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Why are spanners 'chrome', but Allen keys are black?

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Why are spanners 'chrome', but Allen keys are black?

Old 10-23-13, 01:00 AM
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Why are spanners 'chrome', but Allen keys are black?

I've always wondered?

Are allen wrenches considered lower 'class' and more dispensable?

Ya know, they're small and cheap, so it's like we're supposed to just use them, abuse them, them replace them, whereas spanners are a more 'permanent' purchase, so they're made of better stuff (chrome vanadium steel?).
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Old 10-23-13, 01:04 AM
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I have allen wrenches in chrome, zinc plate w/ clear chromate and a couple of black finishes. One black set is black oxide but most other black sets I've had don't have that matte finish of black oxide, not sure what it is exactly.
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Old 10-23-13, 02:13 AM
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Why not ask Allen (Apex Tool) http://www.allenhex.com/ they are the only people who make Allen keys, for Hex keys, which is the correct term for a generic hex key, plenty of non black options out there.
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Old 10-23-13, 04:58 AM
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Spanners (wrenches to non-Brits/Ozzies) are also available in black oxide finish. This is usually chosen where pilferage is a concern, as non-shiny items are less susceptible to the "magpie syndrome" (magpies and similar birds are known to steal small shiny objects).

I suspect that shiny nickel or chrome-finished hex wrenches would tend to slip out of the sockets due to their relatively slippery nature compared to the matte oxide.
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Old 10-23-13, 08:53 AM
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Black heat-treated steel saves you money because production costs are lower, Isn't that $ important to you?
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Old 10-23-13, 09:03 AM
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Old 10-23-13, 09:22 AM
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Actually the reason is simpler and more technical. Hex keys have a closer fit tolerance than open end and box wrenches, because the ratio of driving torque to thread size is very unfavorable compared to that with hex head bolts. The close tolerance limits the ability to etch then add metal via plating. Some companies do a very thin, zinc or cadmium, but it doesn't offer the rust protection that a decent plating job will.

In any case most of the best makers of hex keys prefer to maintain tolerance with a Black-Ox finish that doesn't change dimensions.
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Old 10-23-13, 01:19 PM
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Well, I can't say that I ever gave the matter of tool coloration much thought, but thanks to FB, now I know.
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Old 10-23-13, 02:22 PM
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my Allen keys are like this:
http://images.esellerpro.com/41/W/65...32_MH40-SC.jpg
http://www-1.drapertoolbox.co.uk/dra...-00062195M.jpg

it's a great finish for tools, silvery but matte (satinated cr-v is nice for tools imho)

Black oxide tools are common in lower tier tools like hobby line. But similar process is done to high quality parts, like a lot of very high precision parts are also black-oxide (like diesel fuel injectors, thrust plates inside injection pumps, springs, and various other things)
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Old 10-23-13, 02:34 PM
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I've had cheap sets where the English ones were black and the metric ones were shiny.

Chrome plating is also a FOD hazard.
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Old 10-23-13, 04:56 PM
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Mine are straight up bling, so I have gold, platinum and diamond encrusted. Homey don't do base metals...
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Old 10-23-13, 07:11 PM
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Black Oxide coating is also common where the risk of flaking chrome getting into the works is an issue.
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Old 10-23-13, 07:21 PM
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Chrome wrenches (which tend to be used for dirty work) are much easier to clean than black ones. Many industrial wrenches, especially in large sizes (1˝ - 2") are often black due to less cost.
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Old 10-23-13, 08:02 PM
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From a driveway/weekend mechanic point of view, it is probably all about the nice shiny chrome in the waxed and polished tool box(and they are easier to find in the grass!).

When I still worked as a millwright/machine builder-repairman, my tools were a vast and varied assortment. Mostly older USA made Craftsman(shiny),some Snap-on special tools(shiny), Proto(shiny and blk ox), SK tools(shiny), Williams(black oxide), MAC(black oxide), and some WW2 Snap-On zinc-phosphate whitworth tools.
Hardest tools to keep clean and corrosion free, were special non-sparking tools. Most were bronze alloy, but as they became available, I began to buy titanium wrenches(they change colors in corrosive or acidic environments).
I never worried about hex wrenches and later, torx drivers, being blk ox, because I considered them as consumables.
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Old 10-23-13, 08:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
I've had cheap sets where the English ones were black and the metric ones were shiny.

Chrome plating is also a FOD hazard.
I don't get why chrome is a Foreign Object Debris hazard.
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Old 10-23-13, 08:26 PM
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Originally Posted by anixi View Post
I don't get why chrome is a Foreign Object Debris hazard.
Because it flakes off. I wouldn't use any plated tools if working on food processing equipment for example.
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Old 10-23-13, 08:38 PM
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I repair machines that make microchips. flaking from tools is a very real concern as it will destroy chips and contaminate the chemistry of the process chamber. technicians as myself are not allowed to wear jewelry of any kind or metal framed eyeglasses for these reasons.

obviously bicycle mechanics is not nearly as susceptible to fm.
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Old 10-24-13, 10:11 AM
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thanks for the replies.
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Old 10-24-13, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by catmandew52 View Post
From a driveway/weekend mechanic point of view, it is probably all about the nice shiny chrome in the waxed and polished tool box(and they are easier to find in the grass!).

When I still worked as a millwright/machine builder-repairman, my tools were a vast and varied assortment. Mostly older USA made Craftsman(shiny),some Snap-on special tools(shiny), Proto(shiny and blk ox), SK tools(shiny), Williams(black oxide), MAC(black oxide), and some WW2 Snap-On zinc-phosphate whitworth tools.
Hardest tools to keep clean and corrosion free, were special non-sparking tools. Most were bronze alloy, but as they became available, I began to buy titanium wrenches(they change colors in corrosive or acidic environments).
I never worried about hex wrenches and later, torx drivers, being blk ox, because I considered them as consumables.
Very interesting
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Old 10-24-13, 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
Actually the reason is simpler and more technical. Hex keys have a closer fit tolerance than open end and box wrenches, because the ratio of driving torque to thread size is very unfavorable compared to that with hex head bolts. The close tolerance limits the ability to etch then add metal via plating. Some companies do a very thin, zinc or cadmium, but it doesn't offer the rust protection that a decent plating job will.

In any case most of the best makers of hex keys prefer to maintain tolerance with a Black-Ox finish that doesn't change dimensions.
that's also quite interesting.

Thanks
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Old 10-24-13, 10:22 AM
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Learn something new, all the time...
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Old 10-24-13, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by mprelaw View Post
Well, I can't say that I ever gave the matter of tool coloration much thought, but thanks to FB, now I know.
Somebody say tool coloration?

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Old 10-24-13, 05:21 PM
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Originally Posted by anixi View Post
I don't get why chrome is a Foreign Object Debris hazard.
I take it you've never sliced yourself to ribbons on flaking chrome... that stuff can be nasty as hell.
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Old 10-24-13, 06:27 PM
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^Nope, never done that.
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Old 10-24-13, 06:29 PM
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Originally Posted by anixi View Post
^Nope, never done that.
Never? not even on an old well used adjustable wrench, or a SK open end used with a cheater bar, not even on an old, well used cone wrench?

Impressive.
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