I misplaced my allen wrench set. I'm not going to buy a new one, because I haven't given up hope on finding the old one.

In the meantime, what can I use as an allen wrench substitute? I tried using the prong of a fork (for a small hex-socket) with limited effectiveness and wear to the socket. I haven't thought of anything to try for larger sockets.

  • 8
    Just buy a spare set. A basic one should only cost you a few dollars. (Here's a 30-piece set I found for $6 in a few minutes of searching.) All the hacks below are only reasonable if you need one right now and can't stop by a hardware store to get one. Commented Dec 27, 2014 at 19:57

6 Answers 6


A few sites recommend using a flat head screw driver. Find one that fits tightly across the inside of the hex head going from corner to corner and turn it gently.

Personally I would go with a Torx bit. If you have an electric drill check the bits that came with it, there's a good chance that you have some. They will work for hex bolts with a lot less slipping than a flat head.

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  • I am using this instead of allen wrench all the time. It does the work!
    – papakias
    Commented Sep 23, 2021 at 13:37
  • This works the other way round too. Hex bits will fit torx bolts quite often. Either way round can be a bit of a 'baggy' fit, so you don't want too much torque on one, to avoid rounding it out.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Apr 26, 2023 at 9:33
  • Find a bolt whose head is the required size. Insert the bolt head half-way into the socket. Apply an adjustable wrench or pair of visegrips to the sticking-out half.

  • Find a bolt whose head is the required size. Turn two nuts on and counter-tighten them (jam them together). Insert the bolt head into the socket. Apply an adjustable wrench or pair of visegrips to the appropriate nut (depending on the direction of force, choose the nut that tightens the jammed pair, not loosens them!).

  • You can get a decent set of hex wrenches for $10 - $15; possibly much less if you wait for a sale. Save yourself time and aggravation and just get them (good tools are half the battle!).

Hope that helps!

  • Knowing is half the battle!
    – apaul
    Commented Dec 26, 2014 at 3:03
  • Good suggestion! Regarding the final one, I have a set, but I misplaced it and don't want to buy another one as I hope to find it still. Commented Dec 26, 2014 at 3:38

One way to make an improvised allen wrench is to take a plastic ballpoint pen and remove the ink cartridge and writing tip.

Then you can take a lighter and gently heat the end of the pen tube with a lighter, being careful not to burn it and soften the plastic. When the plastic begins to soften, you will then insert the end of the pen into the head of the allen screw. Make sure that you push it in all the way, and then hold it there until the plastic hardens. You should only do this in a well ventilated area because the fumes are toxic.

Once it has hardened, it will take the form of the screwhead and it should be a perfect allen wrench. Different types of pens will work better than others. An old Bic pen with soft nylon plastic will work the best since it won't be too brittle and break off as easy.

  • Very clever, and using the most likely things anyone would have around the house! Commented Dec 28, 2014 at 3:11

If I am understanding your problem correctly then you could:

a pencil being used to unscrew a screw

Make an Emergency Hex Key / Allen Wrench: This can be done by cutting the pointy writing tip off a pencil and cutting the edge down until it will fit. Pieces of wood of certain sizes can be used, as well. A plus is that the pencil can be reused afterwards.

Shave the sides of the pencil down to size. Keep the peelings parallel to the faces. Make your shavings pretty thin. Test to see if it fits. If it's tight, that's good.

Different types of screwdrivers are said to work, as well.

Additional Info

5 Ways to Improvise an Allen Wrench

A good example 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 about being able to turn or spin this screw, nut or bolt to get it loose.

Sometimes you can use small types of flat headed screwdrivers as an allen wrench by putting the end in the socket so that the 2 edges of the screwdriver work as leverage in the hole to turn it. A wider socket on the bolt or nut, use a wider flathead screwdriver. The object here is to wedge the screwdriver into the hex of the bolt, to create torque so it can be unscrewed.

You can also find great improvised allen wrench type devices in your kitchen cupboard or in the silverware drawers. Flat tipped and strong pairing knives could potentially work depending on the gauge and depth of the hex screws hole. Remember you are simply trying to wedge your tool into the hex so that you can spin or turn it


Using a Dremel with a cutting disk, I've sawed a slot across the head and then used a standard flat screw driver. Also done this with warn phillips head screws. If the screw head is exposed above the work surface, could also use a hack saw to make a slot.


I don't know where you live, but Allen wrenches are very cost friendly, at least where I live (Europe, the Balkans). Also, if you or any of your neighbours have bought any piece of furniture on-line or from Ikea, for example, (and there are dozens or more likely thousands of other furniture suppliers, too), those Allen wrenches come with the furniture set "as a gift", so people can assemble the furniture they bought themselves. There's really no need to seek a replacement for Allen wrenches. Just ask your neighbour next-door, or a janitor.

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