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Ratchets and Sockets: What Is It and How Does It Work?

Sockets and ratchets are used to efficiently remove or loosen fasteners.  These basic mechanical tools can be challenging to new users.

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Chances are you’ve seen a wrench, ratchet, and socket in use at some point.  But for the beginner, these tools might be overwhelming in nature because it’s not used as frequently or its use isn’t as intuitive as a hammer or screwdriver. Sockets and ratchets perform the same function as wrenches. However, these basic mechanical tools allow the user to tackle the task of loosening and tightening fasteners in a more efficient manner. Sockets and Ratchets_ What Is It and How Does It Work_ @ToolBoxDivas

What is ratchet?

Ratchel is the informal word used to refer to a ratcheting socket wrench.  It consists of a handle and a socket.  The handle is the wrench.  On the ratchet handle is a mechanism that allows the ratchet to engage and reverse the direction of the ratchet to loosen or tighten fasteners like nuts and bolts.  

What is a socket?

Sockets are tools that attach to a rachet, torque, or socket wrench.  It’s used mostly for loosening and tightening fasteners such as nuts and bolts. The socket is placed on the square extension or driver of the ratchet. Once it’s secured to the ratchet the user can loosen or tighten a bolt or nut while the socket remains in place by just turning the handle of the ratchet. 


What do a ratchet and socket allow you to do?

A ratchet and socket combination allows the user to turn a fastener (a bolt or nut) without having to reposition the tool on the fastener. If you were using a wrench you would definitely have to reposition it after each turn. Ratchet and socket make operating in tight corners more manageable because there is little to no space for a wrench to be leveraged. A ratchet socket combination with or without an extension allows the fastener to be tightened or loosened with ease.  It’s also less likely to slip like some types of wrenches because the socket fits completely around the fastener.

How does a socket and ratchet work? @Toolboxdivas

Types of Ratchets

Ratchets come in various sizes from 1/4in. drive, 1/2-in. drive and 3/8-inch drive to name a few.  While most ratchets use a gear drive, it can also be gearless, jointed or have a flex-head for especially hard to reach areas.

Types of Sockets

There are a variety of sockets that can be connected to the ratchet depending on the use.

Shop Socket Tool Sets Shop Mechanics Tool Sets


  • Husky Mechanics Tool Set (432-Piece)
    • Excellent for the professional or inspiring mechanic 
    • Includes 229 sockets, 124 accessories, 74 wrenches & 5 ratchets
    • 72-tooth quick-release ratchet
    • Lifetime Warranty with no questions, no receipt required





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