Wednesday, September 28, 2011

THE NEW TOOL QUEST

One manifestation of my multiple personality defects is that I like tools.
I have totally bought into the adage from old mechanics (older than me...) that says, more or less, “To do the job right, you need the right tools.”
That said, I have wanted a more complete set of sockets for decades.

For you girls out there, allow me to describe the basic attributes of socket sets.
Socket tools were invented to install and remove nuts and bolts.
They are especially useful for this where working space is limited.
There are two parts to a socket set – the sockets, that fit on the nut or bolt, and the ratchet, that turns the socket/bolt/nut.

Sockets come in various sizes to match the different bolt/nut sizes.
These sizes can be “standard” (or “fractional”) or metric.
Sockets also come in “standard” length (or, depth) or “deep-well” (longer length/depth).

For sockets to work to their full potential you need a ratchet.
A ratchet is basically a handle with a rotary gear on the end.
This allows you to rotate the socket (and thus the nut/bolt) in various steps up to and including 360 degrees, if space allows.
Ratchets and sockets come in various drive sizes – 1/4 inch, 3/8 inch, 1/2 inch, and 3/4 inch. (and there may be a 1 inch drive for REALLY BIG jobs.)
Thus, certain size sockets work with certain size ratchets, others do not.
When you buy a socket set, all the sockets are matched to the ratchet(s) that is (usually) included. (you can buy the sockets and ratchets separately.)

40 years ago or so, I purchased a socket set from K-Mart.
It included a 3/8 inch ratchet and several standard depth sockets.
It also included several 1/4 inch sockets and an adapter that allowed the 3/8 inch ratchet to fit the 1/4 inch sockets.
The set has been adequate for 90 percent of my jobs.
But the lack of deep-well sockets was a problem.
And this was made more apparent because, as part of the tools supplied by my last employer, was a socket set which included deep-well sockets. (which came in handy many times in my work.)

A task in my Flip House has required a deep-well sock.
Thus, I find myself lusting after a new socket set which includes deep-well sockets.
So, I set out to find a “good” quality set of sockets (with ratchet(s)) that had the following attributes:

3/8 inch drive ratchet
1/4 inch drive ratchet
Standard (fractional) sockets only (no metric) in standard depth AND deep-well depth for BOTH 3/8 AND 1/4 inch drives.
And I want all of this in a nice single plastic or metal case/box.
And I do not want them made in China. (I prefer the USA but Taiwan is okay)
And, while price is not my first consideration (I do not need the cheapest set available) I am not willing to pay $500.00 for these tools (yes, there are sets out there that cost this much and more)
Simple, right?
Not.

I went shopping on the internet.
Guess what – almost nobody sells a set like this any more.
I can find sets with standard-depth and deep-well 3/8 inch drive sockets but without any 1/4 inch sockets.
I can find sets with standard-depth and deep-well 1/4 inch drive sockets but without any 3/8 inch sockets.
I can find sets with standard depth 3/8 inch drive and 1/4 inch drive sockets but without any deep-well sockets.
I can find sets with 3/8 inch deep-well sockets but they include metric sockets (which I do not need or want).
I can find sets with standard depth and deep-well 3/8 inch sockets and standard depth 1/4 inch sockets, but no deep-well 1/4 inch sockets.
I can find sets that include everything I want, but are made in China.
I found a set that includes everything I want but cost $150.00.
I found a set that includes everything I want but cost $500.00.
I found one set that included everything I wanted that cost over $2000.00.

In the end, I found what I wanted in two sets at Granger, a 3/8 inch drive set and a 1/4 inch drive set, both with deep-well sockets, no metric stuff included, made in Taiwan.
Now I am happy.

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