How to use a socket wrench

How to use a socket wrench
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The socket wrench can also be called ratchet wrench. It is actually called a spanner by the British. It is inserted into a socket to fasten or loosen a bolt or a nut. This article will teach us how to use a socket wrench .

If you prefer learning by video, you can watch here:

The socket wrench has a mechanism called the reversible mechanism. This lets the operator turn the wrench to and fro on the head of the socket. This is an easier alternative to detaching and reattaching the wrench whenever the user wants to adjust.

The basic form of the ratchet is hexagonal. It has six-points for the intersection of the socket.

Furthermore, the socket wrench was invented in the year 1863 by Richardson JJ. He was an American inventor from Woodstock, Vermont. In the next year, the very first picture and complete illustration of the wrench was published in the Scientific American.

In those early years of making the socket wrench, there were only square sockets and heads. This was because the hand filing method was the only known method of making the wrench .

But as technology continued to advance, more sophisticated manufacturing methods came into existence.

It is now possible to make the square heads and the hex heads. The hex head makes it easy for one to wrench in very tight spaces, in places where other objects are blocking the wrench from swinging fully.

This is possible because less arcs are needed in a swing before the wrench can adjust to catch on to the next teeth.

The invention of the ratchet wrench even reduces the problem further. The wrench only needs to swing a little for it to catch on to the very next tooth.

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Types of sockets for the socket wrench

The ratchet wrench has two kinds of sockets: the hand socket and the impact socket. Sockets are named after the number of intersection points that they have inside.

They can be hexagonal for fasteners that are hexagonal in shape or they can be twelve points.

There are other less used types like the square four-point, triple square twelve-points and the octagonal eight points.

These less used ones are mainly used in specific industries like the aircraft industries. Their applications are also found in the plumbing fitting industries, in UK or German car industries, rail industries, pipe plugs and valve adjustment screws industries.

The four-point square socket are produced in female and male configurations.

Bolts and nuts are also manufactured in the twelve-point twin hexagon shapes to suit the socket’s opening.

How to use a socket wrench

So, you have the tool in your hand, and you are wondering how to make use of the wrench. The very first thing you need to do is to:

Choose the right socket

The socket wrench is a tool that comes with re-adjustable sockets. The sockets are of many types and sizes. You could attach any of them to the wrench handle.

This versatility gives allowance for one to use a particular wrench to do many things. Such things as to loosen and fasten nuts and bolts of diverse sizes.

To be sure you do not damage the bolts and nuts, it is very vital that you pick the right socket size. You can either measure by sight or try fitting the socket into the head of the fastener to check if they are a match.

Another way you can find out which socket is good for which fastener is by looking at the sockets. They usually come with their sizes marked on them.

Just know that there’s socket for every fastener.

Attach socket to the wrench

Once you have selected the kind of socket that is suitable for the fastener, attach to the socket.

Slide the socket’s square hole on to the knob that is located on the head of the wrench and turn. It should give you a clicking sound when it is firmly in place.

Inspect the wrench to see if it is good to go

It is always advised that one should do a quick test to see if the wrench is working properly before using it. Remember that the goal is to tighten or loosen a bolt or a nut without damaging it.

If the socket is not well placed on the wrench and it is used on the fastener, it may get damaged. And this would cost you more. So, to avoid this scenario, it is better you do the quick check.

To do this check, hold your socket on one hand, use the free hand to move the handle to and fro for some time. Turn right to left as many times as possible. If the movement is smooth, then you are good to go.

The next step is to choose the direction where you want the rotation to be going to. The switch that is used to do this selection is located on your wrench’s head. It could be set for loosening or tightening.

If you want to tighten the nut or bolt, turn switch in the right direction. If you want to loosen a nut or bolt, turn switch in the left direction.

Place your socket on bolt or nut

Your socket should be on the fastener’s head. It should fit perfectly. Be sure the head of your fastener is resting perfectly before you turn. This is another important part of using the wrench. Do not be in a hurry to turn.

If the socket is not placed properly on fastener, remove and try again.

Turning the wrench’s handle

It is vital for you to remember what was stated earlier. If you turn the wrench to the right, that is in a clockwise direction, you are tightening the bolt and nut. If you turn the wrench to the left or the anti-clockwise direction, you are loosening the bolt and nut.

So, turn the handle of your wrench the direction you desire the nut or bolt to go.

If you have a solid enough hold on the wrench you could try adjusting the handle or restarting so as to have more allowance for more and more turns.

Continue turning

Keep up the rotation of the handle till your bolt or nut is loosened or tightened completely. There are some special socket wrenches that usually have a kind of button. The function of this button is to detach the wrench from fastener.

There are some skills that you need if you would use the socket wrench successfully. They are:

If the socket wrench you are using does not have this button. You will have to do the removal by yourself. And this would require some muscle power.

Video: How to use a socket wrench

Introduction: This video shows how to use a socket wrench.

The trick and tips involved in using the socket wrench

Make sure that the socket set you are buying is top-quality

If you intend to use them for a long while or for varying purposes, it is better you get ones that are durable. Having a quality wrench and socket sets would make your work very easy for you. For example, high quality wrenches have the button that releases the wrench for you.

You would not need to rely on the power of the muscle to do that.

Ensure you are not damaging your wrench’s jaw while using your muscle to pull off the wrench from the nut or bolt.

Make sure you are not using a socket that is too loose or too tight for the nut or bolt. This would destroy or wash the fastener.

Get yourself an extension of the socket wrench you use

This would really make the work you do with the wrench very much comfortable. Get a long or short bat for diverse tasks.

Get a wrench which has an allowance for extension or one that you can buy with the extension. This is so that you can reach crampy places especially when you are working on a car or a generator

Finally, make sure your toolbox containing the wrench and the sockets are well arranged. Do this arrangement in sizes and place each tool back when you are done with them, it would save energy and time in future.

For similar tools like the socket wrench, click here.

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