When it comes to loosening hex head fasteners, there are several different types of wrenches that can be used depending on the specific fastener and the level of torque required.
Choosing the right wrench for the job is essential to avoiding damage to both the fastener and the tool itself. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most common wrenches used for loosening hex head fasteners, and discuss their pros and cons.
1. Adjustable Wrenches
One of the most versatile wrenches for hex fasteners is the adjustable wrench. As the name implies, these wrenches can be adjusted to fit a wide range of fastener sizes, typically anywhere from 1/4 inch to 1-1/2 inches or more.
One advantage of adjustable wrenches is that they’re relatively inexpensive and widely available, making them a popular choice for DIYers or those who only need to loosen fasteners occasionally.
However, adjustable wrenches are also more prone to slipping than some other types of wrenches, which can result in both stripped fasteners and damaged wrenches.
2. Allen Wrenches (or Hex Keys)
If you’re working with smaller hex head fasteners, such as those commonly found on bicycles or furniture, an allen wrench (also known as a hex key) is often the best choice.
Allen wrenches are typically L-shaped, with hexagonal ends that fit snugly into the fastener. Because they’re designed specifically for hex fasteners, they’re less likely to slip or round off the edges of the fastener.
One downside to allen wrenches is that they typically only work on one specific size of fastener, so you’ll need to have a set of wrenches in various sizes to be prepared for different jobs.
3. Socket Wrenches
For larger hex fasteners, such as those found on automotive or heavy equipment, a socket wrench is often the most efficient tool. Socket wrenches consist of a handle and a removable socket that fits over the fastener.
Because the socket fits snugly over the fastener, there’s less risk of slipping or rounding off the edges. Additionally, socket wrenches are designed to allow for greater torque, making them ideal for stubborn or rusted fasteners.
One disadvantage of socket wrenches is that they can be more expensive than other types of wrenches. Additionally, you’ll need to have a set of sockets in different sizes to be prepared for various fastener sizes.
4. Box-End Wrenches
Box-end wrenches are similar to socket wrenches in that they fit snugly over the fastener, but instead of using a removable socket, the wrench has a closed-off box that covers the fastener.
Because box-end wrenches fully encase the fastener, they’re less likely to slip or round off the edges than adjustable wrenches or open-end wrenches.
However, box-end wrenches are typically designed to fit one specific size of fastener, so you’ll need to have a set of wrenches in various sizes to be prepared for different jobs.
5. Combination Wrenches
Combination wrenches are a versatile tool that combines the design of an open-end wrench and a box-end wrench. One end of the wrench is open, while the other end is a closed-off box.
Combination wrenches are useful because they can be used on both hex fasteners and other types of fasteners that may require a different tool. Additionally, because they have two different ends, they can often take the place of two separate wrenches in a toolkit.
However, like box-end wrenches, combination wrenches are typically designed for one specific size of fastener, so you’ll need a set of wrenches in various sizes to be prepared for different jobs.
When it comes to loosening hex head fasteners, choosing the right wrench for the job is key. While there are many different types of wrenches available, each has its own pros and cons.
By understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each type of wrench, you can select the right tool for the job and avoid damage to both the fastener and your tools..