What type of socket wrench should I get?

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This may be more of a car question, but I couldn't find an auto repair group to ask. I need to pickup a last minute Christmas present for my dad. I was going to buy him a dog-bone socket wrench. I'm not sure if I should get the SAE or metric. I really don't understand the difference between the two. Any suggestions? If it helps, we live in the U.S. and most of the cars he works on were made between 1988 and 2004 with one being made in the 70s. The brands of the cars/trucks are mostly Chevrolets and Fords.
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Metric is far more useful for anything made after the mid-80's.
BTW rec.autos.tech is still somewhat active.
nate
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Personally I don't find I can survive without both. And there seems to be no logic to where I might find one or the other. Even my 1990 boat which has an ordinary naturally aspirated chevy small block in it I still run into specific bolts that are metric instead of american.
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Get a kit that has both, he will need both, you can get 50-100 piece kits cheap. I just got a 70 piece at HD for 50$a husky which is just ok. If as you say he uses it alot be sure it has a lifetime warranty but for quality Craftsman, Kobalt are a few but they cost bucks
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On Thu, 23 Dec 2010 07:55:15 -0800, ransley wrote:

I'd second that - I got a Husky one three years ago when I first moved over to the US and I've thrown lots of stuff at it and not busted anything yet. The two ratchets are starting to get a little sloppy now, but that's not really a big deal as I can replace those and still have all the sockets from the original kit.
Downsides to the kit I got were that it didn't include any adapters between 1/4" and 3/8" parts, and the largest part is something like 7/8" (where some of the bits on my truck need a little larger) so I've had to get those separately - but for the price I paid I can't really complain. The socket bits themselves seem to be of good enough quality.

Yeah, someone mentioned that to me the other day, too; I'm not sure that my set did/does - but then maybe they wouldn't replace a worn ratchet under warranty anyway and I'd have to wait until it outright broke (at which point I can't hang around waiting for a replacement in the mail)
cheers
Jules
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SAE = inch metric = mm
Two different ways of measuring things. SAE is used primarily in the USA, while metric is used by every other country in the world. You would learn this in elementary school.
Reality is to work on a modern vehicle in the USA, you need BOTH.
The government tried to switch us over to metric back in the 1970's-1980's and the people summarily rejected the idea. Since then metric has been slowly creeping into everything mechanical.
It works out great for tool vendors, because you now need to own two sets of wrenches instead of just one.
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On Dec 23, 11:40am, snipped-for-privacy@rochester.rr.com wrote:

I didn't know what a "dog bone" socket wrench was, until this post. It's a wrench with 4 sockets that swivel on each end, with no ratchet capability.. One of the all in one wonder tools. IMO, not a tool I'd want. When I want a socket, I almost always want a ratchet with it. For what this non-ratching dog bone does, I'd just use a box wrench.
Instead of that, I'd look at other tools, like a combination wrench that has a fine tooth ratchet built into the box end. That's a lot more useful when working on cars, where the available space keeps getting smaller. Like this:
http://www.google.com/products/catalog?rls=com.microsoft:en-us:IE-SearchBox&oe=&q=combination+ratchet+wrench&um=1&ie=UTF-8&cid=17121981532716820986&ei=XYcTTZHEJ4GClAfPx92FDA&sa=X&oi=product_catalog_result&ct=result&resnum=5&ved=0CEoQ8wIwBA #
No idea of the quality and not recommending that particular brand, definitely a brand like Craftsman is going to cost more. I bought a set of these that was both SAE and Metric at Costco a few years ago.
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

I think most, if not all, guys who actually use tools would agree with you; there is a reason stuff like this is heavily advertised at Christmas, along with the "hoody footy" and chia pets.
The question to consider is what kind of tools does he already have? If he's pretty well stocked, a small flashlight or good headlamp (get a good one) is always useful, as are mechnics gloves. A good set of files can come in handy as well, even if he already has some, as they do wear out.
It's tricky buying tools for someone who uses them, unless you know what tools they already have.
Jon
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On Dec 23, 11:34am, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

4 sockets? and I thought it was slang for a wratchet and socket set. Id say its worthless.
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On Dec 23, 12:34pm, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

re: "It's a wrench with 4 sockets that swivel on each end, with no ratchet capability."
Actually, you can get similar tools that do have ratchet capability:
Google Black & Decker Ready Wrench or look here:
http://www.mcmelectronics.com/product/22-11375&CAWELAID=692755293
This is an updated version of their original, which also ratcheted:
http://www.toolingonline.com/article.mvc/Black-Decker-Launches-All-New-ReadyWrench-0001
I wouldn't own either of these. I picked up the new B&D model at Home Depot the other day and put it right back down. Not only is it grotesquely huge, it's ridiculously heavy.
Did you ever notice how all these new fangled tools show up in the bins right after Thanksgiving? They're for all of those people who don't understand tools and need a buy a gift for someone "handy".
At least the OP is doing a little research and not just grabbing one of those crappy all-in-one tools.
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Jo wrote the following:

Pick up one of each. $15 each at Sears. http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_00914278000P?mv=rr
--

Bill
In Hamptonburgh, NY
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Agreed.
I have two sets of Sears Craftsman deep sockets, one SAE, the other metric. Usually $20 max for each, this time of year. Just got a flier yesterday showing these prices ($19.95). This at your local Sears store, so you don't have to wait for mail order or pay shipping. If you only have $$ for one set, get metric. Metric will usually fit SAE fasteners. Maybe jes a bit loose or a bit tight, but will still fit. Merry Xmas
nb
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On 12/23/2010 12:59 PM, notbob wrote:

Not that this is pertinent to the original topic, but I find that most sets (with handles) come with 12-point sockets, while unless you are working on some really esoteric stuff (some German cars and/or aftermarket high strength head/rod/main cap fasteners) the 6-point sockets really are the right tool for the job.
nate
--
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Pros and cons to both 6 and 12 pt sockets. Twelve point are more likely to round off a tight nut/bolt, but six point gives less access (60deg arc versus 30deg arc). This can be improved by having a ratchet handle with a finer toothed ratcheting mechanism. If rounding highly torqued fasteners in a limited access area is a concern, flank-drive sockets would probably be a better choice. The down side to flank-drive sockets is their higher cost. Make yer choice and pay yer money!
Merry Christmas
nb
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On 12/25/2010 10:09 AM, notbob wrote:

I believe even Craftsman and Husky sockets are currently made similar to the Snap-On "flank drive" sockets, and at least Craftsman have been for something like 15+ years now.
nate
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Correct. Bonney invented the design and held the patent tightly till it expired. I think Bonney made Snap-On's combo wrenches for many years, but still didn't produce flank-drives for them. Now that the patent has expired, most of the better tool companies offer some variation of the flank drive. There are even flank-drive tubing wrenches (open box), a great thing as those damn tubing connectors are usually pretty soft. I've had an assorted collection of Bonney flank-drive box-end wrenches and sockets for many years. The design is brilliant and really works. They will grab rounded fasteners when no others will.
(last resort: hammer and chisel)
nb
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Frankly these things strike me a pretty worthless for any automotive work. They are huge and more often than not the unused sockets will be in the way. Might be ok for assembling your kids xmas bicycle but that's about it. There's a reason for individual socket sets and wrenches. And a reason why the really good brands like snapon are a lot thinner and smaller than the medium to poor quality brands.
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jamesgangnc wrote the following:

Yes, I agree, but the OP asked about the dogbone wrenches. You could not even remove a car battery with the dogbones. It's pretty tight even with a box wrench..
--

Bill
In Hamptonburgh, NY
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wrote:

I bought a battery stud wrench when they first came out. Dedicated to that. Ratcheting, insulated handle. Sears has them for about 10 bucks. One of my kids must have swiped it. Every time I see one at Sears I want to buy it, but don't. I just get one of my kids to do the car work.
--Vic
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Vic Smith wrote:

I feel your pain Vic.
First I tried stickers on my two home garage tool boxes:
http://www.decobugs.com/product_p/ds1004.htm
That didn't stop the kids, so I finally had to put a couple of small combination locks on them. Those have worked, and now if a kid needs to use a tool I "check it out" to him and make sure I ask for it back by the end of the day.
Not likely to win me a Father of The Year award, but it's better than finding the one socket I need isn't where it should be.
Jeff
--
Jeffry Wisnia
(W1BSV + Brass Rat '57 EE)
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