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This versatile strap wrench is a handy tool for anyone who needs to tackle tough-to-grip objects. Here's what makes it great: Multipurpose: Use it for oil filter changes, loosening jar lids, gripping pipes, and a variety of ot...
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Details: Sizes: Small (7.87") and Large (11.02") - limited quantities available Here are some additional things to consider before you buy: The size of your oil filter: Make sure the wrench you choose will be big enough to ...

Have you ever struggled to loosen a stubborn nut or bolt? A chain wrench could be just the tool you need. This unique type of wrench is designed to grip pipes, fittings, and other rounded surfaces that regular wrenches can't handle. In this article, we'll dive into what chain wrenches are, how they work, and the different ways you can use them for your plumbing, automotive, and DIY projects.

What Is a Chain Wrench?

chain wrench, also known as a chain pipe wrench, strap wrench, or chain tong, is a tool that consists of a long handle attached to a chain or strap with teeth or serrated jaws. The chain loops around the object you need to turn and the handle is used to apply rotational force. This allows the wrench to firmly grip round objects of various sizes that would slip if you tried to use a regular wrench.

Chain wrenches are commonly used by plumbers on pipes and fittings, but they have many other applications too. They can be used on oil filters, shower heads, PVC fittings, jar lids, and any other cylindrical object you need to tighten or loosen.

How Does a Chain Wrench Work?

A chain wrench works by wrapping the chain around the object you want to turn, with the fixed jaw of the handle fitting into one of the chain links. As you turn the handle, the chain tightens around the object. The angled serrated teeth on the jaws grip the object and prevent it from slipping as you apply rotational force.

The genius of the chain wrench design is that the more rotational force you apply, the tighter the chain grips, giving you a strong mechanical advantage. This makes it much easier to loosen even the most stubborn nuts, bolts, or fittings without damaging them.

Advantages of Chain Wrenches

Some key benefits of chain wrenches include:

  • Ability to grip round, odd-shaped, or sensitive objects without slipping or causing damage
  • Provides high mechanical advantage for loosening stuck parts
  • Highly adjustable to fit a wide range of sizes
  • Does not require a large swing arc like a regular pipe wrench

Types of Chain Wrenches

Chain wrenches come in a few different styles suited for various applications:

Straight Handle Chain Wrench

The most common type, with a long straight handle for high leverage. Good for general purpose use on pipes, filters, fittings, etc.

Offset Handle Chain Wrench

Has a dogleg bend in the handle to provide clearance in tight spots. Handy for working on car or machinery parts.

Ratcheting Chain Wrench

Uses a ratcheting mechanism to allow continuous turning without having to release and reposition the wrench. Speeds up repetitive loosening/tightening tasks.

Strap Wrench

Uses a nylon web strap instead of a chain. Gentler on delicate finishes but lower gripping strength. Good for light-duty tasks like removing jar lids or tightening PVC fittings.

>> View more: How to use a chain wrench

Common Uses for Chain Wrenches


Chain wrenches are a plumber's best friend. They make quick work of tightening or removing:

  • Pipes and pipe fittings
  • Shower heads
  • Faucet nuts
  • Sink traps and drain parts
  • PVC and other plastic fittings
  • Toilet tank bolts
  • Water heater fittings


Chain wrenches also come in handy for many automotive tasks, such as:

  • Removing stuck oil filters or fuel filters
  • Removing/installing axle nuts
  • Holding harmonic balancers or flywheels
  • Turning tie rod ends, ball joints, etc.
  • Removing stuck lug nuts

General Purpose

And don't forget all the other miscellaneous uses around the home, workshop, or jobsite:

  • Opening stuck jar lids
  • Tightening garden hose fittings
  • Removing lawn mower blades
  • Tightening large pipe clamps
  • Any other rounded object you need to turn!

Choosing the Right Chain Wrench

With all the different chain wrenches available, how do you pick the right one for your needs? Here are some key factors to consider:

Factor What to Look For
Size Capacity Make sure the wrench can fit the diameter of objects you'll be working on. Wrenches usually specify their minimum and maximum capacities.
Handle Length Longer handles provide more leverage for heavy-duty applications. Shorter handles offer more control and access in tight spaces.
Jaw/Chain Type Hardened metal jaws with aggressive teeth provide maximum bite, while rubber or nylon jaws prevent scratching of delicate surfaces.
Construction Quality Look for sturdy materials like chrome vanadium or drop-forged steel, solid rivets, and comfortable non-slip grips for durability and ease of use.

For reliable, well-made chain wrenches, you can't go wrong with Tonix Tools. Their chain wrenches are built tough to withstand the rigors of daily use, with options suited for DIYers, mechanics, and professional tradespeople alike.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a chain wrench replace a regular pipe wrench?

Not entirely. While chain wrenches are superior for turning rounded objects, pipe wrenches are still the best choice for turning hex nuts or gripping flat surfaces. It's good to have both in your tool arsenal.

How do I keep my chain wrench in good condition?

Regularly clean and oil the chain and pivot points to prevent rust and keep the action smooth. Store in a dry place and avoid using the wrench as a hammer or pry bar which could damage the jaws or chain.

What size chain wrench do I need?

It depends on the size of the objects you'll be turning. Check the minimum and maximum diameter capacities listed for the wrench. When in doubt, it's better to have a little extra capacity than not enough. You can always loop the chain multiple times around smaller objects.

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