What are the different types of socket storage cases?
Sockets and socket sets are best kept in a purpose made storage box or chest, to help prevent pieces becoming lost. Socket sets are normally sold with their own box or storage container.
The socket set you should buy may not only be influenced by what is contained within the set, but also what sort of storage case is provided with it. Socket storage cases are most commonly made of either plastic or metal. Wooden cases are usually reserved for special display or collector’s editions.
Metal Socket Storage Containers
There are three types of metal storage cases; small ones with plastic or foam inserts, toolboxes with socket rails and drawers or fold-out compartments for accessories and other tools, and large tool chests with sliding drawers which contain foam inserts or plastic mouldings.
Some metal tool cases have locks on each drawer, whilst others have one lock that locks all the drawers. Locks are an important feature if you have your tool box or storage chest in a workshop or vehicle that is shared with other people.
When a toolbox or storage chest is used to transport your tools in a vehicle, locks prevent the drawers opening and tools falling out during transit.
It is common for at least one of the wheels fitted to large tool chests and trolleys to have a locking brake, so you can lock the chest in place once it has been moved to where its needed.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of wheels on socket sets?
Metal storage cases are stronger than plastic ones and so are less likely to break.
Hinges are less likely to break than those on plastic storage cases.
Locks are a more common feature than on plastic cases.
Heavier, should you have to carry them to a job site.
More expensive than plastic cases.
Cheaper metal cases can rust if they lack galvanising or chrome plating to protect them.
Plastic Socket Cases
Two methods of manufacturing are used to make socket storage cases from plastic: vacuum forming and injection blow moulding.
Vacuum Formed Cases
Vacuum forming is used to make smaller, less expensive storage cases or the inserts that sit inside metal storage boxes.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of vacuum formed cases for socket sets?
Vacuum formed socket cases are less expensive.
They provide easy identification of each socket size.
They enable you to quickly tell if there is anything missing from your set.
Vacuum formed plastic is thin and brittle and so can easily break.
Sockets can rattle and work their way loose within the case when being transported in a vehicle.
Injection Blow Moulded Socket Cases
Injection blow moulding is used to make larger, more complex cases than is possible with vacuum forming. These are a great way to oragnise your socket set.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of injection blow moulded socket cases?
Strong and don’t dent or break after being lightly dropped or knocked.
Water resistant and will not deteriorate under contact with most chemicals or oils.
Allow easy identification of different socket sizes.
Sockets are held firmly so won’t rattle whilst being transported.
Catches and hinges often fail, resulting in a case that is split in two.
Plastic wears over time, causing the grip on the sockets and accessories to become loose.
Other plastic storage case features to look for:
Soft rubber feet on the base of cases stop them from sliding around on inclined or slippery surfaces or whilst being transported. They also help to prevent damage to the surface that the case is placed on.
Removable hinges that allow you to separate the case into two halves. This can turn the storage case into two large plastic insert trays for use in the drawers of a toolbox or chest.