Some tools get more use than others, that’s a simple fact of wrenching. The hex key, also known as the Allen key, is one of those that I find myself reaching for on almost a weekly basis.
Just about every piece of furniture that shows up to my house is in pieces and needs a hex key to be put together, along with hundreds, if not thousands, of car parts. As for the furniture, I call it the IKEA effect. Sure, the company sends you a key built of its finest lingonberry steel, but it’s hard to get any leverage using that tiny lump of metal.
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What better tool to examine and test for our latest hands-on review than a hex set? Specifically, something I recently bought myself, Husky’s 17-piece SAE/Metric Hex Set. Time to get after it.
Unboxing the Husky 17-piece SAE/Metric Hex Set
- Good: Sized well, and allows for easy access to fasteners.
- Bad: Some of the smaller sizes are already bent after a short period of use.
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The set is lightweight, yet not small. And depending on your hand size, the Huskies should both fit your paw pretty well—hey, unintentional dog joke!
The grip of the hex key set is coated in black oxide, which actually has a rubbery feel that helps with the overall grip. Each key has chamfered ends, meaning they are slightly rounded to help get it into the fastener opening. It generally works, maybe not as well as a ball-socket hex head, but does the job, at least assuming you actually choose the right size key for your particular fastener.
Don’t expect a grand unboxing; this set came out of its packaging a few weeks ago. It wasn’t that magnificent of an experience, anyway. The unit was basically attached to a piece of cardboard to allow them to be hung up for display. But do you really need fanfare for a hex set?
From what I recall, it wasn’t much of a chore to free them from the packaging. Oddly, the Metric set had a small plastic theft-tracking tag that some buyers claim can hinder use, but it’s easy to pull out. Honestly, I didn’t notice it was there.
What you do get, for upwards of $12 at Home Depot, is quite an array of hex keys. The set includes an SAE set with size 5/64, 3/32, 7/64, 1/8, 9/64, 5/32, 3/16, 7/32, and 1/4-inch keys, as well as a Metric set covering sizes 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8mm. All keys rotate up to 270 degrees, which helps you access the fastener and apply some more substantial torque.
As noted, the hex set is pretty light. The SAE weighed in on our food/pinewood derby scale at just 3.3 ounces, while the Metric set was slightly heavier at 3.6 ounces. Each set is 4 inches long by about 1.25 inches wide and about .75 inches thick. Hex keys range from 1.5 inches to 2.5 inches in length; basically the larger the key, the longer it is.
Getting After It With the Husky 17-piece SAE/Metric Hex Set
We recently renovated our house. Well, actually I paid someone to recently renovate our house, which meant we had to have lots of new furniture to go along with it. Yay!
Literally everything has shown up with hex key fasteners, so this set was purchased to more efficiently race through the assembly process. As alluded to above, anyone who has used the provided Allen key in flat-pack furniture wishes to jab it into the temple of whoever “built” the furniture by the end. No, that’s just me? (Ed. Note: Same, same.)
I regularly use them to quickly fix things in the house and out in the garage. Hey, the (new) fridge door is already loose? Bam, it’s tightened! Need to clear out more leaves from my BMW’s engine bay? The mix of hex and Torx is no match for the Husky. Just use a quick Torx to hex conversion chart. My wife’s GL 450 needs yet another rear hatch adjustment? Gotta be the Husky. I’m a hero to my loving wife. Hex key all the things!
So as you can see, this set has gotten a ton of use in a short period of time.
Fixing a refrigerator is all in a day’s work.
What’s Great About the Husky 17-piece SAE/Metric Hex Set
The sets are both clearly marked “SAE” and “MM” which makes it easier to grab the right hex key. As noted above, they are easy to use and sized well overall for my specific mitts. Plus, I found that this set was much better than my previous solution, which is what I called the “bag of hex,” something I still have bouncing around in my tool chest.
Those hex keys came with my Craftsman mechanics set, and was my go-to hex key set for some time. However, most of the smaller keys have ended up in some netherworld along with my 10mm socket. There are positive aspects to those loose hex keys, price being the main one. If you are organized enough to manage them, they are generally cheaper. However, I love that this Husky set is self-contained.
What’s Not Great About the Husky 17-piece SAE/Metric Hex Set
In the few short weeks that I have been using the Huskys, the three smallest sizes of the SAE set have begun to bend—you can see it clearly in the photo above. I’m unsure if it was just carelessness on the part of the user (i.e. me), or poor craftsmanship. I have read other complaints online, with one-star customer reviews noting bent hex keys.
And even though I supposedly still have 20/20 vision in my 40s, the size demarcations are difficult to read. I find myself guesstimating, much like I do every time I reach for a socket.
Our Verdict on the Husky 17-piece SAE/Metric Hex Set
The old adage “you get what you pay for” seems to creep into a lot of reviews, and it’s not wrong. However, there is a sliding scale of what you will put up with to save money. In the case of the Husky 17-piece hex set, the pain was definitely worth the savings. Sure, the keys are now a little warped, but the set has more than made up the twelve bucks I spent on it in a short amount of time.
Gone are the loose hex keys in favor of this nicely integrated set. Well, much to my wife’s chagrin, they are not “gone” (I mean, you don’t actually get rid of tools) but just likely unused. Honestly, if this Husky set breaks to the point of unusability at some point, I’d probably buy another one.
Honestly, if this Husky set breaks to the point of unusability at some point, I’d probably buy another one.
FAQs on Hex and Allen Keys
You’ve got questions, The Drive has answers!
Q: Does the Husky hex set have a locking feature?
A. No, it does not.
Q: Is there a warranty?
A: Yes, Husky offers a lifetime warranty with no questions asked, and no receipt required.
Q: Are hex sets easy to use?
A. For the most part, yes. Whether they’re free-floating, like those in my tool bag, or like the Husky, each key has enough resistance to stay at the angle you need it, for the most part, while still being easy to rotate in and out. And every single set you purchase will have size notations, which are extremely helpful.
Q: What is the hex set made of?
A. The grip is made from material called black oxide (aka blackening), which is a conversion coating for ferrous materials. But it actually feels like a rubbery plastic. The keys themselves are made from alloy steel.
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