Whether you’re tinkering with the family vehicle, a serious rebuilder of classic cars or a professional mechanic, the best socket organizer makes a huge difference in how efficiently you can perform repairs.
Having some type of socket organizer is key to keeping on top of your equipment. Whether you want a magnetic holder or a snap-on holder, both will keep your tools organized and thus save a lot of space and time by offering the convenience of quick retrieval of the same.
Here’s a look at different types of organizers and what you should look for when buying a socket system for your garage.
Types of socket system organizers
Every mechanic, from hobbyist to pro, has their preference for organizing their tools, especially sockets, which are needed in abundance in a huge variety of sizes for different aspects of automotive repair.
Any type of organizational system has the immediate advantages of both letting you find the right socket quickly and allowing you to see if anything is missing in your set.
Other people inadvertently walking off with your tools is a common problem in many garages.
While a hanging pegboard-type organizer works for some small garages, more mechanics favor tool chests with drawers, many of which permit them to roll their tools wherever they need them on the floor, indoors and out.
The problem with moving a tool chest is that small items, like sockets, get jolted and if left loose, shift around in the drawers, making it difficult to find them again.
Hence the need for some sort of organizer. With larger, stationary tool drawers, it’s still vital to keep sockets and wrenches sorted for efficiency’s sake.
Organizers for drawer tool chests
To maintain order in your tool chest, an organizing structure is a must.
If you have a large number of sockets and related tools, multiple organizers may be needed.
The first thing you need to do when purchasing a socket organizer is measure the inside of your drawers to see how much space you have to deal with.
Think too about accessing tools in the very back of a drawer.
Be aware that while it’s nice to have everything in one drawer, you may have to empty a second or even a third drawer to accommodate all your gear.
You don’t want to have to pull a drawer completely out of its moorings to retrieve or replace sockets in the very back every time you use them.
That’s where the next step comes in: you need to inventory your sockets and wrenches, which should ideally be housed together, so you know exactly how many storage slots you need.
Once you know how much gear you have and the space dedicated to hold it, take a look at the different types of organizers on the market in terms of how they hold sockets.
Talk to your buddies or other mechanics about what they like and don’t like about their systems.
You’ll find that some folks prefer magnetic rails, while others like snap-on rails.
Probably the two most popular systems are either raised pegs on trays that sit on the floor of each drawer or raised trays with holes in them in which the sockets sit.
The more equipment you have or are planning to acquire the more you need flexibility in how your system is laid out.
In addition to having enough space for all your sockets and tools, you want to be able to sort your tools how you like according to how you use them.
For example, a system that puts 1/4-, 3/8- and 1/2-inch sockets in discrete sections may work better than one that mixes them somewhat arbitrarily.
Do you use a mixture of standard, metric and Torx sockets? If so, you need trays that accommodate all of those measurements.
How many wrenches and other tools do you want to store in the same location?
Ideally, you want trays that give you enough versatility to arrange your sockets the way you like them and also provide adequate space for your hand tools.
Some socket trays are made to go in specific brands of tool chests and don’t offer as much flexibility or can’t be used at all in drawers made by other manufacturers.
Many mechanics find a sort of a la carte approach to socket organization works best for them.
They mix and match socket systems of different sizes and makers to, in effect, create a customized drawer for themselves.
Final considerations: What’s the best socket organizer on the market?
There are a few final things to think about when assembling your system.
If you’re using a peg-type tray, make certain the pegs are substantial enough to hold your sockets if the drawer is rolled or jarred.
Some systems come with labels, whether embossed or stick-on.
If not, you may want to grab a label maker and create your own for clearer identification of all your elements.
Also, many mechanics like to use color-coded trays; for example, blue trays are only used for metric sockets and red for SAE.
There are some terrific systems available today, so it’s a matter of doing a little advance prep and finding out what will work best for your garage.
Look at photos online to get ideas about how you can put a socket organizer to work for you, and when you go to purchase, set up and use your system, it will be a breeze.