How to use a socket with a ratchet wrench
Step 1 - Select socket
You should always use the correct size socket for the fastener you want to turn. Using the wrong size risks damaging both the fastener and the socket.
If you know what size socket the fastener will require, then selecting it is simply a matter of finding the socket marked with the correct size.
If you are unsure of what the correct socket size for the fastener is, take the socket that looks closest to the size you require and place it on the fastener you are looking to turn. You do not need to attach the socket to the ratchet at this stage.
If the socket appears too loose on the fastener or is too small to fit onto the fastener, try the next size up or down until you reach one that has a close fit on the fastener.
Step 2 - Attach socket to ratchet
To attach the socket to the ratchet wrench, the drive square of your socket must be the same size as the drive square of your ratchet. If this is not the case, you will need to use an adaptor.
Once you have selected the correct socket, line the drive socket up with the drive square of the ratchet.
If the socket has a drive socket side hole instead of an internal notch or groove within the drive socket, then this should also be lined up with the ball bearing on the drive square of the turning tool.
Some ratchets have a button on the back of the ratchet head that releases the ball bearing on the drive square. This may have to be pressed in order to attach the socket to the drive square on these ratchets.
Once lined up, press the socket onto the drive square of the ratchet. You should hear the the ball bearing of the ratchet drive square snap into place on the drive socket side hole or internal notch.
Once you have done this, the socket should be firmly attached to the ratchet.
Step 3 - Check turning direction
Make sure that you are turning the socket in the right direction.
To check which direction the ratchet is turning, take hold of the socket in your left hand, and, with your right hand, move the handle of the ratchet left and right.
When looking down on the head of the ratchet, it should turn the socket clockwise to tighten a fastener, and anti-clockwise to loosen it.
If the ratchet is turning the socket in the wrong direction, move the lever or dial switch on the back of the ratchet head into the other position.
Step 4 - Place socket onto fastener
Line the socket head up with the fastener head or nut you wish to turn. You may have to rotate the socket slightly in order to do this.
Once lined up correctly, place the socket head on the fastener head or nut you wish to turn.
Step 5 - Turn fastener
Rotate the handle of the ratchet in the direction you wish to turn the fastener.
When there is no more room to swing the ratchet handle, or you reach what is comfortable whilst holding the ratchet, rotate the ratchet handle back in the opposite direction. As you do this, the ratchet mechanism will not turn the socket or fastener, allowing the handle to be repositioned to the start point again, ready to once again turn the socket and fastener.
Step 6 - Continue to turn
Repeat step 5, swinging the ratchet handle back and forth, until the fastener is tightened or the nut is removed.
Step 7 - Remove socket from ratchet
How you remove the socket from the ratchet will depend on the ratchet you have. With some less expensive ratchets, you simply pull the socket off from the ratchet drive square. This may require a little force to overcome the spring-loaded ball bearing in the ratchet drive square.
Other ratchets have a button on the back of the ratchet head. When this is pressed, it releases the spring from the ball bearing inside the ratchet drive square, which will then allow the socket to fall off the ratchet drive square.