Why Aren’t Allen Keys Made Like a Screwdriver

Why Aren’t Allen Keys Made Like a Screwdriver?

If you have ever put together flat pack furniture, then you will probably be familiar with an Allen key.

Allen keys (also known as Allen wrenches or hex wrenches) are commonly included in flat pack furniture because they allow you to put cabinets and cupboards together without requiring any additional tools.

All you need is the flat pack furniture, and the Allen key that comes with it. 

Allen keys have become so synonymous with flat pack furniture that most people only acquire them through the purchase of flat packs.

They aren’t something that usually come with tool boxes. This has got us thinking, why aren’t Allen keys made like screwdrivers?

In this guide, we’ll take a look at Allen keys to determine why they are made the way that they are, and why they aren’t more similar to screwdrivers. So if you want to find out more, keep on reading!

What Are Allen Keys?

First things first, let’s take a look at what Allen keys are. “Allen key” is the name most commonly associated with a tool known as a “hex key”.

Hex keys, or Allen keys, are essentially simple drivers that can be used for bolts and screws which have an internal hexagonal recess. 

The Allen key is usually formed of a single piece of steel which has a 90-degree angled handle at the top, and a hexagonal rod at the bottom.

The hexagonal rod can slot into the hexagonal recess in the bolt or screw head, and the handle can be turned to loosen or tighten the bolt/screw. 

L-shaped hex wrenches are the most traditional form of Allen wrench, but there are also ball-end hex tools, and both shorter and longer hex fasteners available.

You only need to take a look at an Allen key to see how simple they are. However, these tools are simple yet effective.

Allen keys can be used to assemble pretty impressive pieces of furniture, even though they have a very small and simple design.

So, why aren’t Allen keys made to look like screwdrivers? Let’s find out. 

Why Aren’t Allen Keys Made Like a Screwdriver?

Well, the main reason why Allen keys aren’t made like screwdrivers is because they simply don’t need to be. The design of an Allen key might be simple, but it works.

And you know what they say about things that aren’t broken. Allen keys work the way that they are, so there was no real need to transform them into screwdrivers.

However, that being said, there are some Allen keys that are designed to look like screwdrivers.

If you have an electric screwdriver or a reinforced screwdriver, you might notice that they have bits shaped like Allen keys.

Any hexagonal drill bit will essentially do the same job as a traditional Allen key, so it is possible to have Allen keys that are made like screwdrivers. 

However, most Allen keys aren’t designed like screwdrivers because they don’t have to be. The simple design of Allen keys works and it makes them cheap.

If they were designed like screwdrivers with a plastic handle, it would be incredibly expensive to distribute them with flat pack furniture.

But their simple design means that they can easily be distributed, giving people who don’t have tool boxes the ability to create their own furniture. 

But, if you are somebody who likes DIY projects, you might consider investing in a more sturdy Allen key.

These Allen keys will often come with a handle which makes using them a little easier and more convenient.

However, if you will only be using your Allen key occasionally, then a standard Allen key that comes with most flat packs will be fine for the job.  

Can You Use an Allen Key As a Screwdriver?

Why Aren’t Allen Keys Made Like a Screwdriver

A lot of people compare Allen keys and screwdrivers to one another. After all, these tools are very similar to one another because they are both drivers.

You turn an Allen key to tighten or loosen a screw in the same way that you use a screwdriver to do the same job.

The only real difference between the two is the recess which the screwdriver/Allen key penetrates. 

So, yes, you can use an Allen key as a screwdriver. However, it will only be possible to do this when the screw that you are loosening/tightening has a hexagonal recess.

This is the primary reason why Allen keys aren’t made as screwdrivers, as most screws do not have Allen head screws shaped like a hexagon. 

If the screw head has a star-shaped cross-section, then you'll need to use torx wrenches, or a screwdriver with torx head screws.

However, in a scenario where your screws have a Hexagonal recess, then yes, you can use an Allen key in the same way that you would use a screwdriver.

That is why it is always handy to keep an Allen key in your tool box, because you never know when it might come in handy. 

What Can Replace an Allen Key?

Most of the time, flat pack furniture will come with an Allen key. This can often lead to you having an abundance of Allen keys lying around your home.

However you can almost always guarantee that when you need an Allen key, you won’t be able to find one.

Suddenly all the Allen keys that you have lying around will disappear, and you will find yourself stuck looking for a replacement. So what can replace an Allen key? 

Well, there are a number of different things that can be used in place of an Allen key. So there really is no need to stress if you find yourself unable to find one.

One of the best replacements for an Allen key is a torx key, however if you cannot find a torx key, a torque wrench will also be suitable for the job. 

If you do not have either of these, then there are all sorts of things that you can find around your house which will be suitable for the job.

From nail clippers to tweezers, anything with a flat edge will usually be suitable for the job.

Obviously, the best tool for the job will be an Allen key. But, if you cannot find one, then there are other things that you can use.

Can You Use Torx Instead of Allen?

Finally, let’s take a look at whether, or not, you can use a Torx key instead of an Allen key. Well, as we have just established, the answer is yes.

Torx keys are incredibly similar to Allen keys which is why they can be used interchangeably.

Their design is very similar in that they both consist of a single piece of metal shaped to have a 90 degree bend.

They also both fit into hexagonal recesses, but Torx keys are designed to fit into Torx screws. 

The primary difference between Torx and Allen keys is the size.

Allen keys tend to be bigger than Torx keys which is why you sometimes cannot use Allen keys in scenarios where a Torx key is right for the job.

But, most of the time, a Torx key will fit into an Allen key slot, it will simply be a little trickier to use because of the size difference. 


In this guide, we have taken a look at why Allen keys aren’t made like screwdrivers. The main reason for this is that Allen keys simply do not need to be designed like screwdrivers. 

We hope the information in this guide has been helpful. Thank you for reading!


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