How to buy a socket
A socket buying guide
Sockets are useful tools in a number of different situations. Assessing your current and future fixing needs is an important initial step when figuring out which socket to buy. Consider the available storage space in your home or car, whether you want to buy sockets for professional or do-it-yourself (DIY) use, and especially, whether your work is immediate or long term. As you think about how to buy a socket, or a set of sockets, there are a few things you will want to keep in mind.
>> Consider different types of sockets
You have a wide variety of choices when considering which socket to buy. If you prefer smaller sets, consider individual sockets or 10-piece socket sets. However, the following is a list of popular, larger sets that you might want to consider.
- 14-piece set: The 3/8" set is made up of two adapters, one cushion-covered ratchet and a variety of 3/8" sockets. If you are new to buying sockets and are not sure which socket to buy, this set is the most ideal to start with. Consider upgrading to another set only once you have developed some expertise with the tools. The compact socket sizes will also ensure they will be easily portable.
- 16-piece set: The 16-piece set is a fully functional 1/4" socket set, accompanied with an extension, cushion-covered ratchet, a few adapters and a wide array of sockets. This set works well with a 14-piece 3/8" set.
- 27-piece set: The 27-piece set often comes with a 3/8" ratchet, 8 screwdriver replaceables, several 1/4" and 3/8" socket sizes and a number of suitable adapters and accessories. Since it is a portable tool kit, it will be easier for you to use it for casual work. Additionally, the adapters conveniently allow effortless assimilation with standard socket designs such as the ratchet.
- 38-piece set: This 1/4" and 3/8" set usually comes with 7 non-ratcheting wrenches, a wide assortment of 22-piece sockets, 1/4" and 3/8" cushion-covered ratchets, multiple adapters and extensions.
- 49-piece set: This set features 1/4", 3/8", and 1/2" ratchets with cushion-covered handles, a fully functional range of socket sizes, a few screwdriver replaceables, adapters and extensions.
- Hex sockets: When figuring out which socket to buy, consider a hex socket as it is designed to carry out work done by an Allen wrench. Sockets sets are generally manufactured with either 6-point (hexagonal) or 12-point (double hexagonal) configurations. For a superb grip on fittings, including beat-up nuts and bolts, consider 6-point sockets because of the sturdiness of the ratchet structure. If you are looking for a more versatile tool, consider a 12-point socket as it is well known for performing different functions such as fixing gearboxes, clutches, engines and wheels in automobiles. 12-point sockets can also help with quickly tightening and loosening nuts and bolts.
- Torque wrenches: When it comes to socket wrenches, torque wrenches are an indispensable part of your tool box, especially when combined with impact sockets or deep impact sockets. They are designed to match various (auto part) specifications by ensuring that fasteners fit firmly and securely.
>> Consider evaluating the socket size
When considering which socket to buy, keep in mind that the appliance manual of your vehicle or motorbike will indicate the units which the socket set should be in. This will make it easier to determine whether or not a metric socket set will be the best socket to buy. If you are planning to use your sockets frequently, consider purchasing both types of sockets.
To measure the socket size, evaluate it according to drive size, metric and standard. The drive size comes in the form of 1/4", 1/2", 3/4" and 1". The metric socket sets, such as 14mm sockets or 18mm deep sockets, are widely varied from 5mm to 32mm and a standard set is sized between 1/4" and 1".
>> Consider socket designs
As a modern day consumer you have the advantage of different socket designs that will determine which types of work you can do. So when considering which socket to buy, look for features that are both functional and those bound to make your work much easier.
For regular socket use, look for those with covered grips as they are durable and will make tool handling more comfortable. Additionally, consider a reverse ratchet mechanism as you will be able to use them in a wide variety of settings.
>> Consider the materials
When deciding which socket to buy, bear in mind that different materials have varying levels of durability. For regular DIY usage, consider sockets made of carbon steel. However, chrome vanadium steel designs are the best sockets to buy for industrial or regular usage as they are sturdy and last longer than carbon steel. For an impact set, consider chrome molybdenum. It is colored black for your ease of identification. To ensure your sockets last longer, consider those with a rust-proof finish.
>> Consider go-through sockets
If you would like a compact design that allows you to access long bolts without the need for deep sockets or other specialty sockets, consider the go-through design.
>> Consider a universal spline
Usually, hex sockets fit one type of fastener. With universal sockets, you will be able to work on hex, square, spline and external Torx fasteners. Many people find these to be very handy, and this type of socket might be something for you to consider.