Sockets are a good choice where the top of the fastener is reasonably accessible. The socket fits onto it snugly and grips it on all six corners and is the type of grip needed on any nut or bolt that’s extremely tight.
Sockets also come in deep wall sizes . These are ideal for removing or tightening spark plugs or nuts screwed on to long protruding threads.
There is also a special socket that only has 6 flats instead of the common 12 point design. It’s specially made for impact wrenches that exert a lot more pressure than turning sockets by hand. Socket spanners always need an attachment to turn them. This is done by a range of accessories, many of which are included in socket tool sets.
The connection between the socket and accessory is made by a square drive. The larger the drive, the heavier and bulkier the socket.
The quarter-inch drive is for small work in difficult areas. The three-eighth drive handles a lot of general work where torque requirements are not too high. The half-inch drive is for all-round service. The three-quarter inch drive is for large work with high torque settings.
Many fasteners are located in positions where access can be difficult. Many lengths of extensions are available to bring the drive point out to where a handle can be attached.
A universal joint can be used with an extension and takes the turning force that’s to be applied through an angle.
A speed brace is the fastest way to spin a nut on or off a thread by hand, but it can't apply much torque to the nut, so it's mainly used to remove a nut that's already been loosened, or to run the nut onto the thread until it begins to tighten.
The most common socket handle, the ratchet, makes easy work of tightening or loosening a nut where not a lot of pressure is involved. It can be set to turn in either direction and it doesn’t need much room to swing it. It’s built to be convenient, not super-strong, so too much pressure could damage it.
For heavier tightening or loosening, an adjustable offset handle or breaker bar , gives the most leverage.
When that's not available a sliding tee-handle may be more useful. Both hands can be used, and the position of the tee piece is adjustable to clear any obstructions to turning it.