It’s a question people have asked for years, which should I use, 6 point vs 12 point socket for a particular job?
There are hundreds of socket variations, but in this article we’ll go into 6 point sockets and 12 point sockets, 6 and 12-point socket fasteners, different types of bolts, and their advantages and differences.
6 point vs 12 point sockets – which is the best option?
There are a selection of benefits, advantages and downsides to both six point sockets and twelve-point sockets, as they both have their own applications.
For example, your socket of choice will depend on thicker walls or thinner walls that provide provide different levels of torque resistance, as well as the type of fastener being used.
The hex shape of 6 point sockets allows for more grip on nuts, whereas the large amount of contact points on 12 point sockets allows the user to work in tight spots, when working in confined spaces, you don’t need to turn the socket so far to get a grip on the bolt heads.
Another major difference is the durability of a 6-point vs. 12-point socket. For example, the thicker wall structure of a 6pt socket mean the socket is less likely to wear down over time.
The same goes for bolts, as a six point socket can connect with the bolt more and is less likely to slip and starting rounding down a bolt.
While easier to initially connect to the bolt head thanks to the additional contact surface, 12-pt sockets provide less torque resistance which can result in rounded nuts. Even a quality tool is at higher risk of shattering!
Advantages of 6 point and 12 point sockets
The flat edges of a 6-point wrench provide less range of motion, but is a more robust socket than a 10-sided socket version, or a 5-point or pentagon socket. This is thanks to the much thicker socket walls and less points of contact, meaning there is more torque resistance.
The combination of thicker walls and better socket contact allows for more efficient torque transfer, and a more secure socket that won’t strip screw heads or break.
12-pt chrome sockets do still have advantages over a 6-point socket. For example, when combined with ratcheting socket or box end wrenches, working in a tight space or around corners becomes significantly easier.
The choice of wrench can affect working conditions, as some wrenches provide lots more grip than others.
This is thanks to the increased number of contact points for the socket to attach to the bolt. This allows a 12 point socket to rotate at 60 degrees, whereas a 6 point socket can only turn bolts at 30 degrees per rotation.
In other words, the benefits of more angles is that wrenches are easier to work with.
Can I use a 12 point socket on a 6-point nut?
Yes! 12pt sockets can be used for 12pt bolts as well as 6pt bolts.
On the other hand, a 6-point socket can only be used for a 6-point fastener. The hexagonal shape of the socket will only match a six point bolt.
The same goes for 10 point and 5 point sockets, as 10pt sockets can be used for both types of bolts, whereas 5pt sockets are restricted to just 5pt bolts.
As we discussed above, the type of socket shape chosen will provide different levels of torque resistance.
6 point sockets are generally better than 12 point sockets, as 6 point sockets are better at shifting a stubborn fastener.
Under high levels of pressure six-point sockets provide better socket contact, meaning there is less chance it will round bolts. Under large amounts of high pressure, 6 point sockets are the best move thanks to their six points of contact.
Impact sockets, which are most often used by mechanics with impact drivers to loosen stuck bolts and lug nuts, are usually six-point sockets. This is because impact sockets provide high levels of torque resistance thanks to their thicker wall structure.
Types of Bolts
There are many types of bolts, such as the E-Torx bolt, a hex bolt, lag bolts, rod bolts and the spline bolt. This can get confusing!
The bolt head will determine the type of socket required, as different bolts have different specifications. However, there is an easy way to find out what kind of socket is required.
The clue is in the name! Usually, sockets will have a name that matches the type of bolt being used. Keep those eyes peeled!
What is the point of a 12 point socket?
If six-point sockets are the more robust socket, can provide more torque resistance, and are less likely to strip bolts, then what is the point of a twelve point socket?
The answer lies in the working situation. If you’re working in with very limited room for movement, or need to work around corners, a 12 point socket can provide better leverage than a five or six point socket. This is thanks to the multiple contact points on a 12 point socket.
The advantages of a 12 point socket are contextual, so make sure you’re in the right situation when you use one!
Why are 12 point sockets cheaper?
12 point sockets tend to be cheaper as they are usable for a number of bolts. It saves the consumer buying a set of tools that they might not use.
They might not be any cheaper to buy than a six point socket initially, but on the other hand it’s cheaper in the long term and can be the right tool in plenty of situations.
Can you strip 12 point sockets?
Unfortunately, yes! They’re more likely to slip and strip both the socket and the nut or bolt head. This is down to the thinner walls and lower level of torque transfer. When force is applied to thin-walled sockets, they can be stripped by fasteners and bolts.
It can be tough to break tools, but it can happen if a socket has a slip or is used incorrectly.
While a 12 point socket can be useful in situations like working in cramped conditions, six point sockets are always better when more force is required.
In the debate of 6 point vs 12 point sockets, there is no clear-cut answer. A socket’s ability to get the job done is affected by lots of different factors: material
Confined spaces, the type of job, and amounts of grip required also all affect the choice of socket.
Using the information above, you should have a better understanding, and be able to use your head to make an informed decision, to get the job done!