Socket Sets – All You Need to Know

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Best Socket Set

A socket set is a crucial piece of kit for anyone that is wanting to complete DIY jobs around their home, or for budding mechanics who enjoy working on their cars. It’s easy to say that you can cope without a socket set, and just attempt to force the nuts and bolts off, but this can be incredibly hard work, cause damage to the items that you are working with, and damage the tools that you are using to complete this bodge job! You are always better opting for a socket set, as then you will be in a position to work with various different nuts and bolts and know that the sockets are going to help you to get the job done.

Best Pick – Socket Set

WORKPRO 172-piece 1/2', 1/4' and 3/8' Drive Metric Socket Set, with 72 Teeth Quick Release Ratchet Wrench, Extension Bar & Universal Joints, Useful for Car Repairs and Mechanic
61 Reviews
WORKPRO 172-piece 1/2", 1/4" and 3/8" Drive Metric Socket Set, with 72 Teeth Quick Release Ratchet Wrench, Extension Bar & Universal Joints, Useful for Car Repairs and Mechanic
  • Comply with the valid DIN standards: WORKPRO Socket set consist of hardened high-quality chrome vanadium steel for strength and durability, allowing for greater contact with fasteners and greater torque to make tightening and loosening easy
  • Combination of reversible ratchet and matching inserts: 1/2" ratchet, 3/8" ratchet and 1/4" ratchet are included. Reversible quick-release ratchets with 72 Teeth and matching inserts fit well some particularly precise tasks
  • Comprehensive socket set: A broad selection of METRIC sockets, numerous extensions and adapters are prepared for all inconveniences. Perfect suitable for mechanic and car, motorcycle, bicycle and so on
  • Inscriptions in the case: Always find the right tool, very practical and makes your work easier
  • Sturdy plastic case: Socket wrench set, ratchets and screwdriver bits are clearly arranged in the lockable transport case. Case size - 45 cm x 10 cm x 33.5 cm

Our article aims to set you off with all you need to know about different socket sets and their features so that you can find one that is going to be right for you. We have also given you some of our favourite socket sets to help make the search even easier!

What is a Socket Set?

A socket set is basically a goody bag of different socket adaptors that can be attached to a socket wrench. The purpose of this is to have multiple different cylindrical sockets that will fit over different shapes and sizes of nuts and bolts – meaning that there is no job that you don’t have a correct tool for.

Once you have found the socket that you need for a particular job, you simply secure this onto the wrench, or other ratchet handle to help you work on the nut or bolt. This handle will make it much easier to tighten or loosen the fastening  that you are working with, and will also allow you more grip so that you can make sure they are tight enough to hold. Not only this, but by having such a range of sockets all in one place, you can avoid nuts and bolts becoming rounded and worn away by trying to use the wrong tool.

A socket set will give you easier access to difficult to reach areas, leave you less likely to damage the fastener that you are working with and mean that all of your sockets are held in one place, as we have to admit they are the types of things to regularly go missing if not kept safe and all together!

Only Got 5 Minutes?

If you are sick of trying to work on nuts and bolts without the right kit, or have one too many ruined DIY jobs because of bolts that have been rounded off when you’ve tried to remove them, then this is the part of the article that you need to be reading. All of the main things that you need to consider before purchasing a socket set – and all in one place.

What To Look For When Purchasing A Socket Set

There are some main things that you need to look for if you are planning on purchasing a socket set. Our article will tell you everything you need to know, and more.

Number of Attachments

There are various different sizes of socket sets depending on exactly what you are looking for and your budget. Some socket sets will be as small as 10 pieces whereas commercial/industrial sets can include over 500 pieces! Obviously, you know best what you are going to need for the jobs that you are completing, but we would always recommend getting as many attachments for your money as you can – otherwise you may find yourself needing to buy additional add-on sets at a later date.

TOP TIP: Some socket sets come with spanners and other wrenches that you may already have in your tool shed at home. If this is the case then you may be better off opting for a socket set with just the attachments, and then buying a wrench separately if you need one of these.


There are many different fasteners that your socket set will be able to be used with. Depending on the kit that you purchase they will basically be able to work with ANY nut or bolt that you need them to. This makes the socket sets perfect for those people who are wanting to nabble in both DIY around the home but also like tinkering in their garages on cars or other vehicles at the weekend!

The most frequently found bolt is hexagonal (in different sizes) so it is rare that you will find a socket set that doesn’t include these types of sockets – however it is still worth making sure that these are included.

Best Budget – Socket Set

Rolson 36109 Socket Set - 40 Pieces
4,786 Reviews
Rolson 36109 Socket Set - 40 Pieces
  • Combined 40 piece 1/4" & 3/8" Drive socket set
  • Complete with ratchet and extension bar
  • Screwdriving handle and socket convertor
  • Range of metric and imperial sockets
  • Blow moulded storage case


Different socket sets will be advertised in either imperial or metric sizings so make sure to check for this before purchasing so that you don’t end up with the wrong size. It is important to think about the fasteners that you are going to be working with the most, and make sure that your socket set is going to be able to be used on those, but also make sure to choose a socket set with a wide range of sizes so that you are not going to be let down when trying to complete different jobs. 

The most common sizes range from ¼ inch to ¾ inch, but they also vary in their depth so that there is enough variety to find one that is perfect for the job that you are trying to complete. We found the ⅜ inch ratchet sizes to be the best option as they will be able to be used on bigger and smaller fastenings with an adaptor in place, so you will be increasing the amount of jobs that you can work on for the same price!

Impact Sockets

One of the main things that you need to consider is whether you are going to be using your sockets with an impact wrench or not. An impact wrench is essentially what the name suggests – it will use impacting force to work on different fastenings, instead of you doing the hard work with a manual tool. They are great tools, but will put your socket attachments under a lot of pressure, so you will need to choose a set that is going to be able to take this force if you are planning on using an impact wrench (we would recommend looking out for ones with thicker walls and carbonised surfaces). Whereas if you are planning on working with the fastenings manually then you can choose pretty much any socket sets, such as ones made out of chrome or other metals. 

Impact sockets will tend to be more costly as they need to be made in such a way that they can withstand the increased force, but this does mean that they will be likely to last longer.

Spanners and Wrenches

There are different types of spanners and wrenches that will usually come with your socket set. The ones that are right for you will depend on the types of jobs that you are usually going to be completing.

  • Wrenches – the two main types of wrenches that you will find in your socket sets are socket wrenches and L-shaped wrenches. These are both essentially a long handle that can be secured over the top of the specific socket that you have attached to the fastening, so that you can get a better hold over the fastening and put more force into loosening or tightening it. The main difference is that an L-shaped socket wrench has a head that is at a right-angle to the rest of the handle, which can make them better for tight spaces that you may be working in.
  • Spanners – There are many types of spanners that you could find in your socket set, from adjustable spanners to open-ended spanners or ring spanners. We would suggest adjustable or ring spanners to be the best to be included in socket sets as they will usually be best suited to working with the sockets to get the job done.

What Else Do I Need to Know When Buying a Socket Set?

  • Difficult to reach fastenings – Fastening at awkward angles (which is near enough ALL fastenings if you are working on cars) may need an extension bar that can be fitted to your wrench. This will make it easier for you to get into hard to reach places and still be able to enforce the amount of power that is needed to loosen/tighten these fastenings. Not all socket sets come with extension bars but as far as we are concerned they are essential!
  • One thing that is better not learnt from experience is purchasing a socket set with a poorly built/designed case. The case that you choose is going to need to keep all of your sockets organised, safe, clean and protected in one place so that they are ready every time that you may need them. If you opt for a socket set with a cheap plastic case then we found the locking system on the case can be prone to breaking or losing grip after multiple uses. This could leave you with a tonne of sockets and nowhere to keep them (or even worse – missing sockets when you need them most!). We found metal cases to be the most hardy, but there are some tough plastic ones available on the market that will be up to the task.
  • Most socket sets will come with a lifetime guarantee (you can’t argue with that for product reliability!). This means that we would urge you to question ANY socket set that does not offer this, as it suggests the company has less faith in the product that they are selling. Make sure to check the details of the warranty though, as some are less generous than others in what they will allow you to claim for!

How Can I Look After My Socket Set?

If you are going to be spending money on a decent quality socket set then it is crucial that you look after it so that it can stand the test of time.

  • Make sure to clean your sockets after using them so that they do not become damaged by dirt and grease or become corroded.
  • Make sure sockets are entirely dry before putting them back in their carry case as if they become rusted they could damage the nuts and bolts that you are working with.
  • As mentioned in more detail above – make sure to only use impact sockets with an impact wrench.

Best of the Rest

VonHaus 130pc Socket + Bit Set Including 72-Teeth Ratchet Handle - Useful for Everyday DIY, Bike Repairs, Light Duty car Repairs & Screw Driving
431 Reviews
VonHaus 130pc Socket + Bit Set Including 72-Teeth Ratchet Handle - Useful for Everyday DIY, Bike Repairs, Light Duty car Repairs & Screw Driving
  • Comprehensive 130pc socket and bit set with ¼” ratchet handle with 72 teeth – ideal for vehicle and bike repairs as well as DIY and home maintenance
  • Made from durable heat-treated carbon steel with 104pc chrome vanadium bit set. Ratchet handle with 72 teeth – for a smoother and stronger ratcheting action – requires a lesser degree of movement to turn a nut
  • Full set includes: 1 X ¼” ratchet handle with 72 teeth; 1 X ¼” extension bar – 2”; 1 X spanner handle; 1 X ¼” sliding bar; 13 X ¼” sockets: 4, 4.5, 5, 5.5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14mm; 7 X Allen Keys: 1.27, 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5mm; 1 X Y bit; 1 X ¼” bit adapter; 100 X 25mm bits and 4 X 50mm bits
  • Comes with clearly laid out and labelled moulded plastic case with central clip fastening for secure storage
  • Manufacturer 1 Year Warranty Included
52 x teeth, Torx gear lock profile, XZN E-shaped, socket set, 12-Kant, 6-Kant, Hex, Harley, Zöllisch, Metric, 1/4 and 3/8, nut bits, 4-19 mm
563 Reviews
52 x teeth, Torx gear lock profile, XZN E-shaped, socket set, 12-Kant, 6-Kant, Hex, Harley, Zöllisch, Metric, 1/4 and 3/8, nut bits, 4-19 mm
  • 52 x gear lock ratchets set, all inserts with gear-lock profile, for hexagon, 12-bolt screws, outer torx in imperial or metric sizes.
  • Socket keying:1/4 inch and 3/8 inch, ratchet with push button, latch and quick release, with reversing lever, 200 mm, real 72 teeth, handle screwdriver with (1/4 inch), front and rear, extension 150 and 75 mm, Cardan, 60 mm
  • 1/4 inch (M) x 3/8 inch (F) adapter spark plug wrench, 16 mm, length 65 mm, adapter 1/4 inch, square to 1/4 inch, hex (for the bits), telescopic magnetic lifter magnetic rod, telescopic magnet extendable from 13-64 cm.
  • Technical information:Socket keying:1/4 inch and 3/8 inch, for the following metric sizes with (1/4 inch):4, 4.5, 5, 5.5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 mm - for the following metric sizes (3/8 inch):14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 mm, 1/4 bits x 25 mm (L) made from S2 steel with the following sizes: Torx:T10, T15, T20, T25, T27, T30, slot:SL3, SL4, SL5, SL6, SL7 - cross:PH0, PH1, PH2, PH3, PZ0, PZ1, PZ2, PZ3 - hex:H2, H3, H4, H5, H6.
  • Facts: special gear lock profile - can be used for 6-point, 12-point, E-profile, Torx, metric and inch sizes - hardness and torque in accordance with DIN - excellent Ratsch function smoothly, genuine 72 teeth, robust quality with a long service life. The special shape of the nuts makes it possible to loosen a nut orscrew even if the head the base of the nut/screw up to a certain level is worn sockets made from chrome vanadium steel, bits made from S2 steel.
Nestling® 108PC Sockets Set, Square Drive Metric Socket Bits Set Including 1/4' & 1/2' Ratchet Handle with 72 Teeth
209 Reviews
Nestling® 108PC Sockets Set, Square Drive Metric Socket Bits Set Including 1/4" & 1/2" Ratchet Handle with 72 Teeth
  • ✔( Tool Kit): 2 Ratchet torque wrench,torx socket set,screwdrivers, extension rod,can meet the needs of most of your repair scenarios. Suitable for mechanic and household maintenance, car, lawn mower, etc.
  • ✔(Reversible Ratchet and Screwdriver Set): 72 Teeth, rotation angle is 5°, easy to operate in narrow areas such as remove spark plugs. Variety of screwdriver set, it provides sufficient convenience for most scenarios.
  • ✔(Robust and Corrosion Resistant): Socket set made of high-alloy CR-V chrome vanadium steel and is heat treated to ensure corrosion resistance, to provide reliable torque and strength.
  • ✔(Sturdy Packing Box): Ratchet socket set and drill bits are clearly arranged in the shipping box. The self-contained foam facilitates the fixation of the parts while carrying, and you can easily find the right tool with the mark.
  • ✔(Quick After-sales): The positive opening effect is better, and transportation may cause you to reposition some parts. If you have any questions during the product use, please contact us for a quick and effective solution.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I stop fasteners from rounding off when using a socket?
Rounding off is a common problem when working with nuts and bolts, as if the job is not done correctly they can quickly become worn down. Make sure that you are using the right size socket for the fastener that you are working with (one with more sides will be better as it will allow you to build more traction). It is also important to make sure that the socket is not moving around the fastener when you are working. If you are still struggling – try heating up the fastener first as this can loosen it!

Will a standard socket set come with deep sockets?
This really depends on the size of socket set that you purchase, but most average to large socket sets will come with a few deep socket as well as standard sockets. However, there wouldn’t usually be enough deep sockets in a standard set to work on a wide range of jobs so you would probably need a specialised deep socket set if you are going to be using them regularly.

Is a screwdriver set the same as a socket set?
Screwdriver sets and socket sets are often names used for the same products. A socket set will often hold attachments that can be used in a screwdriver fashion, equally a “screwdriver” set will often have attachments that can be used as they would in a socket set. Specific, specialised sets are few and far between, so most that you will find will contain both.

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Last update on 2020-09-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

About Mike Jones 178 Articles
I started doing DIY around the house and it soon developed into a hobby. I look for tools and products that are genuinely useful and get the job done. I enjoy writing product reviews, researching my buyers guides and putting tools through their paces. In my downtime, I like to run and I am a bit of a Netflix documentary geek.

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