What Is An Allen Key?

The Allen key is known by many names, whether you prefer the zeta key, hex key or head or stick with the standard Allen key. Whatever you call it – it’s a six-sided tool that drives bolts, screws and fasteners. The name itself originated with the Allen Company, a manufacturer in Connecticut who produced the tool. And as other manufacturers got on board to produce their own variations, so the variety of names began.

A Handy Tool

While many fasteners rely on a simple wrench or traditional screwdriver, you have likely encountered a hexagonal-shaped socketed head designed specifically for use with Allen keys. These manually operated tools are small, handheld, L-shaped instruments designed specifically for the installation or removal of these special fasteners. They are made from a single piece of material, usually a metal, and formed into a ring angle. Both ends feature a hexagonal shape and if it’s the correct size, it can handle the installation or removal process.

The Function

Allen keys function much like traditional screwdrivers or wrenches, however, there are some slight differences. Place one end in the socket and turn it clockwise to tighten or counter-clockwise to remove or loosen a fastener. The difference between its operation and a standard screwdriver is the different lengths. If you insert the short end and twist the longer arm you create more torque to make removal or installation simpler when dealing with stubborn fasteners. Whereas, the short end means you can fit the key into smaller or tighter working spaces.

Allen keys are a simple solution for installing or removing hexagonal-shaped fasteners. There is no need to buy a special bit or look out a power tool. You don’t need connections or extensions, it’s a simple tool with a simple purpose.

One of the biggest benefits is that Allen keys protect against stripping the fastener head. They have a more efficient grip and torque that combine to loosen even the most stubborn fasteners. The same is true during installation.

Allen keys are a relatively inexpensive item, which is why you generally receive one in an installation kit. So, if you order flatpack furniture, in addition to the bolts and screws, you will also receive an Allen key. Any consumer-built product that you purchase will generally utilise hexagonal-shaped fastener heads and will come with Allen keys for ease of use. It is certainly one of the simplest tools for the average person to operate, whether they have DIY experience or not. With the Allen keys in the consumer’s possession, they can easily tighten furniture if necessary or disassemble it to move and reassemble it when it arrives at its final destination.

Final Thoughts

Like every tool that stands the test of time, Allen keys are a simple necessity used in furniture assembly for DIYers, and by professional machinists, mechanics, and electricians. It’s useful for making basic repairs on cars, handheld electronics, power tools, machinery, and more. Due to its compact shape and versatility, there’s not a toolbox in the country that doesn’t contain at least one Allen key, but purchasing a set with a variety of sizes is a must for every household.

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