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Allen Wrenches, also called hex keys, Allen keys or hex wrenches, are a six-sided wrench designed to drive an internal hexagonal drive style. Hex keys are most recognized by their L shape wrench. These size sided L shape wrenches have many benefits making them the tool of choice for many who use socket cap screws. Due to the similar look of most hex keys, most find a labeled set to be the most efficient. The term Allen is actually a manufacturing company who makes these wrenches, the generic term for an Allen wrench is a hex key.
The short side of a hex wrench is used when more torque is required, and the longer side is used for length. The long side can also be used to fasten socket cap screws in deep recessed holes the short side cannot reach. A benefit of this style of Allen wrench is that the entire tool is shaped as the drive. If one of the ends wears down from use, it can be cut off and the tool can be used again.
Allen keys have many benefits:
- Simple light tool
- 6 contact surfaces
- Drive recess is internally housed protecting it from harm
- Fit in tight places
Due to the nature of hex keys, they are also the only drive style that is used with headless screws (set screws). L shaped hex keys are extremely light tools that can fit into very tight spacing. This has made them exceedingly popular on bicycles, motorcycles and in furniture sets alike. Often furniture manufacturers will make all connections use the same size hex cap screw and simply include the wrench. Bicycle enthusiasts often carry a set of hex wrenches with them for on the go repairs.
There are many varieties of hex wrenches available and choosing the right kind will make jobs significantly easier. Albany County Fasteners carries individual Allen Wrenches, Allen Wrench Sets, and T Handle Hex Key Sets. T handle sets are excellent for shops and on equipment where a lot of room is available. They offer a comfortable ergonomic grip to make installation and removal of socket head screws easy.