Socket wrenches use a series of interchangeable fittings to allow users to complete most tasks using only a single wrench. Each fitting, or socket, is precisely sized to fit a single type of bolt. In order to make these wrenches as practical as possible, even the most basic socket wrench set may include a dozen or more sockets. A socket rail serves as an effective tool for organizing these fittings when they are not in use, allowing the user to maximize efficiency and keep the workspace neat and orderly.
The standard socket wrench set comes with a basic socket rail designed to fit that particular set. If the set contains 15 sockets, the rail will feature 15 openings to hold these units. Most of these rails are made from aluminum or steel, with plastic or metal pegs that hold the sockets in place. Others include slots or openings that clamp each fitting in place so the socket rail can hold the fittings securely even if it's hung on the wall. A socket rail that comes with a wrench set may also have each fitting size marked near the applicable peg to help the user put the sockets back into the right spot.
Manufacturers also produce magnetic socket rail designs. Made from steel, these rails are designed to be hung on the wall or a toolbox. They are magnetized so that metal sockets will remain in place without the use of pegs or clips. A magnetic socket rail provides added flexibility in terms of the quantity and size of sockets it can hold.
Commercial establishments may use a very large socket rail to hold the large range of fittings needed in these establishments. Auto body shops and garages, for example, may require dozens of sockets to fit everything from the smallest to the largest bolts. These socket rails often feature a step-style design with several rails attached together to form two or more rows. They may feature a peg-based or magnetic design based on buyer preference.
One of the appeals of the socket rail is that it keeps all wrench fittings in a single location so they are easy to find. These rails are also typically designed to hold sockets in order by size, allowing users to quickly locate a fitting for any size bolt. These rails make it easy for owners to spot a missing socket so that they can locate it before it becomes irretrievably lost. Finally, the socket rail keeps the garage or workspace neat and orderly by helping to eliminate clutter.