How to use a socket wrench – 5 Powerful Secrets (2021)

If you’ve been to machines, electric works or simple household chores with tools, you must know what a socket wrench is. It’s such a wonderful tool that makes the tough job of tightening or loosening a bolt/nut easily. Moreover, it’s capable of handling a wide array of bolt sizes with just a simple switching in the socket in it.

But the problem is, for users who’ve bought a socket wrench for the first time, or the users who’re upgrading themselves from typical wrenches to socket wrenches, find it hard to use. This article today, is a promise to show the detailed process of how to use a socket wrench.

So, keep reading and I’m sure you’ll find the help you need in this case.

Before We Start

We have a promise to take you through every detail of how to use a ratchet socket wrench you’ve just bought. But before we head in, I would like you to take a look on these few basic questions and answers. These will clear your concept on how they work:-

Question: Why Socket Wrenches are Called Socket Wrenches?

Answer: Because, there is a core difference in between the regular wrenches and socket wrenches. They have a hollow cylindrical-shaped metal structure that fits right in and holds the bolts that’s been worked on. And that creates the difference between a regular wrench and a socket wrench.

Question: What is the Ratcheting Mechanism?

Answer: In simple words, ratcheting mechanism is the method that makes moving even the hardest of the bolts easy as nothing else. It’s based on the physical law of putting pressure/force to a certain body through a lever. The longer the lever/ratchet is, the more force you can imply on the body.

Question: Does a socket wrench need any external power?

Answer: This question can’t be answered in one word. There are many variations in case of socket wrenches and the answer varies a lot based on the type. Manual wrenches don’t need any external power, where air compressor-based ones need both air compression and electric power.

Knowing the Basic Parts

There are two fundamental parts that a socket wrench is formed of - the handle / ratchet and the socket. Here are some more on both of these :-

1. The Handle

The handle is the part that beholds the socket and is a long metal body itself. Its duty is to provide a good amount of turn to the bolt or nut. A number of length variation takes place in case of typical socket wrench handles. But the average sizing is about eight inches.

2. The Socket

The socket is the place where all the actions take place. It’s a metal hollow body, which can fit tightly on specific type of nut or bolt. That was one end of the socket that fits on the bolt. The other end of the socket is made square-shaped. It can fix tight with the handle of the wrench. With a tight fit with both handle and bolt, the socket makes the entire process happen.

Step of Using a Socket Wench Perfectly

Now, we are at the core of this article. Here, we’ll be taken through a step-by-step guide of using a socket wrench. Let’s start :-

Step 1: Find the Right Socket for Your Bolt

The first and foremost task is to find the right socket that would fit perfectly on the bolt you’re about to move. The next task is to make the proper fit of bolt and socket. The bolt you’re tending to move, does have a socket in your tool box that fits on it perfectly. Your first task is to find that out.

You can start with the smallest socket to avoid further complicacy. Soon, you’ll find one socket fitting right on the bolt. Take that out of the box.

Otherwise, look at the labeled size measurement with every bolt and nut. This might help to find out the right socket.

Step 2: Fitting the Socket to the Bolt and Hadley

Now add the socket to the handle of the wrench. Most of the wrenches have no special attachment system for the handle and the socket. Just putting that in the hollow handle will make it happen.

Also, you can slide the square end of the socket to the socket hole on the square knob on the handle. Check again that the fit is perfect or not.

Tips for Step 2

  • 1
    Make sure you have no rust and anything like it on the bolt that can cause trouble in matchmaking.
  • 2
    Don’t use anything that creates excess pressure on the bolt at the beginning.

Step 3: Fasten and Start Moving the Bolt

Now, it’s time to fasten the connection between the bolt and the handle. Based on the type of thread, the way can vary a little. But for regular threads, turning the handle clockwise will tighten the connection. And turning it in anti-clockwise will loosen it up.

Start moving the handle in a clockwise direction to tighten the bolt-socket connection. Make sure you’ don’t overdo it. Overdoing the pressure on the bold may crack it down.

Tips for Step 3

  • 1
    If the tightening/loosening seems tough, you can use a grease or oil to lubricate the joint up.
  • 2
    Make sure you don’t apply excessive pressure while you’re at the end of tightening.
  • 3
    Check the bolt had been tightened perfectly or not.

All done. Now, if you’re done properly, take the socket of the bolt and also the wrench handle. Clean up the devices and everything is done!

Does All the Socket Wrench Work in This Way?

Till now, we’ve gone trough one generalized process of using a socket wrench. But let me make it clear to you- all the socket wrenches don’t work directly in this way. There are pretty much variations in use and on the use of accessories items that comes with the socket wrench set.

Here are a few exceptions that differs slightly from the way we’ve explained before :-

  • 1
    Let’s take hex-sockets. In case of this special wrenches, the hex sockets are designed to fit around the outer side of the fastener head. Besides, the socket bits are fit into the fastener head.
  • 2
    Based on the type of internal walls, the entire process has a wide variation in work. As example, cheap socket wrenches have flat internal walls. Which makes the turning even harder that normal.

Good quality sockets have curved internal walls. The create more contacts to the head of the fastener. The benefit is, as the contact is more, the chance of the fastener head getting rounded of reduces by a lot.

How to use a Socket Wrench: Extension Accessories

Now, we’ve already gone through the steps of the process of using a socket wrench. But moving forward, there are a number of accessories that makes the work safer, easier and faster. Here is a list of them :-

1. The Drive Socket

To make turning a socket fastener, a tool name drive socket is used in many cases. In that case, the socket must be attached to the handle with the drive socket.

It’s a must that the size of the square hole and the drive socket. Otherwise that won’t match with each other and rest of the process won’t even start.

2. Extender Arms

Sometimes, due to excessive hardship to move bolts, we need to extend the socket arms. The tool that helps in this case is called the extender arms. They are a ½” to 20” long metal bodies. One end of them are connected to the socket and another is connected to the ratchet.

3. Wooble Extensions

If you need to bend the socket extensions be a certain angle, the tool that comes in use is called the wobble extensions. The can help to bend the socket attachment up to 15 degrees. When you have to work in a cramped location, the wooble extension is the item that you must have to use.

4. Grip Collars

Another important accessory that come in help when your connection is rolling away. It’s a collar that fits on the back of most extensions. It creates some extra attachments that prevents rolling away connections, and also helps in gripping extensions.

5. Ratchet Spinners

Well, sometimes there’s not enough space to circulate the ratchet handle, specially is case of cars or vehicles. Ratchet spinner is the tool that comes in use in that case. I’s a 1-1/2” long extension that contains knurled attachments with it. In together, you can easily loose or tighten connection without the help of a ratchet.

If you want to learn more then don't forget to watch this video.

That’s all on how to use a socket wrench. See you soon in another exclusive guideline.

John Bryan

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