When using air powered tools it is important to use the correct sockets and accessories such as adaptors, extension bars and universal joints. An air impact wrench exerts a different force than a traditional hand held wrench, for example a wheel brace or breaker bar. An impact wrench uses a repeating hammer action to tighten or undo nuts, bolts and fasteners, as opposed to the steady torque of a hand held tool and because it exerts these impact forces it is necessary to use the correct type of socket.
Impact sockets are specially designed to resist the stresses of impact and to resist the high impact forces exerted by the impact wrench and they are manufactured to provide the best combination of strength and impact resistance. Impact adaptors, universal impact joints, impact universal joint sockets and impact extension bars are also available. All Sealey impact sockets are manufactured from the very highest quality materials with manganese phosphate, electrodeposited finish for corrosion resistance. Unlike chrome plated sockets they usually come with a black coating. Sealey use Chrome Vanadium steel on 3/8” and ½” drive and Chrome Molybdenum steel used on ¾” and 1” drives. Sealey’s WallDrive® sockets allow transfer of up to 30% more torque to the fixing before the risk of damage to the corners of the hexagon and also allow damaged fixings to be removed more easily. Alloy wheel impact socket sets are also available. These are Chrome Molybdenum sockets, hardened, tempered and anodised for corrosion resistance and are also suitable for use with impact tools. Each 6-point socket is sleeved and has an insert to prevent damage to alloy wheels and nuts. These are colour coded sockets to assist ease of size selection. They come in a number of colours such as blue, gold, red and green. These sockets are designed to be used on alloy wheels to prevent damage.
The use of multiple extensions and universal joints will reduce the impact force, and should be minimized. Multiple extensions and joints can cause the drive bars to flex and oscillate, dampening the impact force, and not transmitting the full torque. To limit this effect it is more efficient to use a single longer extension bar or universal joint as opposed to a number of short ones.
The use of incorrect sockets, such as chrome plated steel sockets, can be dangerous and is not recommended. These types of sockets are not capable of withstanding the sudden high torque of an impact tool. They can shatter explosively or split, also causing damage such as rounding to the head of the nut, bolt or fastener being removed and resulting in damage to the socket itself. Once damaged, a fastener can be extremely difficult to remove.
Impact sockets can be used with hand held wrenches, wheel braces and breaker bars, and also with cordless impact wrenches which are becoming increasingly popular nowadays; however they are mainly used with air powered impact tools. A great advantage of using an air impact wrench or ratchet is that the tool will do all the work. All the operator has to do is squeeze the trigger and the torque and effort is applied by the air tool, resulting in the task being carried out efficiently and with less effort than when using a manual wrench. In some circumstances, where a great deal of torque is required to undo a fastener, it may not be possible for the operator to apply enough torque or force manually. The hammer action of the impact wrench can exert anywhere from 100lbs to 2000lbs of working torque, depending on the tool being used.
Safety glasses should always be worn when working with impact tools as there could be flying debris such as shards of metal, rust, dirt and grime.