Reuben's Home Inspection Blog

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Reuben's Quick Tip: How To Make 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.

Harumph.

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

        

Comment balloon 25 commentsReuben Saltzman • December 19 2012 03:01AM

Comments

Wait a minute, you recommend gloves but don't wear them (but it kind of made me proud to see you didn't)?

Is your set American or metric?

I have an Allen wrench set for my bike, emergency tool kit, car tool kit, a couple of other tool kits, and in both of my drill kits.

I didn't make my own however!

Did monkeys invent the Allen wrench?

And is that how Swedes or Minnesotans spell GENIUS?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Ha!  I said you could use a bunch of protective gear.  I suppose I should have been using eye protection, but I have these built-in sacrificial lenses that I keep in my eyes at all times.  

I have two sets there - American and metric.

It sounds like you could use another set of allen wrenches for each bathroom, Jay.  I think that's the only thing missing on your list.

The monkeys have their very own wrench :)

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 5 years ago

What's the most important Allen wrench for a home???  The one that unbinds the garbage disposer. 

Guess what was missing in the kitchen of a new home pre-settlement walk-through yesterday?? 

The garbage disposer Allen wrench. 

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 5 years ago

In the ooooolden days, disposals did not come with the Allen wrench and the way to unstop them was with a broom handle from above!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Great idea.  I'm going to suggest to my husband and look wicked smaaht.

Posted by Barbara Tattersall, GRI (Keller Williams Realty Metropolitan (Keene,NH)) over 5 years ago

Jay - is that how you're supposed to spell it?  I got that shirt from a friend who lives in Virginia.  I've done my share of the 'broom handle' method during inspections when I didn't want to get my allen wrench set. 

Lenn - good point.  I ought to start carrying one of those around in my tool pouch just for those instances.  

You look for those garbage disposer wrenches?  Good for you!

Barbara - he better give you credit ;)

 

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 5 years ago

This does have some merit....can't recall the number of hours spent looking for the right allen wrench.  I have so many! It seems like they reproduce!

Posted by Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty, Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County (Bucci Realty, Inc.) over 5 years ago

That's what we used to call Yankee ingenuity!  Waste not, want not.  Having said that, the advantage of socket sets is that you can get a lot more leverage out of them when needed.

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) over 5 years ago

Indeed I look for that wrench. I'm convinced that new home builders have a huge repository where they collect Allen wrenches from new homes and sell them on e-Bay.

I also check the size of the disposer motor so that, unless a large one was installed, the disposer WILL jam and bind and the wrench is often the only thing that will release the motor. 

Builders won't say to a buyer "This is a small motor, so expect it to bind". 

I'll tell them.  That's my job.

It's a little thing, but. . . . .

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 5 years ago

Reuben, That's quite the tool collection you've got there!  Not every day I see someone with a gear puller as part of their collection.  Bill

Posted by Liz and Bill Spear, RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton) (RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 www.LizTour.com) over 5 years ago

Holy smokes. This blog post just changed my life forever. 

Posted by Aaron Smith, Northern Kentucky Agent & Investor (Keller Williams Advisors ) over 5 years ago

I have the coveted allen wrench collection from Ikea and other places and I have the Lenn Harley special wrench that frees the disposal everytime...I am wrenched up and ready to go here

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) over 5 years ago

Reuben, now that'a a good idea. Kudos to your wife. You've got quite a workshop. Thanks.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA over 5 years ago

I hate the wrenches that come out of the bag with a socket set and they're all sticky with some foreign non-washable substance on them. At least your set is clean and easy to make. 

Posted by Scott Seaton Jr. Bourbonnais Kankakee IL Home Inspector, The Home Inspector With a Heart! (SLS Home Inspections-Bradley Bourbonnais Kankakee Manteno) over 5 years ago

Reuben, I think your wife and I went to different schools together :)  Here is another trick for you (of course pretty much useless in this day and age of nail guns) When you have to drive a finish nail and you don't want to split the wood---just take another nail like the one you want to drive---stick it in your screw driver (just like your allan wrench) and drill a hole with the nail---and then drive and set your finish nail.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 5 years ago

Just make sure you use a multi speed drill. .. or your invention will round the hex out of a nut! (never thought I would ever say that) 

Posted by Fernando Herboso - Broker for Maxus Realty Group, 301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA (Maxus Realty Group - Broker 301-246-0001) over 5 years ago

That's a good tip and have done it myself several times. I also like cutting the head off a nail and using it for a drill bit in a pinch.

Posted by Rob Ernst, Reno, NV-775-410-4286 Inspector & Energy Auditor (Certified Structure Inspector) over 5 years ago

As a tool freak myself, I found this article rather interesting.  Thanks for the post!

Posted by Gary Frimann, REALTOR and Broker (Eagle Ridge Realty / Signature Homes & Estates) over 5 years ago

Now what to do with all those tiny wrenches they include that disintegrate after one use?  Heh, heh~!  Yes, I have a least one metric set in the tool box, and a handful of non-IKEA specials.  I do have that problem with slippage when I put the allen wrenches in the drill sometimes.

Write a book: Zen and the Art of Allen Wrench Furniture Assembly.

Posted by Richard Arnold, Realtor - Tempe, Chandler, Mesa, Gilbert, Phoenix (Keller Williams Realty East Valley) over 5 years ago

What article?  I was too busy looking at all the tools, especially the last photo of the complete workshop AND TOOLS!  I'll go back and read the articel now... 

Posted by Richard L. Sanderson, helping improve local property tax systems (Richard L. Sanderson Consulting) over 5 years ago

Confess now if you have ever used an Allen wrench in a Torx-headed screw (successful on rare occassions)!

Posted by Jim Gilbert, The Gold Homes Team (Keller Williams Fairfax Gateway) over 5 years ago

I have a tool with lots and lots of different sizes of Allen wrenches that fold out from each end. Your wife is a smart lady.

Posted by Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland, Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome ( HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400) over 5 years ago

Good tip Reuben. If I only had an awesome workshop setup like yours, then I could make my own! Youre wife gets points for the idea, you get points for exectution...it's a tie!

Kim

p.s. can you please wear goggles next time? 

Posted by Kim & Kristine Halverson, Realtors (www.LiveWorkSiliconBeach.com, Santa Monica Real Estate :) ) over 5 years ago

That sure looks better than the messy tool drawer in my tool box!   Thanks for the great idea. 

Posted by Fred Griffin, Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker (Fred Griffin Real Estate) over 5 years ago

Your power drill/driver has the power to twist those 'hand tool' components into pretzels of junk or strip out the socket of what you are trying to loosen.

A variable speed control works best. Wear eye protection.

"Continue to use but budget for replacement."

Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) over 5 years ago

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