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Tools

Best Hex Key Set

A hex key set might just be my most used tool nowadays and I am regularly impressed by how well a set can stand up to the abuse inflicted upon it. For these lists I found the best balance of durability and price in the right range of sizes. Each hex key set on these lists will stand up to abuse and function beautifully for years to come thanks to careful designing and high quality materials.

Pittsburg 96645, 18-Piece T-Handle Ball Point and Hex Key Wrench Set

Pittsburg 96645, 18-Piece T-Handle Ball Point and Hex Key Wrench Set

For a budget priced set of hex wrenches, this set is truly amazing. It has all the features that I listed as making a set a “good” set, actually many of the features it has are features that one would expect to find on much more expensive sets. First of all, the set has a full 18 wrenches, eight more than most of the other sets I’ve listed. That means that all the standard SAE (fractional) and metric sizes are included. Not only that, but the long arm of the wrenches are ball-end and they also have a straight hex “short side” coming out of the molded handle. Speaking of the handle, they havemolded handles made to conform to the shape of your hand for comfortbale use. The set comes with a stand marked with the sizes of all 18 wrenches.

Wilmar W80277 Hex Key Set

Like the Pittsburg set, this one also includes both SAE (fractional) and metric wrenches. However, there are only 10 total wrenches, so you’ll be missing a few sizes. However, the sizes included are the most commonly encountered. Wilmar has molded the handles of these wrenches in two different colors, one for SAE and one for metric, which should greatly decrease the possibility of confusion. I like the idea of having one set that has both SAE and metric, because nowadays one never knows which one the piece of equipment they are working on will have.

JEGS Performance Products 80710 T-Handle Hex Key Set

This 10 piece SAE set comes in a nice metal stand, with the sizes silk-screened on the side. Wrenches range from 3/32" up to 3/8", providing you with a good assortment for most homeowner applications. The wrenches are separated into two different groups, with the larger ones having a longer shaft than the shorter group does. All 10 wrenches have the same T-handle which makes the wrenches comfortable to work with, even when you have to apply a lot of force. JEGS also supplies a similar metric set, for those who need it.

TEKTON 25253 Hex Key Wrench Set

While handles are nice to have, the handleless style of hex key wrenches is more traditional. These allow you to use higher torque for loosening and tightening, then switch over to the other arm for speedier installation and removal. This 30 piece set comes with both SAE and metric sizes, with the SAE set being slightly longer than the metric, making it easier to identify which group a particular wrench came from. The wrenches are housed in a wallet-type index case, making them easier to find. Precision grinding ensures that these wrenches will fit the socket correctly and work properly.

Fuller Tool 130-8030 30-Piece Combo Metric Hex Key Set

Fuller tools also provides a combination SAE and metric set, much like the one from Tekton. SAE sizes from 0.028", through 1/16" up to 3/8". Metric sizes range from 0.7mm up to 10 mm. That should cover everything you need. By having them in one combined case, you always have both sets with you, so you'll never end up with the wrong size for the project you're working on. I hate it when I grab a metric set and find out that I actually needed a SAE one. With this kit, than only means returning the wrong size back to the case and looking on the other side.

Park Tool PH-1 Hex Wrench Set

My top pick for hex key wrench sets is actually a set that is made for bicycle maintenance. This is a most unique set in that five of the wrenches have built-in “spinners,” which the manufacturer calls “speed bearings” for quick removal of long hex screws. It might be easier to think of it as a short sleeve over the long shaft of the wrench. Once the screw is broken loose, you can hold the sleeve with one hand, while spinning the handle of the wrench with a finger of the other hand (similar to spinning a star wrench used for wheel lug nuts). All the wrenches have ball ends on the long shaft, and chamfered ends on the short shaft. The handles are probably the most comfortable on the market as they are well fitted to the hand while a wall-hanging holder keeps your tools organized.

Pittsburgh T-Handle Ball Point and Hex Key Wrench Set

Although Pittsburgh Tools is not a company that people typically mention when they talk about the top tool manufacturers, they do produce a large number of excellent tools. Of all the sets I’ve looked at, this is the only one I have found that includes both SAE and Metric sizes; everyone else makes you buy two different sets. They have extra-long handles, nicely molded grips, and the long end of the wrench is ball-ended for easily working at an angle. Add in the affordable price, and this set becomes a true winner.

Klein Tools T-Handle Ball End Hex Keys - JTH68MB

Klein Tools T-Handle Ball End Hex Keys - JTH68MB

Klein Tools has provided quality tools to the electrical and electronics manufacturing and repair industries for many years. Their tools are known for ruggedness and long service life. I have a set of Klein hex keys that have been in my tool box for over 25 years and are still just as useable as the day I bought them. This T handle set comes with ball-end keys for the long shank and straight hex end for the short shank that gives you max torque when you need to use the short end. It's a metric set, but they have a similar set available for those who need SAE. A metal stand where you can see the tool sizes (both on the stand and on the end of the handle) keeps your tools organized.

Wiha Ball-End T-Handle Hex Key Set - 54092

Wiha Ball-End T-Handle Hex Key Set - 54092

I was compelled to select this set for its superior quality. These ball-end hex keys have plastic handles with rubberized inserts, for superior gripping action. It's also the only set I have selected which is actually chrome plated, a very unusual yet quality touch for hex keys. The set includes 8 metric wrenches, in sizes ranging from 2mm up to 10mm. They also have a similar SAE sized set, with sizes ranging from 1/8" up to 3/8". This set comes with a sheet metal stand, allowing the tools to be displayed on your workbench, where they are easy to grab. This is a set that should last you for years.

Eklind Tool 60814 Power-T Ball Hex Key Set

Another high quality set from a little known manufacturer. These SAE hex keys come with rubberized handles for good, comfortable grip. Being an 11 key set, it starts out at 0.050", which most sets don't have. The holder is probably the nicest one on the market, giving easy access not only to the 11 hex keys that come with the set, but has sufficient space for expanding your set. The padded handles provide an excellent grip and high torque for those tight screws.

Rich the Tool Man

Before embarking on the current stage of my life, I spent 15 years as a Manufacturing Engineer in both the medical equipment field (medical electronics) and automotive engineering (city transit buses). After that, I owned a small construction company, mostly doing residential remodeling and commercial tenant finishes. I am no longer in either of these fields, but still get my hands plenty dirty as a consummate do-it-yourselfer; working on everything from remodeling my own home to rebuilding my car’s engines. My hobby (when I can find the time) is woodworking; making everything from toilet paper holders, to shelves, to music stands for my own home. My wife long ago gave up the idea that a two car garage is for parking two cars; it is my workshop.

While I cannot claim to having worked professionally with all types of tools, I have worked professionally with some. This comes from my previous careers, where I had to specify, buy and at times live with those decisions. Additionally, I would have to say that my engineering background has given me a thorough understanding of the construction of such tools. So, while I may not have used a particular type of tool personally, I have the knowledge to cut through all the advertising hype and statistics; in order to get at the truth of how well a tool will operate and last.

In my current career as a writer, I've written over 90 books. This includes my own titles and those I've written on contract. I've also written a complete website on how to build your own home.

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