Browsing through the new tools section of a recent Lee Valley catalog, I came across these new hex key handles. They’re made from glass-filled nylon and fit over standard L-shaped hex keys to provide a larger and easier grip.
The larger handle should be more comfortable to turn and it will allow you to apply more torque than a bare hex wrench. The grips can be used in different configurations, to create a T-handle or a screwdriver handle.
To use them, insert a hex key through the proper sized hole in the handle. Rare-earth magnets keep will keep them in place.
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The handles can be use with metric hex keys from 1 mm to 10 mm, or imperial hex keys from 0.050″ to 3/8″. The set of two handles (one big one small) will run you $13.50 plus $8 for shipping — or you can wait until Lee Valley has another “free shipping over $40” promo event.
We haven’t tested them (yet?), but assume that you could also use these slide-on handles with L-shaped Torx wrenches.
Here’s a short video by Lee Valley showing how to use the handles:
Stuart has covered many hex wrenches and drivers, but the closest thing I could find to this handle was the Kobalt T-Handle L-wrench set which comes with a separate handle. It works a little differently than the handles sold at Lee Valley though.
I’ve been using quite a few hex keys recently to assemble my new 3D printer and to troubleshoot some problems. I have found that, while the design of the L-shaped hex keys is handy in many different situations, it doesn’t avail itself to comfort or speed.
Stuart’s Note: Is it hex wrench and driver upgrade time?!
I can see a handle like this being useful in many situations, especially the ability to turn an L-wrench into a screwdriver for speedier turning, but watching the video I’m not as impressed with how loosely the keys fit into the handle. The connection point seems to wobble quite a bit which could be distracting.
Stuart’s Note: Ikea bundles a little 2-size slide-on hex wrench handle with some of their furniture, and I’ve thought about it every time I’ve used one. “Why not a larger one, or multi-sized one?” This looks to be a handy accessory from Lee Valley. They say it’s a worthy addition to any toolbox, and it looks like they might be right.
$13.50 might seem like a lot for 2 plastic handles, but they essentially turn any hex key set into T-handle and screwdriver-style driver sets. I’ll likely pick up a set of these Lee Valley handles. I don’t imagine they’ll work as well as my T-handle and screwdriver hex drivers, but there are times when I need an in-between. These should do the trick.
I’d recommend caution if using these with smaller ball-end hex keys, which are often very carefully sized to avoid over-torque situations. Too much torque, such as by increasing the length of the short end lever arm as with these handles, can cause smaller ball hex tips to break off within fastener heads. Here are some horror stories.
Here’s that little Ikea handle: