Socket sets include a variety of sizes to fit the nuts and bolts for your repair job. However, not all sets are created equal. Here are some things to keep in mind while selecting your socket set for your tool box.
A Good Alloy
Alloys are mixture of a metal and another element that are put together for a specific purpose. For example, steel is an alloy of iron and carbon; which of course has many applications from kitchen utensils to hand tools. However even alloys of steel exist to take on different tasks. Chrome vanadium steel is often used in sockets. This alloy is known for its high strength and durability.
Impact vs Standard
Does your repair job require an impact wrench? If it does, be sure to purchase sockets that are designed for impact applications. Impact sockets are designed to withstand the high torque created by impact tools. It would seem common sense, but many people use standard sockets with impact tools. These sockets often fail causing pieces to break away that may jeopardize your safety.
Metric and SAE Units
Having the right size socket is very important. Some socket sets come only in SAE (inch) measurements and others are in metric (millimeters). Some sets have both. Think about where the product was built, as foreign products tend to use metric nuts and bolts, while U.S. products may have inch-based sizes. An alternative is to purchase a metric and SAE set to cover both.
The drive size of the socket set you choose should be determined by the type of work you will be doing and equipment you will be working on. A drive ratchet and socket set will be the most versatile and suitable in most applications. If you intend on doing a lot of work on small (¼” drive) or large items (½” or ¾” drive), then you should purchase a socket set with a drive size more suitable to that size of work. If you are purchasing a large socket set, it is likely to come with more than one size of ratchet and sockets. This will allow you to work on a wide range of tasks.
Deep vs. Shallow Well
One of the big benefits of a socket wrench set is that the actual head for the bolt fits sideways onto the ratchet tool. That helps users get into tight spaces. But a shallow socket head may not be able to get into some spaces. Deep well sockets are for applications that require a longer socket for bolts that are deep within. Think about how long your socket heads need to be for accessing specific bolt locations and choose socket sets accordingly.
Six or Twelve-Point
You need to understand that there are six and twelve-point sockets. Points refers to the total number of angles cut into your sockets. Your twelve-points will work well for household projects and common repairs. However, if you plan on working on motorcycles, mowers and vehicles, then you probably want the six-point sockets. The reason why six-point works better for these situations is because they have thicker walls and can apply a larger amount torque. The majority of today’s sets have six-points, but twelve-point products do have some advantages to offer. For example, a twelve-point will give you double the number of starting positions.
The only other topic to cover is the case that keeps your sockets organized. When searching for a set to buy, you will find that they come in different cases. Most are made of blow-molded plastic. It’s true that some cases are significantly stronger than others, and the level of durability that you need in a case depends on where you will be using it. Also, you get what you pay for. If you choose to spend more money on a high-quality set, it’s very likely that you will automatically get a very durable case. Keep in mind that most large comprehensive sets do not come with case due the weight of the set. For sets that size, it is ideal to purchase a rolling metal case with drawers for organization.
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