Stuff We Use: Socket & Wrench Sets


stuff we use socket wrench sets

On our never-ending quest to improve this place by listening to feedback from the B&B, we are taking a new tack with these product posts, choosing instead to focus on items we use and have purchased with our own meagre income. After all, if we’re giving you the truth about cars, we ought to give you the truth about car accessories.


Following up our posts about the likes of floor jacks and battery booster packs, we thought it a decent idea to profile socket sets which have passed through our hands – mitts which get increasingly calloused with every terrible hooptie pushed / pulled / dragged home from the depths of a forgotten barn of junkyard.

If you’re new to the game, try to avoid sets which pad their so-called “piece count” with tiny or nearly useless tools; sure a few hex keys never go astray but there’s no real need to have 36 of the things plus another 48 bits for the ratcheting screwdriver you’ll never use. Better to study what sockets are included, the type (and quality) of ratchets, and number of extensions. Six-pointers are favored, thanks to larger grip areas and the theoretical lower chance of round off bolt heads.


A set all but identical to this one from Craftsman resided in my tool box for the better part of a decade, though its case was far more battered by even just the third day of ownership. Shown in this ad with 135 pieces, most of which are useful, it comes with three ratchets and enough deep-well sockets to get at even that infernal third bolt on the starter of an aero-era Crown Victoria or Grand Marquis.


If you’re thinking this is the set which carried me through my dozen or so years competing in demolition derbies, you’re exactly correct.


An activity which was, ironically, directly responsible for this kit’s demise – though perhaps not in the manner you may be thinking. Back in the day, I’d give the post-derby carcass to a buddy who ran a scrapyard; this was a win-win, as I would be rid of the smoking hulk and he’d get however many thousand pounds of steel. As was pointed out, weight was weight so far as the crusher was concerned – the overall shape (twisted from the derby) didn’t matter. In trade, my buddy would haul the derby car to the track with his flatdeck and stick around to work on the thing between heats.


After the soirée, there were inevitably a few items I’d want to remove off the car for next year’s derby – battery box, custom shifter, that sort of dross – and this writer would generally strip those items right after the derby and go home with them (and any tools brought) in my own pickup truck. One year, I managed to complete that task before being terribly distracted by a female who was deeply impressed by my driving prowess, causing me to blindly leave most of my tools in the derby car. Away went the car to the crusher, socket set and all. Given the results – or lack thereof – with the blonde, this ended up being a disappointment.

Which is why I replaced that Craftsman set with DeWalt gear. By that time, they had stopped sponsoring Matt Kenseth in NASCAR – yes, I am that petty – which placed them back on my ‘consider’ list. With handy about 200 pieces in the set, it’s a rare day now in which I do not have the proper socket size for whatever task is at hand. Typical work like brakes on a Hyundai or starter motor on a Ram are easy, especially with the mass of socket and extension variants which are part of this kit. The trio of ratchets have 72 teeth, referring to the number of cogs on gears inside the tool. This helps immensely in tight spaces, permitting a small amount of meaningful movement until the blasted thing is loose enough to use my increasingly haggard fingertips.


Your author will cop to neatly (and intentionally) bifurcating the hinges on this set’s carrying case in order for each half to live neatly in the tool chest at the back of my garage. Gone are the days when I’d pack up and head to someone else’s place to complete a repair, so this arrangement works for me. Your mileage may vary.


As planned, this series of posts will continue to focus on items we actually use and have bought with our own money. We hope you found this one helpful.

[Image: The Author]

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