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Why Do Allen Keys Have a Ball End?

Photos of allen keys with ball end.

Many people have asked the question about why do Allen keys have a ball end but not all of them do have one. The Allen wrenches or hex keys with a ball end simply make it much easier to work in tight spots or to work in an area in which it is impossible to see the hexscrew or Allen bolt you are working with since it is tucked inside a small hexagonal socket.

Allen keys with a ball end will make your life much easier when working in tight spaces and we have all the details for you to help you out when you are ready to purchase one for your own use.

What is an Allen Key?

This is a close look at the stainless steel tips of a set of hex keys.

First of all, you may be asking what is an Allen key or hex key? Are they the same thing or different? An Allen key, also known as a hex key, is a simple tool used to drive bolts and screws that have a hexagonal socket in their head.

Some are standard Allen keys that are made of chrome vanadium steel while some are extra-long and boast ballpoint heads in chrome-molybdenum steel. Either way, there certainly is a wide variety to choose from.

There are a variety of sizes and styles of Allen keys, also known as hex keys, on the market and sometimes it is hard to decide which one you need. Many professionals recommend that when purchasing a new Allen key set, you opt for the ones with a ball end. That advice begs the question of why do Allen keys have a ball end?

First of all, not all Allen keys come with a ball end but they are certainly available if you would like to try one out. This type of hex key can be a godsend when working in tight places, for instance.

If you opt to use ball end Allen wrenches more often, you may want a ball tip that will fit into the bit holder of an electric or battery-operated drill to make your life much easier. You may also want to opt for an Allen key with a ball end that will fit into a screwdriver that has replaceable tips or even one that will fit into a mini-ratchet driver.

The ball-end, no matter which way you opt to use it, is awesome for not allowing you to over-torque the bolts, which always creates more problems for you.

The ball end will also make it easier to slide the hex key or Allen key into the receiving hexagon slot. It can allow you to reach an offset that is at even a 30-degree angle so you can feel your way to your needed position to get the job done in a hard-to-reach area that makes it impossible for you to see exactly what you are doing.

This is a set of illustrations of hex key sizes.

Some professionals will recommend that when you buy an Allen wrench set or an Allen key set, you should get them with ball ends. This is because the ball and of them make it easier to slide the little wrenches into the receiving slut that you were working with.

It means that you can reach the hex screw or hex bolt at an angle through the hex socket and feel your way to the place that you need to be to drop the ball end hex wrench in place to the hex head to get to the hex screw quicker.

They are really great for blind spots or very inaccessible places that you need to work inside of. It’s a small convenience to have so they do not recommend that you replace the hex wrenches or Allen wrenches that you already have on hand but when you go to buy more or new ones, the ball ends are better to have on hand for those hard-to-reach spots.

There are a variety of different brands the manufacture Allen keys with ball ends with different formats, varieties, and even handles. Some users have cautioned that you will have less torque with an Allen wrench with a ball and versus a conventional hex wrench because the neck behind the ball can twist off, maybe even inside the bolt or Allen screw, which will cause even more issues.

The ball hand also will not work on bolt heads or hex socket screws that have been stripped out or are shallow.

Are ball endhex or Allen wrenches or Allen keys better?

This is a look at one set of torx keys and another set of hex keys on a wooden log.

Through a ton of research by the pros that use these tools often, it has been discovered that the most useful type of hex wrenches or Allen keys to having around your home or garage is the L-shaped, long-armed, ball-end wrenches. The long arm models provide you with a much better reach than typically found on a hex wrench, and the ball end allows the Allen wrench to engage and spin a fastener at an angle of up to about 25 degrees.

Until recently, I had no idea that there were Allen wrenches or Allen keys that came with a ball end on them. This would have been really nice to know when I was trying to take apart and then put back together a metal framed day bed so I can move it from one bedroom to another.

I tried a variety of different sizes of Alan Keyes and Alan wrenches but because the hex bolt is inside of a hexagonal socket within the metal bed frame, you cannot see what you are doing.

It was very frustrating because I could not tell if I had the right size of Allen key to use for it or not. My dad had left a specific Allen wrench at my home for that bed but because I had a few others on hand, I could not remember which one was the correct one. When I asked him to borrow another, he gave me an Allen key set which did not help with my issue.

Now I just simply had more hex keys to try inside the hex socket and we’re still getting nowhere with the project. I finally had to break down and call him to come over and just take the bed down for me but if I had had an Allen wrench or Allen key on hand that had a ball end, I really think I could have gotten the job done by myself and so much sooner.

This is a great option for anybody who is working in an area in which it is hard to reach inside the receiving slot to the hex socket screws or is in a blind area where you cannot see the screw you are trying to unscrew or screw in, especially since I was working with a hex key size that was very small. The hex key wrench without a ball driver was just not sufficient for the job at hand.

FAQs About Why Do Allen Keys have a Ball End?

What is a hex bit?

 A hex bit is awesome to use when an Allen key will not fit into a hexagonal socket that you were trying to reach. Hex bits are often used we new are putting together furniture or disassembling it. You can get hex bits with square bits on the end that will make it much easier for you when you are putting together a table or a couch.

What is a torque wrench?

Most people that have any type of workshop or garage have a torque wrench on hand since it is great for working with delicate components even though it has a higher torque to it. It is not normally used in place of a hex or Allen wrench.

What is an Allen screwdriver?

An Allen screwdriver is very handy when you need a low torque and there is a tight clearance at play on the job in which you are working on. It is great when you are working on, for example, the brakes of a vehicle or other tight spots.

When is a hexball end set needed?

A hex ball end set is a set of wrenches that look different from regular hex ranch says since they have a ball molded head at one end and allows you a better reach into tight places.

What are Allen key sets or Hex key sets?

They are a group of hex keys that are either joined together on a key ring or come inside of a small plastic case that keeps them together so you can see the different sizes at a glance when you are working on a project.