Make A Hex Key/Allen Wrench If You Only Have A Knife And A Pencil

If you’re biking along and need to tighten something up on your bike, like your bike seat, here’s a trick to remember even if you forgot your hex wrench.

This Instructable says that as long as you have a knife and pencil, you can carve an emergency wrench.

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….Insert your new allen wrench into the bolt head. Turn slowly. If the wrench slips, it has been stripped (wood is soft), [recarve]

Riding with loose screws is dangerous, so you’ll want to get to a real wrench as soon as possible. To be totally safe, though, you should walk your bike until that time.

How to Make an Emergency Hex Key / Allen Wrench [Instructables]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Steve518 says:

    Um, if one forgets to have a hex/allen tool with them on a bike ride, how likely is it that they would have a knife and a pencil with them?

  2. wikkit says:

    …neat idea, but I can’t remember the last time I used a wooden pencil, let alone happened to have one with me on a bike trip.

    For the rest of us there are some pretty handy little bike multi-tools that have allen keys and such, you can typically find them on the cheap.

  3. firestarsolo says:

    Who is this Allen Wrench people keep talking about?

    Nice tip, but you’ll have to have a sturdy pencil. I’d probably snap one in half trying to tighten.

  4. enm4r says:

    I’ve never biked with a knife in my life. I typically don’t like to even take spares, but if I’m riding a trail or whatever, spending $10 for a steat back pouch, a spare tire, some allen wrenches, and maybe a patch kit is completely worth it.

    Cool tip, but it seems so limited in it’s application that I will probably forget about it as soon as it drops below how far I scroll for new stories.

  5. tcp100 says:

    Ah, Instructables, you lovely purveyors of the obvious but impractical.

    Agreed, I am much more likely to have a hex wrench while biking than a pencil and knife, unless I’m biking into the mountains to go whittlin’ and sketchin’.

  6. Godz says:

    Wouldn’t this work with a stick you find on the side of the road too? So all you need is a knife!

  7. …Because, heck, why carry an Allen wrench when you can carry a pencil and a knife instead?

  8. DeeJayQueue says:

    It’s cool to have alternatives. Things aren’t always so “One Or The Other”. Maybe you left your allen key at home but happen to have a pencil and knife in the center console of your car (I carry both) or perhaps the allen key broke or stripped or is the wrong size. It’s nice to know that you can use something else in a pinch if you need to, and not everyone would have thought to do something like this.

  9. SactoKev says:

    “To be totally safe, though, you should walk your bike until that time.”

    Call me crazy, but it sounds like Consumerist is spewing some corporate lingo in an effort to prevent future litigation…

  10. Lardfork says:

    Really? No one here carries a pocket knife? No one at all? With the exception of winter and laundry days, I bike to work every day, and I’m much, much, more likely to have a pocket knife than I am to have an allen wrench. An allen wrench is useful sometimes, a knife is useful several times a day.

    Go pick up a cheap victorinox swiss army knife, the more you carry it, the more indispensible you’ll find it.

  11. This tip is pointless. Typical Allen bolts on a bicycle are smaller than the diameter of a pencil, even if you manage to carve the pencil to fit, there is not going to be enough torque to keep the bolts in. You probably would have better luck just use your fingers, and save time too.

    Most avid bicyclists would bring a small tool kit when riding. What kind of idiot would bring a wood pencil and a knife, but not a small tool kit?

    If there are people are foolish enough go out riding unprepared, then they deserve to be stranded. That will definitely teach them a lesson.

    Are we as human beings are dumbing down so these people can survive another day in the modern world?

    What is going to be next? Alternative ways of unzipping/unbutton pants so one could urinate?


  12. 3ZKL says:

    this post should be filed under ’emergency ikea furniture repair’.

  13. tcp100 says:

    I have to say that most of the instructables tips have been really, really disappointing and simple. If you find this clever, than you CLEARLY learned absolutely NOTHING from MacGyver. Shame on you, the Phoenix Foundation is crying.

  14. roche says:

    This tip makes baby Jesus cry.

  15. bbbici says:

    really dumb. you cannot generate any torque with a wooden pencil.

  16. Sudonum says:

    Damn, I was late for the MacGyver comment

  17. @tcp100,

    word up! shout out to the phoenix foundation.


  18. canida says:

    Bike commuting to school = pencil + pocket knife, without specialized tools.

  19. mrmysterious says:

    MacGyver says to use your teeth and a stick.

    In all seriousness though the bike multitool is a good idea.

  20. ohnothimagain says:

    @Steve518: But that redneck in the pick-up who ran you off the road will have a knife, and someone else might have a pencil.

  21. jamesBrauer66 says:

    I made a hex wrench out of a bigger hex wrench and a grinder one time . . . shoulda used a pencil. And aren’t those things called ‘hex cap screws’?

  22. Canadian Impostor says:

    @Tian: Is there a reason you take the time to type out your website link every time you make a comment?

  23. GitEmSteveDave says:

    @Tian: Actually, I realized the other day when my handlebars came loose, that my ex has the allen wrench set from my bike tool kit. I ended up going slow. I could have used a stick w/the knife I had to fix it. Now I know.