A quality socket wrench set is essential for a wide variety of auto and home repairs. It’s one of the most important tools on your workbench—but it’s only useful if you can find the sockets you need when you need them. Digging through an old coffee can or other repurposed receptacle full of sockets for the size that suits the task is enough to push any DIYer’s patience to the brink. To save time (and your sanity), get those sockets neatly organized and stowed. Read on to research the types of socket organizers available, what qualities to look for, and why these eight rank as some of the top choices.
- BEST OVERALL: Olsa Tools Portable Socket Organizer Tray
- RUNNER-UP: ARES 60034-3-Piece Magnetic Socket Organizer Set
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: ARES 70204-3-Piece Aluminum Socket Organizer
- BEST RAIL: Olsa Tools Aluminum Socket Organizer
- BEST TRAY: Hansen Global 92000 SAE & Metric 2-Row Socket Tray
- BEST WALL MOUNT: Olsa Magnetic Tools Socket Organizer
- MOST CUSTOMIZABLE: Ernst Manufacturing Socket Boss 3-Rail Organizer
- MOST PORTABLE: HORUSDY 80-Piece Heavy Duty Socket Organizer
Types of Socket Organizers
Unlike socket sets, which include the sockets, extensions, and wrenches within an organizer, socket organizers don’t come with any tools. They’re best for DIYers who already have a collection of sockets but no means for effectively organizing them. Socket organizers come in three different types: rail, tray, and wall-mounted. While any of these will neatly organize your socket collection, each does the job a little differently.
Socket rail organizers use bars—usually made of steel, aluminum, or heavy-duty plastic—as the base for socket storage. These rails range in length from about a foot to 18 inches. Clips that hold the sockets slide on to grooves in the bar, creating a rail. Each socket clip is made of heavy-duty plastic and includes a spring-loaded ball bearing that secures the socket in place. Rails are typically sold individually or in sets of three, with each accounting for one of the three standard socket sizes: ¼-inch, ⅜-inch, and ½-inch.
If you want a storage solution that fits seamlessly into your workshop but is still portable enough to take on the road, socket rail organizers are a great option. You can add a rail organizer to most tool drawers and tool boxes, and the clip design holds sockets firmly, keeping them secure while in transit to a job site.
The oft-cited trouble with socket rails is that they lack the labels featured in tray organizers, making it a little more challenging to find the socket size you need. And while those clips will keep your sockets in place, if they’re too tight it can be a struggle to get sockets on and off the rail.
Whereas rail trays are all pretty similar, socket trays—made of durable, impact-resistant plastic—have some design variations. The biggest advantage of socket trays over rail organizers is that they’re color-coded for the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and metric markings, which makes it easier to find the socket you want.
The most common style consists of a plastic tray molded into shapes that fit specific socket sizes. These socket trays usually have a powerful magnet installed in the base, which keeps the sockets in place and allows the organizer to be mounted to metal surfaces (see below). Other socket trays use a post design, where the socket fits over a labeled post into a clip, while others borrow from the rail and clip design, mounting the rails to a tray.
Wall-mounted organizers let you stow your sockets vertically, a plus for DIYers who love their space-saving tool racks and have limited real estate available in their workshop. If you don’t want your socket collection crowding your workbench, a wall-mounted organizer gets them out of the way.
Wall-mounted organizers can be rail style or tray style. Some rail style organizers include mounting brackets that allow you to hang them over the tool rack in your workshop or garage. Mounting kit accessories for some rail organizers allow them to be mounted to a tool rack or inside a tool drawer.
Many tray-style organizers feature a magnetic backing that enables you to mount them to a metal tool cabinet or wall.
What to Consider When Buying a Socket Organizer
If you want to get your sockets adequately organized, consider your needs before making a purchase. Determine how much storage capacity you need, where your socket organizer will live in your workshop, what socket sizes you have, and how portable you need your socket set to be.
Storage capacity is your most crucial consideration. Full sets hold between 60 and 80 total sockets—so an organizer that doesn’t let you store your complete socket collection won’t be very useful.
Although clips on most rail socket organizers will fit any socket with the same drive size, the molded holes in tray organizers fit specific socket sizes, so if you’re considering a tray organizer, make sure it matches the socket sizes you have.
Also, while most tray designs are not expandable, most rail organizers allow you to add or subtract clips to suit your needs. Capacity varies depending on the driver sizer, but each rail can typically handle about 15 to 20 clips.
The material determines durability. The best socket organizer will hold up to the wear and tear of a workshop. Quality rail organizers made from aluminum with heavy-duty plastic clips won’t crack or break. The clips should include spring-loaded ball bearings that will hold each socket firmly.
A durable tray organizer should be made from heavy-duty plastic with a rubberized base that won’t scratch the metal. Some trays are reinforced with steel backing for increased durability. Tray organizers with molded holes for socket storage should include magnetic parts that keep the sockets from falling out and allow the tray to be attached to a metal tool cabinet.
Socket organizers are arranged by drive size: ¼-inch, ⅜-inch, and ½-inch. Most will hold around 25¼-inch drive sockets, roughly 25⅜-inch drive sockets, and about 15½-inch-drive sockets. Frequently, manufacturers will sell storage units individually by drive size or as complete sets that include all three drive sizes. Manufacturers sometimes sell metric and SAE organizers separately.
Remember, tray-style socket organizers are designed to hold specific socket sizes, so make sure your socket set agrees with the tray organizer you’re considering before purchase.
Easily the most frustrating aspect of working with sockets is finding the right size socket when you need it. While organizers help alleviate this issue, you still may find yourself squinting as you scan through your perfect rows of sockets in search of that elusive 11mm size.
Some organizers simplify the process by labeling each socket position with easy-to-read size labels. Others, as in the molded tray variety, are pre-printed—you simply match your sockets to the right size. While this is convenient, your set of sockets may not perfectly match up with the organizer, leaving some sockets homeless.
Some organizers include stickers that let you label the organizer yourself. Although the stickers won’t handle wear as well as preprinted markings, this approach enables you to tailor the organizer to the socket sizes in your set.
We all have our preferences when it comes to organization. Most socket manufacturers know this, so they’ve made their products highly customizable. For example, many socket organizers come in a variety of colors, allowing you to coordinate with your workshop or color-code your sets. Beyond hue, rail socket organizers offer the most customization, allowing you to rearrange the clips or even have clips on both sides of the rail. This feature lets you change the order of sizes to fit your preferences or add or remove clips.
Due to their design, rail socket organizers offer great portability. They feature clips that securely hold each socket during transport, and they also fit neatly into most toolboxes. Tray-style socket organizers aren’t as travel-worthy, as instead of being held by a clip, sockets rest in pre-molded trays. While many trays are magnetized to hold sockets in place, the connection isn’t strong enough to keep them from bouncing out during a drive to a work site. And in general tray organizers lack the carrying handles featured on most rail organizers, making them awkward to transport.
Our Top Picks
The products below are the cream of the crop when it comes to socket organizers. They’re made with quality materials, boast large capacities, and many are portable and customizable. You’ll surely find the best socket organizer for your workshop.
With its high capacity and durability, this socket organizer tray is an excellent storage solution for an extensive socket collection. It will store up to 80 sockets, including ¼-inch, ⅜-inch, and ½-inch drive sizes. The clips on this organizer are constructed with durable plastic and spring-loaded ball bearings to keep you from ever losing a single socket. The entire tray is reinforced with a steel backing, adding strength and durability. The Olsa Tools Portable Socket Organizer Tray, which comes in two color schemes, can rest on your tool bench or be mounted to the wall. Plus, unlike a lot of trays, this one boasts a convenient handle for portability when you need to take it off-site.
This magnetic tray-style organizer is a well-constructed socket storage option. The three trays are molded out of heavy-duty, impact-resistant plastic. It boasts space for 75 sockets, and each holder is magnetic to keep sockets in place. Easy-to-read markings eliminate the frustration of searching for the right socket. The set works with both shallow and deep sockets, and a magnetic bottom lets you easily mount the organizer on the side of a metal tool cabinet. Though this rugged organizer is a great option for your workshop, its three-piece handleless design does not make it conducive to transport.
If your budget is tight and your capacity needs are relatively small, this durable, lightweight socket organizer is an excellent value. This set has storage for 24 sockets and includes 48 clips separated into three rail-style organizers: ¼-inch, ⅜-inch, and ½-inch. It’s conveniently customizable with removable clips, allowing you to arrange the configuration that works best for you, and you can choose from four different color options. With aluminum and spring-loaded ball bearing construction, this organizer is bound to hold up to workshop wear and tear, and its rail design makes it easy to transport.
Portable and tough, this rail socket organizer has enough storage for 58 sockets. It features an aluminum body and sturdy plastic clips. Each clip includes a spring-loaded ball bearing that will hold even your largest sockets firmly in place, allowing you to carry it to your worksite or hang it vertically on your tool rack. The socket clips can be rearranged on the bar or removed altogether, allowing you to configure the organizer to suit your needs. And if color coordination in your workshop is vital, this set comes in six different hues.
Never search in vain for the right size socket again! This Hansen Global tray set features an innovative labeling system that makes it a snap to find the socket you need, assigning a post to each socket by size. Each post is clearly labeled and easy to read, eliminating guesswork entirely. Trays are also color-coded for socket type: gray for metric and red for SAE. The tray, made of durable plastic that resists gas and oil, has a huge 166-socket capacity—but while finding the socket you need has never been easier, the 92000 will take up considerable real estate on your workbench as it is not wall mountable. If you’ve got the room for it, you’ll be glad you bought it.
If you’re short on drawer space and want to clear the clutter from the top of your tool bench, get those sockets sorted and out of the way with the Olsa Tools’ Magnetic Tools Socket Organizer. Mount this organizer—which holds 68 SAE sockets or 75 metric (depending on the set you choose)—to your tool board, the side of a metal tool cart, or even to your truck bed. Sockets are held to the tray magnetically, allowing you to grab one without having to wrestle with stubborn clips. Olsa’s system holds ¼-inch, ⅜-inch, and ½-inch deep and regular sockets, and each socket hole is clearly labeled, making it easy to pick the right size.
Organize up to 45 drive sockets in a way that best suits your needs, thanks to the cool customization options this Ernst Manufacturing set offers. You can move socket clips, label socket sizes, and change driver sizes. You can also choose between the long and narrow 19-inch size or the short and wide 13-inch. With 40 or 45 drive sockets (depending on which size you choose) split among three rails, there is plenty of space for ¼-inch, ⅜-inch, and ½-inch drive sockets. The rails can be locked into a tray for easy transport or removed individually, and the Socket Boss comes in three different colors.
If you want to take your entire socket set on the road, rely on this socket set from Horusdy. This tray-style carrier has enough room for a whopping 80 sockets and features a convenient carrying handle for transport. With heavy-duty molded twist-lock clips securing each socket, you won’t worry about losing any tools on the trip from your workbench to your project. Clip sizes range from ¼-inch to ½-inch drives.
The Advantages of Owning a Socket Organizer
Time is precious, so the less time you spend hunting for misplaced tools, the more time you can spend on your projects. A socket organizer spares you the frustration of losing sockets by keeping them neat and organized—no more wasted minutes searching through piles of sockets for that elusive size. And while a socket organizer may be an investment upfront, It can also save you money in the long run: A lost socket is one that you will need to replace. An organizer also clears more space in your workshop, improving the flow of your workspace. In sum, a socket organizer:
- Eliminates time wasted searching for lost sockets
- Saves money in replacing lost tools
- Contributes to the tidiness of your workshop