The Different Types of Sockets

Socket Set Advice

The Different Types of Sockets

If you are new to home and vehicle maintenance, you are probably asking yourself, “What socket set should I buy?” Sockets are important items in a standard toolbox. Socket sets have two important parts, the ratchet and the socket.

The ratchet is part of a gear that loosens when turned in one direction and locks when turned in the other direction. Aside from this, the ratchet will have a square nub that can be popped on and off. The rest of the part is called socket.

A socket set typically includes different types of sockets and will come with a socket wrench compatible with those sockets in your set. It is possible that you could use one socket wrench from the beginning to the end of your project. So, the question that you should ask is, “what are the different types of sockets and how can I use them?”

Hex Sockets

Most of the hardware that you will work on comes in a hexagonal shape. That is why one of the most common types of sockets is a Hex socket. It fits perfectly around a hexagonal nut or bolt head.

Hex sockets are classified according to the number of points inside the bolt end. The 6-point socket is more widely used than the 12-point socket because their walls are thicker.

And since they hex sockets have six sides, they perfectly fit each other without slippage. On the other hand, the double hex or 12-point socket can easily fit over any bolt head in the position you want. They are ideal for working in tight spaces.

Impact Sockets

One of the differences that you will notice right away between impact sockets and regular sockets is the color. Instead of polished metal, impact sockets have an industrial surface with a black finish. They are designed to withstand additional pressure or impact and can be used with power impact wrenches. Impact wrenches are powerful tools with an inner rotating hammer, which applies more strength and vibration when removing fasteners. They also have thicker walls and are non-corrosive.

Spark Plug Sockets

As the name already suggests, this type of socket is for tightening or loosening a spark plug of an engine. Spark plug sockets are longer than a standard socket and usually come with a rubber insert. This insert prevents the spark plug from getting damaged as you apply pressure or work with the socket wrench.

Socket Bits

Socket bits are also hex sockets, but with a difference. They have bits or screwdriver bits and a square ratchet end. People often use socket bits with impact drivers as well as manual tools. The bits can be purchased even without a socket.

Pass Through Sockets

A pass-through socket tightens and loosens a bolt with a long shaft. The reason for its name is because it has a pass-throughhole that makes a hollow tube. This type of socket uses a pass through ratchet that can clamp around the socket instead of a ratchet that attaches to a square nub on the head.

Universal Joint Sockets

Universal Joint sockets are designed for flexibility so you can work in confined places with flexible angles. You can use a universal joint socket with an extension to turn corners, to get a socket onto a bolt head that is hard to access, or positioned at an odd angle. The 360-degreeball-swivel helps reach tight spots that no standard socket can reach.

Most socket sets do not include special socket types like the universal joint or pass through sockets because they are rarely used. Your best option is to buy them separately and individually since you may not need a full set. The  socket set you ultimately buy should be based on your project needs.

If your business is a garage workshop, then it is advisable to have different socket sets ready. This way, you can rest assured that you have the right tools to complete the job. But if you are an occasional machinist, you may choose any standard set available on the market.

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