Strap wrenches are good to have around. This might not be the sort of tool you use on a daily or even regular basis, but it’s the sort of tool that can get you out of a bind really quick.
You can use them on knobs, pipes, larger diameter fittings, and other types of cylindrical or cylindrical-ish objects that are difficult to tighten or loosen by hand. And since straps are typically made from rubber, webbing, or similar materials, they’re non-marring and won’t damage whatever you’re working on.
Every strap wrench is more or less similar in design. You have an adjustable strap which typically locks into position passively, and a handle by which to apply leverage. Strap wrenches are usually designed to be used in one direction, as it’s tension during use that keeps the strap adjusted and locked to length.
If you don’t yet have a strap wrench in your toolbox, I recommend starting off with a 6″ size. That way, if you don’t use it very much for your projects, you could always use it in the kitchen as a heavy duty jar opener.
If you already have a strap wrench, what kind of things do you use it for?
Budget Strap Wrench
These are your basic plastic-bodied and rubber-strap strap wrenches. They’re effective most of the time, but can be frustrating to use on smoother parts since the band can slip. The band can be difficult to adjust at times, as they require you to start turning a part before they tighten up.
This two piece Craftsman set is currently less than $10 at Sears. I think I paid $6 or $7 for just the small 6-inch one.
Buy Now(via Sears)
There’s also an updated set that looks a bit better built for a couple of dollars more.
If you want to go even cheaper, there’s a WorkShop strap wrench for about $6 via Amazon.
Locking Strap Wrench
Empire makes a strap wrench that’s built with a separate cam-action knob that helps make the adjustment and tightening process a lot easier. I hadn’t known about this strap wrench before today, but you could be sure that I’ve added it to my wishlist.
I wouldn’t have spent the $17 and change on this as my first strap wrench, but the troubles I’ve had with my simpler Craftsman strap wrench make the Empire a very desirable-looking upgrade. You also get a reinforced band for the extra money.
Buy Now(via Amazon)
Heavy Duty Strap Wrench
Maybe you want a heavier-duty model. Klein Grip-It strap wrenches feature an I-beam handle and heavy-duty urethane-coated belting. The textured strap might provide better grip than wrenches with smoother-surfaced ones, but the strap-gripping area looks smooth and not toothed like the other models discussed above.
They’re available in 6″, 12″, and 18″ sizes, with the smallest model being priced at $14 and change.
User reviews aren’t as glowing as I would have thought for a Klein-branded tool, but that might not mean anything.
If you want to step up to an even heavier duty model, a couple of commenters have recommended OTC ($27 via Amazon) and Ridgid ($32+ via Amazon) strap wrenches. The OTC is likely designed more for automotive use, and the Ridgid models for plumbing applications.