Strap wrenches are a very unique tool indeed. Most homeowners have probably never heard of a strap wrench, as they are more commonly used by plumbers. However, a strap wrench can be an excellent addition to your tool box. There are several different styles of strap wrenches as well, which may be something to consider when you are ready to add one or two to your own tool box. If you are daunted by your lack of knowledge about this tool or how to use it, a strap wrench is actually quite easy to use. You might find it very useful for a lot of DIY tasks. Here is a little more information on the variety of strap wrenches, how to use each, and what you might need them for.
Styles of Strap Wrenches
Most strap wrenches, as the name implies, are comprised of some sort of strap and a handle for manual torque. The straps themselves can be woven nylon, rubber, metal bands, chains or hard flexible plastic. The ones you want for your tool box and home use will have rubber, metal bands and/or woven nylon straps. The other two strap types are used for automotive purposes, so do not really need those (unless you also do your own auto repairs).
How to Use Strap Wrenches
Depending on the strap material, each of these wrenches works just a little bit differently. Although the concept and function are essentially the same, the different straps are secured, pulled and tightened differently. The strap material is also designated for a different task, so that can get confusing too. The instructions on how to use each style of strap wrench are spelled out under their following subheadings.
Rubber Strap Wrench
Rubber strap wrenches may seem a little flimsy because of the rubber, but when used properly they have amazing strength.
- The first thing you want to do is take the loose end of the rubber strap and wrap it around the object you want to unscrew or loosen.
- Next, insert the loose end through the second slot in the head of the wrench. This should be the open slot located underneath the top slot that already has secured the other end of the strap wrench.
- Pull the loose end through this second slot and pull BOTH ends of the rubber strap as tightly as you can for a really tight grip on the object.
- Hold tight to the ends of the strap against the handle of the wrench and do not let go. Some of these rubber strap wrenches may have an “auto-lock” feature that will not allow the strap to slip back out while you are working, but you should hold tight anyway.
- Now turn the wrench in the right direction to loosen or unscrew the object.
That is it–you now know how to use a rubber strap wrench.
Woven Nylon Wrenches
Woven nylon strap wrenches work just like rubber strap wrenches, except that you are dealing with a strap material that has absolutely no give and will not stretch or wear out when wet. The straps on a woven nylon strap wrench are also wider and thicker to handle bigger objects that are more difficult to remove. The thickness of the woven nylon strap adds a little more grip and torque to what you are attempting to do. Additionally, woven nylon strap wrenches rarely come with a handle. They only have a buckle on one end.
To use a woven strap wrench:
- Wrap the loose strap end around the object.
- If you have a handle, tighten the loose end just like you would with a rubber strap wrench. If you do not have a handle, you will have to position the buckle end one-hundred eighty degrees opposite of you so that you have a starting point from which to turn.
- Slide the loose strap end through the buckle and pull tight, just like a belt buckle that relies on tension to hold it in place.
- Now pull the loose strap end (the end without the buckle) in the direction you need to go to loosen or unscrew the object.
That is the correct way to use a woven nylon strap wrench.
Metal Band Wrench
A metal band style strap wrench has a metal band in place of the rubber band, but still has a handle to help you get the most out of your own body strength. The metal band works almost like a ratchet in that there is a metal locking clasp or button lock system. Some metal band strap wrenches also have a swivel feature so that you do not have to crank your wrist and hand into an uncomfortable or cramped position before pulling and twisting the wrench in the right direction.
To use a metal band strap wrench:
- Detach the locking pin, if you have a pin lock style, or unclasp the locking clasp, if you have a clasp style.
- Encircle your object with the metal band.
- Pull the band taught and put the locking pin(s) back in place, or push the metal band back through the clasp until the fit is very snug and then lock the clasp.
- The wrench should grip very firmly and not slip. If it is slipping, the metal band size is too big or you do not have it tight enough. Tighten it more, if you can, or get a smaller diameter metal band wrench.
There you go!
What You Might Use These Wrenches For
Finally, here are some things you might use strap wrenches for:
- Rusted, leaking or corroded plumbing that needs to be replaced and cannot be budged any other way.
- Working with electrical cables near water, or water pipes near electrical (the rubber strap wrench is excellent for this!)
- Getting a grip on, and removing, rusted nuts and bolts
Basically anything that cannot be gripped with bare hands or easily removed with other wrenches is the perfect project for strap wrenches.