After returning three other brands of socket sets, I finally kept the SK 94549 socket set. I tend to be picky when it comes to tools. A good tool is something that can last you your whole life. Therefore, I think it is important to choose quality tools that you can enjoy using. The problem is, so many budget-friendly socket sets fall short of what I think is an acceptable level of quality.
Where Other Socket Sets Fall Short
Every budget-friendly socket set I could find is missing sockets. This is because most people only use the most commonly used socket sizes. The manufacturers leave out the uncommonly used sizes, which lets them stretch the range of the socket set. For example, a 10 socket set can cover from 5mm to 19mm, when 15 sockets would be necessary if they weren’t skipping sizes. This is okay for most people, until they need one of the missing sizes. To make matters worse, many of the imported brands of tools don’t even make the skipped sizes. So you can’t fill out your socket set with matching sockets, even if you wanted to. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for a socket set that isn’t missing sockets right from the factory.
Dents Under the Chrome
Many socket brands have manufacturing imperfections that are visible through the chrome. I’m no expert on how sockets are made, but these imperfections look like dents. These are probably from rough handling at some point during manufacture. Although these imperfections are only cosmetic and don’t affect the performance of the sockets, they are indicative of lazy manufacturing and lack of attention to detail.
Illegible Size Markings
I have to single out Kobalt Tools as having the worst socket markings of any brand I tried. The markings are impossible to read, even in direct sunlight. They are also only marked with laser etching. Laser etching sucks because the markings eventually wear off, leaving the socket unidentifiable. Proper sockets should be roll stamped with the sizes. Stamped markings don’t wear off. They should also be stamped deep, so they are easy to read.
Lack of Deep 6-Point Sockets
Similar to how many brands skip socket sizes, many brands skip 6-point sockets. This is especially common in 1/2” drive, but also affects smaller drive sizes. 6-point sockets are desirable because they grip the sides of a fastener, in contrast to a 12-point sockets, which grip on the corners of a fastener. 6-point sockets reduce the chance of rounding off a fastener. For whatever reason, manufacturers tend to avoid including 6-point sockets, especially in large, deep sockets.
Good Things About SK 94549
The main positive points about the SK 94549 socket set is that is doesn’t do any of the the things I listed above. Additionally, the SuperKrome finish is the most beautiful I’ve even seen on any tool. It’s flawless and is like looking into a mirror.
No Missing Sizes: This is a complete set of sockets. Metric and SAE, deep and shallow. There are no skipped sizes, although there are some sizes that only come in a shallow version.
No Defects: There is not a single one of the dents I talk about above.
Size Markings: Sockets are roll stamped with deep size markings.
6-Point Only: This set is only 6-point sockets.
Made in the USA: SK Tools are made in Sycamore, IL.
Price: I priced a comparable set of Snap-On tools and it would have cost over $1200. The SK is a fraction of the cost of Snap-On with, dare I say, the same level of quality.
Case Sucks: The included blow molded case is terrible. I keep my sockets in a tool box so I don’t really care about this.
Thumb Wheel Ratchet: I have not really found a good use for the thumb wheel ratchet. Also, the knurling on the thumb wheel does not offer adequate grip to turn effectively.
Low Tooth Count Ratchet: This will probably be the top complaint by people who are used to high tooth count ratchets. The included ratchet is 40 tooth. I don’t mind, and the low tooth count makes the ratchet stronger.
Price: The price is about double the price of a comparable GearWrench socket set, and triple that of a Kobalt/Husky (although they are less comparable).
I think the SK 94549 socket set is one of the best socket sets you can get. It is the most affordable socket set you can get that doesn’t include any of the quality issues I outlined in this review. Incidentally, it is also the most affordable socket set you can buy today that is made in the USA.
TL;DR SK 94549: The cheapest socket set you can buy that doesn’t completely suck.