Quality hand sockets are made from alloy steel with tight tolerances that permit a high strength, thin wall design for use on fasteners that are very close to obstructions. Choosing the correct socket will maximize productivity when it comes to turning the nut or bolt.
There are several factors that must be considered when choosing the correct socket:
Inch (SAE) or Metric:
The SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) established standards based on fractional sizes. Choosing the correct size or fit will cause less damage to fasteners and apply the correct torque to your project.
Should be determined by the amount of force that needs to be applied in the application and the accessibility of the fastener. For example, smaller fasteners and limited space typically call for smaller drive sizes (1⁄4, 3⁄8”) whereas larger drive sizes (1⁄2, 3⁄4 and 1”) are for larger fasteners where more leverage is required.
Represents the amount of points or corners on a fastener. The most common are 6 and 12 Point.
- 4 and 8 Point: primarily used on square fasteners.
- 6 Point: designed for use on 6 Point hex head fasteners and stubborn or worn bolts. They allow for a thinner wall thickness, giving the socket a reduced overall diameter and making it easier to access recessed or tightly confined fasteners. Reduces fastener stripping since the area of contact with the fastener is larger.
- 12 Point: easiest to position for rapid seating on 6 Point hex head fasteners, however 12 Point sockets can lead to rounding-off of seized or low strength fasteners, making removal extremely difficult.
Overall Length: Sockets come in short, standard and deep lengths.
Short sockets when there is a problem accessing the bolt head or the space is tight. Approximately 20% shorter than Standard sockets. Available in 6 Point.
Standard depth sockets are the most common and can be used where access to the fastener is typically not an issue. Available in 4, 6, 8 and 12 Point
Deep sockets are primarily used to reach into deep spaces or when a large portion of the bolt protrudes. They reduce the need to use extensions. Available in 6 and 12 Point.
Spark Plug sockets are designed for installation and removal of spark plugs. Their unique design prevents damage to the spark plugs ceramic tip. Available in 6 Point.
Spline sockets are used on spline fasteners as well as on 4, 6 & 12 point fasteners. A spline socket and fastener system offers higher strength in a more compact profile than conventional fasteners. Spline is commonly used on military equipment and commercial aircraft. This allows the user to apply more torque without damaging the tool, machinery or fastener head. Spline sockets are available in standard and deep lengths.
Impact sockets are designed to turn fasteners under power, applying greater torque to an application. They have thicker walls and are designed to absorb the strikes and vibrations caused by power tools. Made with through holes to accept a retaining ring and pin to secure the socket to the power tool and matte black in color.
Power sockets are for use with power drivers such as nut runners, multiple spindle machines and the like. Most have magnetic properties. They are not for use with impact tools.
Universal sockets are made from two-piece construction— sockets attached to a flexible coupling with a drive end. Used where obstructions prevent a “straight in” application, they are designed to permit turning at angles up to 65°. Available in standard and deep lengths, 6 and 12 Point.
Bit sockets are sockets with fastening tips attached such as slotted or Phillips® screwdrivers, hex or torx bits. Available in 1⁄4, 3⁄8 & 1⁄2” drive.
Socket & Ratchet Accessories
Universal Joints are flexible joints that fit in between a ratchet and socket and allow the socket to access hard-to-reach places. The female and male drive sizes on a U-Joint are the same. Available in 1⁄4 to 1” drive sizes.
Extensions Bars are used for extending a socket down into awkward recesses. Typical lengths are: 3, 6 and 9′′. Locking Extensions, which provide socket retention so the socket cannot be accidentally disengaged, are also available. Locking extensions have a quick release feature.
Drive Adapters are used to convert from one drive size to another. For example, if the ratchet is a 3⁄8” drive (male) and the socket is a 1⁄4” drive (female), an adaptor from 3⁄8” female to 1⁄4” male would be needed in order to use the ratchet and the socket. Preferably for use going from a smaller to a larger drive, not from larger to smaller.
Wobble Bars are an alternative to Extension Bars with a diamond shaped head so sockets can be positioned at inconvenient angles. The diamond shape allows the socket to wobble slightly.
NEVER USE A HAND SOCKET WITH A POWER TOOL; IMPACT SOCKETS ARE DESIGNED SPECIFICALLY FOR USE WITH POWER TOOLS.