The Incredible, Underrated Allen Wrench


Either end of the L-shaped hex secret can be utilized to drive a screw. If you require more torque, stick the short end of the hex secret (the horizontal bottom of the L) into the socket of a screw and use the long end as a lever. If you require to put a screw into a hard-to-reach area, stick the long end of the hex key into its socket, and use the short end to turn the wrench.
The crib used hex screws, however I had thrown away the initial hex key that came with it, so I had to use one from my own set.
The technique with having your own set of hex keys is to prevent treating them like the hex secrets that get packed with your furnishings; after youve used one, make sure to put it back in its case rather than tossing it in a scrap drawer.

The Allen wrench is among those things that is so common youre apt to take it for granted..
Theres an Allen wrench on top of my dresser. Theres one in my restroom cabinet.
For some reason, the Allen wrench resting on my bed room cabinet got my attention today and got me questioning, “Whats this things story? Why do I have a lot of these wrenches lying around? Why is it so pleasing to fasten screws with one?”.
So I began examining..
Heres what I found out about this omnipresent, incredibly-handy-but-typically-underrated tool..
The History of the Allen Wrench (aka the Hex Key).
Screws have been around for thousands of years, but it wasnt until the industrialization of the 19th century that they became a standard fastener. The very first screws had a slot head/flathead, and you would utilize a flathead screwdriver to drive the screw into wood. The drawback of slotted screws is that the screwdriver tends to slip out of the slot, especially as you apply more torque, leaving you with a removed screw.
Seeing this issue, ingenious Americans in between the 1860s and 1890s started to develop screws that had square- or triangular-shaped sockets. Rather of just having a single contact surface area between the screwdriver and the socket, square or triangular sockets provided you three or 4 contact surfaces. More contact surface areas = reduced opportunities of motorist slippage.
While the patents for screwheads with square or triangular sockets were submitted in the 19th century, it wasnt up until 1908 that the first commercialized square socket struck the marketplace. They didnt attract much attention..
At some point in between 1909 and 1910, an American named William G. Allen patented a screwhead with a six-sided hexagonal shape and accompanying hexagonal motorist, called a hex socket secret. His company, the Allen Manufacturing Company of Hartford, Connecticut, began marketing this new screw as the “Allen Safety Screw.”.
In 1911, another clothing– the Standard Pressed Steel Company– produced their own variation of the hex socket screw and accompanying hexagonal driver. According to the businesss informing of events, their production of the hexagonal socket and driver was synchronised with and independent of the creation of the Allen Safety Screw. Other innovators in other countries appear to have actually independently invented versions of the hex head screw and motorist around the exact same time too. It needs to have been a concept whose time had come..
Likely driving the push towards the hex head was the commercial safety campaigns of the Progressive movement. The hex head was viewed as a safer option to traditional slot head screws given that they decreased the slipping of motorists. Also, the style allowed for the development of recessed or headless screws, which minimized the opportunities of an employees clothes capturing a screw head and getting pulled into the line shafting that was typically used in early 20th century factories..
Despite the benefits of the hex head screw, it was slow to remove. It wasnt until World War II and Americas development of the “arsenal of democracy” that they entered extensive usage..
After the war, hex head screws became common in all sorts of machines like cars and trucks, bikes, and motorcycles. In the late 1950s, IKEA originated the concept of ready-to-assemble, “flat pack” furnishings, which was to be attached together by the customer utilizing hex screws.
In the majority of countries, the driver used to screw in a hex head screw is today called a hex secret. But in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia, the hex secret is typically called an “Allen key” or “Allen wrench,” harkening back to the company that introduced this tool..
The Benefits of the Allen Wrench/Hex Key.
The hex socket and secret have a couple of benefits over standard slot head or Phillips head screws and screwdrivers.
The primary benefit is that the hex socket offers 6 contact surfaces in between it and its key. More contact surface areas implies less possibility of slipping and stripping while driving. This set-up may likewise be why securing a screw with an Allen wrench, rather than a standard chauffeur, feels oddly more rewarding.
If you require more torque, stick the short end of the hex secret (the horizontal bottom of the L) into the socket of a screw and use the long end as a lever. If you need to put a screw into a hard-to-reach spot, stick the long end of the hex secret into its socket, and utilize the brief end to turn the wrench.
Despite the fact that Your Flat-Pack Furniture Comes With an Allen Key, Get Your Own Sets.
Allen wrenches/screws are available in differing sizes, and while you likely have a broad spectrum of them lying around your home from all the furnishings youve put together for many years, its an excellent idea to have your own, “main” set..
Why?
For starters, the flat-pack furniture you purchased might be missing out on a hex secret. The bundle list says theres supposed to be an Allen wrench, however theres no Allen wrench.
Second, having your own set of hex secrets enables you to not just put a furniture piece together, but likewise take it apart down the line. If, after you ended up putting together something, you unintentionally tossed the wrench together with the rest of the packaging into the trash, what are you going to do if you later require to take apart the piece in order to move it?
I had this take place to me a couple of years ago when it was time to replace our youngests baby crib with a bed. I had to disassemble her baby crib to get it out of the space. The crib utilized hex screws, but I had actually gotten rid of the initial hex secret that featured it, so I needed to use one from my own set.
If you own a bike, a lot of whatever on it is attached together with hex screws. If you want to do any maintenance on it yourself, youre going to need a set of Allen wrenches..
Considering that hex keys are inexpensive to make, a set of them is pretty dang budget-friendly. You can get a 30-piece set that consists of SAE and metric sizes for just $30. The technique with having your own set of hex secrets is to avoid treating them like the hex keys that get packed with your furnishings; after youve utilized one, make certain to put it back in its case rather than throwing it in a scrap drawer.
The set loaded in a case, I likewise have a foldable set, where Allen wrenches of differing sizes are bundled together in a pocket-knife-like fashion. You flip out the size you need and after that fold it back up when youre done. This is one of the tools you ought to keep in a pouch on your bike if youre a passionate bicyclist.
Well, there you go– the previous and present of the Allen wrench. Now that youve been familiar with more about this humble-yet-handy tool, hopefully youll have a bit more gratitude for it the next time you see that L-shaped piece of metal in your junk drawer.


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