Why do manufacturers use Allen wrench screws for self assembled furniture instead of Phillips or flathead?


Why do manufacturers use Allen wrench screws for self assembled furniture instead of Phillips or flathead?

In: 1849

They’re just easier. On the assumption that you’re provided the correct Allen wrench, hex screws are less likely to strip, you get free leverage from the shape of the tool. The tools themselves are super cheap to make, so compared to the hassle of dealing with customers so are mess up their cross head screws, it’s probably cheaper too.

Allen is a superior head for screws that literally anyone can utilize.
Less potential for stripping or user injury.

Flat heads slide out & Phillips is just a sub-par head with a high stripping possibility, compared to something like a square drive /hex

1. The piece is cheap and safe to use – it costs them virtually nothing to provide you with one.

2. The keys have an inherent ability to tighten fasteners located in difficult to reach places, eliminating the need for specialty screw heads while freeing up design choices.

3. Flathead tend to be awkward to use, being easy to slip out, Philips head is easy, but once used the socket in the fastener often really stands out and has scratches to the finish. Allen key sockets are easier to conceal.

Probably because they’re less likely to strip. There is (generally) one size Allen key that fits the bolt. While there are different sized Phillips screwdrivers, people will probably grab the first one they see. As far as flathead, they are just more difficult to keep in place. On top of all this, think about how many points of contact there are on each. An Allen key (Hex) has 6 walls of contact, a Phillips has 4, and a flathead has 2. As simple as possible, the more points of contact, the more torque you can get before something gives (breaks/bends/unforms).


The previous top answers are correct but not complete. A very compelling reason for the manufacturers is that since an Allen key is far less likely to slip out of the socket, the customer is far less likely to accidentally mar the furniture with a scratch while assembling, triggering an costly return.

Allen wrenches and hex heads are vasty superior to flatheads and still better than Philips.

Flat heads aren’t self centering, the tool is prone to slipping out, and good like putting a lot of torque on it without the tool slipping out

Phillips are self centering so they’re a lot easier to work with but if you put too much torque on it the bit will slip out of the screw head and damage it. This is a feature sometimes as it prevents you from putting too much force and damaging the piece, you’ll just strip the screw

Allen wrenches and hex heads can tolerate a ton of torque and the bit isn’t prone to slipping out. For hand assembled furniture this can be really handy because sometimes you need to thread those screws into wood. You can also limit how much torque people are likely to apply by providing a short stubby allen wrench. If its only 3 inches long its going to be hard to get crazy force on it, but if you give them a drill bit or a socket head it’s going to be easy to put too much force and crush/otherwise damage the pieces you’re connecting

As someone that worked for a company that used a number of different fastener head types I would say the biggest reasons for our products were for cosmetics and the torque requirement. Both Phillips and Allen drives were available in a pan-head design, which we thought looked good. For smaller screws, we tended to use Phillips head screws. For larger screws that were visible we tended to use Allen head screws as they can be tightened much more than a Phillips head. For less visible locations, we generally used hex head screws.

So, if Allen screws seem to be overall better/superior, why use Philips and flathead at all?

Allen wrenches have a very low chance of slipping out and damaging the furniture, even when you apply a lot of torque (in case it’s needed).

Philips screw are great for using an electric screwdriver.(side comment: most of the screws that people call Philips are actually Pozi, which is superior in all aspects. I only see Philips on super cheap stuff. Get a Pozi screwdriver, not a Philips one!)

Flat heads are just super cheap, but they are terrible for electric screwdrivers and if you slip you damage the furniture piece.

Have you ever stripped an allen head bolt? It’s such a great secure way that does not require grip strength, great for consumers. Also, allen wrenches have built in mechanical advantage, and if the product needs more force, you include a longer wrench.

A better question is why don’t multihead screwdrivers include the most common Allen wrench bits? How many times I need a long Allen wrench to reach an awkward spot… so annoying.

Here in UK, they provide the actual Allen wrench as well. Presumably, if they used screws, they’d be expected to provide screwdrivers instead. This would be disadvantageous because: some member of the British public would find a way to stab themselves with it; you get a lot less torque with a screwdriver; screwdrivers have a tendency to jump out and/or scrape surfaces; screwdrivers need a handle of some sort, so are more expensive

Easier to use. Even an old lady with pissweak wrists and zero experience can figure out Allen keys and use them.

Allen screws are much more popular than Phillips or Flat head screws.

Because of this, there are a lot more of them made.

Because of this, they are less expensive to put into a kit. It is actually cheaper to put socket head screws in a kit and provide the wrench than it would be to put Phillips heads in and provide a screwdriver.

If you want the real eli5 give a 5 year old one of each and see which causes less meltdowns and issues.

Ultimately it comes down to end user, it’s easy to say people are stupid but there’s a whole subset of people who have mobility issues in which a Allen wrench is considerably easier to use. It’s easy to forget that things that are designed need to be used by everyone no matter their capabilities.