Black & Decker Gyro BDCS40G

When I first heard about this tool, I was already looking for a small, lightweight driver with a rechargeable battery. Now that I’ve had and used the Gyro for several months (and there are now a few similar tools on the market), I can honestly say it’s just what I needed.

This is not something to replace a proper drill/driver, it’s not for high-volume use, and probably wouldn’t be great in a situation where a lot of speed or torque is needed. But it’s great for the home hobbyist who will occasionally drive a few wood screws, and for certain other situations.

The Gyro has one button, a large pad that your palm engages naturally when grasping the driver. Twist right to tighten, left to loosen; twist further to speed up or back off toward neutral to slow down. “Neutral” here is whatever position you started in: the Gyro doesn’t care which way you hold it, just which direction and how far you twist it. A small white LED on the front comes on automatically as well and does an okay job of lighting the area around the tip of the tool.

I use it in my work installing low-voltage (data/phone) cabling. Most of what I do is retrofit work, and I typically need to drive four long, low-torque screws per wall plate. Doing this by hand takes too long for my patience and stresses my wrist. Instead I carry the Gyro and make short work of those screws with precise speed control — slow to get it started, fast to burn through most of the length, then slow again to finish and tighten.

The Gyro accepts any standard hex-shank bit, so if you are really in a pinch, you could actually drill a hole with it. I’ve found it to hold a charge well, even when it sits for days or weeks between uses. It comes with a proprietary charger (of course) but one plus for me is that the battery is integral – no separate charger, cord, and removable battery to keep track of. As fast as battery technology and tool form factors change, I don’t see an upside in having a removable battery – for this type of tool.

Just two minuses: I wouldn’t mind some cleverly designed on-board storage for an extra bit or two, and I don’t rely on the LED work light to really illuminate… well, much of anything.

Lightweight, packable, holds a charge well, and does just what it advertises — and doesn’t try to do more. Simple and highly functional at one specific thing.

-- Kyle Wayman  

Black & Decker 4-Volt Gyro Screwdriver
$19

Available from Amazon



Klein Rapi-Driv Rotary Screwdriver

I was on a job recently and saw a guy using one of these to remove some long threaded screws on a switch plate, and after watching him I had to get one.

The key is, with a standard screwdriver there is a limit to how fast you can operate it. With this one, you can turn on the speed when you want. Your movement comes from your elbow instead of having to repeatedly turn your wrist to its limit.

It saves so much time. It works really well on low-torque, machine screws (the kind with a lot of threads per inch, like in switch plates). Sometimes a plate will have short screws, but sometimes you encounter a plate that has 1″ or 2″ 6/32 screws that to take forever to get out or in with a standard hand operated screwdriver. With this screwdriver, you can be done before you could walk across the room for the drill.

It’s perfect if you are painting, and don’t need/want to carry a drill around. You can keep one of these in your back pocket.

Tangentially, this Christmas I received the Kobalt Speed Drive ($18) which is a fascinating (if complicated) solution to the same problem. While it is cool (the 6x gear ratio turns the screw whichever way your wrist moves), it is heavier and larger than the Klein. Also the bit attachments can be easily dropped, lost, etc.

-- Allen Watts  

Klein Tools Cabinet Tip Screwdriver, Yellow and Black
$12

Available from Amazon



Megapro Pocket Driver

If you’re in IT, the need for small Phillips and Flat screwdrivers is common. Megapro, which makes the recently reviewed Megapro Stainless 15-in-1 Driver, also makes a handy and inexpensive Pocket Driver.

The bits cover two sizes for both Phillips and Flat head. The bits are well made. The handle is comfortable, just big enough for the job, while not being too big for a shirt pocket. The caps snap over each other, so you can put them on the tool when removing them and are less likely to leave them behind. The caps also rotate smoothly, making it easy to apply pressure with the palm of the hand while twisting with the fingers. The holes in the sides of the cap let you check which bit is in which end of the tool. There’s a clip for putting in your shirt picket. I bought five so that I could hand them out to co-workers so they would be less likely to steal mine!

There are some negative reviews on Amazon, but I suspect the reviewers were attempting to use the tool for too large a job. These are not made for bigger screws that have high torque, but rather for working on notebooks, digital cameras, etc. They don’t replace a proper toolkit for doing a lot of that sort of work, but for something small to carry around they do the trick.

-- Toby Ovod-Everett  

Available from Amazon



Megapro Stainless 15-in-1 Driver

I’ve been using the Megapro Stainless driver for over 6 years now, ever since I began life in the IT world. This single driver includes double-sided Philips, flathead, hex,and torx bits and is not magnetized (a must when you’re dealing with hard drives).

Not only do the 14 bits cover most any job that requires a screwdriver, but I’ve never lost a bit because the bits can be stored in the handle. I know, I know, everyone has seen those gimmicky drivers in the checkout lane at your local hardware store, but this holder actually holds the bits.

This driver is up for any job. I’ve assembled and disassembled many computers, put together a whole household of Ikea furniture, and my daughters crib. My wife used to have a drawer full of screwdrivers, but now we only need one for our handiwork.

bitload_stainless

-- Ben Caparoso  

[The driver's shaft opening is a 1/4-inch hex driver, making this a 15-in-one tool. - Mark Frauenfelder]

Megapro Stainless driver
$25

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Megapro



Klenk Ratcheting Screwdriver

I know Cool Tools has featured ratcheting screwdrivers before — that’s where I got the idea to get one. I went out and bought the Sears version, since I couldn’t justify the cost of the Snap-on, and right after picking up the Sears driver, I found this Klenk 4:1 Multi-ratio driver. It is a basic ratcheting screwdriver with two big advantages over the Sears model.

First, it has a black knob on the shaft that when held, allows the bit to turn four times for every one handle turn. It’s phenomenally fast and rivals drill drivers on small to medium jobs, where you don’t want to drag out the heavy equipment. It’s best suited for long screws, where the 4:1 gearing can really speed them in or out. However, since it is essentially high gear, you can’t put a lot of torque on it.

klenk2.jpg

The second improvement is the bit storage and retrieval. The Sears version has these clips to stick the single-sided bits in. Getting them in or out isn’t smooth. The Klenk has a system with a hole in the top and you sort of lift to disengage the lock and dial the hole to the bit you want, which you can see through the side of the handle. The bits are also double-ended. It holds 8 double-ended bits for a total of 16 heads.

One improvement I’d like to see on this tool is for the ratchet mechanism to be tighter, since in narrow spaces where you can’t turn your hand much, the play in the ratchet can result in not getting much of a turn. Also, the 4:1 knob prevents it from reaching in narrow places to begin with. Overall, though, the 4:1 gearing is worth the $20 even if you already have a Snap-on or Sears model.

-- Mike Numamoto  

Klenk Tools Select-A-Bit Ratio Multi-Driver DA86450
$25

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Klenk Tool



Husky 8-in-1 Precision Screwdriver

I’ve encountered many precision screwdriver kits intended to help you get past the tiny screws that keep you out of the most interesting parts of electronic equipment. Most are poorly made. I have long used tools similar to the jeweler screwdrivers previously reviewed on Cool Tools. The metal grooves in the shaft wear on your fingertips after awhile, making longer projects a real pain. You also can’t exert quite as much torque, since each tool is so spindly. They don’t come close to the usefulness and execution of the Husky 8-in-1.

The Husky 8-in-1 uses removable, double-sided, magnetized bits, and stores them all inside the driver handle. The result is a versatile, compact, easy-to-carry tool. The best part is knowing that everything you need is contained in one small organizer.

The Husky’s handle is made from rugged, squared-off plastic and is easy to grip without being clumsy or too large for practical use in narrow spaces. It also has the rotating top you’d expect for this kind of tool, allowing you to apply pressure on one axis while rotating the driver from another. Thoughtfully, the handle tapers to a long, narrow metal shaft for access to out-of-the-way screws. The most satisfying part is how cleanly the bits engage with the screws. They fit perfectly every single time.

Husky makes a Phillips/slotted version and a Torx version. Having both sets gives you 16 screwdrivers that can pry loose just about any tiny screw you might encounter in an electronic device. For the low price and lifetime warranty, they’re tough to beat.

-- Danilo Campos  

Husky 8-in-1 Precision Screwdriver
$6

Phillips/Slotted version available from Home Depot Torx version also from Home Depot Manufactured by Husky Tools



Crank Brothers Multi-19

My new year’s resolution is to be a better-equipped urban commuter, so I’ve been assembling a compact, but thorough emergency/repair kit. Aside from safety lights, my Multi-19 tool is the most essential item I now carry with me at all times. It has the same chain tool as the previously-reviewed Multi-17. The two are nearly identical, except the Multi-19 has double the number of screwdrivers (two flat, two phiilips). Plus, in addition to the following hex keys (2, 2.5, 3, 5, 6 and 8), there’s also a 4m, which just so happens to be the size needed to adjust my rear derailer’s pulley bolts (can’t imagine I’ll ever need to do that — let alone on the road — but it’s comforting to know I’m carrying a hex that’s pretty much suited to every inch of my bike). The Multi-19 is slightly wider, 7g heavier (still only 175g), and the same length. It comes bundled with an ultra-light “flask” case so it doesn’t get snagged on anything in my bag.

 



Bosch 10.8V Pocket Driver

The Bosch has the power of earlier, more cumbersome cordless screw guns at half the weight (under two pounds), meaning its capabilities really surpass its diminutive appearance. As an old guy in trades for thirty some years, I’m on a continuing quest for the smallest, lightest tool that can still accomplish a tough job. The Skil iXO Palm Screwdriver is great for household chores, but the Bosch — a step up in power, capability and price — can drive one hundred 3″ screws on one charge. It can really be used for all but the heaviest job site uses, and still fit into the tight spots. Typical screw guns require their own holster, separate carry bag, or just hand carry. The Bosch fits easily in my tool belt bag. It takes lithium-ion batteries and features a variable-speed trigger, 10 setting clutch, 1/4 quick change chuck, and LED light.

-- Jerry Garner  

Bosch 10.8V Pocket Driver
$82
Manufactured by Bosch

Available from Amazon



Klein 10-in-1 Screwdriver

This 10-in-1 screwdriver/nut driver has a soft, cushioned grip wrapped around a hard and solid handle, making all day use no problem. And, because of its design, changing bits can be done super fast and in such way that they’re less likely to pour out.

Other 10-in1’s store the bits in a hard plastic handled push sleeve, or there’s a plastic or rubber ring around the shaft and the bits are barely secure in there, so when you screw off the end they just come out. Instead of having two, maybe three large pieces to handle, with other 10-in-1 screwdrivers you have four to six little pieces in the palm of your hand. Then you have to dump those little pieces back into the handle of the screwdriver or ‘worm’ the screwdriver in your hand to scoop up the bits.

The Klein 10-in-1 has bits like that of a ratchet driver, but it’s cheaper than both the Craftsman’s 14 bit Ratcheting Screwdriver and the Snap-On ratcheting screwdriver. The bits themselves are double-headed, and two double-headed bits are kept on what can best be described as a hex socket bit holder. Changing bits is as simple as pulling out the shaft, spinning it around and plugging it back in. To change additional bits, you pluck the bit out, then spin and click the new one back in. It takes a bit of force, but it ensures that they won’t fall out – and the pieces are all nice and large to grab.

The average home user can probably suffice with the Craftsman version of this screwdriver, but for a few dollars more the Klein quality is worth the price. I ran mine over with a 4-man scissor lift, picked it up and finished the job. Not to mention all the times it’s fallen off the ladder or the scissor lift and been fumbled and dropped. Klein tools easily last longer and when they break they can be replaced for free. Craftsman tools have the same warranty, but how many times are you willing to go back for a replacement?

-- Jordan Des Mazes  

Klein 10-in-1 Screwdriver
$14
Manufactured by Klein

Available from Amazon



Craftsman Ratcheting Screwdriver

Several years ago after failing to get my-son-the-mechanic to take a hint and get me the premium SnapOn ratcheting screwdriver reviewed earlier in Cool Tools, I bought the (much cheaper) Craftsman Ratcheting Screwdriver (yeah, good ‘ol Sears!) model #41796. Turns out, it was a great buy.

This tool is well thought-out by someone who actually uses tools. The handle is round-and-rubberized rather than square-and-slippery, and it is a bit oversized, so you can actually apply significant torque and work with it for a long time without ruining your hands. It has the best ratchet I’ve ever used. There is no slack whatsoever. Feels like a clutch-action rather than a geared ratchet. However, if you’re like me, you’ll never use it, since there’s a much better way. The back-end of the driver handle swivels effortlessly, so if you lock the blade in the fixed position, you can keep pressure on the back of the driver and swivel your hand in either direction instantly, without ever having to push a button, flick a button or twist anything to switch back and forth from ‘tighten’ to ‘loosen’. The handle also contains a pull-out bit storage device that keeps 14 additional standard-size hex bits instantly available in individual slots. Just pop one out and swap it for the bit currently in the magnetized driver tip. (no more lost bits.) Comes with a good selection of all the common sizes of blade, Phillips, Torx and square-drive bits.

-- Steve Waskow  

[Please see the more recently-reviewed Klenk Ratcheting Screwdriver. -- SL]

Craftsman Ratcheting Screwdriver Set
$25 (Model #41796)
Available from Sears