Hex Key vs Allen Wrench: Differences in Detail

Last Updated on January 12, 2023 by TechChecking

If you are working in your own workshop or trying to repair your motorbike, some small but important tools are required. In fact, without those tools, loosening or tightening the nuts or bolts would be difficult finding alternative ways. However, one of those hand tools sets is a good set of Allen wrenches. Well, do you know them as hex keys? Is there a difference at all between them? Don’t worry, in this article we are going to cover all of this topic. We hope after reading this article you won’t have any questions like what is the differences between Hex key vs Allen wrench.

What is a Hex Key?

A hex key (Hex key or Allen wrench are literally the same) is a small handheld tool that is used for loosening or tightening bolts and screws with a hexagonal socket. A hex wrench has six pressure points which help to grab the nuts perfectly. You can find different sizes of hex keys though they all have the same hexagonal-shaped tip.

A hex key is an L-shaped hexagonal tool that helps to drive bolts and screws with a hexagonal socket. ‘Hexa’ means six and a hex key has the same pressure points to lock the nuts impeccably and allows to get the work done efficiently.

What is an Allen Wrench?

As is already mentioned the terms “hex wrench” and “Allen wrench” refer to the same tool. There is no difference between these two. They are just called in different names in different places. The product is the same.

Towards the 1910s, William G. Allen was able to file a patent for a cold-forming screw head featuring a hexagonal shape. He later marketed the new screw head under the name “Allen safety set screw.”

Hex Key vs Allen Wrench – what is the difference?

The terms “hex key” and “Allen wrench” refer to the same tool. It is an L-shaped hexagonal tool that is designed to fit and drive bolts and screws. This Hex key or Allen wrench must have a hexagonal socket in their heads.

A hex or Allen wrench is not an adjustable wrench though. It is completely related to hexagonal sockets. Kind of unique, right?

We know the same product may have different names for the different places. Different places have different colloquial languages. So it depends on where you are from or where you work as to which term you are familiar with.

Is There a Difference Between a Hex and an Allen Wrench?

The direct answer to this question is – No, there is no difference between those two. They are the same product in a different name.

For exampleA Backpack or a Knapsack or a Rucksack, are there any differences in them? No, actually. They are all same that we know them generally as backpacks or bags. They are also called knapsacks or rucksacks. Actually, the terms were originated in different places but the meaning was the same.

So, in a word, these two names can be used interchangeably in order to mean the same tool.

Types of Hex Key/Allen Wrench

Since the 1800s, the hex tool was introduced, and over time, those have evolved into different sizes and designs. Now we are going to mention some of the types of hex key/Allen wrenches that might help enrich your knowledge.

L-style – this type of Allen wrench is mostly known to all. If anybody mentions about hex key, it comes to mind at first too. This one is called L-style because it has been designed like an L shape. Honestly, these are the traditional wrenches that come in premade furniture boxes. Anyway, you can find this tool available in size from 1.5mm all the way to 10mm.

P-Handle – well, if you work in any workshop, these types of Allen wrenches would be highly recommended. They are also popular in professional shops as well. The fun part is this tool looks like an L-style type but they have a grip at the end and hence they look like the letter “P”. And this is how the name is originated.

T-Handle – truly speaking, these types of wrenches are the most popular and familiar to people. The people who work in the motorsports field use these T-handle wrenches most. Due to its ergonomic design, you can spin the wrench very quickly with good leverage. Besides, these types of wrenches are highly required in motorbike workshops.

Folding Style – this type of wrench comes in a case so that they can be folded out from. It is a kind of Swiss army knife design. The set of keys tends to fold out at a 90-degree angle and offers a good level of torque.

Allen Screwdriver – do you know Allen Screwdriver? Well, if you deal with a tight area and a low amount of torque, it is the right tool for your work. To be honest, these screwdrivers are great for working on brakes. Different in size available ranging from 1.5mm to 5mm. we hope, it won’t disappoint you.

Key Rings Sets – these keyrings set look like L-shaped wrenches that are kept together on a key ring. Like others, it must have a whole slew of different sizes. Great to keep them all in one ring.

Ratcheting Drivers – it is the most common driver to make your work faster. Bits and sockets are needed to get the job done. You may know some can even use it with an electric drill.

Types of Hex Key/ Hex Key vs Allen Wrench

The above-mentioned tools are useful and truly effective. They have a variety of sizes and styles. To get your work done faster, those tools are badly in need. They are comfortable and handy to deal with.

Some Popular Uses of Hex Key/Allen Wrench

No doubt that we all have somehow come across these wrenches in our lives especially those who have a workshop or work for personal use at home. These wrenches can be used in many circumstances as well. Let’s see some popular uses of them.

First of all, Hex Keys/Allen Wrenches are very popular in bike maintenance. A bike has a lot of different sizes of nuts and bolts and most of them are hexagonal. That’s why these tools are very useful and effective for bike repairing or maintenance. Besides, in order to do complete your work faster, they are a must-have for your repair kit.

In addition, it is commonly seen in a furniture shop that hex keys are used. The main reason behind this is the tools are too small to notice it. Allen Wrenches have different sizes too. Big bolts hamper aesthetic beauty and this is why small bolts and screws are used which are barely noticeable. Apart from this, Hex Keys/Allen Wrenches are used to dealing with small spaces too.

Moreover, hex keys have big sizes which can be used to fix cars and motor vehicles when it comes to maintenance. Most of the vehicles have hexagonal nuts.

Besides, we see sometimes some power tools with a rotating bladelike saw that requires an Allen wrench to change out the blade. At that time, this tool plays an important role.

Apart from this, hex key/Allen wrenches are frequently used in electronics. You need some DIY power tools as well as these hand tools while you are trying to do some repairing on electronics. Allen wrenches play their part effectively.

What Is A Hex Key Used For?

Though it has already been aforementioned why a hex key/ Allen wrench is used for but nevertheless we are going to remind you one more time. The short and easy answer is Hex Keys/Allen Wrenches are just a tool that helps to tighten and loosen certain types of bolts and screws. To be precise, they are intentionally designed for using bolts with a recessed hex drive socket. It means a hexagonal ‘slot’ in the screw head (or sometimes the shaft, in the case of headless fasteners).

Hex keys have some unique and important characteristics of their own. The user-friendly fastening role is one of them and it makes them so popular among operators of all experience levels. A hex key is used for many purposes. They are:

  • Cheap to manufacture and buy
  • Simple to use
  • Lightweight but sturdy
  • Easy to hold to operate
  • Words fine even in relatively tight spaces
  • Hexagonal pressure points are for improved torque and less chance of slipping/stripping
  • Available in a range of lengths and gauges
  • Suitable for use with headless fasteners
  • Being double-headed, one head damage offers another head in use
  • Can easily be reconditioned or renew simply by trimming off the damaged ends with a suitable cutting disc or grinder

Is A Hex Key/Allen Wrench Easy to Use?

Using a Hex Key/Allen Wrench is incredibly simple. Just follow the process. Insert one end of the driver into the recessed hexagonal fastener head. And then apply torque at the other end to turn it. That’s it. Very simple to use.

What benefits does a hexagonal-shaped screw bolt head offer over a standard Phillip’s head?

Well, a Hex key has six pressure points while Phillip’s head hardware contains just four. It is true that with more pressure points you will have the advantage to grip the screw or bolt making it easier to drive in or out.

So having six driving points than four creates more advantages and benefits. Here are the basic differences between the hexagonal-shaped screw bolt and a standard Phillip’s head.

Besides, it has less risk of stripping the bolt or screw when the hex wrench is used. This awesome feature draws engineers’ attention deeply to choose hex hardware instead of Phillip’s head. Yes, a hex screw can still be stripped but it takes longer than other designs.

Final Words

The topic Hex Key vs Allen Wrench and its Differences along with some other important points have been covered in this article. Who the people have no idea at all can have some knowledge if he/she reads the whole article. We have tried our best to explain with easy language so that even a fifth-grade student can understand what we have tried to make them understand. Yes, for the beginner, understanding these terms and use of this Hex Key/Allen Wrench may be a bit difficult but we have used images to unlock the problems. Hope you will get an idea from here.

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