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DIY Universal Hex Key

By Jim Oslislo

Sometimes while overhauling our shop machinery, we come across large hex head cap screws to which we have no corresponding hex head wrench. An old lathe we were working on had some hex head cap screws in its gearbox that required a 19 mm wrench. Not having the wrench in question, I searched the shop for a work around. I stumbled on a length of 7/8″ hex stock that came from who-knows-where I had intended to scrap but didn’t have the heart to. Aha!

PhotoAs shown in the photo, I clamped it directly to our mill’s table and made six equal facing cuts and produced the required wrench, which was cut to length and turned with a 7/8″ socket and breaker bar.

The beauty of this method is that the hex stock does not require any complicated means to rotate it 60 degrees for each subsequent facing cut as square or round stock would. So the lesson to be learned is; if you have a hunk of hex stock, hang onto it because you never know when you might need a new hex head wrench.

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