Many people believe that when it comes to repairing vehicles and building furniture, using a regular wrench gives you enough power. Little do they know that socket wrenches give you the ability to access more power without having to exert yourself as much as you would with using a regular wrench. With the help of a ratchet, also known as a socket wrench, you could easily tighten a bolt with a few motions!
Although they sound like great tools to have at your disposal, there are still plenty of people who don’t know how to use socket parts and ratchets. In this guide, you’ll gather a deeper understanding of how to take advantage of the tools you might have sitting in the bottom of your toolbox.
What Does a Socket Look Like?
If you’ve ever considered buying a toolkit in the past, you’ve undoubtedly seen a socket and a socket wrench. Sockets are cylindrical-shaped accessories that fit onto a ratchet, or a socket wrench, with the help of a square nub at the end of the piece.
One of the most interesting features of a ratchet is that you can choose whether you want to loosen or tighten the bolt with the help of a small lever or switch, similar to an electric drill. Then all you have to do is place the socket over the bolt and twist the handle on the ratchet.
How Do I Know What Socket to Use?
Aside from understanding how to use a ratchet for small and large projects, it can be difficult for first-time socket users to know what size to use for different types of bolts. Over time, you’ll simply get enough experience to where you can choose the right socket by looking at a bolt.
However, in the beginning, you’ll need to use a trial and error method, especially if you have a socket kit with plenty of different parts.
In most cases, you should have an idea of the size of bolt you’re working with, and you can easily look at the side of the socket to see its size and choose the right one based on its measurements. However, in many cases, it might not be as simple, such as if you dig a random bolt out of your kit with zero indication of its size.
At this point, all you have to do is grab a socket that looks like it would fit and try to put it over the head of the bolt. If it’s too loose, you’ll have to go down a size, whereas if it’s too big, you’ll have to choose a larger socket. It’s important to find the perfect fitting socket; otherwise, you could strip the bolt.
How to Attach Sockets to a Ratchet
Now that you know what socket you have to use, it’s time to affix it to your ratchet so you can start tightening or loosening the bolt.
Take the socket and slide the square nub into the square opening on the socket. With most pieces, you’ll be able to hear an audible “click” once it’s in the proper position.
The next step is to make sure the ratchet is in the proper position for either tightening or loosening your bolt. On the back of the ratchet, you’ll notice a switch that you can turn left or right.
If you want to tighten a bolt, turn it to the right and vice versa for loosening.
At this point, you should be ready to begin using the socket, and all you have to do is place it over the bolt and start to turn. You can use the exact same motion as you would with a regular wrench, but the largest benefit is you don’t need to reposition your ratchet with every turn, you simply turn the handle in the opposite direction and continue turning.
How to Remove a Socket from a Ratchet
Depending on how often you intend on using your ratchet, you may need to remove the socket at the end of every use, especially if you want to store it inside of a plastic carrying case. There are a couple of different ways that you can remove the socket from your ratchet, but it mostly depends on the type of ratchet you’re working with.
Lower quality designs typically offer you the ability to simply remove the socket with your hands, prying it off the ratchet. The main thing to remember is that you might have to pull a little harder than normal, as force will be needed to release the ball bearing inside of the drive square.
If you’re working with a higher quality ratchet, you should have a button or lever somewhere on the tool that will release the socket for you. With this, all you have to do is push the button, and the socket will be released on its own. These designs can be preferable for people who are interested in using a ratchet single-handedly.
Frequently Asked Questions About How to Use Socket Parts
To help you get a better understanding of how to use socket parts and what they are, consider these frequently asked questions.
What is the difference between impact and non-impact sockets?
The main difference between impact and non-impact sockets is that impact designs are far more durable which allows them to be driven using air tools. If you’re working with a handheld ratchet, you’re going to be using non-impact sockets, which are still strong, but not strong enough to be used with a powered air driver.
What can I use sockets for?
There are plenty of different projects you can use your sockets for, as long as the item has a bolt. Ideally, you’ll want to use them for lighter projects such as assembling furniture, working on a mountain bike, or even vehicle repairs.
How do I find the right sized sockets for every project?
It’s impossible to find a single socket size that will work for every single project you get your hands on, as one size will only be compatible with a bolt of the same size. Instead, your best bet is to consider buying a socket set which will come with plenty of different sizes that you can pick and choose from.
Are Sockets and Ratchets Worth It?
If you’re searching for a set of tools that will help you to cut time on household and industrial projects as well as give you the versatility you need, sockets and ratchets are certainly worth it. There are dozens of different socket sets available on the market; all you have to do is choose the right kit for your needs.