how-to 1 Hand Driver

Published on July 15th, 2008 | by Jules Yap


Hack the hex

This is brilliant. Nate found a way to ‘powerize’ the hex key. No more numb fingers and blisters.

He says, “When revamping my workspace a few weeks ago – and not in the mood to unscrew my Jerker desk by hand – I thought I might try sacrificing one of the countless hand wrenches I’ve picked up from Ikea. In a perfect world I would have had a drill bit exactly sized for the hex screws used in the desk’s fixtures but, alas, such things escape my grasp.

1 Hand Driver 2 Bolt Cutters 3 Action 4 Usage

So I took the freebie hex wrench, cut it at the straightest edge I could manage with the bolt cutters and slid the new ‘bit’ into the chuck of the power drill. It held in there just fine and I had my desk in pieces in minutes. I imagine that this technique isn’t limited to just this driver but to any and all Ikea wrenches and hand drivers, from the S shapes to the L’s.”

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The Author

Jules Yap

"I am Jules, the engine behind IKEAHackers and the one who keeps this site up and running. My mission is to capture all the wonderful, inspiring, clever hacks and ideas for our much loved IKEA items".

29 Responses to Hack the hex

  1. Victor says:

    You get hex bits at the dollar store.

  2. Chris says:

    I wish I would have thought of this hack… would have saved me 5 USD and the time it took me to drive to Lowes and back. Anyway, I bought a Bosch 7 piece Allen bit set and the 5/32 bit worked well for the eight Stefan chairs we put together.
    Here is the Amazon link though they are cheaper at Lowes :
    Note they are magnetic insert bits….

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’ve checked all over the stores in my city and none of them sell hex drill bits.

    They’re not easy to find at all.

    So I’m glad someone posted this article.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is a nice little hack if you find yourself without the proper bits.
      If you cant find the bits that have been mentioned, try the closest auto parts store. They can be found in a very nice assortment for under $10. You’ll probably get torx, french press, square,mortorq,spanner and spline in addition to a wide variety of flat and philips bits.
      The sets are worth the minimal expense just to have them at hand.
      I bought the set described above for $10 at PepBoys.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Uhm? Almost all drills come with bits that already look like this. If they don’t just go buy a pack for 5€.

  5. Anonymous says:

    He understands that these are available at many different places but this how-to was for people who don’t want to spend the extra money for something they will likely use once or just don’t feel like going back out if they forgot to get one.

  6. Adam says:

    I don’t see why people are so obsessed with running out to the store to buy a bit. When I had to take apart my bed to move, I did the same thing. I grabbed my drill, grabbed a hex key that fit, and lopped off the end. Worked fine, and I saved a trip to the store. I have plenty of extra hex keys, but didn’t happen to have a bit for my drill that fit the screws (it was between sizes that I had).

    Going to the store to buy one drill bit seems a bit silly, anyway.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I find it a little disheartening that a number of people are knocking the idea presented here. If you noticed he stated he could not find the bit for his drill. It could also be possible that he did this at midnight when the local hardware store is closed. You all keep up the inspiration and out of box thinking.

  8. Jules says:

    anon, that’s because there is comment moderation and the posting of comments is delayed. So they won’t know that others have posted the same comment before them.

  9. Anonymous says:

    If everyone is so smart to realize that you can either a) buy a set of bits or b) use the ones that came with their drill, then why, after the same comment has been posted multiple times, post their own comment?

  10. Jeremy Burlingame says:

    yeah, a metric hex set is like $5. Good tip in a pinch though. But if you’re reading this site, you probably shop at ikea a lot and you should invest in real tools.

  11. Nate says:

    I’m glad this was useful to some folks.

    Yes, I am aware that it’s possible to buy a hex bit set.

    No, the hex bits that came with my drill didn’t fit the Ikea screws.

    I just happened to have been gifted a pair of bolt cutters that was left behind when somebody stole my bike. They got the bike, I got the bolt cutters.

  12. monique says:

    oh dude! I wish I’d read this a few hours ago….. my wrist is aching from hexing up my Ikea purchase from today =)

  13. miked says:

    I just moved and bought a few Ikea items. I just used the bitdriver with an allen key bit. I already had the bit. If you don’t it is cheaper than buying bolt cutters.

  14. Jim G says:

    Those Ikea hex tools are just M5 and M6 metric hex wrenches. I generally don’t use them on my furniture, instead using “real” wrenches, socket drivers, etc. However, that compact L-bent shape is really handy for a few tight spots on my bicycle (I like the M5 size for screwing in the bolts on my water-bottle cage)!

  15. Magnus C says:

    Why not just use the bits that came with your drill?

  16. SuperJdynamite says:

    I don’t mean to be the rain cloud over the idea parade, but they make driver bit sets that fit in your drill. They can be had pretty inexpensively.

    This set, which I have and love, can be had for less than Fry’s price of $17, but even at $17 it’s a good deal. It includes 100 different bits.

    Smaller sets start at a few dollars. Single bits can be purchased for under a buck. I’d recommend splurging on the big set.

  17. Matthew says:

    I’ve always used hex bits with my drill. I never had something strong enough to cut through those torx sets or the free hex/torx driver that this guy did with his bolt cutter.
    Found it cheaper to spend the 10 bucks on a hex bit set. You could probably make do with just one or two sizes for most/all Ikea furniture.

  18. Kate says:

    IKEA in Germany (among their IKEA FAMILY products) had a small automatic screwdriver a while ago that comes with just such a bit.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Um, you know that you can get a hex bit at the store, right? ;)

  20. Rick Blight says:

    or you could just have the correct drill bit to begin with…

  21. Alexa says:

    The L-shaped wrenches would work even better, as you could use the long end and be left with a longer piece to fasten into the drill. Also, you could wrap a piece of tape around it with the name of the piece (or pieces) of furniture it goes with. Or tape it to the underside or back of the furniture.

  22. Christopher says:

    This is a great hack. But if you’re lacking a pair of bolt cutters or other tool to modify the IKEA wrench you should be able to get hex bits that fit your drill at any hardware store.

  23. Ruthie says:

    Nate, thanks for your inspiration! I have to dismantle a Robin loft bed and I can’t find the hex key. (Note to self: tape the key to furniture next time.) I probably would look for a hex bit for my electric drill.

  24. Boomstick says:

    If you’re going thru the trouble of “hacking” an Ikea hex key wrench, you might want to think about picking up one of the many kits available at the hardware store. Some can be had for as low as a dollar and have a variety of sizes. You may even be able to use these bits on other fasteners. =P

  25. mikko says:

    It’s easier to buy a 5 euro/dollar set of bits, the cheap ones are good enough for random home use and you can get a 30 bit box with little money.

  26. The Snoman says:

    I used to do this… and then I realized that I could get the same thing in more sizes at my local home improvement / hardware store. Now I have a full set that will work on almost anything, as well as a set that attaches to a ratchet…

  27. Anonymous says:

    I’m confused…all hardware stores have hex shaped drill bit kits and IKEA even sells a tool kit with them for a standard screw driver. Ninety percent of IKEA’s stuff uses one or two of the same three or four standard sizes. It seems you created more work for yourself than necessary.

  28. Solanum says:

    My cheap brandless Eastern-European electric drill came with bits that fit the hex one perfectly and one that can screw in those awful long Gorm screws. It saved me a lot of time, aches and curses !!!

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