Allen keys, also known as hex keys, are L-shaped tools used to drive bolts and screws with hexagonal sockets. They come in a variety of sizes to fit different screw and bolt head sizes. They are commonly used in assembly and repair work, such as furniture and machinery, where access to the fastener is limited. They are also used in hobbies and DIY projects, such as bike maintenance and model building.
Allen keys can be made from a variety of materials. The material used for Allen keys depends on the intended use and the specific requirements of the job. Some Allen key sets are made from a combination of materials, with different sizes made from different materials to optimise strength, durability, and weight. Some of the common materials used to manufacture Allen keys are:
- Steel: the most common material used for Allen keys, steel provides good strength and durability at an affordable price.
- Chrome-vanadium steel: a type of steel that offers higher strength and durability than regular steel, making it a good choice for heavy-duty applications.
- Titanium: a lightweight, strong, and corrosion-resistant material that offers a high-performance alternative to steel.
- S2 steel: a type of steel known for its strength and durability, making it ideal for high-torque applications trendingbird.
Allen keys come in a variety of sizes and styles to accommodate different fasteners and applications. They are available in standard metric and imperial sizes, ranging from 0.7mm to 10mm or 1/16″ to 3/8″.
There are several styles of Allen keys, including:
- L-shaped: the most common style, L-shaped Allen keys have a straight shaft and an L-shaped handle.
- T-shaped: T-shaped Allen keys have a T-shaped handle for added leverage and grip.
- Ball-end: as mentioned earlier, these Allen keys have a ball end for angled access to fasteners.
- Foldable: these compact Allen keys fold into a compact size for easy storage and transport.
- Ratcheting: these Allen keys have a ratcheting mechanism that allows you to apply torque in tight spaces without having to remove and reposition the key after each turn.
Why do Allen keys have a ball end?
Some Allen keys come with a ball end, i.e., a rounded end that allows the tool to be inserted into the screw or bolt at an angle, providing greater access in tight spaces. The ball end also allows the tool to be used at different angles, reducing the risk of damaging the screw head. The rounded end can also help align the tool with the screw, making it easier to start the screw and reducing the likelihood of slipping. Having a ball end on the Allen key can save time and effort and make it easier to complete the task.
The ball end allows the Allen key to be inserted into the hex socket at an angle, making it easier to apply torque to the fastener and avoid rounding out the socket. The ball end also makes it easier to insert the Allen key into the socket, even if the socket is slightly misaligned. These features make ball-end Allen keys particularly useful for working on machinery, appliances, and other applications with limited access to the fastener.
Choosing the right size and style of Allen key depends on the specific fastener and the requirements of the job. It is a good idea to have a set of Allen keys with a ball end and a range of sizes to accommodate different fasteners.