Many of us will have a set of Allen keys in our toolkits that have been there forever. I know I have – several – and they are generally a bit rusty and a bit unloved.
Sure, they do their job well enough – undoing or doing-up bolts with internal hex forms - but they are basic and generally, so small that you can’t really get much force on them. In fact, I’m sure any home mechanic has tried to increase the force they bring to bear with an Allen key by adding a spanner on the end, to increase leverage.
However, a set of T-handle hex keys (and by extension, Torx keys as well if you need them) not only allows you to exert more force but they make the task of working with internal hex bolts a lot more pleasant, as they are more comfortable in your hand. Tool-experts Draper has this very compelling set available - can it give the necessary upgrade to a boring, but essential, element of the toolkit?
Draper has an impressive reputation in the tool world and this set of T-handle hex keys won a recent product test in our sister title RiDE, and with good reason. They perform well and are of incredible value and would be a handy addition to any home mechanic’s toolkit.
They appear to be based around a long hex section that is bent at 90-degree and the bend is covered in a combination of hard and soft plastic. The hard plastic encases the metal hex bar while the soft plastic is used where you will grip the handle, to make it more comfortable in use.
Each key is based on the length of the full-size hex bar so, for example, the 10mm key uses a 10mm hex bar throughout. Each features a plain end on the short section with a ball-end on the longer section, to allow it to be used at an angle for tight or tricky-to-access bolts or fittings.
The handles are large and well proportioned, to allow you to generate a decent amount of torque using the handle and the long section in the bolt though the domed section does tend to dig into the heel of the palm slightly, limiting the force you can apply. The shape also suggests you can push down on the handle by using the shorter section to make sure the key doesn’t come loose in the bolt.
Both the hex end and the ball-end are a great fit in fasteners with no play and while the length of the main section is not as great as some, it still allows you to generate a decent level of torque. If you need much more, then you would be into the territory of needing a hex adapter on a socket set or a torque wrench.
In addition to coming in the key sizes – 2mm, 2.5mm, 3mm, 4mm, 5mm, 6mm, 8mm and 10mm – the set also comes with a handy metal stand to keep them ready for use if you want them to hand and not in your toolbox, for example.
One added advantage of keeping them in the stand is it is easier to identify the right size – each key’s size is stamped in the shaft but not printed on the handle, making it trickier to identify which size is which.
In outright terms, this is an excellent set of T-handle hex keys. They are well designed and fit the hand nicely, so they are comfortable and easy to use.
They come with a metal stand for storage and comprise the most common sizes you are likely to need on most bikes.
You can generate decent torque using the handle and even more using the main shaft as a lever and they come with a lifetime guarantee. However, when you consider that they are less than £20 for the set, they are also an absolute bargain.
Well-designed and comfortable handles
Range of useful sizes
Metal stand for storage
The handle can dig into the heel of the thumb
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