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Humble Mechanic: Socket Storage Tips

From socket sets to foam inserts, there are many ways to store your sockets. Charles discusses a variety of options to keep you organized.

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Hey everybody, today I’m going to talk about the best way to store your sockets.

All right, so there are a ton of different ways to store sockets in your toolbox and it’s really kind of personal. Some people may store them because they look cool a certain way. Some people like me store them purely for efficiency and then there are other people who just simply don’t care.

Figure 1

Let’s start off by talking about the factory socket holders. The socket holder shown in Figure 1 is the original socket holder that came with this set of sockets that I bought in, oh, about 2004 and I have to say, for being a plastic holder, it has held up pretty well. I really do like that the socket holder is labeled so that you know exactly which socket you’re going for. Some people may not care about that, but I really enjoy it.

This holds the deep well and the shallow sockets, and it doesn’t stand them up or completely lay them flat, so this’ll fit really well in a nice mid-depth drawer. You would have to have a super deep drawer if they were all standing up and when they lay flat they tend to take up a little bit more room.

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I really wish these types of socket holders were sold separately from the entire set because I absolutely love the way that this socket holder stores the socket. One of the negatives about these is they will only really hold the sockets that come with them because of the shape and diameter, especially with the smaller sockets. I’ve tried to put other sockets in it and they simply just don’t fit right.

Figure 2

All right, next we’re going to be talking about storing sockets in foam (Figure 2). One of the great things about foam is it holds the sockets really well. You can see this has almost a perfect fit for the socket. In addition, everything is labeled and each piece has its own location, so things get put back exactly where they came from, and again, it’s a very nice, tight fit. Now you are a little bit limited in that you can’t really rearrange things once they’re set in foam, but remember that a setup like this especially is designed specifically for the box, so it’s designed with the entire package in mind and I gotta tell you I really love the way this fits in the box — the way the sockets are organized and the way that it looks.

Figure 3

The third top way to store sockets for me is a universal socket storage tray like the one in Figure 3. This one is a 1/4-in. metric storage rack. This one is also labeled for all the socket sizes as you can see down at the bottom. I did a review of this socket tray, so I’m not going to go super in depth on it but I’ve got a link on my website if you want to check it out. But I really like to store 1/4-in. drive sockets this way. Since most of them are shorter than 3/8-in. drives, you don’t need quite as deep of a drawer as you would for the 3/8-in. drive socket so you can still store these standing up, taking up a smaller footprint in a less than super deep drawer.

I also like that it’s labeled and that it has pins that the sockets sit on. It holds the sockets really, really well. As you can see, I store my oil pan crush rings on the 4mm socket, which doesn’t get used very much. The one thing that does drive me nuts is I don’t have a 5-1/2mm deep well socket, which leaves an open spot.

Figure 4

Again, this is universal, so it doesn’t matter what brand of tools you have, they’ll all fit on this because it uses these pins. These pins are the size of the drive, so if these were 3/8-in. drive sockets, the pin would actually be a little bit bigger. I really like it because it’s considerably more durable than similar socket trays (Figure 4), which are plastic and prone to breaking.

Figure 5

Now, of course, that is not the only way you can store sockets. There are these clip-on styles that you can see in Figure 5. I’ve actually screwed these to the back of my roll cart. Over time these clips do tend to get weak, but they do hold sockets just fine. As you can probably tell, I use them every day.

Figure 6

Finally, we have the universal style like the one in Figure 6. This has all the different drives, 1/2-in., 3/8-in. and 1/4-in. You can put a bunch of sockets on it. It doesn’t matter what brand they are because it holds them by the drive. So you can put any brand of socket you want. In fact, you can even put extensions on there if you’d like. This is nice because it will hold them all in a complete package and it even has a handle on it.

All right guys, there you have it. Those are my suggestions on ways that you can store your sockets. Now this is a highly, highly personal thing in the end to me. It doesn’t really matter how you store your sockets, store them in whatever way that works best for you because the truth of the matter is, you guys are the ones using this stuff.

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