Thin-Wall Close-Quarters Sockets


Don’t you hate it when the nut is so close to a rivet or part, there’s just no way to get a socket or wrench on it? Today was one of those days, and I was determined to beat that bear. A thin-wall socket would be perfect, but who wants to grind up an expensive Snap-on or Craftsman socket?

So, where to find a cheapo socket… Harbor Freight? Yeah, but it’s too far away. Same for all the big-box stores. Besides, there’s just something horribly wrong with grinding up a $5 socket.

On the way to the third store, I had an idea: a thrift store! I walked out with a half dozen inexpensive sockets for 50 cents—with an endless supply available! Five minutes of grinding, and I had a thin-wall socket for 10-32 nuts. Yay!


  1. For those of you fortunate enough to own a Rotax or other engine with a small form oil filter …Here is a simple solution:
    Buy a Rigid #30 pipe cutter. Just put the oil filter in your vice and place the cutter near the top, go round and round and voila a neat clean cut with less fuss (and often less cost) than a ‘commercial specialty cutter) Picture available…

  2. Regardless of oil filter size, place the filter in the vise, start a hole with a cutting chisel just about 1/4 inch below the open end, and finish the hole with a can opener, the old style with the cork remover within the handle.
    Rough edges, but the process is clean and the tools very inexpensive

  3. YUP! The pawn shops have tons of tools for super cheap, and can be sacrificed any way you see fit. I needed a 13/16″ box wrench for the tool post on my lathe; cut the open end off, a little O2-Acetylene torch here, a little torch there, and the handle has a nice form. Putting a socket in the lathe you can also turn down the depth by cutting the some of the open end off, or weld a ‘special’ handle on instead of using the standard square fitting to YOUR specs. And you can do the same to microstop countersink cages for making countersinks close to a spar or stringer. Great tip.


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