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Non-metric Allen Keys

Old 03-21-19, 08:36 PM
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wgscott
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Non-metric Allen Keys

Today I was at the hardware store and decided to pick up another set of metric Allen keys to keep in the car. I wanted those ones with the ball ends, so they were a bit pricier. Then in the checkout line I saw I could get a two-pack, with a second set in fractional inches, for only $2 more, so I decided to get that.

Almost immediately I am regretting this. I seem to have 3 or 4 other sets of these unusable things laying around the house and garage.

Is there any use for these, other than stuff like puncturing new tubes of glue or picking wax out of one's ears?
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Old 03-21-19, 08:53 PM
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Huh? Are you saying you’ve never experienced an English hex bolt? I have.
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Old 03-21-19, 08:54 PM
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On what?

Between all of our bikes, cars, and a lab full of scientific equipment at work, I cannot think of a single thing that has non-metric bolts.
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Old 03-21-19, 08:58 PM
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Every once in a while I need an SAE hex.
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Old 03-21-19, 09:09 PM
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Most electronic exercise equipment use sae tools. That's just from what I've been exposed to.
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Old 03-21-19, 09:13 PM
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When you strip a soft metric hex bolt/screw head often you can still tighten or remove it with a close but slightly larger SAE hex key and avoid a difficult extraction. If you havenít come across this issue, give it time. You will. Good luck.
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Old 03-21-19, 09:21 PM
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
Today I was at the hardware store and decided to pick up another set of metric Allen keys to keep in the car. I wanted those ones with the ball ends, so they were a bit pricier. Then in the checkout line I saw I could get a two-pack, with a second set in fractional inches, for only $2 more, so I decided to get that.

Almost immediately I am regretting this. I seem to have 3 or 4 other sets of these unusable things laying around the house and garage.

Is there any use for these, other than stuff like puncturing new tubes of glue or picking wax out of one's ears?
Maybe first stop buying them?

Last edited by AnkleWork; 03-21-19 at 09:24 PM.
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Old 03-21-19, 09:27 PM
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Some power tools for the blade, set screws for door handles and fauctet parts, various pieces on cars (but metric hex and torx have taken that over) air and water pressure regulators, furniture hardware (but often come with a crappy hex wrench). Limited compared to other types of fasteners but they are around, usually purposely used where a small cap screw or shoulder screw makes sense. SAE or metric? Guess that depends. Other than my bike stuff, I use torx way more.
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Old 03-21-19, 09:29 PM
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Guitar truss rod adjustment are one that still normally use sae. I repair guitars I know and some car parts.
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Old 03-21-19, 09:36 PM
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Every power tool I own still uses SAE wrenches, whether hex or socket. Miter saws, table saw, routers, sawzalls, belt sanders, etc, etc. I think this is because the bits, blades, and belts are still in fractional inches.

What's horrible is that plywood is now largely metric in thickness, but imperial on the physical size-- that is, 18mm thick, but 4' x 8'. Just makes for more math.
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Old 03-21-19, 10:55 PM
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For plumbing in particular it's essential to have both

so that you can eventually fit the right one by randomly sticking keys in blind, recessed holes.
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Old 03-21-19, 11:46 PM
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I do some work at an optics lab and continuous jumping between metric and English hex keys and threads is a nightmare.
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Old 03-22-19, 12:04 AM
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I think my old Blazer is about 50/50 Metric/SAE. A bit of a hassle always guessing what tools to use on it.

Almost anything actually made in the USA around the house uses SAE, sadly that is less and less every year. But, I do have some good solid US made tools that need maintenance every once in a while.

But, you're right, the more I get into cycling, the less SAE stuff I use.
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Old 03-22-19, 12:29 AM
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My rusty nickel plated Phil Wood 36 holed track hub that I have laced to a 28 holed bob rim.
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Old 03-22-19, 08:11 AM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
What's horrible is that plywood is now largely metric in thickness, but imperial on the physical size-- that is, 18mm thick, but 4' x 8'. Just makes for more math.
I wonder if this is another one of those sneaky cost cutting measures. 3/4" plywood should be 19 mm thick so making it 18 mm saves about 5% of the material cost.

Rather like when the liquor industry went to metric size bottles. Instead of changing from a half-gallon ((64 oz) to 2 liters (67.3 oz) they went to 1.75 L (59.2 oz) but kept the price the same. Unfortunately converting the old "fifth" bottle (25.6 oz) to the new 750 ml (25.4 oz) bottle didn't save them much.

Oh, and relative to the topic at hand, yes, I have plenty of uses for SAE size hex keys.

Last edited by HillRider; 03-22-19 at 08:24 AM.
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Old 03-22-19, 10:46 AM
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At least its not like you're working on old Raleighs and you need British Standard Whitworth wrenches. IIRC (from my stint as a bike mechanic in the 70s, when all of the moderately-priced Raleighs had Whitworth nuts) the head diameters were not fractional values based upon powers of 2. So a 5/16" bolt had a 6/10" head! Arghhh!

I have both metric and the US/Myanmar system, too, and find all sorts of things to use both of them on.

I like this map, where they point out that Sweden uses both and still criticizes the US for not using the metric system: https://www.indy100.com/article/syst...height-7666466

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Old 03-22-19, 11:57 AM
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You think that's bad, I have a set of Park Tool cone wrenches in SAE.
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Old 03-22-19, 12:01 PM
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Eklind has a folding series of multi tools .. Bondhus tool is the ball end .. USA made Tools..

I have an Eklind number 20911 ... 9 sizes from 1/4" to 5/64th/

It folds up ..

It is bigger than the metric M17 .... 7 sizes from 1.5 to 6mm..

maybe that will keep someone from picking up the wrong one?




..

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Old 03-22-19, 12:06 PM
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I volunteer at a high-volume big-city bike Co-Op. We get lots of donations, including accessories and tools.

The non-metric hex keys are an outright hazard, as we've had several folks round-out critical bolts by using them. So I discard them as they come in.
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Old 03-22-19, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave Mayer View Post
I volunteer at a high-volume big-city bike Co-Op. We get lots of donations, including accessories and tools.

The non-metric hex keys are an outright hazard, as we've had several folks round-out critical bolts by using them. So I discard them as they come in.
For a bicycle-specific shop, yeah, SAE hex keys are more likely to do harm than good.

One other fastener that's beginning to show up on bikes is the Torx drive bolt. These can also be mistaken for a standard hex if not looked at carefully.
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Old 03-22-19, 12:45 PM
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Hmmm..... I use SAE allens more than metric. But I don't work just on bikes.

Bolts and other fasteners with torx type sockets seem to be making gains on the hex type socketed fasteners. I prefer them and have even found some tiny torx socketed screws to replace the tiny little philips screws in my garmin HR monitor pod.
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Old 03-22-19, 02:31 PM
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Originally Posted by lasauge View Post
You think that's bad, I have a set of Park Tool cone wrenches in SAE.
Sure. For Schwinn, New Departure, Bendix, Wald, etc. USA-made hubs.
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Old 03-22-19, 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
Is there any use for these?
Chevy Monza brake caliper mounting bolts.


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Old 03-22-19, 04:55 PM
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My 60 year old (or older) craftsman table saw does not use metric
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Old 03-22-19, 10:56 PM
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I ran across a relatively recent Sram derailleur where one of secondary bolts turned out to be SAE threaded. After all some of these derailleurs get exported and what people at the other end of the world are supposed to do?? One SAE bolt that persists universally is the 1/4-20 tripod bolt. Bordering with photography, it continues to be used, together with metric threads, on optical tables, leading to a nightmare. Another area where competition between thread standards has been a disaster for me is in microphone mounts. Finally anyone who imported any plumbing from abroad might have ran into metric vs US thread incompatibilities, though the latter can be even incompatible internally.
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