SK Hand Tool sent over their 18pc 3/8″ fractional socket set, model 94520, for review. I figured that this set should give me a really good impression about the brand’s sockets, basic ratchets, and extensions, and it has.
As with most (if not all) SK’s tools, this set is made in the USA.
The set comes packaged in a green blow molded plastic case. There’s nothing spectacular about the case, and while it might be a little light duty it still feels plenty durable.
One thing I liked about the case is that it has recesses on both sides of the case, making it easy to carry the case from a shelf or drawer and to a work area. The grooves serve to create a simple but effective handle.
There’s nothing fancy about the ratchet either it’s a basic 3/8″ round-head ratchet with 40 teeth. As with other coarse-tooth ratchets, you’ll probably keep this in your drawer after you upgrade to a finer-tooth one. It’ll still be handy for those times when you need brute strength.
One thing I must say – for a socket set ratchet, SK sure went to a lot of trouble giving the head and handle a nice full-polish chrome finish. The knurling is exemplary and gives the ratchet a comfortable grip.
The sockets are near-flawless. Fit, function, and finish are great almost all-around. SK’s SuperKrome chrome plating is said to be good, but I may have underestimated how great it would look in person.
I like that deep sockets have partial recesses, which can make it easier to work with longer fasteners and studs. With sockets that have full-length hex recesses, it’s hard to tell where the fastener is. With these, you get the same visual feedback as you do with shallow sockets.
I don’t think I’ve come across any applications where a partial recess is required or works better than a full-length hex recess, so I see it more as an added convenience.
The sockets have clear and easy-to-read markings. You could always fill them in with a little grease or paint to have the sizings stand out even more, but I don’t think that’s necessary here.
The socket recesses also have SK’s SureGrip hex design that grips fasteners at their sides, instead of the corners. This helps to provide a strong grip with greatly reduced risk of rounding or fastener damage.
And yes, all of the tools in this SK set are made in the USA. The same is likely true with all of SK’s socket sets and individual sockets, drive tools, and accessories.
One thing I found unusual is that some of the smaller deep sockets aren’t quite as deep as other brands’ deep sockets. Compared to my Craftsman deep sockets (I picked these up when they were clearancing out their Ti-coated socket sets), SK’s 9/16″ and smaller sockets are shorter, while the 5/8″ and larger sockets are around the same height.
I almost said shallower, but since SK deep sockets have a partial hex recess, you don’t gain or lose socket recess depth according to socket height.
This comparison image also shows how much clearer SK’s size markings are.
I like that the smaller sized deep sockets are shorter, as it makes them more manageable and proportional to fastener sizes. On the other hand, the smaller heights could in theory reduce fastener access and reach. I cannot think of any recent applications where these mid-sized SK sockets would be insufficiently short.
The extensions look like they have aggressive knurling, but they’re just as comfortable and easy on the hands as the ratchet.
Now, I did mention that the set was nearly flawless. The shallow 7/16″ socket had very rough recess walls. This image makes the recess edges look a lot rougher than they really are, but it’s pretty clear that this socket missed a finishing step. The socket is perfectly usable, but if I had purchased this set I would have immediately requested a replacement from SK.
Returning the entire set for a replacement would have been another option, but there’s no guarantee that every piece in the new set would be perfect.
If I had spent money on the set, I would have been a little annoyed. But, mistakes happen. I recently had to send back two premium Proto ratcheting wrenches due to manufacturing defects.
So far I used the ratchet, a couple of the shallow and deep sockets, and both of the extensions. I think that this is among the finest mechanics tools I’ve used to date. While one of the sockets isn’t perfect, one defect is better than the several defects I encountered in Williams and Wright sets in recent months. The Sk ratchet had a dimple or two, but no chips or anything of the sort.
SK pricing might seem high, but I think that it’s on-level with the professional quality of their tools, and on-par with those of other USA industrial and professional tool brands. With this and their other socket sets, you get top-notch quality with no compromises.
To be perfectly honest, SK Hand Tool wasn’t on my “brands to consider” list for the longest time. I only started considering them for personal purchases and upgrades once it was clear how the brand would be run after their bankruptcy buyout by Ideal Industries. I am happy to say that it looks like they are holding up to all of the great things said about the brand over the years.
My experience with this set, although only spanning a couple of months, has changed how I see SK Hand Tool as a brand, and for the better. They’re holding up to quality standards set before the quality issues the preceded and followed the brand’s bankruptcy. I’ve heard that their customer service and warranty turnaround is great, although I have no experience with this myself.
Before I started testing this socket set, or rather before I reviewed SK’s hex bit socket set, I didn’t really see SK tools as anything special. I hadn’t had much experience with the brand, and didn’t see reason to change that. My experiences here have led me to start seeing SK as a very attractive and competitive brand.
It’s hard to gauge SK tools against Proto, Williams, Wright, Armstrong, and other USA-brands’ tools I own or have used, as I simply haven’t done enough side-by-side comparisons. These tools are definitely a step above Craftsman – of that there’s no question. I would say that they’re at least at the same quality level as other brands.
Price: $110-$130 via Amazon and industrial suppliers.
Thank you to SK Hand Tool for providing the review sample unconditionally. Review samples are typically given away, donated, or retained for editorial and comparison purposes.