Anyone who does a lot of DIY projects needs to have a socket set. Finding the right socket set can be difficult, especially when the only differences usually noticed at the first glance are the number of items in the case. Upon closer inspection, you begin to notice that ratchets are different in some cases, the types of sockets available varies, along with other features in the case. Here are some basic tips to help you find the best socket set for your money.
When it comes to the ratchet, there are a few considerations that should be the key to your decision.
Tooth count is important. This is not something you can see because the gear mechanism is located in the head of the ratchet, but the tooth count on the gears inside the head of your ratchet is important. The higher number the tooth count, the shorter distance you need to swing back for the socket to bite down on the nut or bolt. Also the finer the tooth is inside the ratchet, the less resistance there is internally making it less likely that you will loosen or unscrew a nut or bolt when you backswing with the ratchet. Tooth counts commonly range between 36-72 teeth, with 72 being the best in that range.
The release, reverse mechanism and finish of the ratchet are also important. You should look for a ratchet that has a quick release by pushing on the back of the ratchet head. This quick release also will lock the socket in place until you choose to release it. Many ratchets have easy to use reverse mechanisms that are lever activated or dial activated mechanisms. Of the two, the lever mechanism is easier to use if you are required to work in tight spaces. The finish is important for grip and how easy it will be to clean the ratchet. Textured finishes give better grip, but if you want to easily wipe the ratchet clean, you should look for a polished finish.
Besides making a precise fit, the most important thing to look for with sockets is good markings that are easy to read. Most sockets are made similar, especially sockets bought at home centers that are name brand. Many manufacturers are laser marking and embossing sockets to make them easier to read.
When it comes to the case your ratchets, sockets, and accessories are kept in, look for sturdy construction. Make sure the latches are constructed well, so they close easy, lock easy, and open easy.
The latches and hinges should hold up to falls.
Overall, you should not look too much into the total piece count because many of those items are likely accessories that you already have with other tool sets, such as hex wrenches and screwdriver bits. Look more for the number of sockets that the set contains, both fractional and metric. The accessories that you should look for are extension bars, a wobble for both 1/4” and 3/8” and possibly a flex head rachet.