The Best Hex Wrenches

Hex Wrenches

Not everything can be fixed with duct tape, a hammer and WD-40. You need the right tool to get the job done right. For example, when you have a screw with a HEX socket, there is nothing else to tighten or loosen that screw, but a hex wrench / Allen wrench. And, since each screw size requires a different size tool, a hex wrench is not enough; you need a full set of hex wrenches.

Besides the size, there are other factors to consider before purchasing a set of hex wrenches. The Shape of the handle, the depth, the edge and the number of keys in the set are important factors.

Size

Measuring the distance between two parallel sides on a hex wrench gives you the size of the tool. That measure is called across-flats (AF). If the size of the tool does not exactly match the size of the screw, you could permanently damage both when trying to tighten or loosen the screw.

SAE / metric

These are the two measuring systems you will find in the hex wrenches. SAE can also be called imperial, U.S., or inch. The best games include keys with SAE and Metric units.

Length and depth

The long arm length of an L-shaped hex wrench is what gives you the leverage needed to tighten or loosen a screw. The depth of the short arm determines the reach of the tool. Sometimes, the space is narrow, and needs a lower depth. Other times, insert pins may be impossible to reach with regular hex keys, so you’ll need something longer. Consider your needs before purchasing a set of hex wrenches to ensure you get the tools that best serve you.

Material

You want your hex key set to be made of durable material. A high-quality steel or performance-enhancing alloy is fine, as long as it’s not too brittle. Be careful when considering low-end assemblies, as these materials may not be as durable as you need, and the corners may be rounded quickly, making the tool unusable.

Surface finish

The coating of a hex key must be resistant to oxidation. Many people prefer a black oxide finish, but sometimes it can be difficult to locate a small black tool at the bottom of your toolbox. It can also be hard to find when dropped while working. Because of this, some people prefer a brighter or natural finish so that tools can be easily located.

Number of keys

As mentioned above, if the size of the tool does not match the size of the screw, it could permanently damage both. Because there is a huge variety of screw sizes, you need a wide range of tool sizes, both SAE and metric, if you want the best hex wrench set.

HEX KEY HANDLES

Although the handle of a hex key is also a primary consideration, there are enough variations to give this feature its own section.

L-shaped: this is the traditional L-shaped tool you probably imagine in your head when you think of a hex wrench. It is bent at a 90° angle (like an “L”), and features a long arm and a short arm.

T-handle: a T-handle is a cross bar on top of a long shaft. Some slide to allow the tool to be more versatile. This design provides balance and moderate leverage, but it won’t work in all situations.

P-handle: in P-handle hex wrenches, the handle is in the curve, giving the tool greater versatility. Using the short arm to hold or unbuckle, you get the leverage of an L-shaped tool. using the long arm, you get the benefit of a t-handle.

Three-way: this is a convenient tool as it features three sizes in one. (Imagine a wheel with only three spokes. Unfortunately, it can be uncomfortable or unusable in difficult situations, so make sure that this is a tool that you can really use in your particular situation before you buy.

Ratchet: a set of hex ratchet wrenches is a good choice in many situations. However, it may have the same limitations as other large handled tools. If you prefer the convenience of a ratchet tool and it fits into your workspace, this might be a suitable option.

Screwdriver style: as it sounds, this is a screwdriver with a hexagonal tip. It can be useful in specific situations where a long, straight reach is required. However, other types of tools can often accomplish the same task.

HEX KEY TOOL ENDS

The end of the hex wrench that is inserted into the screw has been adjusted over the years. Today, instead of one option, you have many.

Straight edge: traditional hex wrenches feature a straight edge (90°). This is effective and works well, but not your best option.

Chamfer edge: a chamfer is a beveled edge. It allows easier tool insertion and helps prevent damage to both Tool and screw.

Ball end: as it sounds, a hex wrench with a ball end is rounded to allow you to access a screw at a variety of angles. This is a desired feature in many settings as it provides the greatest flexibility. However, if you are not careful, it could slip and potentially damage the screw and wrench.

Magnetic end: a magnetized tool helps keep the tool in place while working. However, this handy feature can become annoying as it will pick up any residue and lost file. In addition, it only works on screws affected by magnetism.

Spring Clips: often a spring clip is a better choice than a magnetized end. Different manufacturers achieve this in different ways, but the results are the same: a spring loaded clip applies outward pressure when the hex wrench is inserted, helping to hold the tool in place while working.

HEX KEY STORAGE

Since hex keys can be quite small, they are easy to lose. You need to find a way to stop that from happening. You can throw them all at the bottom of your toolbox and hope for the best, or you can try one of the options below.

Key chain: some sets of hex keys come attached to a key chain. This is somewhat uncomfortable, but also effective.

Folding set: like a Swiss Army knife, you can buy a set of hexagonal keys that are attached to a box. When you need it, simply unfold it, and the case becomes a handle.

Storage case: some hex key sets come with a storage case that holds all your keys in one convenient location.

Storage rack: for larger hex keys, a storage case may not be practical. For this kind of tools, a storage rack could be your best choice.

10 REASONS WHY YOU NEED A HEX KEY SET

Chances are your toolbox is filled with a wide variety of flat head and Phillips screwdrivers. If you ever had a hex key, you came with something you bought and threw it away or lost it shortly after you used it. However, there is an increasing need for hex wrenches as more and more everyday items are assembled with hex screws. Below is a short list of items that may require a hex key.

Furniture: hex screws are the standard for any unassembled furniture you build at home.

Tools: most tools that use bits require a hex key to secure the bit to the tool.

Bicycles: you cannot disassemble your bike without a hex key.

Motorcycle: like your bike, more and more motorcycles rely on hex screws.

Skates: if you want to rotate the wheels of your skates, you will need a hex wrench.

Skateboard: good luck performing any maintenance on your skateboard without hex key.

Automotive work: whether it’s the engine, seat, dashboard or something else, there’s a good chance you’ll encounter more than a few hex screws when working on your car.

Electronics: as electronics become more compact, hex screws become more necessary.

Appliances: for any area that is a tight fit, a hex screw is the answer. You may be surprised at the places where you would need a hex wrench when working on appliances.

Plumbing: if you want to upgrade the handles or shower faucet, you probably need a hex wrench to perform that upgrade.
The main sse of a hex wrench is that it has six contact points to help tighten or loosen the screw. In comparison, a Phillips head has four, and a flat head screwdriver has only two.
FAQs

Q. What is the difference between a hex key and an Allen key?

A. a hex wrench, Allen wrench and Allen wrench are the same tool. William G. Allen patented a single screw for the Allen Manufacturing Company in the early 1900s. The company marketed that hex screw as the ” Allen safety set screw.”The tool that fit in the screw was a hex wrench, but many people refer to it as an Allen wrench or an Allen wrench.

Q. What is Cam out?

A. When the tool you are using to tighten (or loosen) a screw slips out of the groove, it is called Cam out. When this happens, the screw is usually damaged immediately. If it happens repeatedly, the screw will quickly become unusable. To avoid this unfortunate situation, the thrust force (on the screw) must be at least twice the turning force. Another reason for Cam output is not to have the tool perpendicular to the screw.

Q. What is the purpose of a ball-shaped hex key?

A. a hex wrench that features a spherical end allows the user to reach hard-to-reach screws because it can operate at an angle. The main drawback of the ball end is its tendency to slide under higher pressure (cam out). If possible, it is best to use a straight end hex wrench to perform the initial loosening or final tightening of a screw.

With so many hex key options available, how do you know which set is right for you? To get started, you need to determine which style of hex wrench best suits your needs.

The three most common types of hex wrenches are L-handle, T-handle and folding sets.

The three common types of hex wrenches are L-shaped, T-shaped and folding sets. The long arm on the L-shaped handles produces more leverage than the other variants of hex wrenches, allowing for greater torque and better reach in narrow areas. T-shaped wrenches are used in low torque applications due to their ease of Use and torque control. They have relatively short key lengths and require easy access to sockets. Folding sets are convenient as they can fit in your pocket, making them ideal for spot checks in the shop. All keys are enclosed in the carrying case, preventing individual sizes from being lost. Like T-handles, they have limited torque capabilities and do not work in applications with limited space.

Now that you know the different styles of hex wrenches, learn what separates the good from the bad.

How durable are they? Most hex wrenches are manufactured from steel, however, there are many grades and grades of steel. Often hex wrenches are constructed from low-cost steel grades where hardness, stress relief, and surface treatments are not considered during the design and manufacturing process. This leads to hex wrenches that have lower tensile strength and shorter service life. Replacement will be required more frequently, resulting in higher long-term costs and inconveniences for users. If you use hex wrenches infrequently, for low-torque applications, or simply lose them all the time, the cheaper alternative is probably right for your needs.

All hex keys are not the same. If you’ve ever rounded corners on your cheap hex wrenches, save time and effort and look for a more robust set. Maintaining material hardness is critical for high tensile strength which results in better torque capabilities of the wrenches. Premium manufacturers often specify the Rockwell Hardness grade of their steel tools to differentiate themselves from cheap competitors. These are more likely to have a Rockwell rating of C55 and above.

Surface treatments can also affect the service life and performance of hex wrenches. Hex wrenches usually have a black oxide or galvanized finish. Both finishes can degrade over time with black oxide wear leading to oxidation and zinc flaking. When comparing tools from different manufacturers, it is important to evaluate whether the manufacturer offers patented or additional surface treatment options. For example, Chrome Plating is more durable compared to black oxide or zinc due to the lower friction between the tool end and the hardware being installed. It also has better wear resistance, especially when textured. However, this extra durability can be a detriment, as it can be easier over torque or stripping the screw socket. Users need to balance which features are most important to them.

Is there any design benefit to the keys? We have already covered the different styles of wrenches, but there are more design factors to consider, such as length, end geometry and bend angle.

The length of the wrench can be critical depending on the application. Long wrenches are preferred when higher torque is needed or there is limited accessibility, but they also promote excessive torque if the user is not careful. Short wrenches are best suited for confined spaces where longer styles don’t fit.

The geometry of the end is an important differentiator of the design. Standard cheap hex wrenches will have a HEX end with sharp corners designed to fit hardware with some play. They should be used perpendicular to the screw, which makes it more difficult to secure the complete coupling. This makes it easy to peel plugs, especially at higher pairs, and creates uncomfortable wrist angles that can be uncomfortable for users. A breakthrough to this is the end of the ball. They are designed to be inserted into the screw socket at an angle that allows for a more natural grip and smoother twisting. The spherical ends are usually only at the long end of the wrenches and save time during installation or disassembly as they do not need perfect alignment to mate with the screw head. It is important to note that spherical ends are only used to start the installation. They do not have full surface contact with the socket, which means they lack the socket coupling wrench needed to completely twist the screw. Trying to completely twist a screw with the ball end will not work and may even break the ball end in higher torque applications.

Is there any convenience benefit? We have already talked about ball ends that are a great convenience during insertion into the screw. One of the other common problems in store floors is the loss of hex keys. They are usually a dark finish and many of the surfaces they are used on are also dark and filled with other tools that make them easy to lose. Manufacturers can offer a color finish on L-shaped wrenches that allows them to be easily identified on the mounting bench, floor, or tool box. This reduces the time lost in finding inexpensive assembly tools. In addition, the color is an indicator of the key size that makes it easier to choose the right size quickly.

Another element of convenience is having the size engraved or stamped on the key. All sets come standard with a labeled tool holder, but what happens when you have several close sized wrenches outside the tool holder at the same time? It is likely that the eyeball keys and use the closest fit, which is particularly risky when there are both inch and metric keys to choose from. This leaves you groping trying keys until one fits or using the size that does the job, but you can remove the socket. On larger braces it may be possible to write the size directly on the body, however this is not a solution for smaller sizes. Having the size stamped on the key makes identification simple and saves time.

Finally, an important factor with all hand tools IS grip. There are all kinds of different grips on L wrenches, including textured finishes, coatings, rubber or plastic sleeves, padded grips, and some are simply shaped to fit your hand. There are pros and cons for all types of grip. For example, a paint-type coating can protect keys from rust and damage, but the coating can chip the end of the key and compromise how it fits into the screw head. The main factor when considering grip is the operating environment. Using them at home to assemble furniture is different from using them in a machine shop with oil, coolant, chemicals, and other sliding contaminants present. Some applications may require wrenches that can withstand extreme temperatures and not be too hot or cold to the touch.

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