Museum of The Adjustable Spanner

Welcome to our online museum and archive.

It is difficult to be certain when or who invented the adjustable spanner or its close relative the pipe wrench in some of its forms. Sweden and Bahco claim to have invented the adjustable spanner in 1892 but there is some evidence of earlier work such as the blacksmith made examples that were used by wheelwrights for wagon repair. Edwin Beard Budding (1795 - 1846) Invented the screw adjustable spanner. Before the Budding spanner, workmen laboured with the old versions, in which the spanner was adjusted and then wedged into place, creating problems when the wedge came loose. The same problem reportedly happened to Budding, and with screw to replace the wedge, the adjustable spanner in its modern version was born. Sweden also claims to have invented the adjustable spanner, by J. P Johansson in 1892. J.P.Johansson was the man who laid the foundations of what has become AB Bahco, Sweden. He had a small engineering workshop in Enkoping, where he busied himself with helping farmers in the surroundings to keep their machinery in good trim. In those days, both tools and bolts were hand made, and there was no standardized sizes. For every bolt he tackled, J.P. had to fumble around to find a spanner to fit. So he hatched the idea of making a spanner that would replace several of the tools he was previously forced to carry around. That was the birth of the adjustable spanner that J.P. invented in 1892. But by then, he had already invented the pipe wrench four years earlier. (see Stillson 1869) B.A.Hjorth was no workman, but he was a good entreprenur, with an eye for a promising business deal. In 1889, he opened a tool and machinery company in Stockholm, and eventually met J.P.Johansson. He brought the sales rights to all of J.P.'s inventions and began selling them around the world under the banner of B.A.Hjorth & Co., which was later abridged to BAHCO