Colour Code Your Wrenches

About: I was born at the early part of the WWII baby boom. My Dad started a machine shop. I played and worked in the machine shop over the years. I got a start on Socratic philosophy at St. John's college and I go...

If you have a set of metric wrenches and sockets, let me tell you about my simple "peace of mind" colour code system.

Step 1: Five Rolls of Tape With Five Colours Are Best.

The colour code makes it easy to pick out all the same size size sockets and wrenches when you working on a car, motorcycle, bicycle or wheelchair. After you know one wrench or socket size needed for an engine compartment fastener, colour coded wrenches make it easy to pick up the same size wrench and sockets for other fasteners.

Here is a counting method to remember what colour matches the size of wrench you need. Hold up your hand, stick out your thumb and start finger counting "Red 10, Orange 11, Yellow 12, Green 13, Blue 14"

Recommended items: Use electrician's colour code electrical tape for marking. I bought a small marking tape kit that had only four useful colours. To make five rolls with easy to remember names, I bought a roll of orange electrician's tape. Five colours is better than four colours because metric wrenches are numbered in base 10 . You can see in the photo above the tape on the 12 mm socket is damaged. I am puzzled by this, as I try to be gentle when working on engines. I have begun putting two tape markers on some wrenches to make them easier to see and to accommodate the occasional scrape that removes a marker.

As the photo shows, I use scissors to cut 2 inch strips of coding tape.

If you find the word "colour" annoying, I agree. The spelling checker made me do it.

Step 2: Colour to Wrench Size Table

Wrench and socket colour code

0 Red 5 mm 10 mm 15 mm 20 mm Red

1 Orange 6 mm 11 mm 16 mm 21 mm Orange

2 Yellow 7 mm 12 mm 17 mm 22 mm Yellow

3 Green 8 mm 13 mm 18 mm 23 mm Green

4 Blue 9 mm 14 mm 19 mm 24 mm Blue



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    5 Discussions


    2 years ago

    This is the system I use and it works great! Very simple 'ible but well worth the time to set up.

    For any one who's colour blind (like me!) or struggles to identify the colours in low light (like under a car or a dimly lit workshop) you can use patterned tape to help.

    I use yellow/green striped tape instead of green as I can't see green very well. You can use other patterns like barricade tape or warning tape and can usually find them at the builders merchants.

    Avoiding like-colours can help too. Red and blue can be hard to distinguish in the dark so I use a dark blue and a very light red. I replace orange with white too - which helps but is mostly because I didn't have orange to hand when I started.


    2 years ago

    Anyone would have to be foolish to use packs of cheap electrical tape for this . Won't last 5 minutes , now paint perhaps !

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    I have been doing this for years and it can last years. Depends some on how carefully you apply. Put on where wear is light.


    2 years ago

    Yup, colorcoding can help in many situations. Simple mind as I am, I still had somehow difficulties to remember the order of the colours. So I just sorted them alphabetically (blue, green, red, orange, yellow). That also helped my friends, that helped me at wrenching, to remember the coding.
    Thanks for this lifehack!


    Good idea. My kids are always mixing up my tools and this would make it a lot faster to sort them.