A ratchet is a common type of wrenches, the socket wrench, and it is also a kind of popular automobile tool that is an essential tool in auto repair and maintenance. The ratchet is used to loosen or tighten nuts and bolts and it can deal with lots of tasks with a variety of sockets and accessories. Therefore, the ratchet and sockets always work together to get job done.
The ratcheting socket wrench can be combined with the ratchet handle and sockets of different sizes. The ratchet has a wide applications due to great convenience and reliability of use. Here are some common features of ratchet:
The ratchet usually comes in three sizes including 1/4-inch drive, 1/2-inch drive and 3/8-inch drive. Then you can choose different sockets to fit the different sizes of bolts or nuts just ensuring that the drive sizes of the sockets and ratchet handle are matching.
In addition, when buying, you will find another parameter of the ratchet, that is, the number of teeth. And the teeth number of the ratchet also varies from one to another, such as 36 teeth, 45 teeth, 72 teeth and so on. Different number of teeth means different degree of rotation of each teeth. For example, 45 teeth ratchet need 8 degree working swing arc, while 72 teeth ratchet need only 5 degree working swing arc. The smaller the number of teeth, the larger the force-bearing area, the larger the area of engagement between the teeth and the pawl, and the better its bearing capacity. Of course, with more teeth, it is more flexible and easier to move the handle in tight spaces.
The length of the ratchet may also affect the use based on the principle of leverage. For example, the extendable ratchet provides increased leverage and great access for hard to reach places. This is not the main factor but a plus in the selection of ratchet, and you can choose according to your needs.
Types of Sockets
The sockets are connected to the ratchet to fasten and loosen bolts and nuts. Besides, the socket can also work with torque wrench, extension bar, sliding T-bar, etc.
Generally, one end of the socket is square drive to attach to the turning handle such as a ratchet and the drive sizes are commonly seen in 1/4”, 3/8”, 1/2”, 3/4”, or 1”. The other end of the socket is working end to connect the bolts and nuts. For these sizes of socket head, they come in standard (SAE) and metric sizes. The SAE size is expressed in inch, like 1/4”, 3/8”, 1/2”, 9/16”, 5/16”, 1”, etc., while the Metric size is expressed in mm, such as 10mm, 11mm and so on. Generally, the sizes are marked on the surface of the sockets to help you figure out.
• Hex sockets
The commonly-used type of sockets are available in two types, 6 point (hex) and 12 point (bi-hex/double hex). The 6-point socket has six angles inside, forming a hexagon. The 12-point socket has twelve angles inside, thus twice angles of the 6-point, making it more precise and easier to fit the fastener. Therefore, the 12-point socket is very suitable for working in tight places.
There is also a division in the length of the sockets, the standard socket and deep socket. Deep sockets have a longer length than the standard sockets, so they can better reach the head of the long fasteners, or get access to the fasteners in the recessed places.
• Impact sockets
The impact sockets are designed for use with impact wrenches or impact drivers. As the impact wrench will generate an instantaneous strong impact force when working, the common sockets are not suitable. Generally, the impact sockets are made from a special steel alloy with increased thickness and toughness, and the Cr-Mo steel is commonly-used material for impact socket while the CR-V steel is often used for the ordinary sockets. In addition to this, the impact sockets adopt a black phosphate conversion coating or black oxide as surface finish, while the ordinary sockets usually use the chrome polishing. Therefore, you can distinguish the both from the surface color, that is, the impact sockets are always black. The impact sockets are also available with standard-length sockets and deep-length sockets.
• Spark plug sockets
As its name suggests, the spark plug socket is used to remove or install a spark plug of the automobile engine. The spark plug socket has a long body, similar to deep socket, to fit the spark plug.
• Socket bits
The socket bit is a combination of a socket and a bit. The bits comes in various shapes like flat head, Phillips, hex, torx and so on. The socket bits generally come in a set with the ratchet, sockets or other accessories. The socket bit can work with a square drive ratchet handle to fasten or loosen the screws quickly like screwdrivers, or can also attach to an extension bar for access to some hard-to-reach spaces.
• Pass through socket
The pass through socket and ratchet can allow the bolt to extend through them, which are suitable for long threaded bolts. The ratchet is also specially designed for the pass through socket.
• Socket adapter
If you have a socket and a ratchet handle in different size, the socket adapter will play a role at this moment. For example, the 1/2" (F) to 3/8" (M) socket adapter can be used to connect 1/2” drive ratchet to 3/8” drive socket.
Besides, there is a kind of hex shank socket adapter, which is used for the electric power drills.
• Universal joint adapter
The universal joint (U-joint) adapter features high flexibility that have a swivel head to move back and forth or left and right. The U-joint for use with the ratchet can turn the fastener at any angle.
• Extension bar
The extension bar is mainly installed between the ratchet and socket, and it can be often found in the ratchet and socket tool set. There are many sizes of extension bars for choices, commonly 75mm, 125mm, 150mm and 250mm. With the extension bar, it can help the ratchet and socket to reach the fasteners in deeper places.
Ratchet & Socket Set
It is found that the ratchet and sockets come in a tool set. The tool kit includes a ratchet handle, many sizes of sockets, extension bar or other accessories, making it easy to tighten or loosen bolts and nuts, especially in some hard-to-reach places or tight spaces.
The following are some common tools that can be found in the tool set.
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