14 Different Types of Allen Keys and Their Uses

Different Types of Allen Keys
Photo by Silberfuchs

What are the different types of Allen Keys? You’ve found the ideal site to learn about the many Allen keys available. You only need an Allen key or Wrench to make your home improvement jobs a breeze.

An Allen key may not seem like much of a tool, but as the old saying goes, appearances can be deceptive. It’s not just an L-shaped hunk of metal.

Don’t be fooled by the Allen key or Wrench’s natural look; it’s a powerful hand tool capable of delivering an astonishingly high level of torque. You may be shocked that an Allen key set is essential to every tool collection.

For machine screws with hexagonal recesses, use hex keys or hex-key wrenches (another name for Allen key or Wrench), called for their hexagonal cross-section.

The use of hex fasteners is rising in many mechanical products, from DIY furniture and motorbike engines to bicycles.

This article aims to help you make a well-informed selection by providing a comprehensive overview of the different types of Allen Keys or wrenches, including their wide varieties and applications. However, before we begin, let me take you on a short tour of an Allen key.

What is an Allen Key or Wrench?

An Allen key is a tool with an L form used for tightening and loosening fasteners with a hexagonal head. It is also often referred to as a hex key. They are made of a single piece of material, most often metal, that has been shaped at a right angle.

Each end of an Allen key is in the shape of a hexagon. As a result, if a fastener is properly sized, you may install it or remove it using either end of the tool.

How Does the Allen Key Work?

Allen keys are like screwdrivers and wrenches, but there are a few major differences in how they operate. You may put them to use by inserting one of the ends into a fastener that has a hexagonal socket head and then rotating the pin.

If you spin the Allen key in a clockwise direction, you will be able to secure the fastener, but if you turn it in the other order, you will be able to remove it or loosen it.

When examining a standard Allen key, you can note that one side is longer than the other. This is because the longer side is used to turn the Allen key. Allen keys have the form of a letter, and the lengths of the two sides of the key vary from one another.

Turning the long arm in a clockwise direction will provide greater torque, allowing you to install or remove fasteners that would otherwise be difficult more easily.

On the other hand, you can squeeze the Allen key into tight spots if you turn the short arm in a clockwise direction.

Advantages of Using Any of the Types of Allen Keys

When it comes to the installation and removal of fasteners that have a hexagonal socketed head, Allen keys provide a solution that is both straightforward and uncomplicated. They don’t need any power tools, and you don’t even need a specific bit for them to work.

As a result, they are one of the most user-friendly equipments available when it comes to putting in and taking out supported fasteners. The different Allen keys prevent the fasteners from being accidentally stripped out of their holes.

In addition, because they are designed to be used with hexagonal fasteners, they can “grab” the fasteners more effectively than other typical screwdrivers and wrenches. This powerful gripping action prevents the fasteners from being stripped during installation or removal.

Because they are so cheap, Allen keys are frequently included in the packaging of items that consumers construct. For example, Allen keys are often included with the purchase of new furniture.

Customers may put the furniture together using the Allen keys provided. Consumers may further use the Allen keys that are supplied in the package to tighten the parts at a later time.

History of Allen Keys

Before talking about the different types of Allen Keys, it is pertinent that you know a little about the history of this unique key or Wrench. So let us begin.

When W.G. Allen first presented a safety set of wrenches to the general public in the early 1900s, it was the first time Allen wrenches were used in a patented application.

In addition, the first wrenches to be produced on a commercial scale did not appear until 1910. Because of this, the phrase “Allen wrench” came into being.

He established the Allen Manufacturing Company, the forerunner of what is now known as the Allen Manufacturing Company.

It is presently managed by the well-respected Apex Tool Group, which encourages people to refer to it by its more common name, ‘Hex key.’

Different Types of Allen Keys

The number of varieties of Allen wrenches is rather high, in case you were wondering how many there are. The fact is that they are available in a variety of forms and styles (which will be covered further down) to accommodate a wide range of uses.

Some are designed to work well with conventional fasteners (Society of Automotive Engineers), while others are appropriate for use in metric systems.

Keep a watch out for a color-coding system on certain Allen wrenches so that you can readily determine if they are metric or standard.

1. T-Handle

One of the different types of Allen Keys, T-handle types, which are often used in the racing business, enable you to spin the Wrench in a flash while ushering in adequate leverage for everyday use. This style is also widely utilized.

The Capri Sliding Hex Wrench has a sliding mechanism that enables the tool to be positioned in an L-shaped configuration. Wrenches with T-Handles are becoming more common in the world of bicycle repair.

2. P-Handle

Oversized versions of their L-shaped counterparts, P-handle wrenches, among the different types of Allen Keys, have a pleasant and secure grip in addition to the advantages associated with T-handle wrenches. As a result, these wrenches may be found in a wide variety of professional workshops.

3. Folding Hex Key

Compared to regular Allen wrenches, folding Hex wrenches are practically difficult to lose since their heads are safely inside the handle. This feature has contributed to their meteoric popularity among motorcycle riders and cyclists.

In addition, they are normally unfolded in a position ninety degrees away from the handle used for storage to get the possible torque. The folding Hex key is also one of the many different types of Allen Keys.

4. Ball Hexagonal

Ball Hex wrench sets can access narrow spaces inaccessible to their L-shaped counterparts due to the ball-shaped head at the corners of the small spaces. This distinguishes them from the rest of the competition.

5. Ring for Keys

A simple L-shaped hex, secured to a key ring using a spring-loaded clip, constitutes this item. A Key Ring set is inexpensive and has the added benefit of being able to be kept in your vehicle.

However, you will need to remove the key from the holding clip to utilize it for an extended period. Additionally, to make a replacement, depress and turn the key.

6. Hex Ratcheting Ratchet

The speed that can be achieved with ratcheting hex wrenches, also one of the different types of Allen Keys, is far higher than that achieved with standard Allen wrenches.

In addition, they are compatible with sockets, and screwdriver bits also contribute to their increased functionality.

The bits of ratcheting hex wrenches are used in electric drill drivers. These bits are available in a variety of various kinds. Because of this, they have established themselves as the industry standard for those who work with rotor bolts.

7. L-Style

Because it is one of the regular Allen wrenches, you should have no trouble locating it online or at your area’s hardware shop.

Because of its L-shaped form, the L-style, one of the different types of Allen Keys, is an absolute beast when reaching into confined spaces and offering control when required.

If you’re looking to complete a set, this would be an excellent option for you to go with. Although many choices are available on the market today, purchasing a 1.5-10mm L-shaped Allen wrench will provide you with the best return on your investment.

8. Torque Wrench

It is a necessary feature of any workshop, especially when dealing with fragile components, and it is especially important when working with electronics. However, remember that torque wrenches are not a suitable replacement for their corresponding hex wrenches.

9. Allen Screwdriver

When your job requires a minimal amount of torque and narrow clearance, having this tool within arm’s length may be helpful.

Adjusting the levers on a disc brake or any other lever form requires an Allen screwdriver set. In addition, the size range of 1.5 mm to 5 mm is the most typical one you’ll come across.

10. Adjustable Allen

The adjustable Allen, also one of the different types of Allen Keys, is a multipurpose instrument called a network wrench and works very well with metric and standard fasteners.

It features a fixed jaw point located at the top position of the Wrench, in addition to a jaw that can be moved to modify the size of the Wrench.

Adjustable wrenches, which may be used to loosen or tighten angled nuts or screws, are available in three varieties (200mm, 300mm, and 250mm).

These wrenches are often used by plumbers, electricians, people who put together their furniture, and those who work on cars. In addition, they are selected according to the size of the nut, and they are not intended for usage in the other direction.

11. Combination

It’s a handy instrument with two different uses thanks to its box-end on one side and open-end on the other. The box-end consists of a closed ring that, on the inside, may have a variety of diameters, which is determined by the size of the Allen wrench.

12. Open-end Allen

The open end of this multipurpose tool helps loosen and tighten bolts and nuts in confined locations, while the box end gives a solid hold around them. For instance, combination Allen wrenches are often used to maintain bicycles.

Open-end Allen wrenches are useful for confined project areas inaccessible to wider or thicker wrenches since they are designed as a single-piece instrument with two ends that may be used interchangeably.

In addition, the apertures on the opposing sides of the nuts and bolts might differ in size. When the Wrench is flipped over to utilize the other side, the U-shaped aperture on either end provides a secure grasp on whatever item you’re working with.

13. Socket

An Allen socket wrench is a type of Wrench used to turn fasteners. It features a hollow cylinder affixed to the handle’s end.

In addition, it may be tightened or loosened by sliding it over the bolts and nuts. It is one of the most common among the different types of Allen Keys.

Because its sockets may be detached, socket wrenches are suitable for various sized items. They are also known as ratchet wrenches, and they provide a level of productivity and velocity that is unparalleled. In addition, they are helpful from a wide variety of perspectives.

14. Crowfoot

The Wrench has neither a shaft nor a handle; therefore, the only discernible difference between it and a box-end or open-end wrench is that the latter has one and the former has not. In addition, it features a hole in the rear of the Wrench’s mouth where it may be accessed.

When used on the side of a bolt or nut, as opposed to the top, as is the case with their socket counterparts, crowfoot Allen wrenches provide a secure fit. As a result, they are an excellent choice for confined areas.

In addition, a crowfoot wrench may be handy for adjusting valves and other fittings, such as the clutch or the brake, as well as power steering and abs modulators.

This kind of Wrench is used almost every day by the mechanics that work in the aviary department. Furthermore, they are used in conjunction with ratchet handles or torque wrench handles.

How to Determine Which Different Types of Allen Keys Are the Best?

Because there is such a wide variety of alternatives available, picking the appropriate Allen wrench for your undertaking might sometimes seem like an uphill struggle. However, you’re lucky since the following considerations will properly point you.

After all, the last thing you need is to purchase a collection of things that will not accomplish what they are intended to achieve. Here are some of the factors you can use to determine which of the different types of Allen Keys is the best:

Treatments of the Surface

These have a direct impact on the Allen wrenches’ performance as well as their longevity. Those with coatings made of zinc or black oxide are more likely to corrode and are more likely to chip quickly.

Therefore, while comparing tools made by different manufacturers, keep an eye out for chrome-plated choices since these tools create less friction, boosting their endurance.

Length

Depending on the context, it could be of the utmost importance. For example, when there is restricted accessibility or the need for higher torque, long Allen wrenches are a better choice than their shorter counterparts.

On the other hand, shorter alternatives are preferable for working in limited locations that wrenches of a greater length cannot reach.

Put an end to expensive generic geometry. Allen wrenches feature a pointed end with sharp edges designed to fit hardware with a little wiggle room.

They must be operated at a perpendicular angle to the screw, making it more difficult to assure that the screw has been fully engaged and causing unnatural wrist angles that are uncomfortable for users.

The good news is that this problem has a solution, and that answer is to use Allen wrenches with a ball end. They are designed to be placed at an angle into the screw socket, which paves the way for a tighter grip that feels more natural while also allowing for smoother torque application.

During disassembly or installation, ball ends are often located only on the long end of Allen wrenches and save significant time. This is due to the fact that they do not need a perfectly aligned connection with the screw head.

Durability

The vast majority of Allen wrenches are constructed out of steel, which may come in a variety of grades and quality levels.

Those made from grades of poorer quality that are weak in stress relief, material hardness, and surface treatments have a shorter lifespan and lower tensile strength than those made from higher quality grades. In turn, this implies that replacements will need to take place more often.

Items of the highest quality and most unrivaled endurance have a high tensile strength, which ushers in greater torque capabilities.

These products are also of the highest quality. These have a minimum Rockwell Hardness grade of C5, which the producers of the individual products often set.

Conclusion

It will be much simpler for you to choose the appropriate Allen wrenches for your do-it-yourself tasks now that you are familiar with the different types of Allen Keys, how to use them, and other relevant information.

Consequently, if you want to take advantage of these useful instruments’ benefits for as long as possible, you should acquire yours as soon as possible.

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