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How Do I Choose the Best Socket Set?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

A socket set should be a staple of any garage, workshop, or toolbox, since the set is versatile, easy to use, and handy in many repair or construction situations. Choosing the best socket set starts with determining what you will use the set for most regularly. Sets come in a variety of configurations and sizes, so if you will be routinely working on automobiles, you will need a larger set than if you are only using the sockets infrequently for small projects such as assembling certain types of furniture. The cost of the sets can vary significantly, so think about your budget as well.

Two general types of socket set offerings exist: standard size sockets and metric size sockets. Some larger sets will include both types of sockets for use with the same driver, or unit to which the sockets are affixed for leverage. You will need to decide what types of sockets you are most likely to use. Automobiles can use either type of socket set; bicycles tend to use metric, and many American-made products tend to use standard. If you will be using the sockets for a wide variety of purposes, consider purchasing a socket set with both systems.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

The size of the driver will also dictate how useful the socket set will be for you. The size is measured by the square connector at the end of the driver, and some of those connectors are larger than others. Small connectors are good for smaller jobs in tighter spaces, while larger connectors are best for larger drivers and jobs that require more torque to move a bolt. Some larger sets may include more than one driver, but it is important to remember that sockets are designed to work only with one size of driver. Converters can be purchased so smaller sockets can be used on a larger driver, and vice versa. For home use, a smaller driver is usually sufficient, but if you plan on working on automobiles or other larger projects, consider a larger driver.

Be sure to find out if the set you are considering comes with any sort of warranty. Some sets feature a lifetime warranty against manufacturer defects, so if the driver stops ratcheting properly after time, there is a chance that the company will replace the tool free of charge. Ask the store you purchase from about their return policy as well in case you decide a different set might suit you better than the one you initially purchase.

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