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This guide aims to explain what socket wrenches and sockets are, what types are available, and how they work. After reading this, you should have a clear and concise understanding of the types and uses of socket wrenches, as well as some answers to many common questions about buying socket sets.

Socket Wrench Tips: Everything You Need To Know

May. 12 , 2022

What are Socket Wrenches?

Socket wrenches are widely used hand tools for easily tightening and loosening common fastening parts such as nuts and bolts. They work much the same as ordinary wrenches and spanners, but the ratcheting mechanism makes it easier to apply torque, reducing strain and fatigue.

While they can be purchased separately to accommodate a wide range of nut and bolt sizes, most DIYers and professionals will choose to purchase a socket wrench kit. These sockets will include many head fittings and adapters suitable for handling a wide range of inch or metric drive sizes and shapes.

Socket wrenches are incredibly multipurpose and handy tools. As a result, you will find them popular with almost all mechanics, carpenters, electricians and many other kinds of tradesmen.

What are Sockets & Socket Sets?Socket Wrench Set

Socket wrenches, whether sold individually or as a socket wrench set, are designed to perform the same tasks as a traditional wrench set. In other words, they are designed to facilitate the tightening and removal of nuts and bolts of various sizes.

Socket wrenches differ from standard wrenches in that they have a built-in ratcheting mechanism. The ratchet design means that when pushed in one direction, the wrench head locks to provide torque, but when pulled in the opposite direction, it can be rotated freely.

This simple ratchet tool mechanism allows greater torque to be continuously applied to the nut or bolt without having to lift and reposition the wrench with each turn. This makes it quicker and easier to completely tighten or loosen a particular fastener, greatly reducing the strain on the user's hands and wrists. It also makes it easier to work in tight spaces, such as under cabinets or behind radiators and other fixtures.

The socket wrench is a simple handle tool with a built-in ratchet mechanism and a head design that usually allows the addition of sockets of various sizes and shapes on one end. The sockets themselves are screwdrivers of different sizes, ready to be mounted on the handle and slid in to drive the various types of bolts and nuts you wish to handle.

Socket wrench sets typically come in a variety of different drive shapes and sizes and are designed to be interchangeable with wrench tools. The best socket sets will include a full range of standard drive shapes and sizes (both inch and metric) with multiple pieces available for any standard nut and bolt type.

Different Types of Socket Wrenches

There are many different types, often differing in terms of their functional settings. However, most have the same basic components - namely a solid-handled torque wrench with a built-in ratcheting socket mechanism.

Most also include a mechanical switch that allows you to reverse the direction of the ratchet mechanism so that torque can be applied clockwise or counterclockwise.

Various adapters are also widely sold - either individually or in multi-piece sets - to provide additional functionality to the basic processed tool.

How Does a Socket Wrench Work?

It works by allowing the user to apply torque in one direction while rotating freely in the opposite direction. This is called a ratchet system and it operates using mechanical gears that lock when turning in one direction, but release when moving in the other direction.

Ratcheting tools are not limited to hexagonal wrenches. You can also get ratchet screwdrivers, T-handle ratchet spanners, and many other types of hand tools. All of these utilize the same basic gear mechanism in some form.

In fact, using a socket wrench eliminates the need to repeatedly change and rotate the tool around the nut or bolt. The work can be done in less time and with less strain on the wrist. It also makes it easier to work on fasteners in tight or hard-to-reach places.

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