Six versus 12 point sockets

A comment made in the giant Imperial metric debate about needing 2 sets of every type of tool prompted me to think of something I forgot
to ask earlier
What is the purpose of 12 point sockets? 6 points get a better overall grip on the nut and are less likely to wear off the corners than the 12's since the contact area is only only the edges of the fastener and i think only make contact with less than 1/2 of the hex nut. Every reference i'e seen to six point sockets says why they are better than 12's but i've never heard a "counter" advantage of 12 points in sockets.
I know every manufacturer still seems to make 6 and 12 point sockets and they love selling identical pairs in sets except one set is 12 point one is 6 and then metric and imperial
Does anyone know why they are around? is it historical or are there actual advantages to 12 point sockets?
I'm VERY aware of the advantage of 12 points on a box or combination wrench since they allow for the wrench to get into a place with limited clearance better but wrenches in genreal dont have the ratcheting mechanism socket wrenches do (and those that DO have ratcheting in the boxed end of the combination wrench often look like toys
I havent ran into a situation that 12 point sockets would be at an advantage over 6 points
Could someone enlighten me to where the 12 would work better than a 6?
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Brent wrote:

http://www.bgmfg.com/flange_12-point_screws.htm :-)
Tom
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On Sun, 27 May 2007 20:58:51 +1200, with neither quill nor qualm, Tom

I've bought only 6-pointers since my parents gave me a Crapsman set (with all 12-pointers) back in 1970 and have never seen any use for a 12-pointer at all. Doctors might like them because they strip and let the user's knuckles get busted. Doctors make money on them and are probably their only supporters.

The only place I've ever seen those was holding connecting rod caps in an automotive engine eons ago. I can't recall the make, either.
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Larry Jaques wrote:

I have seen a lot of them in cylinder-heads of GM-products.
Nick
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wrote:

If it's GM Europe you are referring to then in every case I've seen they are reversed Torx head aka "E" heads and not 12 point hex.
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Mike wrote:

I might be wrong with the GM (maybe it was KIA/Mazda). But it was this type: <http://www.bgmfg.com/flange_12-point_screws.htm
Nick
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Tom
Point taken. but those are specialty fasteners for plumbing/ Pipefitting? i have not run across one in my travels yet
Which does not help to explain the wide availability of 12 point sets
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Tom wrote:

:-) Very good Tom. :-) ...lew...
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In tight places! When you can't get a ratchet in, no clearance for an extension.
Steve R.
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Lew Hartswick wrote:

Most of the important bolts on a jet aircraft are 12 point. NAS close tolerance bolts. When you put a 12 point socket on one of those, you know you will not slip on the bolt. Don't expect to buy them in the local hardware, some of the bigger ones go for over 300 bucks each. ( main wing bolts on a 727) and that was back in the 80's. I think they were titanium though.
John
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I'd be interested in opinions on this myself.... Im sure there is a good reason, but I've owned plenty of socket sets over the years and used plenty more but never found a good reason for the 12's. 12's are great as you mentioned for spanners, but i can see no advantage to having them in a socket, and I'd even go further to say that i would take a mid-level 6 point socket over a top shelf 12 pointer any day of the week... and doubly so if im using a cheater bar on them or the fasteners are old automotive ones!!!
There are those metricnh universal style sockets that are rounded rather than pointed, but i cant say i think too much of them... Ive owned a couple of odd pieces of the sockets and spanners mainly in sizes that are common double standards in aus (12mm 1/2 inch etc) but they dont give that satisfying 'snugged up' feel of the right size.
on an unrelated note; Ivew owned a few different sets of gear wrenches, from the top of the line down to the cheap and nasties, and i've broken most of them by using them with cheater bars. I have one particular wrench in my toolkit though that ive had for 7 or 8 years now and its the best Ive ever had. Its double sided and double ended, giving four sizes; 17mm/14mm on one end, and 13mm/15mm on the other. The brand is 'TOP' which Id never heard of before and never have heard of since. It's marked'made in japan' and i bought it in korea for about $15 when i was in a hardware store chasing up something else. If absolutely yarded on this gear wrench; its been in the dirt, the grease, the muck... Ive put 3 to 4 foot cheater bars in it, then jumped on those cheater bars when it wasnt quite enough. Its never slipped and is still in excellent condition. The gears are exposed, with a wratchet style clicker to reverse direction and they are *chunky* gears... you dont get real fine movement on this one. All the attention Ive given it is a squirt of oil once a year and a degreasing every other year to get out all the muck thats jammed in the gears. It's one of the first things i reach for in my toolkit and is rarely out of my pocket when im spannering. Id gladly pay hundreds for a full set of these if i could find them again! to give this some relevence; they are 12 pointed~
Shaun

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Shaun Van Poecke wrote:

I haven't heard the term "gear wrench", but it sounds like a ratcheting box wrench, correct?
I'm having a hard time imagining how it could have 2 sizes on each end. How does it do that?
Thanks, Bob
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Quality 12 point wrenches have thinner walls than six point- this can be a huge advantage if you have to sneak around a part to get to a fastener or remove a fastener that is in a deep bore.. Auto mechanics (I used to be one) prefer 12 point tools because they take less time to fit onto a fastener- since most mechanics are paid by the job, every second counts.
-Carl
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job,

That's an overly broad, somewhat inaccurate statement.
I have worked in motorsports, and automotive service and repair for more than 40 years.
The ONLY place I prefer a 12-point socket is on a 12-point fastener.
Other than that, six-point sockets have a much lower tendency to round off stubborn fasteners........
.....and, rounded-off fasteners can easily chew up a LOT of precious time.
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I've never had issues with the motorsports engines/transmissions using 12 point sockets (steel bolts into aluminum castings). I use 12 point sockets for automotive EXCEPT on rusty parts (exhaust system) or high torque parts (main and rod bearings)
* wrote:

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That's because you're doing it all wrong- you should be using 12 point sockets purchased from Kmart or Big Lots. Further, you should be driving them with a 1 inch impact gun (with the correct reducers, of course) or a 6 foot long cheater bar.
-Carl
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Carl Byrns wrote:

If there is a chance of breaking the socket, always use the one that has the lifetime warranty or the worst looking one that has the lifetime warranty.
John
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Carl sez:
"> That's because you're doing it all wrong- you should be using 12 point

Good one, Carl ! Love it.
Bob Swinney

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Thanks- I really miss the acerbic comments from Pete A (we email occasionally).
-Carl
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Likewise. In NORMAL situations, where fasteners are not severely corroded/burnt I like the 12 pointers just fine. If they are badly corroded/burnt they will split a 6 pointer as easily as they will strip on a 12.
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