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You’ve probably seen these wrenches included in tools kits that come with bikes, gas tools, or other machinery.  Evidently in the UK these wrenches are called tubular box spanners, but what we call them here in the states escapes me. I’ve done a fair bit of searching and can’t find our name for them.  Obviously we’re not going to call them spanners, and a search for “tubular box wrenches” turns up a completely different tool.

Made from high quality carbon steel and plated with zinc, this particular set of six spanners from Draper is double ended to fit 12 different Metric sizes:  8mm & 9mm, 10mm & 11mm, 12mm & 13mm, 14mm & 15mm, 16mm & 17mm, and 18mm & 19mm. The set also includes two “tommy” bars, 100mm and 150mm long.

This set of wrenches cost about 6 Euros or 8 dollars. If you know what to call these tools in American English, please drop a line in the comments.

Tubular Box Spanner [Draper]

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26 Responses to Name That Wrench

  1. browndog77 says:

    That may be like asking what you call a burrito in English! It’s still a burrito!

  2. fred says:

    Not quite the same but typical of our plumber’s kit are shower valve socket wrenches:


    We also carry a number of double-ended wrenches made of bronze by Ampco – that are used in hazardous environments where non-sparking tools are required

  3. mlocer says:

    I’ve always called them a box wrench or ( spark ) plug wrench

  4. Toolhearty says:

    Since I’ve never taken spanners out of the boot to work under the bonnet, I’m going to go with tube wrench.

  5. PutnamEco says:

    I have heard them callled tube wrenches (Asian/American) and tommy wrench (UK)in reference to needing a tommy bar to use them,

    (http://www.alibaba.com/showroom/tube-wrench.html) scroll around you’ll find them

    I usually steer clear of them as the tend to deform when you put any pressure on them, Why don’t you try some real sockets, Snap-on makes some extra deep thin walled sockets that will cover you for anything that the junk tools will.

  6. Toolhearty says:

    PutnamEco Says:
    …Why don’t you try some real sockets…

    I had a motorcycle with the spark plugs oriented in such a way that one of these tools, included in the bike tool kit and made just the right length, was a lot faster and easier than trying to get a socket, extension(s), and ratchet in there.

  7. Blair says:

    I’ve always called them a spark plug wrench, due to usually getting them when purchasing a chain saw, trimmer, or the like.

    Not to be confused with a spark plug socket, which is a different animal entirely.

  8. Andy H says:

    Look like shower wrenches to me. I have a couple of those to fit the brand of showers in the past.

  9. Don Haddan says:

    Looks like the wrenches used to remove shower stem valves. They need to be long to fit into the wall cavity around tile, surrounds, etc.

  10. turtleman1 says:

    That’s a “shower wrench set” used for shower and tub faucet valve service.

  11. Old Donn says:

    Shower/bathtub wrenches. When you need them, especially in an old house like mine, nothing else will do.

  12. PutnamEco says:

    Toolhearty Says:
    I had a motorcycle with the spark plugs oriented in such a way…
    Check out Snap-ons spark plug socket page,(http://buy1.snapon.com/catalog/search_keyword.asp?keyword=Spark+Plug+Sockets)
    I’m sure they offer a better alternative. If you could get on of those oem tube wrenches on you can find a better alternative. Snap-on has low profile (or extra deep) sockets with a hex milled on the top, just slip a flat or offset ratcheting box end (like a gearwrench style) over that. No room to fit the ratchet? Get one of their knurled drivers or sliding t handle drives. I used to make my living from motorcycles and I couldn’t afford to take the time to mess with those OEM tools. Just try and take a seized plug out with one of those sheet metal wrenches and you’ll quickly see the light.

  13. Brau says:

    My brother was recently searching for words to tell me what he was looking for, and came up with “tube wrench”. I knew what he meant when he said it. Seems to fit.

    Most people think of them as cheap-ass “tools included” toss-ins, but I inherited a set of old British long tubes that were as good as any sockets I’ve ever owned and could quickly wind a nut off a foot-long piece of threaded ready bar (try that with a deep socket) just by spinning it between your hands.

  14. browndog77 says:

    I’m gonna go with Burrito Wrench, as that is what I will think of whenever I grab one (of either!) in the future!

  15. PutnamEco says:

    Looks like someone learned how to exploit the trackback links for spam.

  16. Toolhearty says:

    PutnamEco Says:
    Looks like someone learned how to exploit the trackback links for spam.

    Yep, it’s really starting to get out of hand.



  17. Chuck says:

    Hmmm. Spam from other sites or human Snap-On spam. Tough to tell which is worse.

  18. shotdog says:

    Google tubular socket wrenches. They’re there alolng with some other stuff. sd

  19. Dennis says:

    I have different sets of these and it’s been referred to as a “thin wall spark plug socket wrench” by a moto mechanic pal.

    BTW-what’s with all the spam comments?

  20. Jerry says:

    Google “Shower Valve Socket Wrench Set” and there they are!

  21. Zathrus says:


    The stupid thing is that it doesn’t work! Every single link in a comment, including trackbacks and such, are marked as “nofollow” so they don’t get counted for relevance by Google or other search engines.

    The spam that gets through the spam filter has just gotten completely ridiculous though. I agree — captcha or registration please.

  22. Chris says:

    Show of hands, who actually cares if another blog has linked to this entry?

    Thought not.

    Trackbacks should just be disabled entirely, and registration/captcha should be required for comments.


  23. Brian says:

    Now *this* is a totally tubular box wrench, dude.


    Oh, wait…like, you meant another kind of “tubular,” right?

  24. PutnamEco says:

    Chuck Says:
    Spam from other sites or human Snap-On spam. Tough to tell which is worse.
    Well, at least the Snap-on spam in not promoting some dictators wealth building scheme of paying his empoyees slave wages over our fellow American workers and their security.

  25. Simon says:

    This is an interesting post since for my job I had to find 24 sets of these for a Spanish company working in Canada. This is what they like for their occasional use toolbags since they are lightweight and nest inside each other.

    From what I could find, they were not available in North America but are common in the UK and Europe from Draper. They are thicker walled than you would think and are certainly not junk: http://www.flickr.com/photos/simplesimon/4477252592/


  26. Go Joe says:

    In the USA they are called SAE Tube Spanner….search Google for them and you will find them.

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