What Is A Spud Wrench Used For In Plumbing [The History]

When unexpected breakages happen in the house, calling a professional is not always the easiest thing. Especially when it comes to the sink or bathroom, a plumber can’t always come to the rescue immediately.

But when they do, one of the essential wrenches they bring is the spud wrench. A spud wrench makes any plumber’s job more accessible because of its versatility in usage and size when it is used on pipes.

This article will get a brief overview of the different types and uses of a spud wrench. After reading this article, you will know why plumbers love this handy tool, and hopefully, you will find yourself owning one as well.

Why Is It Called A Spud Wrench?

The word “spud” in spud wrench came from the Irish word “potato” because of its knife-life appearance. Irishmen used to dig and cut potatoes using a spud, a pointy, and a handy knife.

Because of the wrench’s sharp end, it was named after the spud’s pointy appearance. However, it became well-known after it was manufactured in the US.

In the 1990s, Thomas Maddock created the Maddock spud, which began the universal usage of the spud wrench after Standard bought it. After its manufacture, it became plumbing essential up to this date.

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What Is A Spud Wrench Used For?

A spud wrench’s purpose initially was to twist and tighten small nuts in toilet pipes called spuds. It sizes between 5 to 22 inches depending on the size of the bolts or collars it needs to adjust.

The spud wrench is primarily used in a toilet since it is where the toilet spud is. It has a double purpose of aligning the bolts and tightening or loosening them and placing bolts in holes when needed.

Unlike other average-sized wrenches, spud wrenches have a smaller size that can fit smaller pipes in the toilet or sink. Its handiness makes this wrench versatile to use by plumbers and homeowners.

You can use it in bathroom equipment that needs adjusting that cannot be tightened or loosened by hand. It can adapt small locks and pipes under the sink or in the faucet.

The spud wrench is well known for its dual purpose of holding bolts together and keeping them in place. Although plumbers are usually those who use this, most of them own various spud wrenches in sizes and purposes.

Types of Spud Wrench and Its Uses

Spud wrenches have different types depending on their uses. There are generally three types of spud wrenches named construction wrenches, ratchet spud wrenches, and radiator wrenches.

In this section, you will know the purposes of the three types of spud wrenches. In addition, you will also find out about the variants of each spud wrench type.

Spud wrenches are construction wrenches designed to align bolts in their spiked handle while its head adjusts pipes and bolts simultaneously. Although it varies in size, it is durable enough to twist and turn rigid metal beams.

The dual purpose of the spud wrench makes the lives of plumbers easier. Apart from holding and tightening, you can also use this wrench to loosen spuds in the toilet, bathroom sink, and water heater.

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The spud wrench has an open-ended headpiece that holds different bolts, beams, and nuts as long as it can fit its width.

Its spiked body cannot only align bolts, but you can also use it to dig small holes made from soft materials.

Since this wrench type is made for adjusting nuts, you cannot use it to hammer objects in place. Its only purpose is to readjust the position of spuds and beams.

Adjustable Spud Wrench (Crescent Spud Wrench)

Adjustable Spud Wrenches, also known as Crescent Spud Wrenches, are versatile construction wrenches because of their fixed and movable head. Its headpiece has two parts: an adjustable and a fixed head.

The top of its head is unadjustable, while you can adjust the bottom to the size of the bolt. It sizes between 8 to 11 inches capable of gripping torque firmly as long as it fits in size.

However, because of its adjustable head, it can make twisting the bolts more difficult. Although it can firmly grip, compared to fixed head wrenches, it has a bigger chance of loose gripping.

Offset Spud Wrench

Compared to the Adjustable Spud Wrenches, the head of the Offset Spud Wrenches is fixed and misaligned with the body. It has a thinner spiked body that can align smaller bolts when put in between it.

Because of its curved headpiece, adjusting torque can be easier and faster. It can fit in smaller pipes and nuts but if you need to insert this wrench in square holes, this may not work smoothly.

Ratchet Spud Wrench

The ratchet wrench is a steel 15-inch, 1-kilogram fixed-sized wrench that rivets holes and aligns bolts. It is reversible and can do so by flipping the wrench the opposite way.

It can also quickly release and grip bolts because of its pre-drilled hole. Ratchet wrenches’ purpose is to fasten bolts and nuts by either tightening or loosening them.

Ratchet spud wrenches assist the application of torque only in one way to secure its fastening.

  • Double socket ratchet spud wrench

Double socket ratchet wrenches have dual-headed sockets that can fasten bolts, joints, and saddles.

You can use this wrench by passing a bolt in between the socket’s head to ensure a faster adjustment regardless of the bolt’s length.

It secures the bolt’s position so it does not move while getting twisted. Double socket ratchet spud wrenches usually measure 13 inches and weigh 1 to 1.1 kilograms.

  • Single head ratchet spud wrench

Unlike the double socket ratchet spud wrenches, the single head ratchet spud wrenches only have one side open to adjust a bolt.

These wrenches work for clamping and quick-release adjustments without the need to lift the torque while it fastens.

Despite its narrow body, it can only adjust small bolts because of its limited head size. It only weighs between .27 to 2.14 kilograms with ⅜ inches in typical length.

Available sizes are ¼, ½, and 1-inch wrenches.

Plumber’s Spud Wrench

The Plumbers spud wrench, also known as the closet spud wrench, is not as versatile in adjusting bolts and pipes compared to other wrenches.

This type of wrench is commonly used in toilet spuds and sink pipe bolts since it can fit their sizes perfectly.

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It functions well with standard-sized pipes with average durability when used. However, due to the changes in toilet designs over the years, plumbing spud wrenches have become less useful to plumbers.  

Due to the variety of uses of a plumbing spud wrench, three varieties of this wrench were made to function with different purposes.

The three types of plumbing spud wrenches below are internal, external, and adjustable wrenches.

  • Internal Spud Wrench for Plumbing

The Internal Spud wrench differs in size and shape from other spud wrenches. Its primary purpose is to get inside a bolt and adjust it from the inside by twisting its interior body.

It consists of a handle with three screw-like extensions that expands when it fits inside a bolt of the beam. This expansion makes sure that the bolts are securely placed on the nut as it rotates.

While it may seem difficult to remove from its grip on the bolt, it is easy to retract the screw-like parts that compress when pulled.

Once the screw turns one way, it expands its features onto the bolt, and once turned the opposite way, retracts to have it pulled out.

  • External Spud Wrench for Plumbing

The external spud wrench is a standard-looking wrench with a head that has an expandable grip and a standard-shaped body.

Its narrow shape comes from hardened metal that makes it useful for holding and turning big bolts, nuts, and grasp pipes.

However, using this wrench in extended-reach areas under the sink may not be helpful as it only has a thin body. Despite this, it can still hold your pipes if you remove or attach a different one.

  • Adjustable Plumbing Spud Wrench

You can use the adjustable plumbing spud wrenches in various bolts and pipes of different sizes because of its head’s ability to adjust.

You can make the head compress or expand in size from the name itself, depending on how big the pipe will hold.

One downside of adjustable plumbing wrenches is the grip they can give a bolt. Because you can adjust its headpiece, its firm hold on the object cannot be as strong as fixed-head wrenches.

Radiator Spud Wrench

The radiator spud wrench functions precisely to adjust radiator valves. The wrenches are sized 1.5 to  2 inches in length. However, its width is typically the same size.

Radiator valves have a specific connecting point that only this type of wrench can adjust. The spud connected can only be loosened and tightened using a radiator wrench because of its grip on the interior nubs.

Compared to other wrenches, this type is not as versatile in handling different bolts since its unique shape can only fit and adjust the spuds for their specific size.

Top 3 Best Spud Wrench Brands

A spud wrench is used to loosen or tighten bolts on any steel structure. Around the world, there are also about 40 different types of wrenches that are used. However, you might only know a few of these wrenches.

Wrenches are one of the most important materials you will need for construction. It can make construction quicker, easier, and at the same time much more fun. In addition, working with tricky bolts is much more manageable.

Out of all wrenches available in the market, spud wrenches are the most common type of wrench. They can be seen in any toolkit.

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That is why they are used in every household. For this reason, we are going to list out the top 3 spud wrench brands.

1. Klein Tools

Klein Tools started manufacturing their devices in America in 1857. They always make sure that their products have the best quality, just like how they created their first tools in the past.

Klein is also the family name of the CEO, not just their company name. That is why they need to create quality tools.

Klein tools are still investing in U.S. manufacturing. Klein is known to be the only major manufacturer of devices that focuses on utility applications and electrical.

There are no other hand tools that are based in America that make much more items than the company itself.

2. Crescent

Apex Tool Group created one of the premier brands for hand tools known to many as Crescent. Crescent is also known around the world as they are one of the most known hand tool manufacturers.

The Crescent Tool Company was first known in 1907. Karl Peterson, who was an inventor and Swedish immigrant, founded the company.

Crescent brand is one of the most successful brands around the world. Several manufacturers tried to imitate their tools, but no one succeeded in imitating such an excellent tool.


The enormous hand tool and hardware manufacturer in China is the Maxpower tool group company. They started manufacturing in 1968, and they first started in Wendeng County.

Like other companies, they started small until they built a plant area of 750,000 square meters.

They are also known to have 120 pieces of testing equipment, and they also have 5200 production equipment.

Classic Review

The American Bridge Company started its journey in the 1800s. In 1900 it was formed as the JP Morgan-engineered merger for 28 companies related to steel.

The company has been completing and pursuing marine, complex structures, and legendary bridges worldwide.

In October 2020, the company was obtained by Southland Holdings, LLC.

One of their known product is the vintage used American Bridge/United States Steel ⅞” Spud Wrench. It was one of the top-selling wrenches a few years ago. Its hardened steel stamping is directly over the deeper stamping.

The wrench comes with a solid shank, shafts, and alignment end. The stamped sizes 7/8 are not the same as the machined apertures of the wrench, as they are with every American Bridge wrench.


One of the most common wrenches available in the market is the spud wrench. It has three different kinds.

The construction wrench is also commonly known as the ironworker’s spud wrench, the plumber’s spud wrench, and the radiator valve spud wrench.

If you are having trouble knowing what are the essential things you must know about spud wrenches.

Here is something you need to know about the spud wrench before you purchase it from the nearest hardware in your area or online.

Why is a spud wrench called such?

The name spud is known to come from the Irish people. In the past, they used a short dagger or a knife for them to dig potatoes.

Therefore, it is also called a spud. For this reason, the spud wrench is called spud because its end is similar to the knife.

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Wrenches have been used for many centuries already. However, the spud wrenches became more popular only in the 20th century because of the demand for the construction of buildings in the U.S.

What sizes do spud wrenches come in?

Spud wrenches come in different sizes. Therefore, if you plan to buy a spud wrench, you must first determine where you will use a spud wrench.

For this reason, we will provide sizes of spud wrenches that you can buy in any local hardware store or online.

What is the difference between a spud wrench and a pipe wrench?

A spud wrench is known to have a standard box or adjustable wrench on the other end, while the other end has a sharp spike.

The spike is used to straighten bolt holes when you are going to install pipe fittings.

You can also use the spud wrench if you are going to have automotive work. It uses the spud wrench for lining up the bolt holes in the beams and girders for ironworkers. The Spud wrench is only designed for you to remove the slip nuts.

On the other hand, the pipe wrench is much sturdier and more significant than the standard wrench.

In addition, it makes turning pipes much more accessible than using the spud wrench. To loosen or tighten lines and another plumbing connection, you will need an adjustable pipe wrench that is medium-sized.

How do you maintain an adjustable wrench?

The adjustable wrench has an adjustable jaw and fixed ones, so there is one side that stays in place. However, there is another end that moves, which can accommodate various nuts.

At the same time, both jaws are flat and designed to be smooth, and they are also ideal for to use in square or hexagonal nuts.

Here is a tip on how you can maintain a wrench:

Suppose you are Filing and Grinding damaged jaws. An adjustable open-end wrench and fixed open-end wrenches with broken jaws can still be serviceable when filled or ground.

If you are planning to use this method in repairing your wrenches, file the jaw or finish the ground opening of your fixed open-end wrench with the next largest size in standard. The face of the jaw must be parallel and flat.

You renew your jaw serrations, Vise, pipe, and monkey wrenches; use a flat tapered or a fine triangular. You then must deepen its low points in between the serrations. Finally, remove any excess materials that are not important.

The adjustment for its play. Your wrenches might not maintain parallel to their stationary jaw, mainly if you use them regularly. In typical cases, it might be because of the worm spring weakening and to its wear.

For you to increase its resiliency, you will need to remove its axle screw from the wrench itself, and you also need to separate its worm, jaw, and the worm spring from its handle.

What can I use if I don’t have a spud wrench?

Everyone had already experienced when their bed or chair table became wobbly and loose. You might also have furniture or a leaking pipe that you need to dismantle to prepare it for moving.

You might also try fixing this using only your hands, but you end up hurting yourself. We all know that we all need to use the right tools to improve anything in our houses.

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However, if you don’t have these tools, there are always alternatives that you can use for setting up fixtures or pieces of furniture at home.

We have gathered the tools you might need if you don’t have a spud wrench available in your home.

  • Duct tape – Duct tape are used in different situations, and we can always see this in our homes. However, the duct tapes are also helpful if you need to loosen your bolts. They are not just for combining things but also for relieving things.
  • Two coins – Have you ever thought of using coins as your makeshift tool? Now that you have the idea, you will only need different coins to loosen a nut.
  • Zip-tie – We all used this material for attaching hubcaps and tidying up our cables, but they are also an alternative to spud wrenches. You can quickly put the zip-tie all-around a nut as tight as you can for you to tighten or loosen a nut.
  • Nut and bolt – If you don’t have any of the objects above, you can use an extra bolt and nut. It is a combination of alternative materials that you can use to loosen or tighten any nuts.

The objects mentioned above are just alternatives. However, we still recommend using a spud wrench when you are fixing any nuts at your home for a better result.

How to protect your spud wrench from falling?

We all know how dangerous it is, especially if we are working at heights and falling. It can harm others, and you might pay for the injuries you have caused to other people.

That is why we have provided a video of items you can make so that you won’t worry anymore about falling wrenches.

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We all know that there are so many choices you have in finding a spud wrench in the market. However, you need to choose only the best to avoid any trouble with the new wrench. It might also cause you more if you buy a wrench that is not durable.

There are also many things you need to consider when you are going to buy a spud wrench. Always look for pieces of advice for a spud wrench, most especially if you are not familiar with this.

There are a lot of sizes and types of spud wrenches. Always ensure that you know where you are using the spud wrenches.

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