How To Use An Allen Wrench Like A Pro

If you’ve taken on some vehicle maintenance tasks or tried putting together self-assembly furniture, you might have noticed a tool that looks like the letter L. 

This is known as an Allen wrench. They have hexagon-shaped ends and are bent at a right angle, resulting in one end that’s longer than the other, so that you can use them as a hex fastener to fasten hex screws.

These wrenches are also known as hex keys and are often used to carry out household tasks and projects, especially if the task involves hex bolts or other screws that have a hex head built for hex keys.

Allen wrenches are very common tools, but they aren’t that complicated to use.

As they can be used for lots of tasks, it’s a good idea to understand how to use Allen wrenches properly, especially in tight spaces.

They’re a simple tool, but you need to ensure that you have a comfortable grip and that you assemble the furniture properly to get the right leverage to use the fastener.

You’ll learn how to use Allen wrenches the right way in this article. We’ll also cover what Allen wrenches are and when they should be used below.

No longer need you search for how to use hex tools to screw in a persistent bolt or another basic fastener to get quality construction. 

If you’re ready to start using Allen wrenches like a pro, keep reading. We have the key to make you a pro with hex tools like the hex key!

How To Use An Allen Wrench Like A Pro

Allen Wrenches: The Basics

Allen wrenches and hex keys are simple devices, but they have a multitude of purposes. You’ll often find them in sets of different sizes, though they can be bought individually too. 

These uncomplicated tools are universal. They are usually used to loosen or tighten Allen bolts and screws on bicycles and furniture.

Allen wrenches and hex keys are growing in popularity as more and more industries start using them for different tasks. 

Allen wrenches are also called hex keys, as they have a hexagon-shaped cross section that fits hex fasteners on motorcycles, bicycles, and flat-pack furniture. 

The most popular type of Allen wrench or hex key is the L-shaped instrument, but there are several types of Allen wrenches available to purchase. 

A different type of Allen wrench or hex key that is often used is the T handle version. This wrench has a handle in the shape of a T that makes turning bolts and screws easier. 

Other different types of Allen wrenches and hex keys are the fold-up versions. These resemble pocket knives with several Allen wrench and hex key heads that fold into the handle.

No matter what type of Allen wrench or hex key that you go for, you should always understand how to use them properly.

The different designs all have various advantages and disadvantages, but the tools tend to be used for similar tasks. 

How To Use Allen Wrenches

How To Use An Allen Wrench Like A Pro

L-Shape Wrench

In the case of the classic Allen wrench or hex key that resembles an L shape, you would first put one of its ends inside the hex-headed bolt or screw. 

Next, turn the wrench in a clockwise direction to tighten the screw, or counterclockwise to loosen it. The L shape design helps the user with leverage, resulting in lots of torque.

Placing the shorter end of the wrench or hex key inside the hex-headed screw lets the user deliver lots of torque and leverage onto its long arm.

This helps to loosen screws that are fastened too tight. 

The wrench’s long arm can reach areas that are more difficult to reach too. 

T-Shape Wrench

T-shaped wrenches and hex keys have the benefit of having access to tighter areas. The design lets you turn screws easily in a motion that resembles a screwdriver. 

To use the T-shaped wrench, you would place the hex wrench or hex keys inside the hex-headed screw. Turn left or right to loosen or tighten the bolt. 

Keep in mind that T-shaped wrenches and hex keys will produce less torque compared to the L-shaped version of the hex key or fallen wrench. 

Fold-Up Set

Fold-up Allen wrenches and hex keys are like T-shaped ones, but they come with a fold-up handle that the user would employ when driving the allen wrench or hex key. 

You can adapt this in a few ways. The folding Allen wrench or hex key can be used like the T-shaped wrench. You would fold the wrench in half so the handle behaves like a cross-section as you turn it. 

If you place the wrench upright, as you would with a pocket knife, it would be like a screwdriver. You can use this wrench in the same way as the previous variations.

You would place the hex key into the hex-headed bolt, then turn counterclockwise or clockwise. 

If required, you can purchase hex fasteners that are compatible with screwdrivers with replaceable components. These may be made with torque wrenches in mind, or even designed for drill usage. 

These adapters connect to a familiar component, so you won’t need to purchase a full set of classic Allen wrenches and hex keys.

The adapters are ideal for people that aren’t used to all of the different forms of Allen wrenches or hex key. 

Sets Of Allen Wrenches

You can buy Allen wrenches and allen keys in sets or individually.

It’s best to purchase these wrenches and allen keys as a hex key set, as you’ll have every size on hand in preparation for when you may need them. 

Some also advise buying the usual American set as well as the metric version, but one set should be enough for beginners to using an allen key or hex wrench. 

However, the projects and tasks that may need Allen wrenches and hex wrenches vary widely, so while some may require metric wrenches, others may need American ones.

These tools aren’t too expensive, so it’s a good idea to have two full sets.

If you ever buy self-assembly furniture, they usually come with a single wrench or hex key to help you put it together.

This is the right tool to access tight spots and get the job done. Despite this, individual Allen wrenches can easily go missing, but having a full set of them means this won’t be a problem.

Hex key sets come in lots of different varieties and shapes. You may have a certain preference for L-shaped wrenches, T-shaped ones, or fold-up groups.

You can also buy hex heads that are designed to fit on screwdriver heads, sockets, and drills. 

Some of these sets also come with key rings for convenience to keep the key close to hand.

This means that every wrench is stored in one place, so you’re less likely to misplace them around your house. 

If you are thinking about purchasing an Allen wrench set, think about how many wrenches you might want in your set, as commonly you may only need a small number, so the answer is to go for the set that has many different types, but not too many, to save money but get full value. 

Hex wrenches come in several different key sizes to allow you to apply different levels of torque, but some are used more often than others.

The bigger sizes are usually only used for vehicle tasks and heavy machinery. 

If you need your wrenches for everyday household tasks, a set of around twelve American wrenches and another set of around twelve metric ones should suit you well to drill without needing a screwdriver or any other fancy tool.

All you really need is a decent set of tools  that help you to access hard to reach places.

Despite this, if you have jobs on large rigs or use big machines, you may find use in larger American and metric wrench sets. 

Before you go and purchase an Allen wrench set, think about what you need the tools for and how many wrenches you might need.

This may save you more money overall. 

Final Thoughts

As you start taking on household tasks, you may shock yourself with how many times an Allen wrench can come in handy.

No matter if you are taking furniture apart, tinkering with your motorcycle, or fiddling with home appliances, having a good set of Allen wrenches and understanding how to use them correctly is always a good idea.

Other than your usual household tasks, Allen wrenches are helpful for other purposes too.

Small l shaped hex keys can help people who have locked themselves out of their homes pick their locks to get back in.

However, you must be careful as this is not what the tool is actually designed for, unlike other hand tools. The l shape can help you to get more leverage on a screw head.

Another purpose is that Allen wrenches can help you fix power tools, like drills and chainsaws. They are also used a lot for electronic purposes, particularly with computers and tablets. 

It’s clear that Allen wrenches are a very versatile tool, so understanding how to use them properly will help you a lot in the future! 


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