The best spanner sets for home mechanics and DIYers

You need a spanner set in your garage or workshop. Repeat: You need a spanner set in your garage or workshop.

CAR's best spanner sets for home mechanics

by Chris Williams |
Updated on

If you wish to anthropomorphise spanners in an analogy, take some lyrics from Jimmy Barnes' song Working Class Man:

He's a simple man

With a heart of gold

In a complicated land

Oh he's a working class man

Oh indeed. Spanners are a stoic, reliable tool that will always have a place in the toolbox. They may not quite have a heart of gold but the chrome Vanadium steel they are usually made from is far stronger and durable.

What types of spanner are there?

There are two main types of spanner; open-ended and ring, though there are also sorts of other, more-specialised options. Each has advantages and disadvantages and if you can’t decide, then perhaps a combination set is for you – open-ended at one end and ring at the other.

Open-ended spanners will fit a nut or bolt and provide a drive on two of the flat sides which, assuming the spanner and nut or bolt are in good condition and a proper fit, can be the most efficient way to apply the necessary torque. However, as they will only fit on the flats, this means that you may need a 60° turn of the fixing to be able to get the spanner on again to make the next rotation. Sometimes, you may not have that amount of space.

In addition, it’s not uncommon for open-ended spanners to slip if the fastener is particularly tight, as a result of either rounding the corners off the fastener or the jaws of the spanner parting, meaning it won’t fit properly anymore.

Ring spanners sit completely around the fastener and typically drive on six of the corners of the nut or bolt. As a ring spanner would normally have 12 drive teeth, this means it only needs to rotate 30° before it can re-engage and continue to drive the fastener. However, as it drives on corners rather than flats, this can lead to rounding of either the fastener or the teeth in the spanner on tight fittings.

Typically, a ring or open-ended spanner will have different sizes at each end but a combination spanner will have the same size of open-end and ring, one at each end. This can be very useful, but it does mean that if you are using two spanners for a job, you might need two sets if the nut head and bolt are the same sizes.

The best spanner sets:

Our top spanner set picks
Draper Redline combination

Rrp: £15.20

Price: £15.20


This combination set from tool expert Draper is Amazon's choice and with good reason. The company

The best compact spanner set
Hilka stubby
Price: £17.95


Another choice from Amazon, these stubby combination spanners from Hilka can be very useful for

The best ring spanner set


The Halfords Advanced range of tools always impress us; they perform well and are not over-priced

The best spanner set for awkward spaces


Effectively a set of ring spanners, this strangely-shaped set is designed for fasteners where

The best spanner set for really awkward spaces
Lazer Crows Foot
Price: £23.62
Alternative retailers
Halfords£27.00View offer


These odd-looking devices are designed to go on the fastener like a spanner but are driven by a

The best spanner set for quality


There's not a huge amount to say about this set of open-ended spanners from Silverline. Made with

The best ratchet spanner set


A set of ratchet spanners can be incredibly useful, particularly if space is very limited.

The best flare nut spanner set
Draper Flare Nut Spanner Set
Price: £24.95
Alternative retailers
Halfords£27.00View offer


Designed for the compression nuts fitted to all sorts of hydraulic systems, including fuel

The best spanner set for ginormous nuts


While it may seem ridiculous to offer 34 to 50 mm spanners unless you're dismantling a suspension

The best spanner set for old British cars
Draper 29546 Imperial Combination Spanner Set

Rrp: £32.18

Price: £26.25


If you're a fan of old British sports cars you'll probably notice that older models may use

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