The British refer to it as a spanner, whereas the Americans refer to it as a wrench. It is, however, interchangeable with other comparable instruments, such as the box-end wrench (ring spanner) and the flare-nut or tube wrench (crow's foot spanner).
The term "spanner" was first used in Britain during the Industrial Revolution when it became common practice to manufacture tools with generic names to save money. Before this time, most tools were made by hand which meant that they were named after their purpose; for example, a hammer was used for pounding nails or bolts, an axe was used for cutting trees, etc.
Spanners are still manufactured today but not as often as they used to be because of their inherent usefulness. There are several types of spanners including flat-head, adjustable, pipe, and socket.
Flat-head spanners are the most common type and are used for making adjustments to objects like valves or gears on engines or machines. They have a flat head shaped like a knife blade and are fitted with either wooden or metal handles. The flat face of the spanner fits against the object being adjusted and the shaft of the spanner can be turned to move it along the object's axis.
Adjustable spanners are similar to flat-head spanners but have a threaded rod instead of a plain shaft.
The term "Spanner" in American English refers to a specialty wrench having a number of pins or tabs around its circle. (These pins or tabs are designed to fit into the holes or notches cut into the item to be rotated.) To distinguish it from the British understanding of spanner, such a wrench may be referred to as a spanner wrench in American trade. The term "wrench" alone is used in American English for any small hand tool.
In British English, a spanners ring does not function as a way to identify brands or types of wrenches, but rather simply indicates that there are multiple pins or tabs on the ring to fit into different-size holes or recesses.
In American English, when referring to a hand tool, the word "spanner" is used instead of "wrench." Therefore, an American who needs a special type of wrench for a project might ask for a "spanners" instead of a "wrench."
The term "Spanner" came from the name given to this type of wrench by London tool makers because they thought those working with tools would appreciate knowing that there were several ways to open a can or jar.
The first spanners were made by W.H. Lee & Son of London and sold under the name "Lion Spanner". They had three sizes of pins or tabs for adjusting the size of the hole that they fitted into.
A spanner is an adjustable wrench. "Spanner" is just another name for "wrench" outside of North America. When Americans intend to sabotage anything, they "put a wrench into it." The "British people" throw a wrench in the plans.
Spanners are used for adjusting wheels, gears, and other parts on automobiles, trucks, and motorcycles. They usually have 10 to 20 holes with different sizes of bolts or screws. A special tool called a socket is used to fit each hole. Wrenches include both open and closed types. Open wrenches do not have any particular shape but can be used on objects that can be reached easily. Closed wrenches have several different sizes of jaws that can be adjusted to fit objects of various sizes.
Closed spanners are useful for assembling parts together that cannot be opened easily. For example, when putting a car together, you might need to assemble the body before the engine is installed because there is no way to reach inside the body with the engine attached. In this case, you would use a closed spanner to adjust the wheel bearings and other vehicle components while the body is still on the frame.
Open spanners are useful if you need to work on objects that are accessible without removing them. For example, you could take off a tire's valve stem with an open spanner instead of using a toolbox full of special tools.
In the United Kingdom, this is known as a "adjustable spanner." The wrench includes an adjustable jaw, allowing it to grab various sized nuts or the like. He threw a spanner in the works. This broke several of the metal parts inside the engine that need to be tightened or loosened to change the compression ratio of the cylinder heads or camshaft timing.
The term "monkey wrench" first appeared in print in 1869 in the book "Science and Practice of Engineering," by Alexander Lawson. He defined it as "a small tool used by engineers to turn nuts and bolts without removing them."
The early wrenches had jaws that were fixed in size, so they were only useful for one size nut or bolt. In 1872, John Brown invented the adjustable wrench, which was a great improvement on previous tools. It is he who gets the credit for creating the term "monkey wrench."
According to some sources, the term "monkey wrench" was first used by American engineers when describing an adjustable spanner used by steam locomotive builders to fit heavy boiler plates. However, there are no records of this incident before the late 19th century.
Another source states that English engineers used the term "monkey wrench" to describe any adjustable wrench before John Brown's invention.