Building with conduit and Maker Pipe is really easy to do and only requires a few basic hand tools. One of which is a 5mm allen key aka hex wrench. You can use the really common L hex just fine, but there are some other options that make building easier and offer more features. In this blog we are going to compare the different options available based on ease of use and features for building.
One Tool Assembly
We supply the nut and bolt that is needed to assemble the connectors when you place an order. When you’re putting the connectors together the nuts lock in place so you only need a tool to tighten the bolt itself. The tool you’ll use for this is referred to as either an allen key or hex wrench, and there’s a few options to consider when building.
Simple L Shaped Allen Key
The first hex option is your basicL shaped allen key. These are the most common and probably the best option for builders who only need it for one or two builds. You can buy a single one from us, but most often you’ll find them in stores with various sizes all in one kit like this one from lowes.
Overall the basic hex key is a great value, but it does have a couple of downsides. It's awkward shape and small grip makes it difficult to torque down the bolts, but the worst con in my opinion is the limited use when working in tight spots or angles. It can be really frustrating and time consuming to use in those situations. Which brings me to the next option.
These are probably the most popular option when it comes to hex wrenches because of their ease of use. They get the name T handle because the top of them have a molded grip or handle that forms into a T. They are usually molded in plastic, but they also have some nice rubber gripped ones as well. The t handles make it a lot easier to tighten the bolts. We offer two versions of the T Handle on the site. The short andlong version.
The short handle comes with a standard flat hex end, but the long T handle has a ball ended tip. Remember earlier when I was saying the L shaped basic hex key can be annoying when working with weird angles or tight spots? With the ball ended tip you’re able to fully tighten the bolts from any angle which makes life and building a lot easier. If you use different sized hex wrenches a lot then one of the T handle variety packs from the big box stores might be a good investment in the long run for you.
The last few options involve these 5mm hex sockets. You have the short flat ended socket for ⅜” drive ratchets and thelong version which has a ball end. You can find the flat sockets at most home improvement stores, but the ball ended versions are more of a specialty item and could be harder to find. We do have both available on the site under shop if you're interested.
Using these sockets with the ratchets allows you to get a lot of torque easily when tightening the bolts down. The long ball ended socket offers the same easy torque ability while still letting you tighten the bolts in those hard to reach angles. If you already have a ratchet these sockets are a great value in terms of features and usability, but keep in mind the cost of the ratchet if you don’t have one already.
Do Not Use Power Tools
I also want to mention the fact that these sockets can be adapted to work with power tools, BUT we do not recommend using power tools to tighten the nuts and bolts. You will strip out the bolts which leads to all kinds of other headaches when building.
Again we don’t recommend it, but if you’re hard set on using a drill make sure that you use a drill and not an impact. On the drill make sure the clutch is set to a low setting for the best chance of not stripping out the bolt head. If you’re going to use a drill then definitely add an extra pack or two of hardware to your maker pipe order or find a M6x1 bolt that is 25mm long at your local hardware store.
All of the different options are listed under shop on the website if you're interested in picking up one of the tools for your next project. As always if you need any help with your project then feel free to reach out to us here. Thanks for reading and happy building!