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What is a Drill Socket?

Dorothy Distefano
Dorothy Distefano

A drill socket, or drill socket adaptor, is a tool that is used with a power drill. It is specifically designed to adapt sockets for use in drills. A socket is a type of wrench that is designed to fit over a nut or bolt, and is used for tightening and loosening. Drill sockets are used in a variety of applications, ranging from small home improvement projects to large commercial building construction.

Using a drill socket requires an appropriate drilling tool, a high-quality socket, and some operator technique. A power drill has a chuck, which holds and locks a drill bit or other adapter securely, so that it can perform its intended function. A drill socket has one end that is hexagonal in shape, with surfaces that engage with the drill chuck to allow it to be locked into place. This prevents the adapter from spinning when it is used for tightening or loosening a bolt or nut.

A drill socket is an adapter that's used with a power drill.
A drill socket is an adapter that's used with a power drill.

The other end of a drill socket has a square profile with a spring-loaded ball detent mechanism to hold a removable socket in place. The square end, known as the drive, allows separate, removable sockets to be used to fit many different sizes of fasteners. The drive size refers to the dimensions of the square end, to which the socket is mounted. While most drill sockets are designed to use removable sockets for improved versatility, they can also be purchased in fixed sizes, either individually or as a set.

Drill sockets are available in four common drive sizes, ranging from one-quarter to three-quarters of an inch (0.6 to 1.9 cm). Larger drives allow more force to be transferred to the fastener, and are normally used with commercial-grade fasteners in industrial applications. The most common drive sizes for everyday use range between one-quarter and one-half inch (0.6 to 1.3 cm). The removable sockets come in a variety of standard and metric sizes, varied lengths, and include special features designed to improve the holding force of the socket with the fastener.

Most drill sockets are made using standard carbon steel that has been hardened and plated for improved wear resistance. Drill sockets are also made using higher quality materials, such as metal alloys, to increase their force capability and extend useable life. Drill sockets will vary in cost, based on the material and features. The type and size of drill socket selected for a particular job depends on the fastener used, and the force required for tightening and loosening it.

Discussion Comments


@cardsfan27 - The carbon steel should be fine if it gets wet. It won't rust instantly at least. I have had my set for at least 10 years. The sockets have gotten wet a few times, but they still look fine. The key is not to let the coating get scratched off. That will start the process of rusting.

The price all depends on the brand and quality you want. My estimate is that now, the lower end would be around $15 dollars at someplace like Wal-Mart, but I'm sure you could find sets in the $35 range at a home improvement store. The size of the set in terms of drive size and number of total pieces would affect the price too.


I am looking at buying a socket set for my drill. So far, I have been going with the old method, but I think I would use a drill socket set enough to justify buying it.

How much would a good set cost? The article says carbon steel is common. Is this rust resistant? I have a habit of accidentally leaving my tools outside, and would like them to be as resistant as possible.


@Emilski - I agree, drill sockets have saved me hours of time over putting bolts in and taking them out by with a ratchet. The one big downside to drill sockets is that they have a limited area where you can use them.

I like to do the simple repairs to my car, and most of the time they involve having to loosen some type of bolt. In some of the cases, it may have been the first time the bolt was loosened since the car was built. Since the spaces are never big enough to fit a drill, you have to use a ratchet and socket, which can be difficult at times.


I love being able to use drill sockets for projects around the house. I am not that strong, so being able to hook a socket to the drill instead of a ratchet set makes life a lot easier.

My kids recently got a new play set for the backyard, and I was able to put it together in a fraction of the time it would have taken to use a regular socket set.

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    • A drill socket is an adapter that's used with a power drill.
      By: CandyBox Images
      A drill socket is an adapter that's used with a power drill.