Author Topic: How to make Sockets read easier.  (Read 1165 times)

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Offline Steve R

  • Posts: 919
How to make Sockets read easier.
« on: September 10, 2019, 10:34 PM »
Okay, wood working is just part of life with tools. I'm wondering what others have done to their socket sets to make the indented marking more readable. Fill them with paint? or?

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Offline RKA

  • Posts: 1969
Re: How to make Sockets read easier.
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2019, 11:06 PM »
Short of buying a set with laser etched sizes, I store my sockets in trays like this:

The trays live in my toolbox and I typically grab 3-4 I need for a task.  Those are usually easily differentiated since they are not adjacent sizes.

Offline neilc

  • Posts: 2836
Re: How to make Sockets read easier.
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2019, 11:24 PM »
You might try a sharpie and then wipe off the excess with acetone.

Offline SRSemenza

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  • Posts: 9277
  • Finger Lakes Region, NY State , USA
Re: How to make Sockets read easier.
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2019, 12:55 AM »
Paint markers. Either the solid type or liquid. You put plenty on to fill in the markings. Let dry. Wipe off excess with a rag  dampened  in solvent. It will wipe off the smooth surface before it takes it out of the markings.  Wipe just hard enough to remove. Don't scrub.

I have only done a couple wrenches to test. But it works. Future project.

There are pictures and videos to be found with searches.


Online Cheese

  • Posts: 7531
Re: How to make Sockets read easier.
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2019, 01:29 AM »
I have every socket on Snap-on socket rails. A rail for 1/4", for 3/8", for 1/2", for 3/4", for metric, and for British Whitworth. That way needing to know an exact size is less of an issue as you just grab the entire rail from the tool box. I've used this approach for the last 50 years.
Here's a shot of one of the 3/8" drive rails. Impact sockets, crows foot wrenches, drag link sockets...they all come on a rail. It's easier than trying to read a small number stamped into the side of a socket.

Offline six-point socket II

  • Posts: 1388
  • formerly @the_black_tie_diyer
Re: How to make Sockets read easier.
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2019, 06:05 AM »

Rail and/or tray it is. Personally I would not mark sockets by using marker/paint/lacquer.

There are plenty of choices, I've heard great things about those Olsa Tools organizers (as many mechanics use those) Raj linked, and obviously Snap-On ist always a great choice! They have rails, trays, magnetic/non magnetic ...

Kind regards,
Kind regards,

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Online Cheese

  • Posts: 7531
Re: How to make Sockets read easier.
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2019, 09:33 AM »
Something else to think about, is if you're working on a tranny or a differential where there's exposure to lots of thick oil, or suspension components where there's exposure to lots of grease, just wiping down the wrenches/sockets after use isn't really enough to clean them. So I'll throw the wrenches/sockets in parts cleaner...unfortunately that also removes the marking paint.  [eek]

Offline RKA

  • Posts: 1969
Re: How to make Sockets read easier.
« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2019, 09:52 AM »
How about a summary of the options presented thus far?

The various inks don't stand up to solvents used to clean the sockets (as Cheese just mentioned).  I use mine mainly on my car, so after a job they get a wipe down with a rag soaked with brake cleaner (I like to keep them clean).  In environments where they don't get subjected to the grunge in a car, this should be a non-issue.

Laser etching does wear off with enough use.  If you used your sockets daily like an auto mechanic, your most used sockets might see the labeling wear off in a year.  Most sockets are roll stamped for this reason.  But it's probably a non-issue for the average homeowner.

Both of the above solve the visibility issue, but don't address organization.  Hunting through 30+ loose sockets that are easy to read but just tossed in a drawer gets old fast. 

The socket rails can be a nice organizational tool, but don't often help with visibility with stamped sockets and can be a nuisance to grab the entire rail just to find what you need.  You need to make sure you put the sockets back in the rail with the size facing the same direction or you'll drive yourself crazy the next time you're looking for a socket.  Pulling the sockets off the rail can be a nuisance, each rail brand will have varying degrees tension to hold the socket (or magnetic).  Try before you buy to make sure you're happy.  They are very space efficient though.  And if you have shallow drawers, they will still work by turning them on their sides.  Deep sockets on rails will fall over anyway unless you prop them up.

The socket trays often leave empty holes for sizes you don't have (or rarely missing holes for sizes you do have), the hole widths are oversized to accommodate impact sockets and generally they aren't space efficient with the empty holes and gaps between the sockets.  You also need 4" deep drawers to accommodate deep sockets standing up in these trays.  More space inefficiency here.  Visibility and access is great, portability less so if you're taking an entire set to your work.  Rails are better here.

Online Cheese

  • Posts: 7531
Re: How to make Sockets read easier.
« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2019, 10:33 AM »
The other thing that's nice about rails is that every socket has its own home. So when you go to clean up, if there's a socket missing, you'll immediately know and you can find it before it's permanently lost on the street somewhere.

The only down side to rails is if your hands get too oily/greasy, it can be difficult to remove the socket from the rail.  [sad]

If you keep the rails short they're just like carrying another wrench. Here's a shot of 3/8" British Whitworth sockets next to a 3/8" ratchet for comparison. Pretty handy overall.

Offline Bob D.

  • Posts: 1697
Re: How to make Sockets read easier.
« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2019, 11:46 AM »
40+ years ago we used carburetor cleaner for cleaning wrenches and sockets.

Now I like to use CRC Lectra-Motive Cleaner, it's non-conductive, non-flammable, and overall I believe safer than brake cleaner.

Link to SDS and product data sheets.
It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?