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Why are my 1/2 sockets 12 point

I just noticed in my tool set the 1/2 drive sockets are 12 points and the rest, 1/4 deep and normal, 3/8 normal are 6 point.

Why exactly?

It does sound odd, since 6 point is better for the heavier loads on the 1/2" drive sockets.

Some context about your sockets might help:

  • Did you buy the 1/2, 3/8, and 1/4 separately off the shelf?
  • Did you buy everything as a set?
  • What is the brand?

The most important question though, since sockets come either way, is did you look before you bought them to see if they were what you wanted?

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Probably because you didn’t look when you bought them.


I think it’s because 12 point sockets are the common, easy to use kind. It’s only later when people get experience that they notice that deep sockets, and 6 point sockets have their specific advantages.

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I have a mix a 12pt and 6pt sockets. You can buy any set you want.

Thank you need to immediately rush out and buy more sockets. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:
Seriously, I have both 6 point and 12 point sockets in all drive sizes up to 1/2". I have way too many tools!


12-pts are more convenient (less fiddling to get on the nut/bolt), and are more common in 1/2" drives. They are slightly more likely to round off a nut, and slightly more likely to split, although I doubt that happens very often with quality tools. Most all my sockets are 12 pt, except my metric 1/4" and (of course) my impact sockets.

How many folks here have had a problem with 12 pt sockets?

I’ve had my Thorsen 12 pt. 1/2" sockets for about 50 years and have never had a problem stripping a nut. Can’t remember where I bought them. My 3/8" drive are all 6 point.

I did wear out a 12 point 10mm socket so that it started to slip easily. Sears gave me a new socket, so I took a 6 point one this time. Since it took 40 years to wear out the 12 point one, I figure I’m all set for my life and my kid’s lives now.

I bought a Stanley tool set here’s a picture. And it’s odd to, the deep socket that help for lugs are 3/8. But it’s fine because there’s a 1/2 to 3/8 adapter. I didn’t really check for this at first, bought this like a year and a half ago but just noticed and was wondering because usually like having the 1/2 12 point isn’t the most useful?

That’s not what I’m asking.

But why would they put the 12 point on the socket where you will use it the less. My understanding to 12 point is they strip more easily but are useful for tight spaces where you can’t turn you ratchet fully

But wouldn’t you want 12 point on smaller bolts, I don’t see using a 1/2 drive to get that small tight bolt where the nut is hard to get on and where I need less fiddling.

If the bolt or nut can be removed or tightened why concern yourself with how many points the socket has ?

I have no idea why Stanley chose what they did. I’d have expected most to be 12 pt.

It doesn’t matter when you are using a ratchet. The ratchet gear has many detents so it can be positioned just as good using either socket type. It matters when you’re using a breaker bar where the positioning is greatly limited using a 6 pt socket. When will you be using a breaker bar? Not on tiny fasteners.

This is why starter sets have 12pt sockets for the larger ones…they will be the most useful to the beginner…

I’m just curious.

And also why risk stripping a bolt with a 12 point.

Ah it makes sense yeah with a breaker bar…

I stripped the head of the gear oil sump’s plug with a 12-point socket. When I replaced the plug I bought 6-point hardened socket for it.

Now if someone will only make a set of small sockets with a flat end rather than tapered inward.
Little bolt heads being so shallow, it’d help the socket grab the hex better, especially when the head is someone worn. I’ve occasionally ground off a socket flat, but it would seem to be a product worthy of mass manufacturing.

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