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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
[Please see the more recently-reviewed Klenk Ratcheting Screwdriver. -- SL]
Although it will never replace a cordless drill in terms of speed of driving/removing screws, my trusty Snap-On ratcheting screwdriver requires no batteries and is far less cumbersome in both weight and size. And for a 1- or 2-screw job is actually faster.
This unit has a smooth-action, incredibly durable RATCHET action that will send the shaft merrily cranking in whichever direction you desire with a flick of the easily rotated ring. It can also be set in the fixed, non-ratcheting position. I have tried another ratchet screwdriver and found the action laughably rough with plenty of slop. The stainless shaft on the Snap-On is magnetized and bored out in the end to accept the standard hex-shaped bit tips. A durable plastic cap screws into the butt of the hollowed-out handle and has a gasket to keep the interchangeable bit tips that rest inside moisture- (and therefore rust-) free.
[Please see the more recently-reviewed (and significantly cheaper) Klenk Ratcheting Screwdriver. -- SL]
I bought this tool about four years ago in preparation for a backpacking trip around Australia and it has been on my belt ever since. I have used it in every camping situation imaginable. Between the locking straight-edge and serrated blades, I have been able to cut everything from thin sheet metal to steak to wrist thick hemp rope. This tool was a first for me in that the saw blade actually cut wood with ease. Unlike many other models, the blades are on the outside of the tool so you don’t have to unfold the whole thing to get to them. This makes it less awkward to use and even allows one-handed use in a pinch. Another nice feature is that the edges of the plier handles are rounded, so they don’t dig into your hand when you need to apply a little force. The scissors, can opener and screwdrivers have never let me down. I have found the Wave to be just as useful indoors. I take apart computers on a daily basis, and it is usually all the screwdriver I need, although it is generally too clunky for tight spots. After four years of heavy use it’s still going strong.
The original “cool tool” was a multi-tool for the avid bicyclist. I’ve found the Crank Brothers to produce a superior version. I’ve used their Multi-17 for many quick repairs. Most often I grab the hex wrench to tighten a loose headset or seat. What distinguishes the Crank version from all other bike tools is its size, compact design and (very importantly) the included chain tool to remove a bent chain link. Few other multitools have a built in chain tool, and unlike so many other repairs, there is no way to ‘make due’ with another tool when you need to remove a bent chain link. Only a chain tool will do it. I spend many hours many miles from road (and water) mountain biking in the desert. I wouldn’t be without this gem of functionality.
[See the more recently-reviewed Multi-19. -- SL]
Probably the most used tool in my office is a set of tiny screwdrivers sometimes sold as precision screwdrivers. Hardly a week goes by when they aren’t needed to disassemble or repair a gizmo or tool.
[Please see the more recently-reviewed Husky 8-in-1.]