If you ever assemble pre-fabricated furniture or do any kind of DIY building or repair, you have likely used hex keys before. Hex keys (also known as Allen wrenches or Allen keys) are an essential tool in any toolkit. They let you drive bolts and screws with hexagonal sockets. An essential tool for working on bikes, go-karts, repairing electronics, furniture, and many other household projects.
If you regularly use hex keys, it is a great idea to buy a set that is comfortable to use and lasts longer than ordinary L-shaped Allen wrenches. This is where the Bondhus T-handle balldriver & hex set comes in. It is one of the most popular Allen wrench sets available.
Let’s take a closer look and see if it is worth the money.
The box of the Bondhus 13189 metric set comes with the following:
- 8 T-handle metric Allen wrenches. Three with hex ends and five with ball ends.
- Sizes: 2mm hex, 2.5mm hex, 3mm hex, 4mm ballpoint, 5mm ballpoint, 6mm ballpoint, 8mm ballpoint, and 10mm ballpoint
- A stand with space for all 8 Allen keys.
- A plastic bag. You can use the bag to store the loose wrenches in a tool box, drawer, etc.
The Bondhus 13190 SAE set comes with:
- 10 T-handle SAE Allen wrenches. Four with hex ends and six with ball ends.
- Sizes: 3/32 hex, 7/64 hex, 1/8 hex, 9/64 hex, 5/32 ballpoint, 3/16 ballpoint, 7/32 ballpoint, 1/4 ballpoint, 5/16 ballpoint and 3/8″ ballpoint
- A stand with space for all 10 Allen keys.
- A plastic bag.
The box of the Bondhus 33034 torx set includes:
- 8 T-handle Torx Allen wrenches.
- Sizes: T9, T10, T15, T20, T25, T27, T30, and T40
- A stand with space for all 8 Allen keys.
- A plastic bag.
As you can see, the smaller Allen keys of the metric and SAE sets do not have ball ends. Instead, they come with flat hex ends. This is fairly common for small Allen wrenches because their ends are at risk of rounding off over time.
Let’s start with one of the most important factors to review, the comfort and ease of use of the Bondhus T-handle wrenches. We all have a pile of regular L-shaped hex keys somewhere that have damaged our hands and knuckles. But how do these Bondhus wrenches compare?
Bondhus claims that the cushioned T-handle is ergonomically shaped to make continuous use easier. We can confirm that this is indeed the case. Whether it is long sessions of driving machine screws or briefly applying a lot of torque to remove stuck bolts, we have not noticed any pain or discomfort during use.
The handles are welded to the hexagonal rods and have a heavy feel to them. There is no risk of them coming loose over time.
Despite their durable build, they are well balanced. You will find that these wrenches are easy to use and provide good leverage.
The Bondhus hex drivers are longer than your typical L-shaped Allen keys. Because of their long reach, you can use them for accessing machine screws in hard-to-reach places, without having to first take things further apart. This is ideal when working on things like motorbikes and go-karts.
Of course, the larger size of the wrenches can be a downside as well. There might be times where you don’t have space for a long Allen wrench or a large handle. For that reason, a set like this can never replace a set of smaller L-shaped Allen keys. In our opinion, they are still worth getting for the 80-90% of jobs that they are suitable for.
As mentioned above, the larger hex keys of the metric and SAE sets come with ball ends. Invented by the Bondhus Corporation in 1964, ball ends let you use a hex key off-axis to the screw. This gives you access to fasteners that you are otherwise not able to reach.
The ball ends give 25 degrees of off-axis movement, which in practice means 12.5 degrees of movement in a single direction. We have found them to work at slightly larger angles without any problems.
Bondhus makes these T-handle wrenches with a proprietary steel called Protanium. This steel is stronger than other steels and is often used for hex tools and sockets. Bondhus claims it has higher wear resistance, hardness, and ductility than other steels.
That’s nice and all, but how do the Allen wrenches hold up in practice?
We have no in-depth methods of testing the material, but so far it has held up under use. There is a bit of twisting on the smaller hex rods when applying a lot of torque, but this does not cause any issues.
Despite using the wrenches a lot, the ends still have the same shape as when we got them.
The wrenches come with a ProGuard Finish that is supposed to protect against rust. This is particularly useful if you use or store your tools in a humid environment. Our sets are only exposed to dry environments. But because we were not able to find any other reviews that mention rust problems, we assume this coating works as advertised.
All Bondhus tools are made in the USA and come with a lifetime warranty. If anything were to happen to one of your Bondhus Allen wrenches, you can have it replaced free of charge.
This is one of our main reasons for these wrenches being our recommendation when it comes to Allen keys. Other manufacturers, like Craftsman, have outsourced a lot of their production to China. In some cases while also dropping the lifetime warranty. If supporting an American company is important to you, this product lets you do so.
The included stand is one of the weaker points of the product. While it does a good job of holding and organizing the hex keys, it is not very practical. The stand is bulky and takes up a lot of space on a workbench.
Despite its size, it is not very stable. It is made from plastic and because of this it is lightweight. This causes it to fall over easier than a heavier stand would.
The stand does have screw holes that you can use to secure it to a surface for a more stable result.
We have found the drawbacks of the Bondhus 13189 to be mostly minor inconveniences.
- The length of the hex rods and size of the T-handles are too big for some purposes. Unfortunately, not much can be done about that. We can’t have it both ways. If you want comfort and long reach, these wrenches are ideal. For access to particularly narrow areas, you might want to keep a set of quality L shaped wrenches or sliding T handles (SAE / metric) within reach.
- The handles are not marked on both sides. The handles are clearly labeled with the size of the Allen key, but only on one side. This is a minor issue that can be impractical when looking for the right size wrench.
In practice, this is not that big of a problem. Over time, you will get an intuitive sense of which wrench you need to grab. They all have their own length, T-handle width and weight. Once you get used to them you can identify them with ease without the label.
- The smaller wrenches do not come with balldriver ends. This is definitely a bit of a limitation, but understandable for durability reasons. Tiny ball ends round off (and even snap off) a lot easier. Perhaps Bondhus found that they would have to replace the small ball ends too often given the lifetime warranty of the product.
We are a big fan of tools that don’t impose any limitations on our projects. These USA-made Bondhus T-handle wrenches are comfortable to use and let you apply a lot of torque at the same time, so they definitely fall into that category.
Despite being more expensive than cheaper sets, they give excellent value. Their build quality is top notch and you can expect them to last forever. If not, you always have the lifetime warranty to fall back on.
You can be assured that this Allen wrench set is one of the best options if you want something that is durable and does not have the tips round off over time. Or for when you simply want to move up from a collection of mismatched, low quality Allen keys.