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Home Tools Advice How To Use An Allen Wrench: Your Ultimate Guide

How To Use An Allen Wrench: Your Ultimate Guide

With the recent advances in our technology, it is without a doubt that we learn a lot of things from the Internet, which is helpful in many aspects. When a piece of equipment gets broken, you can quickly search its defects online, and hundreds of posts will appear teaching you how to fix it. Usually, these pieces of information cover how to use an Allen Wrench and other tools to aid you in the task.

What Is an Allen Wrench?

An Allen wrench or hex key, the latter being its more politically correct term, is a tool used for tightening and loosening bolts, which are usually found in certain furniture or equipment such as bicycles or tables, with heads that form a hexagon. Hence the name “hex key.” It is a simple tool that is often L-shaped. Although other known variants include the T-shape and the Folding Hex Key.

The L-shaped wrench uses the short arm as the head and the long arm as the handle. Although in the more recently manufactured ones, the long arm is also used as the head since it is finished with a hex ball socket that is used on bolts in tight angles.

The T-shaped hex key works the other way around as it uses the short arm as the handle and the long arm as the head, except again, in some cases where the long end is finished with a hex ball socket. The folding hex key, on the other hand, is like a pocket knife full of the different sizes of the hex keys.

History of an Allen Wrench

The first patented use of the Allen wrench was around 1909 when W.G. Allen released a safety set of wrenches to the public. And it was in 1910 that the wrench was first produced on a massive scale and coined “Allen wrench.”

W.G. Allen was the founder of the Allen Manufacturing Company from which the term originated from. The Apex Tool Group now runs the company, and they are encouraging people to use the standard generic name which is “hex key.”

Where to Use an Allen Wrench?

Allen wrenches are used to tighten or loosen bolts with hexagonal sockets. These bolts are usually found on types of furniture such as tables, chairs, or shelves, because of their simplicity and small size as they do not protrude much.

Aside from assembling or disassembling furniture, hexagonal bolts are also widely used in bicycles, so if you are a biker, then you are most likely to have an Allen wrench nearby. Because of its shape, the Allen wrench is capable of reaching certain spots on a bicycle that other tools cannot. Aside from this, the lightness of the Allen wrench also makes it ideal for bikers to bring on their outdoor activities.

How to Use an Allen Wrench?

Before proceeding to the tightening and loosening of the bolt, you must first figure out if your Allen wrench is the appropriate size for the bolt you are trying to turn. You have to take note that if the wrench does not fit, then it is best not to force it as doing so might damage the hexagonal shape of the wrench or the bolt. Once you have found the perfect fit, simply stick the short arm of the wrench into the bolt, and turn it clockwise for tightening or counterclockwise for loosening.

How to Store Allen Wrenches?

If you have a tool case for your Allen wrench set, or if you are using the Folding Allen wrench set, then surely you don’t have much problem in packing it up. This also lessens the risk of losing one in the tool shelf.

However, if the wrench set you have bought does come with a tool case, then you are in for a messy toolbox. But don’t you worry, here are a few simple ways you can try in organizing your Allen wrenches.

The most common storage tip for the L-shaped Allen wrench set is to keep it in a ring. This way, all your wrenches will be bounded together which is a good thing when you are trying to figure out what size fits the bolt you are working on.

Another storage tip that you can do is through the use of sponges. If you are the type who has bought a few sets of Allen wrenches, then surely there will be some doubles in your toolkit. One thing you can do is to arrange and group them according to their sizes. Once you have done this, you can stick the head of each wrench into the sponge then color it with nail polish—the same sizes must go with the same color.

What To Remember In Purchasing an Allen Wrench?

First, you have to find out what type of Allen wrench you are going to need at home. Would it be the L-shape, the T-shape, or the folding hex set? If you are looking the most basic and the most commonly used one, then experts recommend you go for the L-shape. If you need more torque in twisting and turning bolts, then you should probably go for the T-shape.

If you are the outgoing type of person, or just plain clumsy that you sometimes lose stuff without you noticing it, then we recommend you go for the folding hex key set to lessen the risk of losing a single wrench. This is also good if you like to travel as the folding hex key is perfect for pocket carry.


After a thorough discussion about what is and how to use an Allen Wrench, you should now be convinced as to why you need one. With the help of the Internet, there is no denying that more and more people are now into “do-it-yourself” tasks. However, you always have to make sure that you have the best tools for the best experience. There are a lot of uses for the Allen wrench, and we are sure your “do-it-yourself” habits will be a much more fun activity if you have the perfect wrench set.


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