I ran into a predicament this weekend, and a more minor one the week before. Not all hex keys fit fasteners the same.
I think this could partially be due to the fasteners themselves, but hex key coatings and tolerances might have also come into play.
See Also: 16 Hex Key and Driver Solutions
It was the strangest thing. I was assembling an 80/20 cabinet frame, with dozens of button head cap screws. 80/20 is a system of t-slotted aluminum extrusions, used for building almost anything you could imagine. I’ve done this kind of work many times before.
So I whipped out a newish set of Bondhus hex keys, started with the 3/16″ key, and it wasn’t a smooth fit. The Bondhus keys are coated with a GoldGuard finish, similar to the ones shown here, which I like because it makes them easy to clean.
The darned thing didn’t slip in easily.
So I went and grabbed my PB Swiss hex keys, and they slipped in easily and effortlessly.
I like Bondhus hex products since they’re inexpensive, well-built, and they worked quite well for me in the past. I’ve been buying their products for maybe 10 years, with my first experience being a blind ball driver purchase from McMaster Carr.
But this time I was boggled. Maybe the tolerance of the fasteners are a little tighter than usual. They weren’t standard button head cap screws, they were 80/20’s special flange head ones.
Maybe the PB Swiss are engineered to a closer tolerance, with their machined tips.
I’d like to think that maybe the Bondhus’s failings were due to a fastener tolerance issue, rather than the coating being too thick, or that the sizing was off for a different reason.
But at the end of the day, I was just extremely happy that I had my PB Swiss hex keys within reach. It would have been a nightmare to use the Bondhus drivers on several dozen ill-fitting fasteners.
I noticed differences with both ball and straight ends, which makes me think that maybe the PB Swiss fasteners simply fit better with these particular cap screws. I’ll dig out a box or two of different brands’ 5/16″ cap screws to check for it. But regardless of the outcome, this was an eye opener that sometimes different hex keys – even good ones – can make the difference between an application being easy breeze and frustratingly finicky.
Have you found the same?