Seeking Advice: Do I Really Need A Socket Wrench Set? - Tools - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum

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Old 02-12-2011, 03:18 PM   #1
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Seeking advice: do I really need a socket wrench set?

Hi folks,

Young beginner DIYer here, looking for some advice on building up my tool kit.

So far, I've got the basics -- screwdrivers, hammers, level, slipjoint and adjustable wrenches, hand saw, and a cordless drill. These have served us well so far in our rental apartment living (leaky faucets, installing curtain rods, etc.).

Over Christmas, my father-in-law gave me a socket wrench set, but it turned out to be of poor quality and included a bunch of extra handtools I already owned. So he and I returned it for a $100 gift card.

I'm now debating whether I should spend it on a different set or something else entirely. My F-i-L obviously saw a need for the socket set, but I can't actually recall ever needing one (so far, anyway).

So, my first question is this: knowing what you know now, but thinking back to when you were first building your tool kit, what would you recommend my next purchase be?

If your answer is "socket set," what would you recommend by way of size? My local hardware store sells everything from a 40-piece to a 300-piece set. All come with 1/4" and 3/8" drivers; do I need the 1/2" driver too?

If your answer is "something else," what would you suggest? Note: we have limited storage space, so something like a compound miter saw will have to wait.

Appreciate the advice!


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Old 02-12-2011, 03:33 PM   #2
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Get a set of 'combination wrenches' (box and open end wrench) in SAE and Metric.


If you think you can, or if you think you can't, you're probably right.

ASE certified master auto tech, Retired.
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Old 02-12-2011, 05:15 PM   #3
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One say you will want a decent socket set. If you are tight on cash now, just buy some cheap set from Harbor Freight. Look for a 200 +/- piece set with 1/4 through 3/8 in standard and metric. And you will need a decent tool box with sliding drawers to store off of these. If you want to limit the money to spend, then just get a set with a 3/8 drive. Sears is typically good enough quality for the home and for most diyers.
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Old 02-12-2011, 10:14 PM   #4
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About the only time you will use or need a socket set is if you are going to work on your vehicles. If you are only interested in doing basic repairs around your home, No you do not need a socket set. A good set of open end wrenches will suffice as well as a good Crescent type wrench. Maybe a good jig saw would be handy as well. Good luck.
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Old 02-12-2011, 10:43 PM   #5
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Thanks to everyone who replied, and so quickly!

Cheers, A
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Old 02-12-2011, 10:49 PM   #6
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So, my first question is this: knowing what you know now, but thinking back to when you were first building your tool kit, what would you recommend my next purchase be?

Channel lock pliers, Real Vicegrip brand pliers, Combination wrenches with lifetime warranty, a good set of quality screwdrivers, allen and torx wrenches. I would not buy cheap sockets unless they are the super large over 1 inch set. A cheap ratchet will only give you problems. Some of the chinese tools sent over here are nothing more than a paper weight.
TIP: Don't ever loan your tools to someone you would not sleep with because your tools will be sleeping under their roof.
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Old 02-13-2011, 08:11 AM   #7
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The answer is it depends. If you don't do a lot of work on your car it can wait. But having one is a good idea.

Want to hang that new TV on the wall? You could install the lags with a cordless drill and adjustable wrench but it's so much easier to do it with a socket wrench.

Have a house with a garage door? Almost any repair like that is easier with a good socket set.

They are not used often if you don't work on your car but when you do need them they are handy. If you're in an apartment and don't plan on moving to a house, you could probably skip them entirely.

I do a fair amount of car work too so I have a decent set.

But something like this would be a great start: (I'm partial to Craftsman because Sears is very close and pretty much no matter what happens to the tools they will replace them.)
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Old 02-13-2011, 08:23 AM   #8
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Sockets are great to own. I use them not only on my cars, but to repair my snow blower, lawn mower, bicycle, etc. and for all types of bolts where I need the extra torque.

You can buy all types of tools like pliers, wrenches, etc etc and it will accumulate. Or, you can get a good set of sockets in one container.
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Old 02-13-2011, 09:09 AM   #9
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I bought a high quality socket set about 35 years ago. The set was 1/2 inch drive, and included metric and English sockets from about 1/2 inch diameter up to 1-1/4 inch diameter. When I say high quality, the sockets were chrome steel, not the plated garbage. Later I added a 3/8 set, and eventually a 1/4 inch set, all chrome steel.

I have used these tools extensively over the years, from repairing cars to installing lag bolts to taking apart hand tools. I also have a full set of box wrenches, which are often useful, but the sockets do the majority of the heavy lifting. But as said, if you do not repair vehicles or tools, you may never need sockets. Your call. My suggestion is if you do buy them, get the better (more expensive) set, they will last as long as you do, maybe longer.


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