4 Ways to Improvise an Allen Wrench

A set of 10 hex wrenches on a ring.

It is frustrating when you go to take something apart, or put it together, and it requires an Allen wrench, but there is not one to be found. There are several ways to get around this with a little bit of ingenuity and patience. Doing a solid assembly of a desk or shelf isn’t likely with a substitute; however, disassembling something can be a breeze.

Size and Shape

Look at the size and shape of your Allen wrench, or hex key, screws or bolts. Are they deep, wide sockets, or are they shallow and wide? This will determine what you will need to get them loose.

1. Makeshift Tools

You can look around the house and find simple items to fit the two opposing flat angles in the hex screw and use this object like an Allen wrench to a certain degree. For smaller Allen wrench nuts, you could likely use a set of flat-tipped tweezers, or even the flat edge on a pair of finger nail clippers. There are numbers of bathroom items that can be used in such cases, and again it is just about being able to turn or spin this screw, nut, or bolt to get it loose.

2. Screwdrivers

Sometimes you can use small types of flathead screwdrivers as a hex wrench by putting the end in the socket so that the two edges of the screwdriver work as leverage in the hole to turn it. The wider the socket on the bolt or nut, the wider the flathead screwdriver you will want to use. The objective here is to wedge the screwdriver into the hex of the bolt to create torque so it can be unscrewed.

3. Kitchenware

You can also find great improvised Allen wrench type devices in your kitchen cupboard or in the silverware drawers. Flat-tipped and strong paring knives could potentially work depending on the gauge and depth of the hex screw’s hole.

4. Nuts and Bolts

Some Allen wrench screws are actually bolts and have a nut on the reverse side. In this case you can use pliers to remove the nut and it will come free. If you do not have access to a pair of pliers then you can use two butter knives as leverage and place them tightly on either side of the nut.

Apply pressure and torque on these as you spin them about and they can help to work the nut off. If you have a friend helping, they can hold a wedged tool in the hex to keep it from spinning while you turn the nut on the backside.