What’s an Allen Wrench?

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The Allen key, also known as a hex key, is a six-sided tool used for screws and bolts. It comes in various shapes and sizes, with L-shaped being the most common. Allen keys are measured flat side to flat and are available in metric and standard sizes. They work well with recessed screw heads and are commonly found in toolboxes and included with products that require assembly.

The Allen key is an everyday tool that goes by many names. Commonly known as a hex key, allen wrench, zeta wrench, or hex head, it’s a six-sided tool used as a driver for screws, bolts, and other fasteners designed to fit the tool. The name “Allen Wrench” comes from the Allen Company, a Hartford, Connecticut-based manufacturer that manufactured the tool. Since then, the tool has gone by many names as numerous manufacturers have produced variations of the wrench.

This tool comes in many shapes and sizes, but the most typical shape is L-shaped. This allows the user to take advantage of the wrench’s reach – while using the L-shape’s longer arm – or its shaping capabilities. torque while using the shorter arm of the L-shape. Some allen wrenches feature a ball end on the longer arm of the L-shape to further ease the reach and allow the wrench to be used at odd angles. The ball end, however, should not be used for torque purposes, as it can easily slip and damage the fastener and the tool itself.

Allen key sizes are measured flat side to flat rather than corner to corner. They are available in a variety of both metric and standard sizes and come in extremely small sizes that other drivers are unable to accommodate. One of the benefits of the allen key is its contact points: six sides in contact with the bolt or screw ensure a large surface area to effectively turn the screw.

The versatility of an Allen key becomes apparent when you consider the many types of screws and bolts it can accommodate: It works well with recessed screw heads or grub screws, as well as high-profile screw heads. Recessed heads and grub screws are protected from external damage and contact, thus making an Allen key a good choice for exposed screws.

Because these tools are relatively cheap to manufacture, they are becoming more and more common in toolboxes. They are also commonly found included with products that require minor assembly by the consumer and, as a result, may have special dimensions. Bicycles, exercise equipment, furniture, and some home electronics commonly come with these tools included. More and more Allen keys are also included in drill bit sets, and individual bits are available at most hardware stores.

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