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How To Use An Allen Key

The Allen key is one of the most humble tools – it might not look like much, but it’s a powerful piece of L-shaped metal. It’s an incredibly effective tool that produces an impressive amount of torque. No self-respecting toolkit is complete without a handy set of Allen keys.

Allen keys are also referred to as Allen wrenches, hex keys or hex wrenches. They feature a hexagonal head that will fit a variety of machine screws to loosen or tighten for removal or installation. These fasteners are commonly used in flat-pack furniture, motorcycle engines, mechanical equipment, bicycles, and other devices.

On a motorcycle, the hex fastener allows the engine cover to mount flush with the engine to prevent protruding bolt heads. Perhaps their greatest benefit is that with six points of contact for driving, they are much easier to work with and less likely to cam out or strip than a standard screwdriver.

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Traditional Use

While you can purchase an Allen key on its own, purchasing them in a set is a more economical way of working. It means you have a variety of sizes for a wide range of uses when the need arises. You can purchase them in metric and fractional-inch sizes, which means you should invest in two sets for maximum efficiency.

Using a traditional Allen key is simple – you simply place one end of the tool into the hex screw. If you want to tighten a screw, turn the Allen key clockwise. You can turn it counterclockwise to loosen or remove a screw. The small side is ideal for operating in small spaces, while the long end can provide you with plenty of leverage to create a sufficient amount of torque, which is particularly useful when dealing with a stubborn screw.

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It’s worth noting you can also buy T-handle Allen keys. These are mostly used by technicians and mechanics who regularly work with hex screws. T-handles provide a large handle to amp up torque and provide comfort while handling.

The T-shaped key is also useful for getting into tight spaces, as it fits in and leaves room for your hand to turn the screw. It doesn’t, however, generate the same level of torque as the traditional L-shaped Allen key.

How To Use With A Drill

If you want to use Allen keys with a drill to speed up the process, you can. But you will require a Dremel or grinder tool. Use it to remove the Allen key’s shorter end and slip the longer leg into your cordless drill. Now you have the speed and strength of the drill to make the process even simpler. Of course, if you don’t have those tools on hand, you can purchase a hex fastener specifically designed to work in torque wrenches or drills. It’s the perfect solution for anyone who cannot comfortably handle or use the different Allen keys available.

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Final Thoughts

The most challenging aspect of Allen keys is keeping them organised so you can easily access them when you need one. Luckily, you can invest in a set that comes in a storage container. Whether you prefer a metal split ring to keep them organised like a large set of keys or you want a snap-close case to house them, there are plenty of options. When you need an Allen key, you can immediately put your hand on the exact size you need.