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View Full Version : OT: hex key shootout: Asian imports vs. Unbrako, W-Germany Stahlville and AMF



MattiJ
01-18-2017, 01:48 PM
Shop too cold? need some physical activity?
Time to see how well the professional tools made in good old times hold up against hobby-grade crappy asian imports:

1. Round:
6mm W-Germany Stahlwille vs. cheap asian import from Biltema (local swedish/scandinavian car parts store)
http://i.imgur.com/rGn70qz.jpg

BIG disappointment. Stahlwille yielded already at around 50Nm.

2. Round:
Another 6mm Stahlwille vs. another Asian import:
http://i.imgur.com/JfPUf8X.jpg

Did better, yielded around 70-80Nm. Asian import tested to frightening 90Nm. Didn't test further than that because didn't want to break the hex key that was the best I obviously have.

3. Round:
8mm Unbrako (Now this should be good) vs. asian import from Biltema:
Cheater bar yield strength exceed:
http://i.imgur.com/ZxdGzvn.jpg
After beefing up the cheater bar:
http://i.imgur.com/yDnnS4Q.jpg
http://i.imgur.com/cwrE8Vx.jpg

4. Round:
8mm AMF W-Germany vs. yet the same asian import...
This was toughest of the lot but the results follow the pattern very much...
http://i.imgur.com/OkuUsu7.jpg

davidwdyer
01-18-2017, 02:01 PM
That seems to be a very unexpected result.

Fasttrack
01-18-2017, 02:22 PM
In my experience, the real test of quality for hex keys is not the strength of the key but rather how well the hex is made. I very rarely twist or break my hex keys but I often find that the cheap hex keys have a slightly sloppy fit which has - on many occasions - resulted in stripping the hex on the fastener. After moaning about this to a fellow machinist, he taught me a good trick when stuck with a low quality, sloppy key: take a piece of very thin foil and wrap the key with it to take up the slop.

MattiJ
01-18-2017, 02:34 PM
I very rarely twist or break my hex keys

Want to see my collection of broken hex keys and torx keys? ;)
Saab Gearboxes eat torx keys for breakfast...

Never had a problem with dimensions on these "Biltema" keys, but these are not the absolute cheapest tooling but what I have considered usable mid level (with 10 year warranty)
Still IMO pretty reasonably priced: 7 euros/usd for 9-piece kit http://www.biltema.fi/fi/Tyokalut/Kasityokalut/Ruuvimeisseli-ja-Hylsysarjat/Muut-vaantimet/Kuusiokoloavaimet-9-kpl-2000019476/

Davidhcnc
01-18-2017, 02:34 PM
I have to agree, Stahlwille hex keys are rubbish. Hard to see how a company would put their name on such junk.

pinstripe
01-18-2017, 02:40 PM
Interesting. Do you have any idea how old the "old" keys are?

Fasttrack
01-18-2017, 02:47 PM
Want to see my collection of broken hex keys and torx keys? ;)
Saab Gearboxes eat torx keys for breakfast...

Never had a problem with dimensions on these "Biltema" keys, but these are not the absolute cheapest tooling but what I have considered usable mid level (with 10 year warranty)
Still IMO pretty reasonably priced: 7 euros/usd for 9-piece kit http://www.biltema.fi/fi/Tyokalut/Kasityokalut/Ruuvimeisseli-ja-Hylsysarjat/Muut-vaantimet/Kuusiokoloavaimet-9-kpl-2000019476/

To be fair, I'm not familiar with Biltema or Stahlwille. Maybe I've just gotten lucky with my hex keys; the number I've broken I can count on one hand and I regularly find myself slipping cheaters on them, hitting them with hammers, etc. The problem I always have is with the hex rounding - either a cheap key that doesn't fit snug and rounds the fastener or the key itself gets rounded.

MattiJ
01-18-2017, 02:48 PM
Interesting. Do you have any idea how old the "old" keys are?

My wild guess is around 30 years old based on the age of the other Finnish military surplus on sale and having stamped W-Germany on.

I think new Bondhus is going to give tough competition for the asian import but I am not sure if I want to break either of them..

Benta
01-18-2017, 03:02 PM
My favorite for hex keys is PB Swiss Tools. Indestructible and great fit.

Forestgnome
01-18-2017, 03:03 PM
I was surprised when I broke a Bondhus, and found it was hard on the outside with a soft core like it was just case hardened mild steel.

pinstripe
01-18-2017, 03:27 PM
My wild guess is around 30 years old based on the age of the other Finnish military surplus on sale and having stamped W-Germany on. I think new Bondhus is going to give tough competition for the asian import but I am not sure if I want to break either of them..

I'd love to see a test with a Bondhus. I wonder if they are as good as they claim.



I was surprised when I broke a Bondhus, and found it was hard on the outside with a soft core like it was just case hardened mild steel.

The basic sets are pretty cheap. $13 for both sets on Amazon. At less than 60 cents a piece, they may well be mild steel. Mine have worked OK, but I have never really given them a hard time. The cheap fastners normally fail first.

The marketing fluff says that the steel is "Protanium", their own secret recipe. I guess that sounds better than case hardened mild steel :)

MattiJ
01-18-2017, 03:27 PM
Ok, time to put on thick welding gloves, mask and wrap the hex keys in thick cloth:
And here goes brand NEW Bondhus:
http://i.imgur.com/32FkZgH.jpg

The cheap import bent also very slightly so I would be ready to call it a draw.

pinstripe
01-18-2017, 03:31 PM
No way, the cheap import won that for sure. Less damage, plus the Bondhus was brand new. I'd be grabbing a couple of spare sets if I were you.

The Bondhus did pretty well though. As I said above, they aren't very expensive in the US. So a good value tool based on this test.

elf
01-18-2017, 03:55 PM
I think a better test would be on 3mm or 4-40 or smaller set screws. I recently designed a part to use 2-56 set screws but had to redesign the part when I tested the hex wrenches in the set screws. Out of ten screws and wrenches tested in the store, only two screws were driveable.

madokie
01-18-2017, 03:59 PM
here in the USA they have dropped 7mm allen hex keys from wrench sets.. is it that way in europe and elswhere??

MattiJ
01-18-2017, 04:22 PM
here in the USA they have dropped 7mm from wrench sets.. is it that way in europe and elswhere??

Haven't seen 7mm key in set here...probably never. Need to buy those separately if you are making brake repairs for cars.
Is there any other use for 7mm or 9mm hex key than brake parts?

Mark Rand
01-18-2017, 04:35 PM
It is curious how 7mm hex keys and 7mm sockets and spanners seem to be needed for brake adjusters, bleed screws etc.

I got revenge on a Peugeot 405 some years ago. A 5/8" socket was a much better fit on a very stiff belt idler pulley adjuster, right at the back of the transverse engine, than the correctly sized 16mm one. :D

dave_r
01-18-2017, 05:33 PM
There's a bunch of trim screws for my '04 Sierra 3500 truck that use 7mm. But I agree, sometimes they seem to make poor choices for which sockets/wrenches to include in a set. One impact set I have has a 22mm deep socket, but no 22mm regular socket. Wrench sets will sometimes skip 16mm or 18mm, and maybe the 7mm.

And the really stupid 100+ piece set of screwdrivers in a bag (1/2 of the count being the stupid little end bits that you have to plug into a hex end screwdriver). The screwdrivers themselves have a decent range of types and sizes, but it is impossible to find the type and/or size you want without dumping out the bag and looking at the tips. They can make parts of the handles different colors (as some of them are different colors), but the majority of them are all colored the same.

J Tiers
01-18-2017, 06:11 PM
Want to see my collection of broken hex keys and torx keys? ;)
Saab Gearboxes eat torx keys for breakfast...
...

Saab what?

MattiJ
01-18-2017, 06:19 PM
Saab what?

Ummm...transaxles

Magicniner
01-18-2017, 06:22 PM
Snap On when they were US manufactured were some of the best I ever had, held up to use with ridiculously long pipe extensions ;-)
I had a Sheffield made set that were very old and very good, might have been Footprint,

- Nick

Paul Alciatore
01-18-2017, 08:28 PM
That's so you, I, and mechanics that have not been to the OEM's school can not work on them. This keeps the price of repairs sky high. And it only cost the dealerships a few dollars for the 7mm wrenches.

I would take a 8mm one and grind it down. I have done that to make other hard-to-get sizes.




It is curious how 7mm hex keys and 7mm sockets and spanners seem to be needed for brake adjusters, bleed screws etc.

I got revenge on a Peugeot 405 some years ago. A 5/8" socket was a much better fit on a very stiff belt idler pulley adjuster, right at the back of the transverse engine, than the correctly sized 16mm one. :D

Paul Alciatore
01-18-2017, 08:30 PM
Poor choices my A$$. They know exactly what they are doing. More profits for the dealerships.




There's a bunch of trim screws for my '04 Sierra 3500 truck that use 7mm. But I agree, sometimes they seem to make poor choices for which sockets/wrenches to include in a set. One impact set I have has a 22mm deep socket, but no 22mm regular socket. Wrench sets will sometimes skip 16mm or 18mm, and maybe the 7mm.

And the really stupid 100+ piece set of screwdrivers in a bag (1/2 of the count being the stupid little end bits that you have to plug into a hex end screwdriver). The screwdrivers themselves have a decent range of types and sizes, but it is impossible to find the type and/or size you want without dumping out the bag and looking at the tips. They can make parts of the handles different colors (as some of them are different colors), but the majority of them are all colored the same.

Tundra Twin Track
01-18-2017, 09:48 PM
These screwdriver Allen drivers have standing up pretty well considering they were $5.00 for metric and inch set at Princess Auto.http://i1371.photobucket.com/albums/ag292/tundratwintrack/image.jpg6_zpsbwinvea6.jpg (http://s1371.photobucket.com/user/tundratwintrack/media/image.jpg6_zpsbwinvea6.jpg.html)

wierdscience
01-18-2017, 09:58 PM
Of all of them I have had the best service from Bondhus,but I also have a large set of Elkind hex keys from 3/4 to 1-1/2" that have done everything I have ever asked them.

Juergenwt
01-19-2017, 12:24 AM
Question: Would you prefer a wrench that twist before you strip the hex in the bolt?
Why are wrenches designed to provide only so much leverage?
You could make a wrench where you could put a long extension on one end - and I am sure there are some - but that is not a standard.
It is a lot harder to remove a bolt once the hex is stripped.
May be somebody knows if there are more than one standard for wrenches - internal or external?
If I had a good quality wrench and it was bending than may be I should take a good look at the bolt first. What Grade?
My next move could be to find a way to use penetrating oil etc. before applying more force and stripping the hex.
Twist off the head and now you have a much bigger problem.

madokie
01-19-2017, 12:52 AM
when i scrap metal, i usually come across rusty hardware that must be taken apart, if exposed i take a hammer to the rusty bolt head ,a few good raps really helps getting it apart..with allen hex head bolts , i use sockets , with a crapy extention i can rap on, and then use a ratchet.i would try this first on smaller sizes where a loss of head of bolt would be a major pain, also with penatrating lube.

MattiJ
01-19-2017, 02:52 AM
Question: Would you prefer a wrench that twist before you strip the hex in the bolt?


That's pretty much what all hex keys do. In some of them the twist is just permanent :D
You get your fair share of warning signs as it takes scary amount of rotational angle and torque to make good quality hex key to yield.

9 times out of 10 I have the wrench breaking or bolt to snap off, my hex heads dont usually strip. Torx head even less likely.
Tiny setscrews with something like 0,05" hex key are the exception because of the loose tolerances like someone already mentioned. If the wrench is just correct size then the screw is on the loose side. grrr.

dian
01-19-2017, 03:40 AM
please get a pb hex and either twist it or breake it.

i have been saving up for several years to get a set. this way i could spend the money on booze.

MattiJ
01-19-2017, 04:18 AM
please get a pb hex and either twist it or breake it.

i have been saving up for several years to get a set. this way i could spend the money on booze.

You can find some test's or marketing claims on Bondhus website that show pb swiss being softer than Bondhus.

I think I'm done with twisting hex keys, just wanted to see how much nostalgia there is on the old tools. In general it has been my experience that 30-40 year old sockets, ratchets and spanners of pretty much any brand are also much softer and weaker material than tools nowadays. 40+ years ago asian import meant same as "Made in Japan" and oh boy how crappy and soft those are!

Fasttrack
01-19-2017, 07:35 AM
here in the USA they have dropped 7mm allen hex keys from wrench sets.. is it that way in europe and elswhere??

Really? I've never bought a metric set that DIDN'T have a 7mm... See link below...

https://www.mcmaster.com/#standard-hex-l-keys/=15z8epr

or here:

http://www.globalindustrial.com/p/tools/hex-keys-and-drivers/ball-end-long-arm-keys-wrenche/set-15-balldriver-l-wrenches-127-10mm-10995?infoParam.campaignId=T9F&gclid=COvEhJGcztECFVWBswodYQsO1w

softtail
01-19-2017, 09:25 AM
For those with a hex fetish, don't overlook the bicycle tool companies. Campagnolo made a nice 5mm with a knurled button about mid shaft that was very nice for spinning a loose bolt in/out. It's been on my long list to make a complete set with that feature.
http://boulderbicycle.bike/images/products/19821.JPG

stefang
01-19-2017, 09:41 AM
I don't know...I runied pretty much any allen key so far when it came realy bad :D

No matter if AMF, chinese ones, Wiha, PB Swiss or old Dowidat - Brute Force can kill any tool, but I realy like the PB Swiss long allen keys with ball end.

Note: The ball ends snap off when you put a cheater bar on the other end of the wrench*

(I hear you: Dont do that. Yes, dont do that, but sometimes there is no choice.)

Stefan

CCWKen
01-19-2017, 09:49 AM
I've rarely had to use more than a rap with a brass hammer or a 3/8" socket extension as a cheater bar to get hex heads loose. If it takes more than that, I use a punch and give the head a good rap with a hammer. A squirt with your favorite juice if they're rusty helps. I also have hex key sockets in 3/8" drive and 1/4" hex bits I've used with an impact wrench or impact driver. The small ones are easy to "feel" the flex. Don't force them. I've never bent or broken a hex key wrench. Lost or misplaced a few but never broken or bent. I use old Craftsman and Bondhus hex key wrenches and sockets. The 1/4" hex bits are some import. Took me a while to find a set that had a 1/16" hex bit for gun sights.

softtail
01-19-2017, 10:48 AM
Yeah, for really stuck bolts, a hex socket is the way to go.

Juergenwt
01-19-2017, 05:34 PM
I could not believe that good companies would put a inferior product on the market. So I did some research.
First of all quality "Allen Wrenches" are covert under DIN 911, ISO 2936, .ANSI B18.3.2M. On a quality wrench HRC and the required torque is specified for each size.
A lot of info is found here: http://fullerfasteners.com/products/din-911-hexagon-key/.
One of the best companies is AMF. http://www.amf.de/en/downloads/current-catalogues/Schraubwerkzeuge_EN_2016.pdf
Scroll down to Pg 7 and you will find this:
There are very good reasons why a discriminating user should choose the best quality screwdriving tools:
> rigorous quality control ensures uniform standards
> seen as a whole, more economical, because the unproductive time spent while tools are issued is reduced
to the essential minimum
> in sizes up to ca. 6 A/F, the torque that can be applied by hand may be higher than the test torque that is
specified in the relevant standard, with the result that:
the wrench deforms, but only breaks under very unfavorable
conditions, a modest, but valuable contribution is made to safety
in the workplace;
> the true value of quality tools can only be seen in real, practical use

And YES - there is a picture of a twisted Allen Wrench! If it twists than you will still have a tool. Not so if it breaks.

Conclusion: Reputable companies provide you with a good quality and safe product. What you get from China may send you to the hospital.

Mike Amick
01-19-2017, 06:32 PM
I might be thick or missing something .. but .. the tests and results were horribly displayed. ( no offense Matt)
leaves way to much for the observer to figure out what he is trying to show and even to which tool is which.

To those clued in more than me, The results seemed to be obvious,
it just took me way to long to see exactly what he was trying to show me.

I would have liked to have seen what the slop or backlash comparison was ... it would actually be measureable.

MattiJ
01-20-2017, 05:59 PM
I might be thick or missing something .. but .. the tests and results were horribly displayed. ( no offense Matt)
leaves way to much for the observer to figure out what he is trying to show and even to which tool is which.

To those clued in more than me, The results seemed to be obvious,
it just took me way to long to see exactly what he was trying to show me.

I would have liked to have seen what the slop or backlash comparison was ... it would actually be measureable.

I let the reader to work out a bit and make their own conclusion. If I would have just posted measurement results with torque wrench the first 1000 replies would have been that I must be trolling or I am complete moron not able to use torque wrench.
And then remarks how the real tools are made of wet noodles so that you don't strain your back.

More brave would post the pics and results to garagejournal-forum but I'm pretty sure their servers couldn't handle the following flame-war.

Andre3127
01-20-2017, 09:32 PM
I don't care if my hex keys are Chinese or quality made, if it fits in the hex that's all I care about. That being said, bondhus and wiha are very nice.

I know a guy who I get bucket loads of Chinese 4mm hex keys from, they fit perfectly for the 5/32" hex screws in my AXA toolpost.

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