Such is the pace of innovation in the fixings and fasteners arena that it is sometimes not enough to introduce one innovation at a time – they have to come in twos or threes. Enter the L-Keys from Wiha. Designated the MagicRing and MagicSpring range they offer several features that will surely find favour with many end users – particularly those whose everyday jobs have very specific requirements.
Retaining the fasteners to the driver is a feature that many users like. It is really handy to be able to start the process of screwing in a fastener by introducing it into the aperture mounted on the tool, and being able to get the thread started. In cramped spaces this is often a necessity. The usual method of retaining a screw fastening to the tool is to use a magnet – and this is usually very effective. However, what if the magnet is near to sensitive electronic components or what if the fastener is made of quality stainless steel and is therefore not magnetic? Clearly time for a bit of head scratching and a referral to the R and D team.
Wiha’s team has come up with several solutions that fit the bill – and they have already found favour in the market. The first of these that I looked at was the ErgoStar MagicRing Hex key set. Retailers and end users will like the clear plastic bubble packaging that shows all that you need to know before purchase. A clear graphic shows all nine sizes of metric hex key in the pack and shows that only the biggest six sizes have the MagicRing feature – the smallest keys are simply too small to machine the retaining ring and spring onto them.
Made from 57-60 HRC Chrome Vanadium steel and meeting all the ISO and DIN standards for these types of tools, they are up to the demands of professional users who need quality every time they use the tools. The MagicRing feature is very easy to see on the largest key on the set (10mm). On the long end of the L, a small groove is machined into which a round spring washer is inserted. When the hex end is pushed into the corresponding head of a screw, the spring washer slides into it, but still exerts some pressure onto the inside of the hex head, thus retaining it strongly enough for it to be held securely. This is enough to hold a screw in place while it is located and then screwed in. Also only on the long end, Wiha’s designers have include a “ball end” – essentially the way that the hex shape has been relieved by cutting a big v-shaped slot into the end so that the key can be used at angles up to about twenty-five degrees off the right angle when loosening and tightening a fixing.
Clearly this makes it a lot easier to work in confined spaces and also to locate the screw in the first place. What I liked about the MagicSpring feature was that it did its job without affecting anything else that a hex key is supposed to do. It held the fastener securely, but not so securely that it interfered with tightening or moving it. With the removal of metal required to create a ball-end, the hex keys, particularly the smaller sizes, are not as strong and could therefore be short in the applied torque department.
However, Wiha has made the solution obvious by keeping the short end of the L-key a full hex shape, capable of exerting the torque you need. With the short end of the L-key, it is usually possible to fit into most spaces. The above is all very well for hex keys, but Torx fixings are becoming much more popular these days, especially for more demanding applications. Wiha also makes a ball end Torx L-Key and its engineers have solved the problem of retaining a Torx bolt onto an L-Key. The clue of course lies in the name – the ErgoStar MagicSpring. The MagicSpring Torx L-Keys are packed in a similar transparent plastic bubble pack so that buyers can see what is in the set.
There are 13 pieces in the pack and they are made with the same steel as the hex keys above, but with a black finish. The range is in several popular Torx sizes from T45 down to T5. I chose the T45 to examine because it is easiest to see how the spring retainer works – looking at it through a magnifier I could see a couple of springloaded hooks that grip into the side of the Torx aperture of the fixing. It is an impressive bit of micro-engineering since it needs precise placing on the end of the L-Key to ensure that it works correctly. And it does work. It was easy to set a fixing into and then place it into the right spot to start threading it into place. There is usually a little bit of angle flexibility on Torx fixings so there is some scope to use the L-key at a slight angle and still get good results. But as I have said, multiple innovations seems to be the norm these days, and the presentation of the sets will win friends.
The standard method of presenting a set of L-Keys is to slot them into a plastic block arranged in order. It is time consuming and fiddly to access the keys like this so Wiha has come up with a neat solution. Each laser marked key has its own slot in a plastic block, but simply pull one of the keys out to 90 degrees from the storage position and all the keys are revealed and ready to pull out without interfering with each other. The geared mechanism enclosed in the block works smoothly and the casing also has each size of each key marked in its position. Included is a wall hanger for the entire set so that it can be attached to a rack or van interior. Overall, there is no doubt that these Wiha LKeys are professionally rated pieces of kit with a few handy innovations that will make jobs easier and more efficient.