three eighths square drive Action socket wrench   Half inch square drive on socket wrench

Today on Repairs101 I’m going to take you through some of the basics of sockets… and socket wrenches.

Hexagonal drive hardware

If you work as a mechanic you’ll find that most of the hardware you deal with comes in the form of hexagonal or hex cap screws and / or nuts. And of course there are exceptions like stove bolts and Allen screws and butterfly nuts – but by and large most of the hardware that you encounter as a mechanic will be in fact in this hexagonal shape. Sockets come in six point and twelve point which are of course hexagonal and double hexagonal. Black, which is a heat treated impact socket with very thick walls as compared to the silver version which will just have, you know, a finished metal surface such as chrome or otherwise polished metal. It’ll be a thinner and lighter socket for use with hand tools as opposed to the impact sockets are used with impact guns / impact wrenches.

Socket wrenches come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes and are designed for various special purposes.

Variety of half inch Snap-On socket wrenches

Quarter inch drive wrenches are so called because their square drives measure one quarter inch across. They’re used extensively by people in small engine repairs and component repairs and you’ll find a decent variety of basics like extensions and universals, socket drivers. You can also use them as drivers for specialty bits like these “tamper-proof” bits with the quarter inch hex drive on them. But honestly, as a heavy duty mechanic, I (mostly) only use this guy right here with a five sixteenths deep socket on it for tightening hose-clamps.




I get a lot more use out of my three-eighths drive kit and I imagine most people do and that’s why there’s such a wide variety of adapters and specialty tools available.

snap-on torque adapters   Triple square socket drive   Short rail of Craftsman swivel sockets

 And you’ll find a decent variety of basics like extensions and universals. Three eighths can take a fair strain before failure but if you need to turn up the power you really want to move up to your half-inch kit.




I get an awful lot of use out of this feller.

There does seem to be more specialty tools and adapters available for half-inch drive, even than three-eighths drive, and really, what kind of specialty drives and specialty tools that you’re going to carry will all depend on the kind of equipment you work on.

Now it goes without saying that your three quarter inch kit is going to be very expensive so you’re only going to buy that if you absolutely have to like if you’re working in the heavy duty field. So you’re only going to be able to find very basic items for your three quarter inch kit like extensions and breaker bars and deep sockets.

copyright ©  2013  * *  All Rights Reserved.