Some variation of the Allen wrench existed since the late 1800s, but not until 1909 did construction and engineering settle on an essential design. In the more than 100 years since its invention, the hexagonal-shaped wrench conceived by William G. Allen has undergone many improvements and enhancements. It still remains the go-to wrench for do-it-yourselfers and construction professionals.
Which of these wrench sets you should include in your toolbox depends on your needs. We’ll examine the top ten Allen wrench sets and what makes them the top of the line.
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What is an Allen wrench?
Originally, these L-shaped wrenches came in triangular and square shapes. With William G. Allen’s hexagonal design though, the world settled on a design. Today, you find Allen fasteners on everything from computer circuit boards to vehicles and cruise ships.
You also probably found it used in the last bookcase you bought. The wrench comes in varied sizes and its hexagonal shape fits into the screw which has a depression shaped in the same way. The wrench fills the depression and locks into it which makes it very easy to turn the screw and tighten it.
Originally, these wrenches, also referred to as L-keys, were all hand tools but now they also come as bits for use with power drills and impact drivers.
10 Best Allen wrench Sets
1. TEKTON Ball End Hex Key Wrench Set
TEKTON provides you the widest variety in its 26-piece wrench set. You’re sure to find the size hex wrench you need with this set that provides tools made of good quality materials. This makes it the best overall value since you get 13 metric tools and 13 SAE tools.
2. Wera 05073593001 950 Spkl/9 Sm N Multicolor L-Key Set
Wera provides an interesting set of multi-colored L-keys. The color-coded set makes it simple to spot the wrench you need in your toolbox. While not a massive set, its nine Allen wrenches provide a handy starter set of the most common sizes of L-keys. This set lasts a long time because Wera rust proofed it in multilayered black laser coating.
3. Bastex 13pc Allen Wrench Set
Bastex provides an essential 13-piece ballpoint end L-key set with long arms that can help you fit the wrench into hard-to-reach spots or around oddly shaped corners. You get all the essential sizes, and each features the long arm to make assembly and disassembly of items easier.
4. EKLIND 10111 Hex-L Key Allen wrench set
Pick up this EKLIND 11-piece set of SAE Allen wrenches to have handy the most essential sizes of L-keys. Heartily made with heat-treated, tempered steel, this set will last for years.
5. Powerbuilt 8 Pc Metric T-handle Hex Allen Key Wrench Set
Fashioned from chrome vanadium steel, this Powerbuilt lives up to the manufacturer’s name, since it uses one of the toughest metal combinations for its Allen wrench set. The handy handle that can operate in L-shape or T-shape bumps this up the list. We’d rank it higher except the set includes eight metric wrenches which makes it a smaller set.
Still, for the fact that these Powerbuilt Allen wrenches will last and last without rusting and you can use them as Ls or Ts, this set is a great buy.
6. Electronix-Express 30-Piece Hex Allen Wrench Set
Electronix-Express provides a massive 30 wrenches in its set. You get all of the most popular hex wrench sizes in both metric and inches (SAE). With 15 of each type, you get a hearty set made of good quality materials.
7. Bondhus 13390 Set of 10 Hex Wrenches
Bondhus provides you with an essential set of the top ten Allen wrenches. These wrenches feature comfortable T-handles that let you put a little more torque behind what you’re doing by hand. The set uses a metal called Protanium, developed by Bondhus that uses alloy steel.
Coated in ProGuard for rust-proofing, these will last for years. The set comes with a handy stand for organizing the wrenches.
8. Stanley STHT71839 Folding Metric and SAE 17 Hex Key Set
This set of folding metric and SAE Allen wrenches come from the tried-and-true tool maker, Stanley. You’re probably used to evenly numbered sets, but Stanley got quirky with this one and included eight metric wrenches and nine SAE wrenches. The ANSI-compliant set also features a rubber insert on each handle to help you grip more firmly.
9. Stark-USA T-Handle 20 Allen Wrench Hand Tool Set
Ranging in size from 3/32″ To 3/8″, this set of 20 Allen wrenches from Stark-USA provides you with the essential sizes and then some. Designed for hand tool use only, you won’t want to put too much torque behind the use of these. They can break which is why they fall so low on the list.
Unless you function in constant beast mode though, you can use these with ease. Just remember to be your best Dr. David Banner while working with them, rather than use Incredible Hulk type torque.
10. Sunex Tools 2637, 1/2″ Drive Master Impact 20 Hex Driver Set
Purchase this Sunex Tools set if you need a set of Allen wrenches that can handle heavy-duty use of an impact wrench. All 20 of these wrenches from Sunex Tools feature a ½-inch drive. You get 10 metric wrenches and 10 SAE wrenches, fashioned of chrome-moly steel.
The ANSI compliant set has its size markings laser-etched on each wrench. The set comes in a heavy-duty storage case.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why do some Allen wrenches have a hole in the middle?
These wrenches fit tamper-resistant hex screws. Manufacturers use these screws to prevent consumers from accessing sensitive equipment parts. Typically, unauthorized access to the equipment would void the warranty, so the manufacturer is protecting the consumer.
How do you use an Allen wrench?
You insert the hexagonal end of the Allen wrench into a hex screw or bolt. Once it fits inside it, you turn the screw or bolt to loosen it or tighten it. This is true of all models of these wrenches, whether they come with an L or a T-handle.
What is a good number of Allen wrenches per set?
Size does matter in Allen wrench sets. The set you purchase should provide at least eight wrenches. Many sets contain about 20.
Can you use all Allen wrenches the same way?
Yes and no. The wrench set specifies its intended use. While you could use a bit designed for power tools in a hand tool that lets you change screw heads, the same is not true the other way around. Wrench sets specifically designed for use with hand tools do not have the strength to be used in power tools.
You might need the torque provided by the power tools, but you need two separate sets of bits for hand tools and power tools.
What material works best in Allen wrenches?
Allen wrenches need to be tough and long-lasting. Choose wrenches of this type made of carbon steel with nickel or black oxide rust-proofing or made from chrome vanadium or chrome-molybdenum. The chrome provides rust-proofing.
Where can you buy these Allen wrenches?
You can pick up these Allen wrench sets from most hardware and home improvement stores, such as Ace Hardware, Home Depot, and Lowe’s. You can also purchase them online at Amazon and eBay.
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