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Where can I buy a Hex Key Gauge?

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joe_m

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#1
Every machinist chest I ever bought has had at least a dozen hex keys (allen wrenches). Now I've got 12 pounds of them (not kidding - I just threw them all on the postal scale.) all jumbled up into one big pile. Does anyone sell a hex key gauge - something like those flat metal drill gauges with all the holes but this would have hex-shaped holes instead? I'd like to sort them out into sets and keep a couple each of metric and imperial, get rid of the other 10 pounds worth. I thought I'd use my cheapo HF digital calipers to quickly sort them but the @%^ thing gives different readings each time I use it and there is no way I'm sitting down with the magnifying visors and a real micrometer to measure each one - I'd rather throw out the whole 12 pounds and just buy new sets if it came down to that. Surely someone makes a gauge of some kind right?
 

george wilson

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#2
Never heard of such. But,my SET of hex wrenches has a set of holes in the stand to fit them into. Could you try drilling holes into a block of hard wood,and driving a hex wrench into each hole to make a hex hole. Lable them,and use the holes to sort your pile out. OR,set several socket head cap screws into a block of wood,label them and use them for a gauge.
 

7HC

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...........I thought I'd use my cheapo HF digital calipers to quickly sort them but the @%^ thing gives different readings each time I use it and there is no way I'm sitting down with the magnifying visors and a real micrometer to measure each one............
While the HF caliper may give different readings each time, I doubt the it's the difference between one hex size and the next.

Gotta use the same patience and perseverance you use when machining. :)


hex.JPG



M

hex.JPG
 

joe_m

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#4
While the HF caliper may give different readings each time, I doubt the it's the difference between one hex size and the next.
If it was just imperial sizes then yes I could guess which one it is, but when you throw in the metric there's really no telling.
 

AR1911

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#5
Quite a few hex keys will have the size stamped on them. Takes a magnifier to read it.

But time is money. When my pouched set of HF allen wrenches starts looking snaggle-toothed from missing sizes, I just pick up a couple more sets the next time they go on sale - for $3.99
It's not worth my time to sort through my box of keys.

If it was just imperial sizes then yes I could guess which one it is, but when you throw in the metric there's really no telling.
 

wawoodman

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OR,set several socket head cap screws into a block of wood,label them and use them for a gauge.
Just what I need: another "I gotta have it" project!
 

AR1911

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#7
I think digital calipers and a chart are the way to go.
I think I'd have to have 20 or 30 bins or something similar marked with all the likely sizes and their decimal equivalents.

Like this http://www.hardwareworld.com/files/pi/lA/9/KZQZ.jpg

Use these charts http://www.edsebooks.com/paper/inchmetric.html

Actually I have a better one hanging on the wall. It's the back page out of an old Perfect Circle engine parts catalog. It shows all the fractional and metric sizes in one chart, in order by decimal size

Then measure and toss in the appropriate bin.
 

KBeitz

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#8
Many tears ago I switched all my allen wrenches to Eklind fold up sets.
I think they are the best.

Eklind allen wrench set.jpg
 

Cadillac

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#9
Eklind some of the best. Buy good ones they have sizes stamped on them. Only have to buy once if used right.
 

RJSakowski

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#10
I have a problem picking th right wrench from a bucket of wrenches. Here is one way to combat that problem. Color code the wrenches

I assigned a different color to each size Allen wrench. Those of you who have worked with electronic projects will recognize the the colors representing the numbers 0 through 9. The Imperial sizes are represented by by solid colors while the metric sizes by colors with diagonal stripes. U cut the strip out and wrap them around the shank of the wrench and secure the wrap with clear tape. Clear heat shrink can also be used.. Keep an extra sheet or two for easy reference.
Allen Wrenches.JPG
 

KBeitz

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#11
Someone beat you to it... You can buy T handle allens with colored handles.
 

Tozguy

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#12
A 12 pound pile of hex keys tells me that they are all cheeps not worth spending your time or money.
Nothing worse than a buggered screw head from using the wrong size key or low quality key.
Maybe save the ones that are stamped for size because that's a sign of better quality.
I'd scrap all the others.
Good hex sets are relatively inexpensive. So are digital calibers that are reliable.
 

whitmore

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#13
Every machinist chest I ever bought has had at least a dozen hex keys (allen wrenches). Now I've got 12 pounds of them (not kidding - I just threw them all on the postal scale.) all jumbled up into one big pile. Does anyone sell a hex key gauge -/QUOTE]

There are vernier calipers that have fractional inch readout. So, yes, you can (assuming you can tell the metric from the inch)
sort 'em quicklky. A white paint band around the metric ones is a timesaver.

More important, it's wise to keep one complete-ish labeled set of inch and one of metric, and, when you
need to dedicate a wrench to the accessory kit of an important widget, THAT's when you search the bucket.
That way, you only have to search the complete set (less than 12 pounds) to learn it's really a Bristol spline...

My overstock, actually, is in a bag, not a bucket: maybe I should upgrade...
 
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BaronJ

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#14
Hi Guys,

I must admit to a smile when I read this post ! I too have a bin with several hundred Allan keys in it, collected over the years. I took the time to sort out the quality ones and keep them in an old OXO tin (just for those who don't know, OXO is a brand of gravy browning here in the UK). The others I use when I need bits of metal for various jobs. This is when you realise how soft and rubbishy some of these things are.
 

RJSakowski

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#15
I know OXO. The wife is a Brit and was dismayed to find that it wasn't easily available here in the US.

I had run into some rubbish Allen wrenches that came with unassembled office furniture. You had a hard time assembling one chair before the corners gave out or the wrench twisted. They appeared to have a decent amount of carbon based on a spark test so I tried hardening and tempering some. They actually work very well then.
 

BaronJ

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#16
Hi RJ,

I suspected as much when I explained what OXO was. :):):)

You know it never occurred to me to try hardening any, Though I have brazed the odd one into a piece of rod to make a "T" handled key. More often I've used them for packings. Thanks for that little nugget.
 

astjp2

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#17
I have a 5 gallon bucket of them that I need to see what they are, off with the calipers for me!
 

astjp2

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#18
Many tears ago I switched all my allen wrenches to Eklind fold up sets.
I think they are the best.

View attachment 273929
These are absolute garbage if you do real work on real machines, when the tool crib gives me a set of those, they are returned in not such a nice fashion, get real ones and keep them with the holder.
 

KBeitz

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#19
Wow... You are the first person that I heard from that does not like them...
I have worked in textile factorys where they are needed for every job
and they last a long time...
 

astjp2

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#20
I work in a machine shop, everything has allen heads, and not one of the machine repair techs have or use them. Production will because there is an issue with them losing them (FOD) but they dont work in tight areas, you cant put a lot of torque on them and a lot of times we need ball drivers. Every mill we have uses allen heads on the way covers, I would not use them when inside a hot humid machine, laying in coolant.
 

KBeitz

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#21
Quote...you cant put a lot of torque on them ???

Are you sure you are talking about Eklind ?

I sometimes put a pipe on the handle for more torque.
 
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