Ask the Expert: how to choose the best ratchets and sockets

Published : 02/26/2020 17:30:25
Categories : Mister Worker , Professional working tools guide

Giovanni Ponissi

Today on the Mister Worker™ Blog we talk about FACOM's wide range of ratchets and sockets with Giovanni Ponissi, Trade Marketing Specialist at Stanley Black & Decker.

MW: What are the characteristics to consider when choosing a ratchet?

G.P.: In addition to the control panel, the choice of a ratchet is influenced by the context within which the tool has to be used, the activities to be carried out and the accessibility of the spaces. The wide range of FACOM ratchets is made up of about 30 different models, designed and produced specifically to allow any type of intervention in the industrial or automotive sector, in absolute safety and with maximum productivity. 

Among the various models available, I would like to focus on the high performance 1/4" R.181 ratchet which has a slim and compact head design the head with a reduced height and a 4.5 degrees recovery angle, characteristics that guarantee excellent tightening power and great precision in awkward or tight spaces. The ratchet, made in Italy, is particularly suitable for car repair mechanics, maintenance specialists and engineers working on vehicle engines or on complex industrial machines. The innovative inverter mechanism positioned directly on the bi-material handle is timesaving and can be used quickly and safely with one hand if necessary.

As the whole range of FACOM hand tools, the R.181 ratchet is made with high quality materials for greater durability and high resistance, features that classify this ratchet within the selection of Lifetime Guaranteed FACOM items. The robust 100% dustproof and IP54 certified head does not require any maintenance and guarantees the product a longer life. Finally, the bi-material handle ensures maximum grip and comfort during its use, and it is resistant to workshop chemicals and solvents. A hanging hook has been built into the end of the handle for additional practicality and safety. 

ratchets and sockets

MW: Are there specific ratchets for different professions?

G.P.: Within the FACOM range, there are different ratchets specifically developed to carry out different applications and are therefore linked to different professions.

For example, if you operate in an environment subject to agents capable of compromising the functionality of your tools, such as dust, industrial sludge and solvents, there are very robust ratchets with a high degree of impermeability. This is the case of the FACOM range 161 (1/4": RL.161, 3/8": JL.161, 1/2": SL.161, 3/4": KL.161) and 161B (1/4": R.161B, 3/8": J .161B, 1/2": S.161B), which have a high resistance to abrasion and the most severe workshop solvents.

The SLS (safety lock system) ratchets allow you to intervene at high altitude in total safety because they eliminate the risks of accidental falls, they avoid waste of time and improve productivity. The FACOM 171 SLS range of ratchets is therefore ideal for workers who carry out operations at more than 2 meters high (1/4": RL.171SLS, 3/8": JL.171SLS, 1/2": SL.171SLS).

Finally, the special 1/4" FACOM R.180 ratchet is compact (length: 115mm), compatible with reduced sockets, it has a 180° flexible head and a 60 teeth mechanism for a recovery to 6° for applications in areas that are difficult to access such as car engines.

MW: What improvements were made with the introduction of extension wrenches?

G.P.: Ideal for automotive applications, the AXS extension wrench maximizes the effectiveness of the ratchets in situations that require intervention in narrow spaces. The characteristics of the crown-pinion mechanism combined with the high resistance of its components make it possible to carry out otherwise complicated operations, benefiting from greater manoeuvring space and allowing the end-user to drive more speed and more strength (Ratio 13:8 ≈ 1,6). The chain extension is available with 1/4 "control panels; 3/8 "and 1/2" and in the practical assortments, complete with ratchets, extensions and sockets.

ratchet and sockets

MW: What are the characteristics to consider when choosing a socket?

G.P.: On the market there are hundreds of sockets that differ in size, material, heat treatment, dimensions and profile. FACOM undoubtedly represents a market reference point and the classification of the different types of ratchets and sockets in the F18 catalog has always been a guide for professionals. 

The range of sockets is divided into the following categories:

The main characteristics to consider when choosing a socket are, in addition to the control panel and the size, the material, the space and the performance in accordance with the standards. Steel sockets with chrome finish (for example the S.H series) are ideal for pairing with hand tools such as ratchets, handles or extensions and represent, by far, the most widespread and used family in the mechanical sector.

The orange sockets (for example the R.AVSE series) are used in applications that require work under electrical voltage, they are covered with a specific material capable of isolating them up to 1000V and comply with the requirements of the EN60900 standard.

FACOM ADF non-sparcking sockets (for example the M.SR series) are made of a special copper-beryllium alloy which makes them specific for applications in ATEX environments, subject to high risk of explosion. These have been designed for use in an explosive or flammable environment, where classic steel instruments can accidentally produce sparks and cause irreparable damage. 

Impact sockets, on the other hand, require separate study.

ratchet and sockets

MW: When should you prefer an impact socket over a normal one?

G.P.: The use of power tools or pneumatic tools requires the choice of an impact socket (for example the NS.A series) with a chrome molybdenum finish. These products have chemical characteristics that make them more resistant to impulses and safer in case of damage, because they avoid sudden chipping or breakages which are dangerous for the worker. The special steel and heat treatment guarantee a high elastic limit and a great resistance to wear, thus reducing the risk of breaking the socket and any dangerous chipping.

MW: How does FACOM stand out from competing brands?

G.P.: FACOM represents the European leader in the supply of impact sockets, all references are covered by the Lifetime Warranty, a condition that proves to the excellent quality of the product and the absolute reliability of the internal production processes. The F18 Catalog contains the widest and deepest range on the market, in fact we find sockets of all sizes, compatible with all control panels and with more specific profiles.  

MW: How are FACOM sockets and bits kits classified and what are the differences?

G.P.: There are many packs of FACOM sockets and bits, from small boxes to sponge modules for trolleys. They represent the most suitable solutions for the most specific needs of the market and are completely compatible with FACOM storage solutions.
The various options are practical solutions related to different applications, it is therefore possible to purchase complete sets of sockets and bits according to the operator’s needs. 

There are compact assortments (for example the R1PICO) which have reduced dimensions and weight and contain compact components to access the most remote spaces: the 1/4'' sockets (-20% compared to the normal socket of the same size) and the R.180 1/4'' compact ratchet (115 mm) with 180° flexible head. Its peculiarity is the reduction in dimensions and weight, which makes it easy and practical to carry around.

The NANO assortments are the most complete in the range (they contain up to 38 1/4" tools), and the different versions include the 5 1/4" FACOM ratchets with metric or inch size sockets. The bi-material boxes are practical as they allow an immediate grip of the bits and the sockets, and they are up to 50% more compact than the 1/4” socket sets that come in the traditional MBOX.

Last but not least, the DBOX Socket Sets are the sturdiest, most practical, durable and easy to spot. In fact, they are easy to store inside the trolley and simple to move around thanks to the extension, which works as a handle and the tools stay in place even if the container is overturned. The last category of containers is represented by the foam or plastic modules where the tools are stored and then placed in the trolleys or transported in the practical plastic or metal boxes. The modules are available in 3 different sizes, compatible with each other and perfect for the needs of every professional.

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