If you’re dealing with hex screws and bolts, an allen key is arguably the best tool to get the job done. It’s always a good idea to have the right tool for the right job, instead of trying make-shift solutions which often backfire and turn out to be a waste of time and resources. Tools such as the allen keys can be useful for more than one purpose and can come in handy for various tasks. The best Allen Wrenches of 2021 would certainly be a very useful addition to your toolbox and would make it easier for you to assemble, maintain, and repair tons of household and commercial stuff. Be it bolts in tight spaces or fasteners that do not fit onto any of your tools, a set of Allen keys is all you need and you’re good to go!
Given that it’s a very practical product, there are hundreds of Allen keys available out there, which might make it slightly difficult for you to decide about which one to go for. There are multiple variables involved and making a purchase decision might be tricky if you’re not familiar with the different variations that you can go for. Fortunately, we have been able to compile a comprehensive buying guide that will help you choose the best Allen wrench in 2021, making sure that all of your requirements are fulfilled. Here’s everything that you need to know before you can choose the right product.
What Are the Most Common Types of Allen Keys?
There are several types of wrenches, tailored to meet certain needs and requirements, but here are the ones that are the most commonly utilized:
An L-Shaped Allen key is arguably the most popular and practical type. It's bent in the shape of an “L”, with one shorter and one longer side. Both of the sides can be inserted into the socket, depending upon what your requirements are. Usually, using the longer portion as a handle provides more torque but also requires more clearance for you to be able to fasten a screw/bolt. On the other hand, the shorter side can be used as a handle if you’re looking for enhanced maneuverability, but that comes at the cost of the torque that will be generated.
As suggested by the name itself, a T-Shaped Allen key is bent in the shape of a “T”, with a single drive key in the middle of the width of the handle. The shape of this product gives you more leverage to move the tool and generate more torque. The T-Shaped Allen key is often used when working with bikes and similar equipment in the motorsport industry.
The ball-end Allen key is another useful type of the same tool. As the name suggests, this product features a ball-end in the shape of a hexagon. Compared to the standard hexagon-shaped end of an Allen key, the ball end allows you to tighten screws and bolts when the screw/bolt socket is at a different angle with respect to the tool. The ball end allows you to operate the tool regardless of the angle, making it practical for instances when you’re working with insufficient clearance.
What Are the Different Sizes of Allen Keys That You Can Go For?
While purchasing an Allen wrench, it is extremely important to understand the different sizes that you can opt for, in order to decide which one caters to your requirements. Different sizes can be used for different tasks and you should be able to decide which size would work for the task at hand. The following are the sizes that you can opt for:
1.5mm (1/16 inch)
2mm (5/64 inch)
3mm (7/64 inch)
5mm (3/16 inch)
6mm (7/32 inch)
8mm (5/16 inch)
10mm (3/8 inch)
Since specifying which size should be used for a certain task isn’t possible, it’s best that you evaluate the size that you require and make a purchase accordingly. Most people keep a set of multiple allen keys with them, which is the best way to go about it.
Are Hex Wrenches Durable?
Hex wrenches are really easy to find at any hardware store because they’re easy to produce and use. Inherently, hex wrenches are supposed to be durable and robust, given the nature of the tasks that you’ll be performing with them. This makes it extremely important to ensure that you’re getting a durable set of hex wrenches, otherwise you’ll end up wasting your money and you probably would not be able to accomplish the task at hand.
One of the top concerns of owning a hex wrench is the rust that can damage the tool. Consequently, you should always prefer the ones that come with a rust-resistant coating, to keep your tools safe. Moreover, you should also take a look at the material that has been used in the wrench that you’re going to buy. While most of these products are made out of steel, the durability depends on the grade of steel that has been used. Naturally, high-grade steel would be more expensive but if it ensures that your tools will not get damaged or break-apart easily, it is worth the investment.
What Are the Things to Look Out for While Purchasing a Hex Wrench?
Here are the things that you should look out for, while purchasing the products that suit your needs.
Chamfered or Non-Chamfered
Some Allen keys feature a small chamfer, which is a useful thing to have on your tools. While working with screws and bolts that are made out of softer materials and likely to get damaged while being tightened or loosened, it’s a good idea to opt for a chamfered wrench. The chamfer on the end can help minimize that damage that could be caused to the screws and bolts. Moreover, it is also easier to fit chamfered wrenches into the slot, compared to the non-chamfered ones.
Allen Keys come in different lengths and you can go for the one that suits the task at hand. While shorter wrenches may come off as easier to carry and more durable in some cases, the longer ones allow you to exert more power. Moreover, the longer keys can also enable you to reach screws and bolts that are in tight spaces, while the shorter ones may not be able to do that.
You can also find hex wrenches out there that come with rubber/plastic insulation on the handle. This feature would come in handy if the task that you’re working on might expose you to electrical currents. Depending on the task that you will be using the wrench for, insulation can be an extremely important safety feature for you.
Alloy steel and carbon steel are the most commonly used materials for Allen keys. Some manufacturers also use chrome vanadium to make wrenches that will have heavy-duty applications, given the properties of the material. Moreover, you can get some variations as far as the finish options are concerned and those include black oxide, chrome or nickel, which can protect the tool from rust.
This product by the Texas Best Store is one of the top ones that you can get. This is a set of 17 folding keys that feature 17 different sizes, ensuring that you’ve got the right size for every equipment and task. It is made of high-grade alloy steel and features a black finish, ensuring that the product is durable and that it lasts long.
The set of Allen keys by Amazon basics is certainly amongst the best options out there. This product features a set to 26 keys, including all of the standard and metric sizes. These tools are made out of chrome-vanadium steel and feature black oxide finish, ensuring maximum strength and durability.
The long-arm design of these hex wrenches provides enhanced leverage and extended reach, making it easier for you to operate the tools. Moreover, this product features a ball-end design, allowing to manoeuvre the wrench even in tight spaces. It also comes with 2 storage cases, size markings, and designated slots, helping you keep your tools safe and organized.
Long-arm and ball-end design.
Made of chrome-vanadium steel with black oxide finish.
The set of hex keys by the EPAUTO store is a great option if you’re looking for something that meets your needs. This product features a set of 30 hex keys and a storage case to keep them safe and organized. The great thing about this product is that it offers 15 long-arm and the same number of short-arm wrenches, with different sizes, making sure that you always have the size that you need. These tools are made of chrome-vanadium steel alloy and feature a black oxide finish, which ensures that your tools last longer and stay protected against corrosion.
Includes both long-arm and short-arm keys.
Made of chrome-vanadium steel with black oxide finish.
The hex key set by the TEKTON store is amongst the most handy options that are available out there. This product features a set of 30 hex wrenches including 15 long-arm and 15 short-arm pieces, allowing you to benefit from enhanced leverage and extra reach. All of the wrenches come with straight chamfered ends, making it easier for you to fit them in screws and bolts and tighten with precision.
This product comes with black oxide finish, protecting it against rust and corrosion. You also get a hinged storage case to keep all of your wrenches organized and safe.
30-Pieces (including long-arm and short-arm).
Black oxide finish for protection against corrosion.
HORUSDY Store’s Hex Key Set is another one of the top 5 hex key sets that you can get. This product offers a 30-piece set of wrenches with 15 short-reach keys and 15-long-reach keys, making sure that you always have the right tool for the right job. The keys are designed to allow more leverage while tightening screws and bolts in tight spaces.
The set comes with inch as well as metric measurement, with sizes clearly marked on each of the wrenches. This package also includes a sturdy carrying case, which will help you keep your tools organized and will allow you to access them whenever needed.
30-Pieces (including long-arm and short-arm).
Conventional drive-end for extra leverage.
Convenient carrying case.
The wrenches lack black oxide coating.
Allen Wrench FAQ
Q: What are some other names for Allen Wrenches?
A: There are several terms for the same tool, including Allen Key, Hex Key, and Hex Wrench. Allen is the brand that originally produced hexagonal wrenches, which is why the term ‘Allen’ got attached to the product permanently.
Q: Which is the best size for Allen Keys?
A: In essence, there is no best size for tools such as these. The size that you should go for depends entirely upon what the requirement of the task at hand is. Ideally, you should have a set of Allen keys that contains multiple sizes, so that you can choose the one that suits your requirements.
Q: How to keep the hex wrenches safe?
A: Initially, it is recommended that you carry your wrenches in a wrench holder that can keep your tools organized and safe. Moreover, you should protect your tools from rust, chemicals, and grime.
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