There are various types of tools that can be used for pipe fittings that are usually classified into three categories; the monkey, pipe and open wrenches. The important thing to remember in pipe fitting is to select a suitable wrench for the job at hand. Each of the above mentioned wrenches is designed for one or more specific tasks. No wrench is suitable for individual tasks encountered in pipe fitting.
A monkey wrench has smooth parallel jaws that are designed specifically for hexagonal valves and fittings. Not only will the monkey wrench fit better on the part to be turned, it also does not have the crushing effect of a pipe wrench.
The design of a pipe wrench is very simple; the harder you pull the wrench the tighter it squeezes the pipe. A pipe wrench was designed for use on pipe and screw fittings only. One a parallel-sided object, its efficiency is not up to that of a monkey wrench and its squeezing action can cause a lot of damage.
An experienced fitter knows from experience that using a pipe fitting tool too large for the job will cause the fitting to stretch or crack. This will result in a leaking joint that will require a new fitting in just a short amount of time. Selecting the right sized wrench is just as important as selecting the right kind.
There are a few types of pipe tools used in pipe fitting; Stillson, Chain and Strap wrenches. A Stillson wrench has serrated teeth jaws that enable it to grip a pipe or round surface in order to turn it against considerable resistance. It is important to adjust the wrench so that the jaws will take hold of the pipe at around the middle area of the jaws. To support the wrench and prevent unnecessary lost motion when the wrench engages the pipe, hold the jaw while pressing it against the pipe. At the beginning of your turning strokes, the wrench will bite or take hold of the pipe with only the lost motion necessary to bring the jaw in contact with the pipe.
A chain wrench is designed to work on large pipe fittings, usually at least 6 inches or greater.
A strap wrench is sued when working with plated or polished pipe fittings in order to not damage the surface of the pipes. These wrenches come in handy in tight places where you cannot use a Stillson wrench.
The last type of pipe wrench is the Open-ended. They are used for making up flange couplings. It is very important you select the right sizes open-end wrench or it will wear the bolt heads or slippage that can cause bruised knuckles to the user.