Working with an impact wrench is pretty standard nowadays. To be more specific, almost every mechanic keeps this power tool in their tool collection. Because, removing heavily rusted nuts and perfectly tightening a big nut is quite impossible without using an impact wrench. So, it is very crucial to know how you can operate this tool using proper functions.
However, in the beginning, most people struggle to cope with the situation because of the varied setups of an impact wrench and can’t decide which socket is suitable for that specific job. So, a common question people ask is: Can you use regular sockets with an impact wrench? I am glad to answer this question in this article for your convenience and to help you operate an impact wrench properly.
In this post we'll cover:
What Is An Impact Wrench?
Basically, an impact wrench can smoothly remove frozen nuts within a very short time. To do this, a hammering mechanism works inside this tool. When you pull the trigger, the impact wrench activates the hammering system and creates a rotational force in its driver. Thus, the shaft head and the socket get enough torque to turn a rusted nut.
Looking at the most popular types, we’ve found two vastly used options for every mechanic. These are electric and pneumatic or air. Simply, the air or pneumatic impact wrench runs from the pressure created by the airflow of the air compressor. So, you need an air compressor to power your air impact wrench, and setting your air compressor’s airflow in a limited pressure will help you use the impact wrench for a specific condition.
Another type, which is called electric, has two variations. You will find it in both corded and cordless versions. Identically, the corded one needs a direct electricity supply through the cord or cable to activate itself. And, the cordless impact wrench is highly portable because of its inside power source using batteries. Not to mention, whatever type of your impact wrench is, you always need an impact socket to use in your impactor.
What Are The Regular Sockets?
Regular sockets are also known as standard sockets or chrome sockets. If we look at the reason behind the invention of these sockets, they were actually brought for use in manual ratchets. In most cases, the regular sockets fit in manual wrenches perfectly since the standard sockets are introduced to match with the manual tools. The most popular sizes of regular sockets are ¾ inch, 3/8 inch, and ¼ inch.
Generally, you can use the regular sockets for smaller tasks in your garage or simple DIY projects. Compared to the impact sockets, the standard sockets don’t have much torque, and they cannot withstand such heavy conditions. Though the regular sockets are made using a rigid metal called chrome vanadium steel, this metal cannot provide enough tensile like the impact sockets. Because of the hardness, breaking a regular socket is not tough when working with enormous pressure.
Using Regular Sockets With An Impact Wrench
Regular sockets are already familiar to you in many ways. Comparatively, regular sockets cannot endure the vibration like the impact sockets, and we’ve already mentioned that these sockets are a bit harder to work with. Besides, when you run the impact wrench after attaching a regular socket in its head, the high speed of the driver may break the socket due to its tensile characteristic. So, the final answer is no.
Still, many reasons remain why you cannot use a standard socket with your impact wrench. For one thing, the chrome socket cannot control the power provided by the impact wrench. Therefore, it is pretty easy to damage the nut as well as the socket itself. As a result, regular sockets can never be a safe option.
Sometimes, you may be able to fit a regular socket in your impact wrench, but you will never get a higher efficiency using such a socket. Most of the time, the risk of damage and safety issues remain. For the more rigid metal, the standard socket is less flexible, and trying to bend or work with a lot of force may break the socket into pieces.
If you look at the wall of the socket, the standard one comes with a very thick wall. That means, the weight of this socket will also be higher. Besides, the metal used to make this socket is also heavier. So, the overall weight of a regular socket is much higher and cannot provide good friction utilizing the power of the impact wrench.
If you talk about the retaining ring, this little part is used to keep the socket safely attached to the wrench head. Comparatively, you won’t get a better ring on a regular socket than an impact socket. And, don’t expect the regular socket to perform a safe use in terms of heavy-wrenching tasks.
We hope you have found the answer now that you have reached the end. If you want safety and good performance, you cannot use a regular socket with an impact wrench.
Even so, if you’re going to use a regular socket in your impact wrench, we will suggest you not use it for big and frozen nuts and always wear safety materials before work. As a rule of thumb, we will always recommend avoiding standard sockets for impact wrenches if you don’t want any potentially dangerous situations.
I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Tools Doctor, content marketer, and dad. I love trying out new equipment, and together with my team I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with tools & crafting tips.