Are you a professional mechanic, or own a workshop and probably not impressed with your ratchet set and would like to upgrade? Then look no further than this review. We understand how choosing the right toolset can be overwhelming with almost every model having slightly similar features. But no need to worry about undertaking the tedious process because in this roundup we have carefully selected high quality trusted brands to help you choose the best ratchet set for your needs.
Best PickCrescent CTK170CMP2 Mechanics Tool Set is a 170 piece set which comprises of carefully selected tools which are ideal for mechanical, industrial and most consumer applications. All the tools meet ASME and ANSI standards for unmatched performance and increased user confidence. ¼ and 3/8” drive tools are included with SAE and Metric measurements which make it our best pick.
Budget PickTEKTON 3/8-Inch Drive Socket Set is our best budget pick. The 45 piece set is made using premium quality Chrome vanadium for durability, high torque, and rust resistance. Included in this toolset are an extra-long 6” extension and universal joint which is not common in most sets. Its 6 point socket delivers high torque by gripping the flat fastener side preventing any chances of rounding off making it the best ratchet set for the money.
Quick Comparison Between The Best Ratchet Sets[table id=147 /]
1. Crescent CTK170CMP2 Mechanics Tool Set
- All tools meet the ASME and ANSI standards
- Carefully assorted hand tools for mechanical, industrial, and consumer applications
- Packed in a sturdy new improved plastic mold case
- Durable tools
2. TEKTON 3/8” Drive Socket Set
- High-quality tools made from premium chrome vanadium steel and mirror chrome finish
- Strong storage case for better tool organization and easy access
- Master set with every size in deep and shallow lengths
- Contains tools not common in most ratchet sets
3. Stanley 92-839 Socket Set
- Max –Drive socket design which provides a 15% more torque
- Built to last
- Slip and corrosion resistant
- Tools and accessories surpass the ANSI industry standards
- Comes as a 99-piece set
- Well marked laser sockets
4. EPAuto 92-824 1/4-Inch & 3/8-Inch Drive Socket Set with Reversible Ratchet (40 Pieces)
- Corrosion resistant
- Comes with 3/8” reversible ratchet
- Has both English and Metric sizes for easy and quick tool access
- Easy to store and transport
5. EPAuto 1/4” & 3/8” Drive Socket Set with Pear Head Ratchet (69 Pieces)
- Has both English and Metric sizes
- Easy to transport and store
- Made with high quality treated Chrome Vanadium steel alloy
- Corrosion resistant
6. DEWALT DWMT72165 Mechanics Tool Set
- Delivers great ratcheting torque
- Deep laser etched markings for socket size recognition
- Knurled elegant ring for non-slip gripping surface
- Slim head design and a 5-degree arc swing for easy maneuverability in tight areas
- Sturdy and a perdurable blow mold case
7. Sunex 9726 Mini Ratchet and Bit Set
- Has an extensive handlebar for most robust applications
- Comes with 36 bits ideal for any application
- Has a durable aluminum storage case for tool protection
- Chrome plated 72 fine smooth CR-V
8. Stalwart 75-HT3014 Socket Set
- Has six point sockets for easy tool access
- 52-piece set with Metric and SAE sizes in ½, 3/8 and ¼ inches
- Comes with extensions, spinner handle, two ratchet drivers and two spark sockets
- Has a sturdy storage case
9. BOSTITCH BTMT72287 Socket Set
- Built to last
- Delivers unmatched torque for different applications
- Well stamped socket sizes
- Features a pass-through design
- Made using quality Chrome vanadium steel
- 65-piece set
10. Craftsman - 009-38108 Mechanic's Tool Set
- 105-piece set
- Designed to provide high torque for different applications
- Made from a high-quality steel alloy
- Strong storage case
- Ideal for mechanics
Factors to Consider When Buying a Ratchet Set
Type of projectRatchet sets come in varied sizes suited for specific tasks which include the 3/8, ¼, and ½ inches. To enjoy the best out of your tools set, you need first to know the type of project you intend to use. For great versatility in most applications, consider using a 3/8” ratchet drive. When used along with an adaptor, the 3/8” drive socket can be used to complete most common applications efficiently. When working on heavy duty jobs which require you to maneuver on tight bolt areas, ¼" drive set is ideal. In case more torque is needed, ½” drive sockets come in handy.
Alloy typeMost socket sets are made of different steel materials which are combined to produce a stronger metal with excellent properties as compared to the original metal. The market will offer you various steel alloys to choose from. Before making your purchase, it is highly advocated to get to know these materials better. The most commonly used socket materials are Chrome vanadium, 8650-grade steel, S2 steel, and Chrome molybdenum. Chrome vanadium is one of the popularly used materials by most modern manufacturers. This is because steel has a high resistance to wear and corrosion. When metal corrodes, it will not deliver the required torque for the job. The same case applies to a socket which is made using steel material which wears down quickly. With time they will not have a secure grip to hold your fasteners rendering them useless. 8650 steel is ordinary steel used in the Far East and US markets. The material has similar properties as vanadium Chromium only that it has lower Chromium percentage. In regards to cost, 8650 steel is cheaper than Vanadium Chromium, but it is a good pick. Most manufacturers rarely use S2 steel due to its high cost of manufacturing. The metal is less ductile and is commonly used to manufacture screwdrivers bits for two-piece socket sets and other applications. Chrome molybdenum is one of the most used metals in Japan and Europe. Compared to other socket production steel, Chrome Molybdenum has high ductility. However, it is expensive to manufacture, and due to this reason, it is only used on high-grade tools like impact sockets. Impact sockets come in handy when handling applications which need more torque where other socket types cannot reach. Some of the application you may use an impact socket is to get rid of corroded fasteners or stubborn nuts on truck wheels. Impact sockets come in all sizes with drive sizes starting from ½” with deep and shallow socket lengths variations. Though they are costly, they possess great features to withstand abuse for years without wearing. The market will always spoil you for choice with different steel alloy sockets. However, before you do your selection, you should consider the hardness, strength, and ductility of the ratchet set. The hardness of your socket, in this case, is measured by how well the steel can resist deformation and to scratch when force is applied. If the material is not tough enough to withstand the torque, chances are it will change its shape and scratch which means that the fastener head won’t fit. The strength of a socket set is measured by its ability to defy load and force without breaking. A quality ratchet set should deliver the required torque needed to complete the task with ease. Some manufacturers add a CR (Chromium) or CR-V (Chromium vanadium) to increase the ratchet strength. Ductility is the power of material to stretch or change in shape when force or tension is applied without breaking or getting deformed. At times it can be tricky to know if your preferred set has met all the three properties. However, you should also take time and check out how the other customers are saying about the particular set. Another way of determining the quality of your ratchet set is through the warranty period. Manufacturers who trust the quality of their products will take the responsibility of covering you for an extended period.
Anti-slip featureHandling mechanical jobs can be tricky especially when navigation on tight areas. Worse still; your hands may get greasy which may be a challenge to maintain a secure grip. Though some manufacturers provide quality ratchet handles, you should consider those that have anti-slip resistance properties. If your ratchet set comes with a handle, check out its design. Mechanic tasks are demanding, and without an ergonomic handle, chances are you will use more energy to get the job done, and you may get drained before completing the task at hand. Who wants to go through all this after spending on a ratchet set? We can bet no one. Tools are made to make work more comfortable and not vice versa. Ratchet handles with a secure rubber grip will offer you a comfy and secure grip even on the most demanding projects. A flexible handle will also enable you to quickly change positions and angle faster while offering easy maneuverability on those hard to reach areas.
Socket measurementsSome of the most commonly used measurement units are Metric and SAE. Some manufacturers may use both while others may use one. Since there is no recommended socket measurement, the choice you make should be based on what you are comfortable with.
Socket identificationTracing a specific socket can be challenging and time-consuming especially if the manufacturer has not marked the sockets. To avoid such disappointments, always ensure the ratchet set you choose has deep markings.
Socket lengthSocket set come in varied lengths featuring deep and low profile length. Deep sockets allow you to reach the recessed fasteners and nuts on a threaded bolt. Low profile sockets are ideal when removing nuts which are not tightly fastened or on a tight area.
Socket pointsA socket has different points, and the number you choose should be dictated by the tasks you want to complete. Usually, socket start with 6 points, 12 or may even go up to 24 points. Sockets with six points are ideal on those less tight areas that do not require more torque. Compared to 12 and 24 sockets, the six-sided type is less expensive to manufacture which is the reason why you will not pay high to own them. Though they are affordable, relying on them will bar you from completing other demanding tasks. Always ensure the manufacturer has included the 12 or 24 point sockets to avoid misuse or disappointment when you need to finish tough jobs.
Storage case materialRatchet set come in different storage case materials made using aluminum, steel, and plastic (injected blow mold or vacuumed). Plastic storage cases are lightweight, affordable, and facilitate easy socket size identification, but may break when not handled with care. Vacuum formed cases are small in size and are mostly used to design affordable storage cases which are stored inside metal storage cases. Though they are small, it is easy to identify if any tool or accessory is missing. They have well socket size identification which makes it ideal for users to have quick access to the right device when needed. Aluminum storage cases are lightweight but slightly costly as compared to the plastic material. Unlike plastic which may break or dent when it hits a hard surface, aluminum cases won't. They facilitate natural socket marking for faster size identification. Steel storage cases, on the other hand, are strong and durable compared to the later. They facilitate socket size markings which are permanent. However, they are heavy as compared to plastic and aluminum material. Blow mold socket storage cases are used to design large storage cases which facilitate easy socket size tracking. They are strong enough and even when dropped, they don’t dent. When moving around with your tools, the sockets and other tools are held in place and are one of the best-preferred storage cases for sockets. Though a storage cases helps keep your tools safe the main critical factor when buying a ratchet set is quality of the tools and accessories.
Care and maintenance tips for your ratchetsGiving your ratchet set a loving tender care will keep your tools in good physical shape by minimizing wear and tear. Listed below are some of the care tips we thought could be useful to you. Just take a look.
- After using your ratchets, ensure you wipe all the foreign material daily
- Every week, check out if your ratchet backing plate screws are tightly closed to prevent any foreign material from finding its way
- If you are a heavy user of your ratchet set, ensure every month you disassemble your ratchet head, clean it and soak it in a solvent. For light use, a quarterly procedure is recommended
- Slightly grease your ratchet gears before re-assembling and after cleaning
How to maintain socket sets
- Dust any dirt or dust on the socket head and clean on the inside with soft cotton cloth after every use
- Clean the drives using a toothbrush
- Dry properly ensuring no wetness or water left that may trigger rusting
- Get rid of any dirt or rust by using oil
- Store in a clean, dry environment preferably a storage case
How to remove a socket that is stuck on a ratchetIf you have used ratcheting tools, chances are you may have encountered this problem. If not, you may experience it after some time when working. Having a socket stuck to a ratchet is normal and most of the times it is due to lack of maintenance. Just like other tools, your sockets should be given proper maintenance, or else dirt and rust will interfere with the performance of your tools. However, next time you experience this issue here is how to navigate through. First, you will need penetrating oil for loosening any rust or dirt that may have stuck on the drive socket, a big flat socket screwdriver to pry the socket from the ratchet. You will also need a rag to clean the ratchet and socket, a vice for holding the socket firmly as you remove it and an insulating tape for preventing the fastener from scratching the socket.
- Position your toolset such that the socket head is pointing in an upward vertical direction
- Spray your penetrating oil into the socket and leave it for some few minutes to run down
- Using a clean rug, clean the socket surface and any other area with oil for a firm non-slip grip
- Place your vice in the socket by turning the socket with the turning tool in a vertically downward position
- Place few insulating tapes around the socket interior to prevent any scratches from the vice if your clamp does not have a rubber
- Put your clamp in the socket and fasten it to get a firm grip
- Once you are certain that you have attained a firm grip, now remove your socket by pressing down the ratchet head release button if available and draw your turning tool
- If the socket doesn’t separate at this stage, you can try covering the screwdriver from tip to lever between the turning tool head, and the socket drive end and use a more extensive flat head screwdriver
Frequently asked questions about ratchet sets
How are sockets produced?Before sockets are packaged, they undergo stringent manufacturing processes to ensure they meet all the industry standards. The most commonly used methods include heat treatment, stamping, forging, machining, and plating. Though the process may be almost the same, the products will slightly vary from one manufacturer to another. This feature makes them stand out from their peers.
Do sockets wear out?Just like any other tool that tends to wear down with time when rotated in contact with other objects, so are sockets. And as much as manufacturers work hard to ensure you enjoy great performance for long by producing quality sockets, they will wear with time.
Is it possible to repair broken sockets?Repairing a broken socket will affect the original size which will increase chances of tearing or rounding the fasteners. Worse still; you will always end up with weaker sockets which cannot withstand the recommended job load and will eventually break again. Usually, cracked, broken or damaged sockets are as a result of poor maintenance or using the wrong socket size. In case your socket breaks when your warranty has not expired, you should reach out to your manufacturer for replacement. If the warrant has expired, you will need a replacement.
Final VerdictWhether you are a mechanic, or a do it yourselfer, you understand well how poor quality tools can ruin your work. Owning a quality ratchet set is one of the great ways of conquering light, medium and even the most demanding jobs with ease. With our detailed review, your best ratchet set is just a click away. All the products selected are from popular manufacturers who have been around for long with some surpassing the industry standards. Regardless of the job difficulty level, we have something for everyone. Follow our shopping guide to help you identify your preferred toolset for your next project.
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