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Allen wrenches (aka hex keys)

#1
Hi:

I've been hex drive fasteners a lot recently and I'd like to get a better set of imperial-size Allen wrenches. The best set I have now are simple L shape hex keys. I sometimes need more reach or more torque. I have a single T-shape wrench and it is much better to use.

The main thing, though, is is getting them in the @(&# socket. Are the ones with rounded tips really better?

So, If I wanted a decent set of T-shape wrenches, imperial sized, with rounded tips, that aren't going to break the bank, what should I get?

Craig
 

John Conroy

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
#3
I like this style. Klein makes good tools. Ball end ones are great if you have to work at an angle other than 90 degrees but they can't provide as much torque to the fastener without stripping out the socket head.
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DPittman

Active Member
#4
I've got some that have a ball end on and a regular on the other end. I like them. I wouldn't want only ball ends for reasons noted above, but they do come in handy sometime.
 
#5
Sometimes, I put the screw on the end of the allen wrench and then start it into the threaded hole. I take it that that won't work with a ball-end driver? The screw will just fall off the ball?

Craig
 

PeterT

Ultra Member
Premium Member
#7
Wiha makes good quality too. You can find on Amazon & sales. Generally more expensive. Beware of inferior copycats using the name with subtle variations (and sometimes outright deception).
https://www.wihatools.ca/shop-tools/l-key-sets
Wiha makes a holding variant called MagicRing but I haven't tried it.

I don't have a Wiha set, only a few I've bought as replacements in both driver & key form. I've just noticed they have outlasted my Bondhus which I always thought were great quality. With a hex key you can grind off & expose fresh meat & sharp corners. With a ball you are at the end of the trail. Try not to torque on the ball style too hard (at least at the small sizes I work with). They are good for angled or awkward placement but a wrench is better to torque it home.
 

DPittman

Active Member
#8
I clearly need to stop being so damn cheap one of these days, I never dreamed of paying that sort of money for a set of Allen keys. I have a whack of various cheapos that seem to be made of cheese and I curse them regularly, but I also have a set of Craftsman/Mastercraft? keys that are much much better and I have never thought they were lacking in any way. I obviously don't know what I'm missing.
 

Tom O

Active Member
#10
My dealings with Princess Auto have always been good I think I have only taken one thing back at least you will get a idea if you like them or not!
 
#11
@DPittman I hear you! I'm torn between taking a chance on a cheap set from Princess Auto versus paying almost 5X as much for a good set.

Craig
Well I have a cheap t handle set from Princess Auto and although I like the T handle form most of the time, they are of cheese quality, I've ground the ends down on most of them because they schmooze out. I don't know if they have them but if Princess Auto has a set in their premium line "Pro Point" on sale I would bet that they are okay for the money. Never ending game of trying to balance money spent vs quality issue.
 

Johnwa

Active Member
#12
I bought duplicate metric and imperial sets from PA so I could have sets in the shop and in the basement. Nice bright orange handles but I still managed to misplace a 4.5mm one. SIGH
 
#13
I clearly need to stop being so damn cheap one of these days, I never dreamed of paying that sort of money for a set of Allen keys. I have a whack of various cheapos that seem to be made of cheese and I curse them regularly, but I also have a set of Craftsman/Mastercraft? keys that are much much better and I have never thought they were lacking in any way. I obviously don't know what I'm missing.
I just ordered a set of long Allen sockets from Snap On. I think a six or seven socket set was $230 :(

The dealer asked me two or three times to make sure I didn’t want the ball end. I may regret that but I stayed with non-ball end

NO, not everyone needs that quality. I prefer having quality tools and enjoy the painless warranty process

I heard Canadian Tire was refusing to warranty tools if a pro was using them at work?
 
#14
Well I have a cheap t handle set from Princess Auto and although I like the T handle form most of the time, they are of cheese quality, I've ground the ends down on most of them because they schmooze out. I don't know if they have them but if Princess Auto has a set in their premium line "Pro Point" on sale I would bet that they are okay for the money. Never ending game of trying to balance money spent vs quality issue.
It is their ProPoint set that is on clearance:

https://www.princessauto.com/en/detail/8-pc-sae-t-handle-hex-key-set/A-p8385296e

Basically half the list price.

Craig
 
#15
It is their ProPoint set that is on clearance:

https://www.princessauto.com/en/detail/8-pc-sae-t-handle-hex-key-set/A-p8385296e

Basically half the list price.

Craig
I've had something (can't remember what) of the ProPoint name and I didn't figure it was any better than the Powerfist brand, but I have several other instances of the ProPoint brand tools that are definitely quite a bit better than the Powerfist. I think for that sale price, I should pick up some of those ProPoint Allen keys also! Definitely cheap and likely decent quality.
 
#16
I just ordered a set of long Allen sockets from Snap On. I think a six or seven socket set was $230 :(

The dealer asked me two or three times to make sure I didn’t want the ball end. I may regret that but I stayed with non-ball end

NO, not everyone needs that quality. I prefer having quality tools and enjoy the painless warranty process

I heard Canadian Tire was refusing to warranty tools if a pro was using them at work?
$230! Yeah, not for me.

Re the ball end, I have several sets of the straight-end L-wrenchs. The other day I was going back-and-forth with something where the socket-head screw was in a dark recess and I found I was wasting a lot of time trying to get the six-sided wrench to go into the six-sided socket. I'm hoping the ball end will make that a lot less painful.

I only buy tools from Crappy Tire if I expect to use them only once. Their screwdrivers, for example, might as well be made from tin.

Craig
 
#17
$230! Yeah, not for me.

Re the ball end, I have several sets of the straight-end L-wrenchs. The other day I was going back-and-forth with something where the socket-head screw was in a dark recess and I found I was wasting a lot of time trying to get the six-sided wrench to go into the six-sided socket. I'm hoping the ball end will make that a lot less painful.

I only buy tools from Crappy Tire if I expect to use them only once. Their screwdrivers, for example, might as well be made from tin.

Craig
I’ll have to look when they come in, but usually the bit taps out of the socket fairly easily on Snap On stuff. I could order in a replacement ball end bit and be able to have the best of both worlds.

I was working on something in a deep recess the other day that I had to use the long side of an allen key, but could only get a quarter turn at a time with the junk in the road. It was slightly frustrating, I had to use a wrench on the short side just to get enough leverage to loosen it up.

I feel your pain