Using a wrench can be accessible when you need to tackle jobs in your shed or around the home. However, when you have many varying sizes to work on, you can quickly overload your tool set.
Socket sets can be the answer as these contain all the sizes you require and even come with spark plug sockets to deal with your car issues.
Most times, you can see all the sockets from smallest to largest, yet that doesn’t mean it is plain sailing. You can choose a metric or imperial socket set, so what size socket set should I buy?
Even if you can find sets with sockets that fit both metric and standard sockets, there can still be differences. First, you have to know whether you will work with SAE and metric nuts and bolts and the different drive sizes that come with each socket type.
In our guide, you can learn all you need about how to choose a socket set by knowing what to look for in a socket set.
By the end, you’ll have a much better understanding of which socket set to buy, or if you buy separate sockets, what size drive socket will suffice.
What Are the Sizes of Standard Sockets?
The first is the difference between the metric and SAE measurement standards. You’ll also need to think about the size of the hard drive you’ll be using. So you’ve finished your first socket compilation, and all you want to do now is double-check that the socket sizes are right.
You could also want to know the dimensions that you’ll require. One thing to keep in mind is that some of the socket sizes available are cryptic and will not be used.
The size of sockets will depend on the drive size. Here you can see the socket sizes, so you’ll be able to understand what size socket wrench do I need. Much of this can vary if you carry out mechanic duties, as mechanic sockets are more specific and heavy-duty.
If you ask, what are the standard automotive drive sizes for sockets, you have the ¼” drive, which has the 4, 4.5, 5, 5.5, 6, 7, 8, 9, to 10mm socket drive? If you carry out conventional tasks, how many sockets do I need that can be covered by these sockets alone?
However, depending on the kit, you may find the answer to what impact sockets do I need differ from what you get in a standard socket set. An impact wrench pushes more power and torque through your impact socket, and the metal may not be hard enough.
Here you can find the metric sockets, but as you’ll notice, they are all measured in parts of an inch drive size as this is a set standard globally.
|Metric Socket Sizes Chart|
|1/4” Drive||3/8” Drive||1/2” Drive||3/4” Drive||1” Drive|
What Are the SAE Socket Sizes?
A drive socket is a square hole used to connect the socket to the wrench handle or the ratchet. The socket wrench size can vary as there are three common standard sizes. Some wrenches come with adapters that allow some wrenches to fit a different size drive. The most common sizes are:
1/2′′ Drives: These drives are typically used for jobs that require a lot of force or torque, such as when the nuts are huge in automotive tasks and comprise mechanics sockets. Most 1/2″ drives are used on 19mm socket sizes. You can use these on your car for lug nuts or bolts into the wall to hang your TV.
3/8′′ Drives: These drives are more adaptable. It’s because these drives can cover sockets and locations for various jobs. It can be found in both houses and workshops.
1/4′′ Drives: For low torque jobs, 1/4′′ drives are an excellent choice. Small sockets with a maximum size of 14mm can be used with such drives. It’s used for jobs that require a high level of precision or that require more space.
|SAE Socket Sizes Chart|
|1/4” Drive||3/8” Drive||1/2” Drive||3/4” Drives||1” Drives|
Types of Sockets
Different sockets are suited for different jobs, such as your spark plug sockets or ones to be used as an impact socket wrench. You can find this information beneficial if you do lots of work in this area.
Much of this information covers SAE and metric nut or bolt socket sizes.
Impact Sockets: People prefer hand tools, mostly. It’s because they’re sturdy and built to last. Most socket types do not work with such tools as they are too strong for the socket material. Impact sockets come into play impact sockets are made specifically for such tools.
Consider the following scenario: you’re using a pneumatic or electric wrench. An impact socket is sturdy and withstands high torque. Impact sockets are tougher and more resilient than traditional sockets. Most impact socket sets can be used with ratchets and are distinguished from other socket sets as they are not made from shiny chrome. (Learn How To Use Ratchet Wrench)
Shallow vs. Deep Sockets: A shallow socket is another name for a normal socket, and in certain applications, it may not touch the nut before the bolt reaches the top of the socket. A spark plug is a prime example of this occurrence. A deep socket can overcome this as it offers more depth from the drive to the point section of the socket. Deep socket sets are common for use by mechanics.
Deep sockets, usually one inch long, can be used in difficult-to-reach places, yet it may only be possible if your ratchet handles and drive use an extension. A combination of deep sockets, extensions, and flex head ratchets can help offer more length in these tight areas for mechanics to loosen or tighten nuts and bolts. (Read Hex Sizes Guide)
SAE to Metric Conversion Chart
Here you can see the metric sockets and how they convert to SAE to match your nut or bolt sizes. The same 1/4 inch drive will fit both if it is in the same socket size socket sets.
|SAE to Metric Conversion Chart|
|SAE Socket Sizes||Metric Socket Sizes||Similar Socket Size|
|5/32”||5/32” and 4mm are almost the same|
|4mm||5/32” and 4mm are almost the same|
|5/16”||5/16” and 8mm are similar|
|8mm||5/16” and 8mm are similar|
|15/32”||15/32” and 12mm are similar|
|12mm||15/32” and 12mm are similar|
|15mm||19/32” and 15mm are similar|
|19/32”||19/32” and 15mm are similar|
|19mm||3/4” and 19mm are similar|
|3/4”||3/4” and 19mm are similar|
|23mm||29/32” and 23mm are similar|
|29/32”||29/32” and 23mm are similar|
Are 6-point or 12-point sockets better?
The point socket sets, particularly the 12-point variety, are straightforward to install and use. You can easily slip this socket over the tool in any of the 12 available positions. The ratchet, the socket size, and the wrenches are all the same between the two to fit any nut and bolt. The difference being there are more faces on the fasteners.
12-point sockets are typically used for light household tasks. This socket, however, falls into a different category known as a six-point socket. The 6-point socket is used for heavy-duty tasks that necessitate the application of significant torque.
In such cases, the six-point socket sets are less likely to slip or move. They are considered more durable and sturdy, with stronger inner walls. So, if you need a socket for a light-duty job, go with a 12-point socket. Otherwise, a six-point socket is the way to go. (Read our Star Socket Sizes)
What are the most common sizes of sockets?
The questions of what socket set do I need or what size ratchet do I need are common. It can be made worse if you ask why socket sets skip sizes? Once you work with lots of nuts and bolts for skipping, you find certain sizes are hardly used anywhere. In addition, some metric can fit SAE (inches) nut and bolt sizes.
Luckily, in your socket set, these shortages have no impact on your included ratchets, extensions, or deep or shallow socket sizes.
An extension fits the same sockets, and if it were for a smaller one, you would use an adapter as you would for a larger drive.
The square drives are standard and fit various metric sizes and SAE (inches) tools.
- 5mm: Used on fixing inner fender screws and most interior screws.
- 7mm: Used for bumper bolts, windshields, hood bolts, and seat belts
- 10mm: Fender bolts, license plates, and antennas are the most common.
- 13mm: Used for bracket bolts
- 15mm: Used to fix larger bumper brackets and fog lights, infill panels, and doors in the home