Socket Wrench Basics For the Mechanic

Welcome back to our series on tools for the new do it yourself hobby enthusiast. If this is the first article that you've read, do not worry – we will not get too complex. Socket wrenches can really make the difference between enjoying a project and wishing you never saw it. Socket wrenches are more commonly just known as "Sockets," but their proper name is derived from the fact that they apply force on the same vertical axis as the more common open end or box ended wrench.

A socket wrench is very similar in nature to its more common box-ended wrench sibling except that it appears more like a cup that fits over the nut or bolt instead of the box ended wrench which slips around the perimeter of the nut or bolt. As with wrench sets, the socket wrench is also available in both metric and SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) sizes. It also shares the plating process in common with the more common wrenches.

When buying a set of socket wrenches for your new tool collection, you will want to hold socket wrenches to the same standard that you would hold regular wrenches. You will want to examine the finish of the plating to be sure that it is uniform in appearance. You will also want to be sure that the socket wrench is free of any sharp or unfinished edges as this may indicate a flaw in the metal used or the machining process when it was manufactured. I typically recommend that first time do it yourself mechanics get a set of both deep well sockets and regular length sockets as you will very often need both.