speak for themselves.
With RIDGID pipe wrenches, they DO “make them like they used to.”
Tell me about your RIDGID pipe wrench experiences!
Would you agree that this is a brand and tool you can count on?
Ridgid are my favorite by far. A pipe wrench is like an adjustable wrench: a cheap one will infuriate you while a good one you hardly think about. I’m sure other companies make good ones, but I always know Ridgid will be good so I haven’t really bothered to buy anything else. We use a lot of pipe wrenches at work, small to huge, straight, angled, end. We also use a lot of Ridgid’s straight and angled hex wrenches, which we call pelicans in the shipyard for some reason.
I couldn’t agree more. Ridgid has always been my go-to for pipe wrenches, pipe threading tools, and tubing cutters. They’ve never let me down while plenty of cheapos have.
When I was a young boy, my family owned a small contracting company. Plumbers, pipe fitters, and electricians mostly. I recall my dad, cousins, uncles, and employees using these wrenches. Big steel wrenches, 24, 36 and even 48″ models used on steam boiler jobs and for rigid metal conduit electrical work. I remember how heavy they were and what a beating they took. I still have a few that I use in my career as an electrician and electrical instructor. I am quite sure that the rest are still in service somewhere, and still get the job done.
The Ridge Tool Company takes its name (and trademark “Ridgid”) from North Ridgefield Ohio where it was founded in 1923. In 1966 the company was acquired by the Emerson Electric company that still owns it. The brand name “Ridgid” was licensed to Home Depot – for use on many non-plumbing tools made by different OEMs. Emerson’s Ridge Tool Company still produces plumbing tools in Elyra Ohio – and also makes some other Ridgid branded power tools like vacuums. Ridgid-branded small power tools – sold at Home Depot – are made by TTI with the brand name applied under license.
Before the Ridge Tool Company came up with their design (solid body handle, with a screw-nut to adjust the floating serrated l-jaw) – the popular pipe wrench was the “Stillson”. The Stillson (made by several companies under patent license) had a handle, separate assembly to hold the adjusting nut, and the serrated l-jaw). There was more spring to this design.
Stuart shows both straight-pattern and end-pattern examples of the Ridgid design. The end pattern can allow for use in closer quarters – but may not allow quite as much torque to be applied.
Many other companies produce Ridgid look-alike wrenches. While the Ridgid brand ones are perhaps the best – some of the others from manufacturers like Reed, Rothenberger and Wheeler Rex are also quality tools. Some years ago Ridgid and others introduced aluminum handles to help reduce weight. Other end patterns – like 90degree jaws (e.g. Ridgid 89445) were also offered.
Ridgid also makes what they call compound leverage jaw wrenches. These can get pricey and many of my guys thought that they were not worth their extra cost.
Ridgid and other also make wrenches with smooth jaws. Some (e.g. Ridgid 31400) are like those originally made by Coes – and usually called Monkey Wrenches (sometimes also referred to as Ford or Auto Wrenches or Spud Wrench). Some smooth jaw wrenches (e.g. Ridgid 31305) have an offset handle for use in confined spaces like on under-sink traps. Longer ones (like the discontinued Ridgid 31280) were designed for use on unions.
Have you heard of Wiscraft wrenches? I found one stuck behind the rubrail on a barge we hauled out years ago. Obviously fairly old, 14″, made in the USA, and appeared to be the original black paint on the handle. I cleaned it up and it’s a nice little wrench. I’d never heard of Wiscraft before, and I’ve never seen another one since.
Some of my relatives were plumbers from the mid-1800’s – but I never heard anyone mention that brand. But remember that for many years there were a plethora of local manufacturers scatted about the country making all sort of tools.
I have some antique wrenches from Coes , Erie Toolworks, Keen Kutter, Parmelee (CS Osborne), Pexto (Peck Stow & Wilcox), and Walworth.
Wiscraft is an organization in Milwaukee that helps with jobs for the blind. They do contract jobs that include running a machine shop. This may have been made by them.
The company started in 1903. I think the machine shop opened in the 1950s. They still do assembly work for Briggs & Stratton using specially designed rigs to allow completely blind employees to work.
Interesting. Sounds like a neat outfit, not the answer I was expecting. Thanks!
Those compound leverage wrenches are interesting. I have one, the smallest model, which I think is 2 inch capacity if memory serves, but only because I spotted it at a garage sale in 99% brand new condition for $5 so I snapped it up. I’ve only had to use it once at this point, it was in a very tight spot where I couldn’t fit a longer wrench. I must say that it really can crank out some impressive torque for its size but I found it a hassle to set up, though perhaps that’s just due to my inexperience with the tool. I see them as a “problem solver” that would spend most of its life sitting in the back of a plumber’s van, only to see the light of day on the rare occaision where nothing else will get the job done.
Thanks for the correction – I apologize if I offended anyone from there by substituting “field” for “ville”
thanks for the history lesson, makes me want another pipe wrench now.
I might have also added that diy’ers sometimes get into trouble by misusing pipe wrenches.
The serrated jaws will quickly ruin polished fittings and pipe (Chrome, brass etc.) – and are clearly not meant for plastic pipe and fittings. For these applications think about using a strap wrench, Knpiex plier wrench, smooth jaw wrench (adjustable or fixed size) or a Parmelee wrench.
Best used in pairs (one to hold and one to turn) – they should also be applied to the pipe with 3-point contact – with the pipe resting on the back of the moving jaw. This will help prevent distorting the pipe as torque is applied.
Finally – while we’ve all used cheater bars – you do so with knowledge that something other than the fitting might give.
For really large pipes – think about chain tongs.
The Ridge tool company was founded in 1923 in North Ridgeville, Ohio.
I was a pipefitter in construction and then in maintenance in an automotive parts plant (MTD). We only used Ridgid products in construction, at GE and at the Parma MTD plant near Cleveland, Ohio.
At MTD, they bought me Ridgid aluminum pipe wrenches which are wonderful when you have to carry them around in a huge shop all day. People would use the steel pipe wrenches for a hammer sometimes and it would not bother them. But then they would bang the aluminum one’s on the weakest part the semi-circular back and crack the hollow part out!
You could use a “cheater pipe” on the handle of the steel wrenches, but you could snap an aluminum one doing that.
48” Ridgid steel pipe wrench (34 1/4 pounds), 48” Ridgid aluminum pipe wrench (18 1/2 pounds). Still made in Elyria, Ohio.
Ridgid makes a great pipe wrench. The 10 inch adjustable wrench I have from them has more slop in it than just about any other adjustable wrench I have and I probably a dozen or more other adjustable wrenches tucked away in various boxes and on desks and in drawers from multiple manufacturers.
This might be simultaneously the weirdest, and funniest topics I’ve ever seen on this site since joining. There’s a few contenders here, but, this is ranking high in the standings right now.
First off… The design of a Pipe Wrench doesn’t seem to have changed in… well… ever, really. It’s the Top Predator in the Wrench world, as it has never had to evolve. As such… I think it’s difficult to find a truly “Bad” one of these Pipe or Monkey Wrenches. Notice in a few comments, and Stuart’s Article, how not a single stat beyond length and weight are ever mentioned. What is mentioned is the longevity of the mechanism… and that, right there, seems to be the sole judge of quality in these wrenches. Whether or not the tightening mechanism sticks at any point over time.
As to Ridgid… Honestly I didn’t know much about the field of options for pipe wrenches, let alone that Ridgid was the De-Facto manufacturer. But I will say this for them: Got my attention now. I never got around to getting a Pipe Wrench, but it appears I have my target now for when I do. Ridgid.
Now how many sizes of this does the usual DiYer need? Are they ever sold in necessity sets to match? I’ve had plenty of times when I wanted to seriously torque down on a bolt or pipe, maybe it’s time I did that with the proper tool for the job?
The joke has been to recommend the Ridgid 60” steel pipe wrench for DIY pipe fitting. Probably model 31045. That way the DIY person has something firm to hang on to, when they get the bill from the Pro.Water Restoration company.
I’ve been lucky, my pipefitting hasn’t caused any flooding over the years.
One of the companies I was invested in – provided 365 day – 24hr service calls. Naturally our fee structure was different for a Christmas eve call than for one on a typical weekday afternoon.
The guys would sometimes talk about some of the more egregious homeowner “repairs” that they were called out to fix. Stuff happens and as long as no one is injured or worse – most plumbing problems (even if you blow a house up from a DIY gas pipe installation) will only cost money to fix.
Since you mentioned specifics, one of the details that I happen to like about Ridgid wrenches is that the serrations in the jaws are both properly sharp and hard. Thus they bite well into the pipe without slipping, and they stay sharp over a lot of use. One of my biggest pet peeves with cheapo pliers or pipe wrenches is that the serrations often aren’t sharp from the get-go, or perhaps they are but they aren’t hardened right and they soon deform. When that happens I find they increase the marring of the pipe and also increase the risk of slippage which can cause injury. That’s one of the same reasons why I like Knipex pliers so much: they do the serrations right.
I will say that a pipe wrench is a fairly specialist tool. They’re a bit of a one-trick pony: working with iron or steel pipe. I honestly haven’t used mine very often at all for around-the-house DIY. I get far more use out of Knipex Cobras for that sort of thing because they are also useful on other kinds of fittings, not just bare iron pipe. If you’re working with PVC fittings, flare/compression fittings, stop valves under the sink or behind the toilet, drain plumbing under the sink, and so on I’d much rather have Cobras. On the other hand if your home has a lot of black iron pipe for gas or galvanized pipe for water, etc, that’s where the pipe wrench shines.
Same, I think half of what makes ridgid noticably better than most others are the good teeth. That bite and stay sharp
I wonder how the popularity of the plastic piping with quick connects, have effected pipe wrench sales? It probably has slowed sales to homeowners ( DIY’s).
We had one subsidiary business that was a union shop – doing work in our largest city – where there was mostly older apartment and housing stock. Residential steam fitting and gas piping was mostly steel and iron pipe with screwed fittings. Back then, code only allowed plastic for very limited applications, and we were just introducing no-hub CI waste lines. We still saw lots of old red-brass and galvanized screw-fit water piping. I have not kept up with changes in city codes – but they seemed to change exceedingly slowly.
In the rest of our service area (non-union plumbers)- our residential housing stock used mostly sweat-fit copper for water piping and black iron screw-fit pipe for gas. Some houses still heated with steam – so there was some call for larger pipe wrenches. When I sold up and retired – PEX was starting to make inroads – so wrenches were giving way to expanders, crimpers and the like. There was also some move toward using CSST for gas lines. Since the old Ridgid wrenches hardly wear out – (you can buy replacement jaw parts) – I suspect that you are right that pipe wrench sales have declined.
You probably won’t find “USA” or “Made in USA” on the older pipe wrenches. Back then almost everything was made here,
I think Ridgid wrenches are very well made, and worth the money. But I will also say that in my experience the knockoffs get the job done too. I’ve done quite a bit of pipefitting with harbor freight 36″ wrenches and have had zero issues with them.
I had a cheap harbor freight grade aluminum 18″ for quite a while. The teeth noticably dulled quicker than quality wrenches.
I’ve had 8″ to 36″ Ridgid pipe wrenches, along with several T-handle manual pipe cutters, and I’ve got to say that they’re one of the few brands with that immaculate reputation/track record.
I picked up a decade’s old T-handle cutter at a thrift store a qhe back. Put some new cutters on it, scrubbed off the rust and grime and it works like it was made yesterday.
Many farmers keep a pipe wrench handy. They have fixed many things on tractors and machines. They can serve an an adjustable wrench if there is enough room, I have used one to loosen the axle nuts on a disc. Yes they can chew up hardware but they get the job done and fit under the truck seat.
My pipe wrench is old. Unsure of the brand but it isn’t rigid. They all look the same to me. Unlike ratchets, I don’t see how they can be so different from each other so as to make one so superior compared to others. Its a rough tool for rough work. I am clearly in the minority in this thread.
I’ve snapped a husky14″ or two in the cold, and seen several random brands deformed or poorly formed on something like the adjustment threads, but I work in industrial-mining and powerplants. I don’t know that in hand I’d be able to point out what makes a brand new Ridgid better than a new X brand, but Ridgid definitely has the legacy of working through hell and lasting forever.
Snapping handles is one of the main issues with cheaper wrenches. Ive heard some stories of people getting nasty injuries when that happens. The trip to an e.r. for stitches and lost work time is a bit more expensive than the $$ saved on a tool that may or may not work as well and doesnt last as long.
I’ve seen cheapos with the teeth blunted or deformed that just won’t bite properly. I’ve seen at least one with a bent jaw, several broken handles. Just like a crescent wrench the threads and jaw are important.
Like a lot of things you probably won’t look at or use a good pipe wrench and think, “wow this wrench is a real gem!” But struggle with a cheap one that won’t grip after spending 15 minutes crawling and contorting into position and you’ll think “@@#$%@$ this wrench sucks!” If you’re just replacing a 1/2″ pipe nipple at home once in a blue moon you might not ever care, but use them for hours on big crusty things in awkward spaces and you will.
I can be totally confident that a Ridgid will be good, why save a couple bucks and gamble?
Yeah I see God theme. I took my dad’s. Never purchased one. I will never have an industrial use so I get why others would see breaking. I’ll never torque it enough. But yes I’m convinced to buy rigid when I have to buy.
Love my Ridgid pipe wrenches.
Though I was not a plumber my younger brother bought me a 10 & 18 inch aluminum Ridgid pipe wrenches for my birthday in 1986. My brother was a fire sprinkler installer and thus used his Ridgid pipe wrenches daily and said the aluminum meant you carried around less weight especially when working at heights as he did.
I was a machine mechanic in literally a propeller factory. I used those wrenches a lot. I did a lot of hook-ups of air and water over the years among other things, I added a 24 inch and 36 inch Ridgid wrenches to compliment the two my brother gave me. After our father passed i got his offset and 18 steel Ridgids.
I will say this if you want a tool that will outlast you and is guaranteed against breakage for life only buy a Ridgid.
I own not just Ridgid pipe wrenches but also quite a few of their USA made tools like pipe threaders, pipe vises, etc. Every one of them is top notch. I have almost a full line of their plumbing equipment, all USA made.
We had threading machines from Ridgid, and Oster.
The old vintage Oster machine was the guys favorite. We’d set one of these machines up on bigger jobs (like apartment houses). You also might spy a Ridgid or Rothenberger machine in the pipe aisle of a Home Depot
The newer Oster machines are more aimed at industrial applications.
Ridgid is the go to for anything plumbing.
Matt the Hoople
I have a small (8” maybe) Snap on iron pipe wrench that’s really nice. It was inherited. For general purpose (around the house) type needs, the 14” seems to be a good size. I have and love my 14” aluminum Ridgid. I would always recommend paying extra for the aluminum version as the weight difference makes it soooo much easier to handle. This is especially true when having to work on pipes at the back of a cabinet or chase with arms fully extended or in other odd positions. There may be uses where iron is better like industrial applications (maybe?)but I can’t think of any short of that.
I switched to the Ridgid aluminum pipe wrenches. I like them.
My dad is a plumber and I learned from him that Ridgid is the best. He depends on them daily and they never let him down. He’s all about the aluminum pipe wrenches.
When my mom’s dad passed in 2012, we had to go thru his possessions – he did not have a “ton” of high quality tools, I discovered 3 very well used Ridgid pipe wrenches of various lengths in his basement (6”, 12” & 18 or 24”) immediately made a claim on them + small set of USA made 1/4” drive Craftsman ratchet & socket set in a medal box, I still have these tools and whenever I use them it helps me remember my grandfather.
Well, I already have a Kobalt one. No problems with it… so far.
I have drawers of them. I’d hate to try to count how many times we’ve slid a 4’ long piece of pipe over the handles and JUMPED on them…. best in the business.
Brings back memories of the drilling rigs.
HIT Tools has some nice forged aluminum pipe wrenches, too
Eddie the Hook
I’ve been putting off writing a comment on this, because i have a lot to say but i’ll try to keep it short 😊. I have quite a few Ridgid aluminum & metal pipe wenches in various sizes & configurations (there’s 3 config). I use them for basic plumbing & also steam pipes & radiators & their supply valves. I wouldn’t use anything else. I bought some new, some used over time. The 1st rad valve that i changed , one of the pipe wrenches that i was using was a no name that was v old from a flea market. A few of the teeth broke off on that one use. Even a used Ridgid is better than a new Horror Freight or similar type pipe wrench any day.
Robert W ZIEMBA
I did 6 years on various water well/geothermal drilling rigs, and Ridgid wrenches are the gold standard in the field. When breaking hollow pipe drill rod apart on extraction for a finished well, we used a 60″ wrench (with the handle cut off 1 foot below the nut) pinned to a hydraulic cylinder for pulling force. When we had to break rods apart without power assist, we’d lock a 48″ wrench on the 4 1/4″ drill rod, back the handle up to the frame of the rig, and use the drill head motor to unscrew from the rods. Our office only bought off brand wrenches once, Pittsburgh I think? We tried that trick with the cast Pittsburgh wrench, and a 3′ section of handle snapped off and flew 30 feet. I’ve seen Ridgid wrench bend and deform, but never snap off. In the event the handles did deform, we’d just sent them back for warranty replacement. I have 2x 18″ aluminum Ridgid wrenches for well service in pits where a steel wrench is too heavy and awkward. Can’t get a better pipe wrench for the money,and you do get what you pay for.