Reuben Saltzman

A Better Allen Wrench

Allen wrenches, aka ‘hex’ wrenches, are those “L” shaped wrenches that come included with just about anything you buy from IKEA.  I save these wrenches every time I get one, and I’ve accumulated a nice little hodge-podge collection of wrenches over the years.

Allen wrenches

To make sure you always have the size you need, it’s a good idea to get a folding wrench set with all of the sizes built in – both metric and standard.  I consider this a must-have for any basic tool set.  I have two wrenches, one for metric and one for standard.

Allen wrenches

One day, my wife and I were putting something together that needed a lot of allen wrench turning, and I started telling her about how I should buy a set of allen wrenches that have socket wrench ends on ’em, like the set pictured below.

Allen wrench socket set

My wife then suggested I just cut the end off one of the “L” shaped allen wrenches and stick it in my drill.


I could have thought of that.

I just didn’t want to.

It took me about 30 seconds to cut the end off and file it down, turning the L shaped allen wrench in to a hexagonal stick that I could put in my cordless drill.

A better allen wrench

The assembly project we were working on went much faster after that.  I was so happy with this ‘invention’ that I made a full set out of my spare wrenches.  I drilled a bunch of holes in a block of wood to store my wrenches in.  It’s probably not the best way to store them, but it was the first thing I thought of and it’s worked fine for me ever since.

A better allen wrench set

Now go forth and make your own set.  Just for fun, here’s a video of me demonstrating how to make your own set, along with some questionable relationship advice.

Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections


7 responses to “A Better Allen Wrench”

  1. bill
    December 19, 2012, 8:42 am

    Another option is to buy a set that have the 1/4″ hex shank to use in drills and drivers that take standard hex shanks.

    Occasionally, there are cheap sets out there of “security” bits that come in rubber bases. They usually come with the typical hex sizes, torx sizes plus some odd shapes. The hex and torx bits have holes in the center to remove screws that have the pin to prevent you from removing them.
    The rubber case can hold a lot of bits that you are actually likely to use in addition to the hex and torx.

  2. Reuben Saltzman
    December 20, 2012, 4:52 am

    Amazon has a nice selection of those – here’s one example.

  3. bill
    December 20, 2012, 5:22 am

    This one looks like mine –

    It is small so it can be tossed in the case for my drill/driver along with a set of drill bits.
    It comes with two of the rubber case pieces but they hold well enough that you don’t need to use one as the cover. The second one can hold more bits.

  4. gary havens
    December 20, 2012, 11:14 am

    “It’s hot and you don’t want to touch it so I take this wrench …” Sorry, Reuben, that was an electrician’s pliers you used! Man, I like catching you out. This is the first time ever!!! It’s just so unimportant is all ….

  5. Reuben Saltzman
    December 20, 2012, 1:16 pm

    @bill – I have that exact same one as well.

    @Gary – you got me!

  6. m
    November 1, 2013, 8:08 pm

    how do u cut off an end of an l shaped allen wrench with no big tools

  7. Reuben Saltzman
    November 2, 2013, 5:35 am

    @m – you could try a hacksaw, but you’ll be at it all day. Try taking the wrench to a hardware store and see if they’ll cut it for you.

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