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How to choose a socket set

When you’re dealing with nuts or bolts, the best way to tackle your job is by using a socket set. Choosing the right socket set for you will ensure that you’re ready to tackle any project that comes your way.

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Impact sockets

These are made of a more durable metal than non-impact sockets, so they can be driven by powerful air tools and can withstand substantial initial torque without damage. Impact sockets are typically used in changing tires and heavier tasks that require substantial torque.

Non-impact sockets

These are the most common type of sockets. They’re hand driven, handle lesser torque, and are easier to use. They’re for lighter tasks, such as some automotive work, furniture assembly, bicycles and lawnmowers. They are not meant to be used with an impact wrench, because the increased torque could shatter the socket.

Pass-through sockets

These are designed for use with pass-through ratchets. They fit over long bolts, eliminating the need for deep sockets.

Universal sockets

These are used to grip on to multiple different fastener types including hex, square, 12-point, E-torx, partially rounded hex, and spline.

Compatible tools

Hand ratchets require non-impact sockets while impact drivers need impact sockets. With both tools, it’s important to make sure the drive size of the socket matches the tool.


Socket sets are available in a variety of configurations, with some including deep sockets and even hand ratchets. Bigger sets generally offer more options in drive and bolt size. They can also be great value. Smaller sets often work better for more specialized projects.