When you are working with fasteners and assemblies, it is always useful to have the right tools for the job so that operations can be completed quickly and efficiently. Depending on the type of fastener in question, there are numerous tools one may use for installation and removal. For nuts and bolts, the socket and ratchet tool is quite useful, featuring a socket that is placed over the head of a fastener and a handle that allows for turning or loosening. The most important element of a socket and ratchet tool is the ability for it to be used without making full revolutions around a fastener, allowing for the tightening and loosening of such components in more compact spaces.
On top of the socket head, a small mechanism allows for a user to determine the direction that force will be applied in. For instance, one setting may allow for the socket and ratchet to tighten a fastener when it is turned in a clockwise direction, while movements in the counterclockwise direction will be free so as to not affect the positioning of the fastener. Meanwhile, the opposite setting would allow for the fastener to be loosened while ensuring that the user can move the tool back and forth. With this small element of operation, socket and ratchet tools are extremely useful for many jobs.
Socket and ratchet tools are considered a type of wrench as a result of their general role in tightening and loosening fasteners. Despite this, their design allows them to take on more specialized tasks such as allowing one to manage fasteners in areas where a wrench would not be able to make a full revolution without being hindered. While one could simply reposition the wrench for each turn, the socket and ratchet tool is much more efficient as the work is expedited. Furthermore, a correctly sized socket will have a much better grip on nuts and bolts, ensuring less slips when compared to wrenches.
While sockets and ratchets can often be bought in pairs, they are commonly sold individually. Ratchets will often vary in their drive sizes, common options being 0.25”, 0.5”, and 0.375”. A majority of ratchets utilize a geared drive for turning, and tools with a higher tooth count will enhance the ability to work in compact spaces with smaller swinging motions. In some instances, a ratchet may be gearless as roller bearings are used to operate the tool. Alongside such options, one may also procure tools with special abilities like locking the socket in place or allowing for the adjustment of the handle angle.
Sockets are the element of the tool that go over the fastener, and they connect to the ratchet for torque to be applied. Mechanics will often have many sockets for a single ratchet, allowing for fasteners of many sizes to be operated on with a single set. Sockets can be procured in either standard or metric sizes, and many are color coded to make identification easy. Depending on one’s needs, sockets may also vary in their depth, profile, and flexibility to accommodate particular needs.
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