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11 Alternatives to Allen Wrenches

This is a set of stainless steel allen wrenches with a red holder.

Here are many alternatives you can use when you are in need of an Allen wrench to work on a project but do not have one on hand. Check out our list of wrenches similar to Allen wrenches to help you out in a pinch.

Nothing is worse than needing an Allen wrench to take something apart or put it back together and you cannot find one at your house. This situation happened to me recently when I wanted to take apart a day bed and move it to another bedroom. I knew an Allen wrench was required to put it together or take it apart because I had watched my dad put it together for me.

He left the Allen wrench he used here with me but I looked all over the house to no avail. I decided to try using a drill, which did not work, then I tried using a Phillips head screwdriver and that did not work either because you either can’t get it into the whole to the area where the screw is or you do, and then it does not fit.

I tried to think of something else to use but came up with nothing so I called my dad and he came over with his entire Allen wrench set and took the better part for me. It was disheartening because I had not wanted to bother him with it and was hoping I could do it myself. It was then that I wondered if there are wrenches similar to Allen wrenches (alternatives) that I could have used to get the job done instead.

Related: Wrench Sizes | Types of Allen Wrenches | Types of Wrenches | Types of Screws | Allen Wrench Sizes | What is Allen Wrench | How to Find Hex Key Size | Allen Wrenches vs. Torx Wrenches | Why Allen Keys Have Ball End | Allen Keys vs. Allen Wrench | Where to Buy Allen Wrenches | How to Remove Rust from Allen Wrench | Ball Driver vs. Allen Wrench | How to Use Allen Wrench with Drill | Are Allen Wrenches Hardened | How to Measure Allen Wrench | Top Allen Wrench Brands | How to Use Allen Wrench | How to Clean Allen Wrench | Allen Wrench vs. Hex Key | Best Allen Wrench Sets

What is an Allen Wrench?

A man fastening a screw using an Allen wrench.

An Allen wrench looks nothing like a regular wrench. It is L-shaped and takes on the form of a hexagonal key, also known as a hex key.

I now own several of them myself after realizing that the reason I could not get my electric drill to fit into holes of place where the screws are located in the daybed I have in my home is that it requires an Allen wrench to put it together or take it apart or at least something more similar since the drill absolutely will not work when an Allen wrench is needed.

The Allen wrench got its name from the company that registered the trademark before these tools which is the former Allen Manufacturing Company that was located in Hartford, Connecticut.

In today’s world, the company that produces Allen wrenches is the Apex Tool Group (ATG) and company officials would prefer that they be referred to by their standard name of a hex key instead of an Allen wrench or Allen key but many people, especially in the United States, still refers to them as Allen wrenches.

Here is a list to help you out with detailed information about wrenches similar to Allen wrenches

Wrenches Similar to Allen Wrenches

Hex Wrench of Hex Key Wrench

This is an illustration of the various sizes of an L-shaped hex key.

A hex wrench is basically the same thing as an Allen wrench and works the exact same way but is used when the screw you are working with is a hex screw or a hex bolt. The two even look alike. Some hex wrenches have a ball-type end on them and you can also get Allen wrenches with that same type of ball end there is four specific hex screws.

A bundle of hex wrenches is referred to as hex keys in the same goes for Allen wrenches and Allen keys. Either one will get the job done when you are trying to take apart wood, plastic, or metal or put it back together and it requires an Allen wrench.

Torx Key

This is a close look at a set of torx keys in different sizes.

A Torx key is used to tighten and undo fasteners, including bolts and scre

Torque Wrench

This is a stainless steel torque wrench with dark gray handle.

Another tool that can be used in place of an Allen wrench is a torque wrench. It is used to control and apply a specific torque to a fastener including a bolt or a nut and is very important when you’re doing things like changing a tire or other maintenance including industrial repairs, to ensure the safety of others.

Things Around the House

A hand holding a pair of metal tweezers.

There are things you may have lying around your house that you could use in place of an Allen wrench, although maybe only to a certain degree. You will need something with two opposing flat angles, such as a pair of nail Clippers or a pair of flat tipped tweezers, that you can use for smaller Allen wrench nuts.

There might even be things in your bathroom that you commonly use for other things that could be used to turn or spin a nut, screw for the bolt to get it loose.

In Your Kitchen

This is a close look at a kitchen paring knife with a black handle.

After you check out your bathroom for items you can use in place of an Allen wrench, you can head to your kitchen. There might be something in your silverware drawer you could use in a pinch when you cannot find an Allen wrench such as a flat-tipped paring knife that is made very durably.

This may work depending on the depth and the gauge of the hex screws hole that it is situated inside of.


This is a toolbox with various sizes and types of screwdrivers.

much like I tried to do when I could not find an Allen wrench to use on the day bed, you can try a flat head screwdriver by putting the end in the socket where the Allen screw is located and using it to work as leverage in the hole to turn it. The wider the socket is on the bolt or nut, the wider the Flathead screwdriver and you will want to be using it.

Your main objective, in this case, is to wedge the screwdriver into the hex of the bolt so that you can create torque to unscrew it.

Nuts and Bolts

This is an illustration of various nuts, bolts and screws.

There may be some Allen wrench screws that you are working with that are actually bolts and have a nut and bolt on the reverse side. If this is the case, you can attempt to use a pair of pliers to remove the nut so that the screw becomes free. If you do not have pliers on hand either you can try to use two strong butter knives as leverage and apply pressure and torque when the screws as you spin them and that may work the nut off. 

Open Ended Wrench or Combination Wrench

This is an illustration of open ended wrenches.

You can also try an open-ended wrench or a combination wrench in place of an Allen wrench to get the job done. A combination wrench has one open end and the other end is a socket style wrench. An open-ended wrench is just that, both ends are open.

Socket Wrench or Ratchet Wrench

This is a ratchet wrench with black handle and blue accent along with a set of sockets.

A socket wrench is a type of ratchet tool that boasts several detachable sockets that can be used for tightening and loosening nuts of different sizes. If you have one that will fit in the hex screw hole or hexagonal socket you are working with, a socket wrench may come in handy in place of an Allen wrench.

Impact Wrench

This is a close look at a mechanic holding an impact wrench.

Impact wrenches are a great option, especially if you have the drill type or even an air impact wrench, that you can use in place of an Allen wrench to get the job done. As long as the end of it fits into the hex screw you are working with, you should be able to work with this type of wrench on your task at hand.

Crowfoot Wrench

This is a stainless steel crowfoot wrench with open ring ends.

This wrench is a type of ratchet wrench that is very much like an open-ended wrench but both sides are usually the same width. This type of wrench can be used if the hex socket you are working with is large enough to accommodate it.

FAQs About Wrenches Similar to Allen Wrenches

What is a hex key set?

A hex key set, which is also known as an Allen key set or Allen wrench, is a set of small handheld tools that are utilized for driving bolts and screws that are situated inside a hexagonal socket.

What is black oxide?

Black oxide is a substance that is used to coat materials, such as stainless steel and copper.

What is a screw head?

A screw head is the top of a screw in which you will need a certain type of drill bit, screwdriver, or wrench to remove or place it in the area in which it needs to go.