What is a Hammer Wrench?

To many people, not all that familiar with tools, a wrench is just a wrench. But it is important to know the type and use of each tool, even wrenches, to get the most use out of them. This includes the hammer wrench which is a popular but often misused tool. They are also known as slogging, knocker, and slug wrenches.

But what is a hammer wrench? How is it used? And what are the important differences in the types of hammer wrenches available?

Two hammer wrenches on a metal plate.

What is a Hammer Wrench?

Despite the name, the wrench is not designed to be a hammer. Although given the flat surface on the handle it is not surprising that it may be used as such. Instead, this is a wrench that is designed to be struck with a hammer as the head is wrapped around a nut, bolt, or a rotary fastener that is too tight to remove with a normal wrench.

Striking or Hammer Wrench
A hammer wrench which is also known as a striking wrench, is designed to work with a hammer.

Put simply, this is basically a wrench with an area on the handle that can be struck with a hammer to pry the nut, bolt, or fastener loose. By striking the wrench, it provides that extra torque needed to help loosen it properly.

Uses of Hammer Wrench

The primary use of the wrench is to take hold of a nut, bolt, or fastener that is stuck so it can be loosened when the wrench is struck by a hammer. The proper use of this type of wrench is to place it around the nut, bolt, or fastener that is stuck and then gently tap the handle of the wrench with a hammer.

You start with gentle taps and gradually increase the impact until you loosen the nut or bolt. Striking the wrench too hard may result in stripping or even breaking off parts of the nut or bolt which makes it even more difficult to remove. This means that you need to be careful, especially if you are trying to remove nuts or bolts from metal parts that may be rusty themselves.

Hammer Wrench uses

Ratchets are designed to do the same type of work, allowing you to put more torque to loosen a tight nut or bolt. The advantage of a slugging wrench is that you can add impact which may break the rust or whatever is keeping the nut or bolt locked in place easier to remove. There is a power tool called impact wrench that does the same. Instead of you striking the handle with a hammer, the internal hammering mechanism on an impact wrench or impact driver is driven by compressed air or an electric motor.

The handle is long enough to be a standard wrench, so you can use it to tighten or loosen nuts, bolts, and fasteners. Because the handle is larger, you may not be able to store as many hammer wrenches compared to their standard version. But this may come in handy when traveling and you only have room for one type of wrench.

Striking Wrench Vs Slugging Wrench

Striking Wrench

Striking Wrench
The differences may seem subtle at first, but a striking wrench is different compared to a slugging wrench. This is because a striking wrench offers a heavy handle that is square, which makes it easier to grasp and use as a sledgehammer to tighten flange fittings, especially large fittings that need an extra impact to ensure they are tight.

Slugging Wrench

A slugging wrench will have a rectangular handle that is flatter compared to a striking wrench. A slugging wrench is used to loosen rusty, frozen, or stuck nuts and bolts. You tighten the slugging wrench around the nut or bolt, then strike the wrench with a hammer to loosen it.
GEARWRENCH Slugging Wrench
The hammer wrench or striking wrench has a square handle, whereas the slugging wrench has a flatter rectangular handle.

So, which wrench is designed for use with a hammer?
Both striking wrenches (hammer wrench) and slugging wrenches are designed to work with a hammer.

Why Choose a Hammer Wrench?

There are good reasons to have a set of hammer wrenches around, especially if you live in areas of the country that experience cold weather or plenty of humidity, which may accelerate rusting. A hammer wrench is a simple, durable tool that can be combined with a good hammer to let you loosen tight nuts and bolts when other tools will not work.

Generally speaking, a good ratchet set will also help you loosen nuts and bolts. But in tight places, it may not be possible to use a ratchet, or it might not have sufficient force to break loose the stubborn fastener. This is where a hammer wrench works best. You can place it over the tightened nut or bolt, then have enough room to strike it which breaks the seal.

Keep in mind that you will need a good hammer as well. You may want to purchase a smaller hammer for tight spots and a larger one when you need to loosen large nuts and bolts. Having both will give you some options.

Understanding what a hammer wrench is for and knowing the differences between the striking and slugging versions will help you get the most out of this remarkable tool.