1/4", 3/8", 1/2" - Different size Ratchets... Why?

Greetings! I'm trying to build my tool chest, and I know there are different size ratchets available. Obviously, smaller sockets will require a smaller ratchet drive, but I wonder if making a choice between the three (or more), is there one ratchet size that is the one to pick.
Thanks! Squank
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| Greetings! I'm trying to build my tool chest, and I know there are | different size ratchets available. Obviously, smaller sockets will | require a smaller ratchet drive, but I wonder if making a choice | between the three (or more), is there one ratchet size that is the one | to pick. | | Thanks! | Squank
3/8 is the most common for general work and the most common. I'd start there, or with a "set" that includes it and the 1/4".
1/4" normally is for smaller work, #4 to say #10 hardware.
1/2" is for the really big jobs; wheel lugs, torque wrenches, anything that might need a 1 inch socket or larger.
Also consider adapters for the various sizes you decide on - sometimes a tiny, short ratchet (1/4") is the only way to get at a nearly hidden bolt or nut.
Pop's 2 cents
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My thoughts exactly Pop!!!
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Nawwwww...... 1/2" is just a little less wimpy than 3/8" drive.
3/4" and 1" drives are for the really big jobs.

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I have a 3/4" drive set that I use quite frequently.

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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Squank) wrote:

1/4 inch sockets are great for working on appliances. 1/2" is good for big construction types of things, or fixing trucks and the like.
Your not going to break loose a 2" nut with a 1/4" socket wrench, even with adapters, you'll need a 1/2" wrench or breaker bar, which probably weighs more than the entire 1/4" set.
If your just getting started, start with a 1/4" set, and then the 3/8", hold off on the big 1/2" set, until you have a job that needs it.
Get a driver which looks like a screwdriver, but takes a socket on the end, turning the socket into a nut driver. Again, great for small jobs, can be easier to use than a wrench.
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They also make an adaptor so you can turn 1/4 drive sockets from your electric drill. And nutdriver sockets in various sizes up to 7/16.
I got one adaptor and a couple nut driver sockets for my Makita drill kit. Those nut drivers are a worksaver when I'm trying to take a furnace apart.
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One of each is best................there are more than the three , by the way.
I work on cars for a living...............All light stuff with an occaisional heavier need so I don't spend a lot of time with much more than 1/4" stuff. I do mostly radio R&R and sometimes need no tools at all that are of any other use than to remove a specific brand of radio.
Small jobs like Cabinet work and small aplliances and such generally use tools more along the lines of a screwdriver type tool. There are planty of adaptations available for using a screwdriver that holds 1/4" sockets. A nut driver type setup. This is what I use the most around the house.................and I mean the VERY MOST. If you ever get used any tool , you'll want to use it for everything you can.
If you are likely to move on to bigger things like fence building that requires a socket/ratchet setup, it may make more sense to use a 3/8" than a 1/4".............more torque available without stressing the hands to bruises. Occaisionally a lwan mower repair or such can use the extra leverage also..............of a rule , I recommend both 1/4 and 3/8" versions and some adapters to enable reach and maybe a little extra leverage on smaller stuff when needes to "break something loose".
I can't think of anything I'v needed a 1/2" or larger Ratchet for , that is not an automotive application, so That kinda rules those out for the most part, unless there's a goo application you can think of...............or anyone else for that matter.
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This type and brand of Screwdriver is positively the best screwdriver I have ever owned. I own a bunch of them too! The opening in the end of the shaft is 1/4" hex and is loaded with a magnet to hold in tips. There are tips available everywhere that will do fine with this piece. The attachments can be anything from a 1/4" hex to 1/4" square to hold sockets,............to extended screwdriver bits of almost any kind imaginable.............I have a BUNCH of different types and use a huge amount of them.
I know I'm going off on a tangent here but I have to repeat: I receommend this particular tool to anyone that uses any kind of screwdriver. I can compete with power drills for time spent taking out/ putting in screws. And the battery never seems to go dead either.
I do not work for Snap-On-Tools. I do USE them a lot and most can be supllied by almost anybody tool brand wise. But this screwdriver is simply the best General Tool I have ever owned.
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Squank wrote:

1st off, don't spend a small fortune on this stuff unless you *really* see yourself using them a lot. Sears/Craftsman make a set that about 40-50 sockets, half are metric and half are standard. Of those, there is a set that fits 1/4 handles and a set that fits 3/8. There's one ratchet of each size and a straight "screwdriver" handle for the 1/4, a couple of extender bars, and that's it. That's the set I've owned for about 20 years, I use it maybe 5-10 times a year, and with one exception (A spark plug socket for use on my lawnmower) it's all I've ever needed.
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Which tools to buy first depends on what you will primarily be using the tools for. If you will start by working on small items first, then the 1/4" would be the place to start. If you are thinking automotive, 3/8" would be a good starting point. Heck, if you were going to start with heavy machinery, then you would probably want to start with a 1" set. As mentioned before, there are many sets that will have 1/4" and 3/8" drives and that would **probably** cover 99% of your work.
Which BRAND of tools to buy would be strongly influenced by how much you intend to use them. If you would only be using them once or twice a year for minor home repairs, buy whatever is cheap. If you use them say . . .monthly or so, then something like Craftsman would be good. If you intend to make a living with them, then perhaps something like Snap-on or Mac.
Then of course, there will be all the other tools like screw drivers, pliers of all types, cutters, saws, prybars, clamps, torque wrenches, brushes and other cleaning tools, measuring tools, files, allen wrenches, torx drivers, power tools (drills/bits, grinders/stones, sanders/papers, etc.), tubing benders and flaring tools, and on and on. Lastly, there are all those specialty tools that always seem to be either: 1. absolutely essential to get a particular job done, or 2. just plain kool.
Wayne
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I've only used a 3/8 drive set, with metric and English sockets for years, on my cars and for home and never had a need for anything else. I bought a 1/4" 3/8 adapter for my cordless driver. I also have a1/4 drive handle and a 1/4 to 3/8 adapter. Ron

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Squank wrote:

Yep, depends on what you do most. 3/8" is pretty much for all around use, but if you are doing car maintenance and engine work you will also need a 1/2" set. Don't forget if you are going to do real mechanic work you should have a 3/4" or even a 1" set. (Sarcasm :-))
1/4" is often needed. Sockets are nice but they won't fit in tight spaces, so save some money for open end and box end wrenches, and of course, you have to get both SAE and metric.
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I've not looked for sets in years now, but Sears used to have some good deals on sets with most everything you needed to start with. I got mine about 40 years ago so things may have changed since then. Ed
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metric stuff nowadays..........and there are a bunch of "newfangled" tools too.
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MUADIB
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Depends. What you planning to work on? I've got sockets with 1/4, 3/8, and 1/2 drive. Smallest is a screw driver handle for 1/4 drive, largest is a breaker bar 25 inches long for 1/2 drive. I use all of them. Couldn't do the repairs I do without the whole mash of them.
Got some metrics, too.
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