A couple of months ago, I learned about these Westling Machine Co. socket organizers from the Garage Journal forum. Being as into storage and organizer products as I am, I just had to give them a try.
- CNC machined from billet aluminum
- Anodized for greater durability
- Color coded for inch-metric differentiation
- Gradated socket spacings and no labels for greater adaptability
- Made in the USA
- A la carte and set pricing options
Prior to receiving a sample set for review, I used Hansen socket trays for my 1/4″ and 3/8″ inch and metric sockets. My 1/2″ sockets were left in their retail trays.
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Hansen socket trays, which are also made in the USA, have pegs that are only sized for specific sockets. If you don’t have a particular size in your tool set, then you’ll have to deal with staring at empty pegs.
While sockets are placed size-side-down on Hansen trays, Westling Co.’s socket organizers are made with identically-sized pegs that are shaped for 1/4″, 3/8″, and 1/2″ square drive sizes.
If you look closely, you’ll see that my Hansen socket trays have been collecting dust for some time. Here’s what my socket drawer looks like now:
The drawer isn’t quite full, but it won’t stay this empty for long. I am still in the process of organizing my tools, and have a bunch of adapters and loose sockets that will soon call this drawer their home.
Drawer depth is about 3″. My 1/4″ and 3/8″ sockets, and even a 3/8″ universal joint, can stand tall without hitting the drawer above.
Who says a socket organizer can only be used for sockets? Since I’m not using the full width of the trays, I popped on a couple of duplicate-size Wera sockets and some of my more frequently used adapters and bit sockets.
These trays are available in 1/4″ sizes, with red being designed for inch sockets, and blue for metric.
Peg layout is thoughtful, with the peg separation increasing slightly from right to left.
The spacing appears to be gradated such that common socket sizes would be separated by a uniform gap. The gaps between socket sizes is large enough such that you can move everything down a peg or two to avoid gaps where you might be missing a particular size.
Over the years I have known a couple of mechanics and enthusiasts to purchase sockets they didn’t really have use for, just to fill in those spots. It might sound a little ridiculous, but I can definitely understand the temptation to fill in those gaps.
When first subbing these Westling socket organizers in for my Hansen trays, I wasn’t sure I would like them. My worries were fueled by two main concerns:
- Will socket retention be poor?
- Will I miss not having sizing labels?
Would my sockets flop and fall over the place when I open and close a drawer? Could I lift a tray out of the drawer and carry it to a different location without having my sockets fall over the place?
The short answer is that socket retention is actually quite good, even excellent. Sockets will not pop out off the pegs, even if the trays are shook or held at an angle. I tried to show this in the video above.
The lack of labels doesn’t really bother me, although I really thought it would. Regardless of application, I usually get the correct socket size on the first or second try. Even with Hansen trays I still had to do go/no-go size testing a lot of times.
When reaching for sockets to fit fasteners of known size, it didn’t take me very long to memorize the location of the sockets I use most and become accustomed to not having Hansen-style size labels.
The socket trays have to be Tetris-fit in my tool chest drawer, but I think I found a setup that works well. The empty gaps will be filled with adapters, bit sockets, and other tools, so there won’t be any wasted space.
One thing I should note is that I only put 1 each of the 1/2″ inch and metric socket trays into my drawer. A full set of 1/2″ trays is split with separate small and large size organizers to allow for easier layout in standard sized drawers. I don’t have 1/2″ deep sockets, and will likely fill in the extra rows with impact sockets if they fit the drawer’s 3″ height.
My tool chest has external dimensions of 26″ L x 16″ W and this drawer has internal dimensions of 22-1/4″ L x 14-1/8″ W x 3″ H. I can fit a complete set of 1/4″, 3/8″, and 1/2″ Westling socket trays in this drawer, with some room to spare.
Westling Machine Co. offers a number of purchase options. You can opt for separate standard and metric trays in each size, complete sets of standard or metric trays, or a complete set of standard and metric trays.
Pricing is actually reasonable at $99 for a complete set. A complete set of plastic Hansen trays costs about $60.
- 1/4″ holders: $10 each
- 3/8″ holders: $15 each
- 1/2″ holders: $25 each for sets of 2
- Standard set: $49.50
- Metric set: $49.50
- Complete set: $99
I found these socket trays to be well designed and well built. To be honest, I thought I would be bothered by how the organizer design is completely opposite that of the Hansen trays I have used for so long. But in use, I found the organizers to be very flexible and practical.
Just to be clear, I don’t think these are better than Hansen trays, but they are better for me. Tool organization can be a very subjective matter, and so I can’t make a blanket statement declaring these to be the end-all socket organizing solution.
These organizers have about the same footprint as Hansen and Hansen-clone organizers, at least with the 1/4″ and 3/8″ sizes I checked, so you should be able to swap them in without having to reorganize your drawers
I feel that these organizers offer a lot more flexibility in how my sockets are arranged. I don’t have any more empty pegs than I did with Hansen trays, but in this case I can at least fill in previously unused space with duplicate socket sizes and adapters. There are no gaps unless I want there to be.
Now, if only Westling made bit socket organizers… *nudge nudge hint hint*.
Buy Now(via Westling Machine Co.)
Thank you to Westline for providing the review sample unconditionally. Review samples are typically given away, donated, or retained for benchmark and comparison purposes. Since this particular sample will be kept for personal use, a full set will be purchased and given away to a randomly selected reader.