The 10 Best Socket Holders

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This wiki has been updated 27 times since it was first published in March of 2017. Both DIYers and professional contractors know how frustrating it can be when you can't find the socket you're looking for. Storing them is often a choice between throwing them in your toolbox or leaving them on the cheap tray they came on. These dedicated holders, however, will ensure that you always have the right gear for the job, while also keeping your equipment neat and organized. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Goliath Industrial

2. Ernst Manufacturing Socket Boss

3. Olsa Tools

Editor's Notes

February 09, 2021:

While the Mechanic’s Time Savers and Capri Tools SR28-6-2 fell by the wayside, due to availability issues, we went ahead and quickly found two new options as replacements.

Our first new pick, the eHomeA2Z Magnetic Dish, is – as you may have inferred from the name – a simple magnetic tray without clips. It’s an option that might be useful for users who have only a few homeless sockets lying around their garage, and it can also come in handy during a car repair (by providing a safe place to temporarily store hardware), but its downside is that it provides no real organizational value.

In sharp contrast to our first new addition, our second fresh pick, the Goliath Industrial, uses plastic clips with spring-loaded ball bearings, affixed to metal trays, to comprehensively organize large socket collections of up 240 pieces.

If, in spite of all the great options presented on this list, you decide that organizing your socket collection is a task too insurmountable to attempt, then you might be better off investing in a new ratchet set, or assessing whether a universal socket wrench might meet your needs.

July 09, 2019:

Whether you're just starting to corral your tools, or you already have a complete collection of tool organizers, we think any of these socket holders will make an excellent addition to your gear. Still at the top are the Ares Organizer and Olsa Tools models, which boast the kind of thoughtful construction professionals demand. They'll keep your sockets in place, so there's nothing to worry about, and they aren't overly expensive, to boot. We also decided to add the Ernst Manufacturing Socket Boss as a high-quality option. This 2-rail system works on your bench or in a drawer, and it holds a total of 30 sockets, so it's neither exceptionally large nor annoyingly small. And speaking of small, we decided to keep the Capri Tools SR38-6-2. It's only made to hold a handful of sockets at any one time, but it does this job well, especially thanks to its spring-loaded ball bearings. Finally, we opted to remove the Grip Tray Set. In theory, it should hang on the wall, but in practice, it's just not strong enough to do the job right. The Lisle 40120 is a better choice if you're looking for quick and simple hanging.

Special Honors

Monster Lock-a-Socket If you're the type who's always rough on your tools, then you may just need the Monster Lock-a-Socket. Crafted from 16-gauge powder-coated steel, it's made to take some abuse, while its bright green coloring ensures that it stands out, no matter where you set it down.

4. Ares Organizer

5. Hansen Global

6. ML Tools

7. Olsa Tools Magnetic

8. Lisle 40120

9. Ares 70219

10. eHomeA2Z Magnetic Dish

A Brief History Of The Socket Wrench

After a court battle that lasted over 20 years, Roberts was eventually awarded a large sum in damages.

Socket wrenches have been around a lot longer than you might suspect. The first models existed as early as the Middle Ages, when they were used to wind clocks. The wrenches used to turn those heads were more like cranks than wrenches, which makes sense given the fact that clocks in those days were pretty massive.

The ratchet-style wrench wouldn't be used until the late 19th century C.E., when American inventor J.J. Richardson patented his prototype in Vermont in 1863. It looked remarkably similar to the ones we still use today.

Socket wrenches have even been the subject of lengthy court battles. A man named Peter M. Roberts invented a new wrench that allowed the user to swap out sockets one-handed, saving a huge amount of time and trouble for anyone trying to make a change in tight spaces.

Roberts submitted his patent application to Sears in 1964, which quickly rushed the new units into production. The company did pay Roberts for his troubles — but it was a paltry sum compared to the massive profit Sears made off them in the first year alone.

After a court battle that lasted over 20 years, Roberts was eventually awarded a large sum in damages. He used the money to start a new tool company — presumably one that would actually pay him for his efforts.

Socket wrenches are now an essential part of any mechanic's tool kit, and they're one of the biggest time-saving devices available to DIYers. The next time you have a big project on your hands, you should trust your socket wrench — but keep an eye on Sears.

How To Use A Socket Wrench

Socket wrenches are easy tools to use; in addition to being incredible time-savers, they're also very user-friendly, making them equally as suitable for novices as they are for seasoned pros — all of which can make it very embarrassing for you if you have to admit you don't know how to use one.

Nut drivers are usually a smart choice if the socket wrench isn't working.

The first thing you need to do is to make sure you have the correct socket for the job. This can be more difficult than it sounds, as sometimes it seems like you can't find a single one that fits just right. That's because there are two different types of socket: metric and SAE. If you can't find a socket that works, you should try using the other measurement system and see if you have any more luck.

Once you get the correct socket, it's time to apply pressure. If you have a ratchet wrench, there's a mechanism on the head that allows you to determine which direction it turns. That means it will only apply pressure either clockwise or counter-clockwise; if you push in the opposite direction, it will simply spin. This makes it easy to quickly screw or unscrew a bolt, but if you didn't know about it, you might think you had a faulty wrench.

Be sure you pull on the wrench when using it, rather than push. If you push and the socket slips off, or the nut gives way when you're not prepared, your hand is going to fly forward, and you're going to skin your knuckles — a great way to ruin your day. Pulling gives you a lot more control over the force, and less likelihood of hurting yourself.

Don't apply any more torque than you absolutely have to. You can round off the top of a bolt if you're not careful, so if it's not budging, consider another approach. Nut drivers are usually a smart choice if the socket wrench isn't working.

Once you get the hang of it, you'll find that you use your socket wrench all the time — and you'll wonder how you ever lived without it.

Other Ways To Keep Your Tools Organized

The great thing about sockets is that they make your life — and many of your jobs — easier. The bad thing about them is that they tend to scatter the first chance they get.

Luckily, now that you've got a socket holder, that's not a problem anymore. But how do you organize your other tools?

Once you get your shop in order, you'll be amazed at how much better it looks — and how much easier it is to get your work done.

And make no mistake, it's important to get organized. Every minute you spend looking for lost tools is time you could've spent being productive, not to mention the cost of replacing the items you can never locate. Plus, constantly searching for the right item can really add to your stress levels.

To make this chore a little easier, you can start by getting rid of any extraneous tools you might have lying around. We know, we know — getting rid of tools sounds a lot like blasphemy. However, it's much easier to stay organized when you have less stuff to keep organized.

Next, divide your tools according to how often you use them. If something is rarely needed, you can put it in a cabinet or a drawer, so that it's not constantly in your way. The tools you need every day, however, should stay close at hand.

Ideally, you should be able to see them at all times, as well. This might mean installing a pegboard on the wall, or using clear containers. Otherwise, keep your tool chest well-organized, so you always know which item is in which drawer.

Take notice of where you naturally look for certain tools, as well, and try to keep them in those places. It's much easier to situate things in a way that's logical and intuitive than it is to re-train yourself to look in new places.

Once you get your shop in order, you'll be amazed at how much better it looks — and how much easier it is to get your work done.

Will Rhoda
Last updated by Will Rhoda

After deciding that the pen was mightier than the pliers, Canadian electrical contractor William Rhoda abandoned his career and headed back to college, where he majored in marketing and advertising and won a scholarship along the way to earning a diploma in creative communications. His past career landed him a depth of knowledge in tools and hardware, while his current career schooled him in audio, video and camera equipment. During his leisure time, he’s learned lots about outdoor gear, and years of tiresome backyard maintenance have taught him all about pools and hot tubs. His recreational pursuits include rest, relaxation and revolutionary action, and his roommate’s a hairless cat.

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