This tool has been UNRECOMMENDED and is now in the DEAD TOOLS category. See the FAQ for more info.

Ratcheting Screwdriver

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.

-- Carolyn Branson  

[Please see the more recently-reviewed (and significantly cheaper) Klenk Ratcheting Screwdriver. -- SL]

Snap-On Ratcheting Magnetic Standard Screwdriver
$69
Available from Snap-on



Leatherman Wave

leatherman_wave.jpg

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.

-- Travis Seay  

Leatherman Wave
$55

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Leatherman



This tool has been UNRECOMMENDED and is now in the DEAD TOOLS category. See the FAQ for more info.

Crank Brothers Multi-17

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.

-- Marc Berg  

[See the more recently-reviewed Multi-19. -- SL]

Crank Brothers Multi-17
$20
Manufactured by Crank Brothers

Available from Amazon



This tool has been UNRECOMMENDED and is now in the DEAD TOOLS category. See the FAQ for more info.

Jeweler Screwdrivers

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.

-- KK  

[Please see the more recently-reviewed Husky 8-in-1.]

Stanley 6-piece Precision Screwdriver Kit
$5

Available from Amazon



Utili-Key

Several nerdy friends of mine who feel naked without their pocket knife have independently discovered that this handy mini-knife disguised as a key will both work in a pinch and — shhhhhh! –pass through airport security checks unnoticed. Here is a way to travel with a knife at the ready. Just hand them your keys when you go through the machine!

I’ve had one, and when I bring my keys I have no trouble getting through security on international and domestic flights. I was surprised to find the other little gizmos incorporated into this miniature thing — particularly the Philips screwdriver — are just as useful.

-- KK  

Utili-Key
$9
(0.5 oz.)

Available from Amazon