Author Topic: I Hate Allen Keys  (Read 1214 times)

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Offline Kavik

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I Hate Allen Keys
« on: Tue, 24 August 2021, 14:13:52 »
This is partly an American problem but not entirely.

There are WAY too many sizes of allen keys. This already unnecessarily large number is doubled because half of them are in imperial sizes and half of them are in metric sizes. A standard allen key set contains 26 different keys!!! It's a complete crapshoot which measurement system the item's hex-head screws use. Unlike Phillips or flathead screws, the sizes are not flexible. An EXACT fit between key and screw is needed or else either the key or screw will be stripped and/or it won't impart enough force to loosen or tighten the screw.

Like trying to plug in a USB plug the right direction the first time, it is impossible to find the right allen key size on the first or even second attempt, even if the correct size was initially tried (for some reason, it doesn't fit until you try two or three other incorrect sizes).

Even if we eliminate the imperial sized keys, there are still entirely too many sizes. There should be three sizes for small items, not thirteen. Why do we need 0.5 millimeter increments or even 1 millimeter increments for that matter?

Additionally, the hex shape is a terrible design because the 120 degree angle of the engaging edges does not grip well enough to impart enough force without slipping and/or deforming unless the size is perfect, accounting for manufacturing tolerances in both key and screw. I propose using star head screws for any application in which hex head screws are used. They have much more positive engagement, easier to eye-ball sizes, less chance of stripping, and are somewhat more tolerant of sizing discrepancies. There are too many sizes of star keys and screws as well, so they don't solve the entire issue.
Maybe they're waiting for gasmasks and latex to get sexy again.

The world has become a weird place.

Offline noisyturtle

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Re: I Hate Allen Keys
« Reply #1 on: Tue, 24 August 2021, 14:22:57 »
At first I was like 'Who the hell is Allen Keys?'

Offline fohat.digs

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Re: I Hate Allen Keys
« Reply #2 on: Tue, 24 August 2021, 15:12:18 »
Since I have a full set of keys I can usually find what I need, and, fortunately since they are so cheap you often get one in the package. I just bought an exercise bicycle and it had several of them, along with a bent piece of metal that couldn't have cost more than a couple of cents.

Star drive and Torx have their advantages, but I worry about stripping them as much as I do about the Allens. I have always been a fan of square ("Robertson") drive screws, too.
But no matter how much smoking-gun evidence Cheney and the January 6 committee uncover, the Fox News crowd and YouTube rabbitholers are dead to the factual world. Their views will never change, and roughly two-thirds of them are still convinced Trump was the rightful winner in 2020, despite his year-long drought of producing a single shred of evidence to back his claim. Frankly, Cheney doesn't have the luxury of time to waste on a bunch of brain dead zombies.
Instead, Cheney made her goals perfectly clear this week, signaling that the committee would produce the evidence necessary to find Trump, and perhaps several of his co-conspirators, criminally liable for violating felony statute 18 U.S. Code 1512. To that end, Cheney used every public platform available to her this week to lay the groundwork for her case.
Kelley Eleveld 2021-12-18

Offline chyros

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Re: I Hate Allen Keys
« Reply #3 on: Tue, 24 August 2021, 16:12:26 »
Allen keys are pretty bad. But they're cheap. That's the point of them.
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Offline _rubik

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Re: I Hate Allen Keys
« Reply #4 on: Tue, 24 August 2021, 16:16:08 »
Allen keys are pretty bad. But they're cheap. That's the point of them.

Cheap and everyone has easy access to them! Not everyone has torx or star bits lying around, but surely everyone has received allen keys when assembling furniture.
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Offline jamster

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Re: I Hate Allen Keys
« Reply #5 on: Tue, 24 August 2021, 22:40:53 »
Hex heys are utter ****e. I have several full sets (in both metric and imperial) due to various hobbies, so finding one is never a problem. But yes, their ability to strip out the head of the bolt is really annoying. This is even more a problem when using low quality keys, or if you're in a situation where you're mismatching metric and imperial.

I'd like to try Robertson drivers sometime, but they seem to be practically nonexistent.

Offline tp4tissue

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Re: I Hate Allen Keys
« Reply #6 on: Tue, 24 August 2021, 22:49:48 »
they're ok.. Torx is best going forward

Offline Darthbaggins

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Re: I Hate Allen Keys
« Reply #7 on: Wed, 25 August 2021, 06:07:12 »
Just be glad Torx is in only Metric - I would be all for hardware being Metric, alot easier to guage compared to freedom unit sizes.

 bkrownd:"Those damned rubber chiclet keys are the devil's nipples."   >:D


Offline yui

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Re: I Hate Allen Keys
« Reply #8 on: Wed, 25 August 2021, 08:35:49 »
i agree that allen keys are not optimal, torx and especially security torx is far better (prevent using the size under and striping the head), but also newer so less used, kinda why i like compaq/HP, used the same torx size screws since at least the armada series (30years of pc, need 1 torx and 1 philips)
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Offline fohat.digs

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Re: I Hate Allen Keys
« Reply #9 on: Wed, 25 August 2021, 09:02:02 »

I'd like to try Robertson drivers sometime


They had a moderate popularity in the last couple of decades of the last century, primarily in realms like carpentry as far as I know. But there were already so many others ....
But no matter how much smoking-gun evidence Cheney and the January 6 committee uncover, the Fox News crowd and YouTube rabbitholers are dead to the factual world. Their views will never change, and roughly two-thirds of them are still convinced Trump was the rightful winner in 2020, despite his year-long drought of producing a single shred of evidence to back his claim. Frankly, Cheney doesn't have the luxury of time to waste on a bunch of brain dead zombies.
Instead, Cheney made her goals perfectly clear this week, signaling that the committee would produce the evidence necessary to find Trump, and perhaps several of his co-conspirators, criminally liable for violating felony statute 18 U.S. Code 1512. To that end, Cheney used every public platform available to her this week to lay the groundwork for her case.
Kelley Eleveld 2021-12-18

Offline Kavik

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Re: I Hate Allen Keys
« Reply #10 on: Wed, 25 August 2021, 17:17:36 »
I don't mind them so much when the key is included with something I will assemble and be done with forever. I hate when they are used for expensive things that will require frequent adjustment or disassembly, like bicycles, paintball guns, real guns, and custom keyboards. And then each item uses multiple differently sized screws, so I can't just carry one key with me when using that particular item.

I somewhat like the idea of the square head drivers mentioned above. I imagine they would be even cheaper to produce and more effective.
Maybe they're waiting for gasmasks and latex to get sexy again.

The world has become a weird place.

Offline Leslieann

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Re: I Hate Allen Keys
« Reply #11 on: Wed, 25 August 2021, 21:06:10 »
Additionally, the hex shape is a terrible design because the 120 degree angle of the engaging edges does not grip well enough to impart enough force without slipping and/or deforming unless the size is perfect
Stripped Allen keys.... Never worked with Apple pentalobe have you?
Even with a nice German made tight fitting driver the screws are really only good for 1-2 uses before you risk them stripping and getting stuck (due to shape and size). The cheap wrenches are not even worse and pretty much make every screw a single use screw while destroying themselves in the process. I've heard of some guys destroying a $12 Weha pentalobe driver every 3 laptops/Iphones they work on.

At least a good set of Allen keys last for years. Except ball ends... which are the devil.
You do need good quality ones for the smaller size though, I have several Wera bits and drivers for my common use sizes. It makes a difference.


Wrenches have the same problem as Linux...
"The standards suck, let's make a new standard everyone can follow!"
Next guy comes along
"The standards suck, let's make a new standard everyone can follow!"
repeat

I have a 55(?) piece bit setwhere nothing is larger than 4mm and doesn't include Pentalobe, security bits or standard sockets. Even that isn't everything and this is just for working on computers/electronics. Ifixit has a similar kit with around 100 bits. Hopefully right to repair puts and end to some of this b.s. because it reached insane levels a long time ago.


I'd like to try Robertson drivers sometime, but they seem to be practically nonexistent.
In the U.S. it's mostly used for deck screws.
Why do decks need a different screw head than anything else in a house? I have no idea. probably to get people to buy a different screw and driver.

I've also seen then on cheap Chinese carburetors as a security measure.
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Offline jamster

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Re: I Hate Allen Keys
« Reply #12 on: Wed, 25 August 2021, 23:38:56 »
I don't mind them so much when the key is included with something I will assemble and be done with forever. I hate when they are used for expensive things that will require frequent adjustment or disassembly, like bicycles, paintball guns, real guns, and custom keyboards. And then each item uses multiple differently sized screws, so I can't just carry one key with me when using that particular item.

I somewhat like the idea of the square head drivers mentioned above. I imagine they would be even cheaper to produce and more effective.

Much as I am not a fan of hex, as a cyclist, carrying around a multitool with an assortment of hex sizes is a pretty simple affair. They are cheap, light, and good quality (e.g. the folding Park Tools or Bondhaus ones). I've got enough of these things that they end up being used for everything- disassembled a digital piano with one the other day.

Much better than having to deal with, say, individual screwdrivers. Which are a pain and poke holes in everything.

Offline Olumin

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Re: I Hate Allen Keys
« Reply #13 on: Thu, 26 August 2021, 00:46:02 »
I prefer flathead actually. Its what im used to in watchmaking and typewriters/calculators and they look best. If you use a good driver there rarely are problems. expect if its rusted in place lol, but then every screw will suck. I can also easily turn a new screw and file the slot myself if needed. Cant do that with anything else. Also more flexibility with the drivers.

Also really good are square bits. But they havent caught on in this timeline. I think the canadians useem.
« Last Edit: Thu, 26 August 2021, 00:49:28 by Olumin »

Offline yui

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Re: I Hate Allen Keys
« Reply #14 on: Thu, 26 August 2021, 01:41:39 »
Wrenches have the same problem as Linux...
"The standards suck, let's make a new standard everyone can follow!"
Next guy comes along
"The standards suck, let's make a new standard everyone can follow!"
repeat
well from what i read it is more often the apples of the world trying to make their devices less reparable by using incompatible screwheads (pentalobe, security torx, security flathead etc.) so more of "There is a standard, let's make a new one so no one can open our device"
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Offline fohat.digs

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Re: I Hate Allen Keys
« Reply #15 on: Thu, 26 August 2021, 08:17:14 »

Why do decks need a different screw head than anything else in a house?


Having been in the deck business I can answer that. Most professionals use "screw guns" so that they can put in screws whiles standing upright. Square drive screws can deliver a great deal of torque without jumping out of their sockets, far above and beyond what a Philips screw can deliver and without leaning on it to keep it down. There are sturdy "Quadrex" screws that combine Phillips and square drive and can be driven with either, but work best, of course, with their own proper combination bit.

After square drives enjoying a couple of decades of popularity, many carpenters now prefer more exotic drives, usually T25 or T30 because it grips the fastener well, and is better for when you are driving individually with a conventional hand drill. I still prefer Phillips for 90% of my general household carpentry, mainly for the sake of consistency, but this diagram shows how Torx delivers force at close to 90 degrees in each "wing", which is a good thing.
« Last Edit: Thu, 26 August 2021, 09:15:55 by fohat.digs »
But no matter how much smoking-gun evidence Cheney and the January 6 committee uncover, the Fox News crowd and YouTube rabbitholers are dead to the factual world. Their views will never change, and roughly two-thirds of them are still convinced Trump was the rightful winner in 2020, despite his year-long drought of producing a single shred of evidence to back his claim. Frankly, Cheney doesn't have the luxury of time to waste on a bunch of brain dead zombies.
Instead, Cheney made her goals perfectly clear this week, signaling that the committee would produce the evidence necessary to find Trump, and perhaps several of his co-conspirators, criminally liable for violating felony statute 18 U.S. Code 1512. To that end, Cheney used every public platform available to her this week to lay the groundwork for her case.
Kelley Eleveld 2021-12-18