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How to Unlock a Crescent Wrench

by James Clark

A crescent wrench is an adjustable tool that takes the place of many wrenches. The open ends of a crescent wrench can be opened or closed in increments to create different sizes for tightening or loosening nuts and bolts. The locking mechanism is a worm gear on the flat edge of the tool near the jaws. Under normal use, the gear should turn with the push of a thumb, but if it becomes stuck, use a few remedies for unlocking the crescent wrench.


Attempt to unlock the crescent wrench manually by turning the worm gear toward the handle. If the wrench is not locked, this will cause the jaws to move apart so the tool can be removed from a nut or bolt head, then readjusted for another job.


Spray a short burst of lubricant on the worm gear if the wrench is stuck, rusted or hasn't been used in some time. Wait a few minutes for the lubricant to penetrate the metal, then try turning the gear once more toward the handle to loosen the jaws.


Grip the gear from the top and bottom using a pair of pliers. Slowly twist the pliers back and forth by the handles to loosen and unlock the crescent wrench.


  • Store tools in a secure toolbox or chest when not in use to keep the tools clean, rust-free and ready for the next use.


  • Resist the temptation to remove a stuck crescent wrench from a bolt by tapping the wrench handle with a hammer or mallet. This could damage the wrench and the bolt.

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About the Author

James Clark began his career in 1985. He has written about electronics, appliance repair and outdoor topics for a variety of publications and websites. He has more than four years of experience in appliance and electrical repairs. Clark holds a bachelor's degree in political science.

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