What to consider when buying a hex key
The style of hex key that you choose should be based on the purpose for which you intend to use the key, how tight you need the fastener to be, as well as how easy the fastener is to reach and how much space there is to turn the handle.
This design provides good leverage and allows you to reach tight spots. However, L-shaped hex keys are typically not heavy enough to spin for fast threading and can be uncomfortable to grip when used for long periods.
This is more balanced than an L-shaped key, making it more suitable for fast threading. These come in three different designs:
• One-piece continuous loop: this handle design provides more strength than other T-handle hex keys, however, due to its lack of short arm, its access may be restricted.
• Sliding handle: in this design, the metal bar that forms the T slides from one side to the other, applying more torque.
• T-handles with and without a short arm: these are able to apply more torque than a standard hex key with a long arm.
This hex key is effectively an oversized L-shaped key, but is more comfortable to grip than an L-shaped key.
Due to their short arm, stubby keys can fit into areas a standard hex key is not able to reach.
This design combines the most commonly used hex key sizes into one tool. It is a staple in many workshops, however it’s reach is somewhat limited by its length and shape.
Much like a Swiss-Army knife, this hex key folds 180 degrees or more out of the handle. This design helps you to turn a fastener quickly, and enables access to hard-to-reach fasteners. Some folding hex keys lock at open positions of 90, 135 and 180 degrees, which allows the operator to apply more force without fear of the key shifting.
This hex key has either a T-handle or folding handle. These are good for speed, but you may need to swap between different-sized bits. Ratchet hex keys can be turned clockwise to tighten a fastener or anti-clockwise to loosen it, which is useful when you are working in confined areas.
This design has a screwdriver-style handle. While a spinner handle hex key has limited use, it can turn a fastener quickly, is useful for accessing hard-to-reach spaces, and is suitable when low torque is required.