Socket Wrench - Accessories

Accessories

These are some of the common accessories that are used with 1/4", 3/8", 1/2", etc. socket wrenches:

  • Extensions, sometimes called "extender arms", attach to a socket on one end and a ratchet on the other end of the extension. These "extend" the length of the socket and allow access to nuts or bolts that are difficult to reach. Extensions are typically 1/2" to 20" in length in roughly 1" to 3" increments. They are sometimes attached together to get longer extensions.
  • Wobble extensions have their socket attachment ends ground to allow the socket-extension interface to bend up to about 15 degrees. This additional flexibility often makes using a socket + extension in a cramped location easier. A 1" to 1-1/2" long wobble extension added to the end of any extension will convert it to a slightly longer "wobble" extension.
  • Extension Grip Collars are collars with indents that fit on the back of most extensions preventing it from easily rolling away and allow one to easily grip extension and finger tighten or loosen nuts and bolts by turning extension + socket with or without ratchet.
  • Universal joints are two articulated socket joints (about 1" long) combined at a right angle, that allow a bend in the turning axis of the wrench + socket. They are used with extensions and ratchets for turning a bolt or nut at a difficult to access location. Wobble extensions may be substituted for some universal joint applications and have the advantage of not wobbling so much.
  • Flex or swivel head ratchets are socket wrenches in which the drive head pivots or swivels back and forth on the handle, to allow the socket handle movement to avoid obstructions when being turned in a cramped space. Some ratchet heads swivel the whole ratchet head.
  • Shorter and longer ratchets allow the ratchet plus socket to be used in a variety of open or restricted spaces.
  • Fine toothed ratchets have finer teeth on the ratcheting components and may have to only rotate about one degree per "click". These may be useful for very tight locations.
  • Palm ratchets have a palm sized circular ratchet handle with reversible socket attachment useful for rapidly loosening or tightening a bolt or nut. They come in a variety of sizes.
  • Size adapters allow sockets of one drive size to be used with another ratchet drive size. They consist of a male drive fitting of one size attached to a female drive fitting of another size. They are typically about 1" long. For example, a 1/4 in. to 3/8 in. adapter allows sockets with 1/4 in. drive holes to attach to a 3/8 in. ratchet, etc..
  • Rotator ratchets (made by Stanley etc.) allow the socket to be twisted by twisting the ratchet handle around the handle axis. Requires less than 1 degree arc swing to rotate socket--ideal for very tight spaces.
  • A breaker bar is a strengthened extended-length handle for sockets typically made with a swivel head that adds extra torque for "breaking" loose strongly tightened or "frozen" fasteners. These may be necessary for bolts or nuts that are installed with thread locking compounds.
  • Torque wrenches are socket attachment handles that allow the torque to be measured when tightening bolts or nuts. This is important to prevent breaking the bolt or nut by torquing it over its strength limits or to put even pressure on a tire rim or cylinder head etc. held on with multiple bolts or nuts to minimize bending or distortion.

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