I'm currently a first year apprentice and building my tool kit as I go. I see often larger socket sets include 1/2" drive sockets ranging from 8 or 10mm.

Is there a reason that 1/2" drive sockets of that size would be useful? I understand that larger drive ratchets are stronger and can withstand more torque force, as well as allow for more torque due to longer handles, but wouldn't using such a large drive on fasteners that are that small be inappropriate and possibly detrimental if 1/4" or 3/8" are available?

Is there another reason I am missing? Any answer is appreciated, thanks!

  • Well, sometimes the small buggers hold on so tight that the only option is to go bigger. Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 11:57
  • I started with 3/8, then invested in 1/2, then 1/4. I see no use for a 8mm 1/2 drive socket, 10mm is smallest in my 1/2 set and I have never used it.
    – Moab
    Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 16:49
  • 1
    Maybe the 1/2" ratchet is already in your hand, and your 1/2" socket set is already within arms reach, and you don't want to have to go back to your tool chest for a smaller set? Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 17:55
  • I own 1/2" down to 10mm and 1/4" up to 13mm. For me two wrench sizes is enough. I have no interest in 3/8" since I destroyed a 1/2 wrench to 3/8" socket adapter trying to remove a wheel nut when i was 15. One good thing about the 1/2" 10mm socket is its diameter is large enough that it's nice to finger tighten without a wrench at all, Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 21:06

3 Answers 3


If you have to start somewhere and need a complete set to do your job, having the 1/2" drive go down to the 8mm size helps you to do this without having to buy the smaller set. If you can get the complete job done with a single set of sockets, you won't need to get the 3/8" and 1/4" drive sets yet.

When working professionally, having the different sized sets makes a lot of sense. Sometimes it allows you to get to the smaller fasteners which may be in smaller areas, but for the most part, the 1/2" will do the job.

When starting out, you'll need a set, as I stated. You can range down using a 1/2" drive to get something small, but try loosening a fastener with a 7/8" head using a 1/4" drive ... it's not going to happen.


Convenience, mainly! Lots of small parts such as covers are held on with small bolts, and it means you can cover the full range of useful sizes with just one set, should you so wish.


Having a 1/2" drive 8mm socket will get in your way more than it will prove useful.

The rim of the socket that fits on the bolt will be too think for you to fit onto an 8mm bolt head time and time again.

Perhaps you don't wrench on smaller engines very much, then you won't run into issues as often. If you encountered this clutch cover that size socket will not fit.

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You will need a 1/4" or 3/8" drive socket from time to time with smaller and tighter components that you need to remove and having a giant 1/2" drive socket will hinder you from being successful.

I would stop 12mm 1/2" sockets. Any smaller an your potentially wasting your money and buttonholing yourself into 1/2" ratchets that won't work for you in tighter circumstances.

Is there a reason that 1/2" drive sockets of that size would be useful?

Rarely. They will be frequently burdensome and prevent you from accomplishing your goal in tight places. As well, the giant 1/2" will also prevent removal of small bolts in tight places.

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