What are the different types of socket storage cases?

     
     
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 There are many different types of storage cases for socket sets 

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. 

 
     
 Snap on 75th anniversary socket set in wooden case  

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.

 
     
   Wonkee Donkee says: "A well organised socket set will allow you to immediately see if a tool is missing, meaning you are less likely to pack up without looking for it." 
     
   

Metal socket storage containers

 
 3 types or sizes of metal storage cases for keeping you sockets in, small socket case, tool box and storage chest 

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.

 
     
 Metal tool box with a lock for securing all of the draws closed 

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.

 
     
 Van fitted out with racking and storage chest for transporting tools to a job site 

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.

 
     
 When wheels are fitted to trolleys and chests they will normally have at least one fitted with a locking brake 

Wheels

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.

 
     
 Advantages and disadvantages of 

ADVANTAGES

 

DISADVANTAGES

 
    
  • 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

 
 Metal socket case with plastic vacuum formed insert, Blow moulded plastic socket case 

Two methods of manufacturing are used to make socket storage cases from plastic: vacuum forming and injection blow moulding.

 
     
 Vacuum forming is often used to make the plastic insert storage trays for sockets in tool boxes and chests 

Vacuum formed cases

Vacuum forming is used to make smaller, less expensive storage cases or the inserts that sit inside metal storage boxes.

 
     
 Advantages and disadvantages of 

ADVANTAGES

 

DISADVANTAGES

 
    
  • 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 case 

Injection blow moulded socket cases

Injection blow moulding is used to make larger, more complex cases than is possible with vacuum forming.

 
     
 Advantages and disadvantages of 

ADVANTAGES

 

DISADVANTAGES

 
    
  • 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:

 
  

Rubber feet

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.

 
     
 Some plastic tool cases are designed to be able to split into two sections and placed in larger tool chest draws 

Removable hinges

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.  

 
     
   Wonkee Donkee says: "This is useful if you keep your sockets in a storage chest in a workshop but also occasionally need to take the sockets out to a job, as you can put the two halves back together again when needed." 
     
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