12 Point vs 6 Point Socket

Which should you use, 6 point sockets or 12 point sockets?

When you’re looking at socket sets you’re going to see six point socket or twelve point socket and that just means how many sides are on the socket?

6 point socket vs 12 point socket
6 point socket vs 12 point socket

 So a 6 point socket is going to go over a standard hex nut or bolt.

A 6 point end is hexagonal in shape—it has six points, or vertices, evenly spaced at 60 degree increments around a circle. (Check prices here)

And a 12 point socket is going to go over the same nut or bolt in twice as many positions so much easier to use in tight spaces.

A 12 point end is a double-hexagon —it has 12 points, or vertices, evenly spaced at 30-degree increments around a circle. This geometry will also fit on a 6-point fastener. (Check prices here)

6 point double box end wrench
TEKTON 1/2 Inch Drive 6-Point Socket & Ratchet Set, 52-Piece (10-32 mm)

The difference of 12 point vs  6 point socket and vice versa

They both have some really good points.  They both have some negatives associated with them.

 If you look at the twelve versus the six the key differences here are this is a twelve it’s much easier to put on the nut.

6 point vs 12 point sockets
12 point vs 6 point sockets

The 6 point socket has drilled out corners. What makes them less likely to strip the head of a bolt is that it does not put pressure against the point, the pressure is actually put against the shoulder of the point.

That being said, if you can only afford one set of sockets, get the 6 point socket

 

6 point is a little more difficult to put under the nut.  But if you notice here your contact area on a nut on a twelve point is right here on these little points and it basically connects the nut right at the point on the nut.

 It’s very good because it’s very quick and it’s very easy to install on the nut.

 But the contact area is not that great as opposed to a six point.

Although a six point is a little more difficult to install on to a nut and it could be a little slower.

It does allow a greater contact area so if you’re dealing with a nut that has slightly rounded off corners or is very tight this would be the way to go the six point.

 6 point will give you a contact area that’s on the surface on the flat surface on the nut rather than trying to just grab on the corners of the nut.

 So that’s really the prime difference these are a little easier to install onto a nut and you have a shorter term but here is this is just a little more solid and you can get a much tighter fit on the nut.

12 point sockets are best for tight areas where you have limited space to move the ratchet handle and need shorter throw.

If you are working in a tight area, you can always turn the socket partially and eventually get it to get the correct access. An added note, there are differences in the steps of ratchets also. Some higher end ratchets have more steps, but you can strip a ratchet just like you can a head.

When you first start out buying tools you want to start with a six point socket.

6 point socket vs 12 point socket

6 Point Sockets

  • Six point socket is ideal for jobs that require a large amount of force.
  • Additional contact surface along the flat edges of the socket make it less likely to slip.
  • Slipping strips bolts and that’s definitely something you don’t want to do.
  • The thicker walls also add a lot of overall strength.
  • Use of a six-point sockets are: Spark plugs, Lug nuts, Axle nuts, Oil drain bolts. The rest will take either/or.
  • Works great on 6pt fasteners.
6 vs 12 point sockets

12 Point Sockets

12 points are okay if you aren’t torquing much and need an easy connection, hard to see, hard to reach etc. 

Do you know what are 12 point sockets used for?

It is great for use in tight spaces as they allow you to connect to a fastener at more angles.

 For general use 12 points work just fine. If much torque is needed, 6 is the way to go.

  • 12 points will fit the square end of a tap if you cant get a tap handle in to where it needs to be tapped
  • The 12 point sockets were awesome when you only had 36 teeth on your ratchet and a tight area.
  • 12 point is great to bang on stuck/rounded/stripped lugs, nuts, bolts, and break loose or break off
  • 12 are great for removing locking wheel nuts
  • Harley-Davidson uses twelve point bolts at various points on their motorcycles. They advise to have both shallow and deep sockets for things like the brake calipers.
12 point socket definition
12-Point Socket & Ratchet Set

There are three main types of tools where 6-point versus 12-point comes into play


1. Non-Ratcheting Wrenches
2. Ratcheting Wrenches
3. Sockets

 

6 Pt VS 12 Pt Sockets PROS and CONS

What the pros and cons are to each one (12pt vs 6pt sockets)? Obviously I will include my personal thoughts but this is all subjective when it comes to 12 point vs 6 point sockets.

For heavy torque applications whether you’re really torquing something down or breaking it fastener to loose twelve points usually good for light duty stuff. 12’s are good for tight spots.

The six point is going to be a lot less likely to slip or round off a fastener because if you don’t know the points are not what is grabbing really the fastener that’s not where the torque is being applied in the corners.

Sixpoint have thicker walls on the side and they have less points.

So you have much more wall surface there in between each point that’s why most impact sockets are six point.

 Because they’re already thick they need to be thicker to absorb that torque they have thicker walls that are designed to contact the fastener away from the corners on the thick walls.

6 point rounded corners and edge to allow the socket to easily slide onto the fastener.

12 point it’s obviously a lot more points so it’s a lot easier to get on the fastener and then obviously twelve points have a good use.

Conclusion

12 point sockets are fine if you need to make lightweight repairs, but for more heavy-duty jobs, a 6 point one is better. The 6 point sockets are less prone to slippage.

12 Point fastener heads are often found on special high torque applications like head bolts (aircraft). It is also found in tight locations that make using a six point difficult to find enough swing to get it to fit.

My thoughts are six point is obviously better for high torque and anytime I can I will use a six point unless it’s a 12 point fastener then I’ll use twelve point.

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Dencan Brain
I, Dencan Brain BOŽIDAR, call myself a Torque master. I've always been fascinated with cars and tools accessories. You can call me gearheads or petrolheads. I recently started a blog about welding gear.I am also a DIY welding enthusiast because it is affordable for any household work. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and tumblr.

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