If you’ve ever put together a piece of furniture, tightened the handle on your oven door or fixed your child’s bike, you’ve surely used a hex key. More commonly called an Allen wrench®, a hex key is a tiny but powerful tool.
Hex Key Uses
A hex key, or hexagon wrench, is a six-sided tool used to tighten and loosen screws with a matching hexagonal shape.
Hex-headed screws are used to put together furniture, and many ready-to-assemble furniture kits come with a hex wrench. They come in handy in places where there are hidden screws. For example, you can use them to tighten up a loose towel rod, build a set of floating shelves, repair a broken power tool or put together your child’s new wooden toy. They can also be used to fix automotive parts and small engines.
Hex Key Sets
Hex keys are sold in multi-piece sets and are available in both SAE (standard) and metric sizes. SAE sizes come in variations of fractions of an inch, while metric sizes come in meters or millimeters. Choose from kits with a variety of features:
• L-shaped kits. This is the most common type. Each key has a short side and a long side, and either side can be used to tighten or loosen screws. Some keys feature ball ends on the long side, which make entry into the socket easier. L-shaped hex wrenches usually come in a holder with the dimensions of each tool clearly marked.
• T-shaped kits. One end of the T-wrench has a handle for easier operation. The handle provides extra leverage when dealing with stubborn fasteners.
• Folding kits. Each key folds into a compartment, much like a penknife does, when not in use. The design makes it convenient and safe to keep a set of wrenches always handy in your pocket.
Equip your toolbox with a set of hex keys, and you’ll be prepared for many home projects, big and small.