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A friend turned us on to About.com’s list of “The World’s Most Useless Tools” — penned by writer Lee Wallender — and we’ve been kicking it around endlessly. As you might imagine, we take issue with some of his findings (and completely agree with others). Let’s take a look.

#1 on Wallender’s list: The Yankee Driver.

For those of you (both of you) not familiar with the term (coined and owned by Stanley), the Yankee Driver is a push screwdriver. (That’s one on the left in the photo above. Thanks, Andrew Turner, for the CC-licensed photo. And that’s a really nice version up top, available from Garrett Wade.) Wallender skewers the Yankee, saying:

“…I don’t know if tit ever really worked. But I have never been able to get it to work, and I don’t know of anybody else who has. [...] The problem is that it does not work. Wait, take that back. The Yankee driver will work, but only under the most optimal conditions. The screw has to fit perfectly into the hole. There can be no resistance at all, zero friction.”

He recommends instead getting “a nice lithium-ion 18V cordless drill” and leaving “the Yankee to your grandson to play with.”

We can’t agree. While we certainly reach for a Yankee driver far less often than a cordless drill, we’ve learned over the years not to make such blanket statements about tools. Any tool that’s lasted fifty years on the market is useful to someone, even if that someone isn’t us. I’ve personally seen these used to remove machine screws at lightning speed, and I’m betting that tool companies don’t continue to manufacture these solely as toys for the grandkids.

Pro tip: Not everyone needs an 18V drill/driver. Many 10.8V-12V compact models offer plenty of torque and runtime for home jobs and weigh a hell of a lot less.

#2 Magnetic Stud Finders, #3 Foam Painting Edgers

Gotta agree with Lee on these. Magnetic stud finders depend on finding nails, which may or may not be buried pretty deep. And considering that you can pick up a good electronic stud finder from any number of manufacturers for less than $20, why bother? While I’m no painting guru, I agree that I’ve had better results just using a decent brush.

#4: The Crescent Wrench

Wallender seems personally offended by the adjustable wrench. As he says: “Perhaps long ago, in my childhood, I barked a knuckle while trying to use a Crescent wrench — who knows?” His objection: “No matter how hard you tighten them down, they had considerable play.”

We certainly agree that if you have a properly-sized box-end wrench and you can fit it over the nut, that’s a far better solution than an adjustable. But I’d love to see Wallender handle a mobile job where he has to carry all his tools with him and has no idea what he’s going to come across. Sure, you might “bark a knuckle” from time to time, but that’s a better solution than trying to remove a nut with your teeth or fingers.

And that’s the point: the adjustable wrench is a compromise designed to save space and offer utility you might not otherwise have in a small tool kit. My father always carried a large and small adjustable wrench in his car toolkits just to handle situations where he didn’t have a better tool.

#5 The Channellock “Wrench”

Calling it the “Channel Lock” wrench (seemingly oblivious to the image copyright displayed below bearing the “Channellock” brand name), Wallender pans it, saying it’s “helpful notches are trouble: they never seem to give you the size that you want” and that “you end up stripping the bolt head, nut, or whatever you’ve clamped onto.”

First of all, Channellocks are definitely not the tool of choice for removing a nut — unless you don’t have a better option and you expect to chew up the nut a bit. (Which happens from time to time.) If, on the other hand, you’re grabbing onto a piece of metal of various thickness, Channellocks are handy as hell. We have tongue-in-groove pliers from a couple of different manufacturers in the Toolmonger shop, and we use them regularly. (We just don’t use them as adjustable wrenches.)

#6: Vise-Grip Knockoffs

These can be real pieces of crap. But I have a great use for off-brand locking pliers: welding. Who has the cash to buy 20-30 sets of locking pliers just to hold down the occasional welding job? I certainly don’t. But I can easy afford a drawerfull of the cheap-os. Bonus: I don’t give a damn if I end up melting a set every now and then to get the job done.

Lee, I feel your pain. I’ve stepped in it with comments like yours before. From one tool writer to another, let me offer a piece of advice: Before you write a piece about how useless something is because you don’t have a use for it, ask your readership how they use said tool. The responses will educate you (as they do me!), and the process will save you a ton of nasty email.

The World’s Most Useless Tools [About.com]

 

54 Responses to Must Useless Tools… To About.com, Anyway

  1. Chris says:

    Memo to Wallender re: Crescent wrenches — they make these awesome things called “gloves” that help prevent busted knuckles. Buy a pair and try them out!

    cl

  2. McCheese says:

    I could complete any task with enough channel locks and vice grip knockoffs

  3. IBMcginty says:

    “The Blues Brothers” just wouldn’t be the same with “a nice lithium-ion 18V cordless drill.”

  4. Figment says:

    I have always liked Yankee drills for quick jobs. They take up little room in the tool box.
    Also I see you have an offset screwdriver shown without comment. If you are implying it is also useless, I must disagree. They are wonderful for electrical work such as fastening electrical devices into boxes and putting covers onto those boxes. Of course, I usually only pull it out when I have many to do and have no power driver available at hand.

  5. Greg A says:

    I have to say that when I worked in the lighting industry they gave each new recruit a crescent adjustable wrench. That one tool was all we almost ever needed. As for the channel locks, this is starting to sound like a list of tools that have offended the writer and he does not use around the house therefore they are use less. I work for a public aquarium now and I have to say the tool I use more than any other is a good pair of channel locks, if your using them for a bolt of something like that and they don’t work that is just some good ole fashioned operator error, and hardly reason to pan the most useful tool in the world. The only time my channels let me down is when I get to a point where the pipe is too big, and which point it’s time to break out the strap wrench.

  6. brian says:

    I have to second what Greg A says.
    I’m a lighting technician and the only tool that is absolutely required. A stage electrician is next to useless without one. Don’t even bother showing up for a lighting call with out one.

    For his comments on #6 – isn’t any cheap knockoff tool not as good as the original? How about rating the vice grips on their original qualities?

    A cheap wrench or a cheap pair of channellock knockoffs are probably just as bad. Where’s his commentary on cheap screwdrivers that break off the tip as soon as you use them? Isn’t that worse?

    This article can’t even follow through with a clear assessment of tools. He is comparing apples to oranges.

    If he wanted to write something helpful, at least he would rate the supposed worthlessness of ALL brand name tools or of all knockoff tools.

  7. Ben Granucci says:

    I agree with Greg. As an entertainment lighting tech, the very first tool that I insist a new guy buy is an 8″ adjustable wrench. Add a 2-3′ piece of light weight rope or an old phone cord tied through the end of the wrench with a clip on the other end (or even a loop to tie a choker to the guy’s belt loop) to make sure it doesn’t fall too far, and there isn’t mach that you can’t do with lighting. Sure there are specialized lighting wrenches. They start at about 3x the price of a good quality adjustable, and inevitably, there is an old piece of hardware with a slightly over/undersized head that they don’t work on. It’s one tool, which means it is only one thing to drop from 20+ feet up, and from experience I can tell you that once you have more than one tool tied off to you, the safety lines will start to become tangled on each other. That was the first real tool that I ever purchased for myself. In my workbox, I keep an 8″, a 10″ and a stubby 8″.

  8. minh says:

    #4 – I agree that for small nuts/bolts a Crescent wrench is a bad option but for any large bolt that are 17mm or bigger a crescent wrench is PERFECT! For stuff like installing a trailer ball or tighten down large pipes a crescent wrench is the tool of choice for me. Also crescent wrenches are PERFECT for when you need to bend something back into form since you can use it as a grab jaw. Dont knock on the Crescent wrench, but because he did, he lost credibility now.

    #6 – I agree that knock off stuff in general SUCK but because of their cheap prices they are nice to cut and weld to make new tools. I’ve welded a set of those cheap knock off welding vise grips to projects before to hold stuff and then grind them off. I would not do that with a REAL set of vice grips. They’re also nice when your neighbor needs to borrow a tool and you REALLY dont want to loan him your good stuff knowing that he’s gonna mess them up. =)

  9. Mike47 says:

    It really says something about a person’s skills (or lack thereof) when he badmouths some of the most proven and enduring hand tools in existence. Perhaps he had bad experiences as a child with tools, and now wants to get it off his chest. Boo hoo. One person’s bad experiences growing up doesn’t rise to the inportance of a feature article in a tool blog, unless there’s something unique about it. I sure don’t see the uniqueness here, nor the value to readers.

  10. Wayne D. says:

    #1 I started bringing my old one to work with me. I sometimes have to screw in a lot of panels into telecom equipment that I do environmental testing on, usually at least 200 screws per chassis. We have a cordless driver, but it is the only one and someone always forgets to put the spare battery into the charger. I have actually found my Yankee is faster and strips a lot less screw heads, and no batteries to run out.

    #4 I just used my big crescent the other day to adjust handlebar height on a bike. I don’t have a box end that is the size of that nut. I also use them a lot to hold nuts still while I turn a bolt.

    #5 Like everyone else, I use them to hold things, especially pipes.

    #6 Have you seen how much the brand name goes for now? I can pick up 6 HF ones for the same price. At least half will keep working well.

  11. Eric says:

    I’m not a fan of using an 8″ crescent wrench in theatrical lighting. Handing someone a wrench that big just begs for the bolt to be over tightened, and possibly broken clamps. Finger tights and 1/4 turn is plenty tight for most instruments. In my theater we all use the mega combo wrench and have never had any problems. The main problem with them not work is the bolt on the side of the clamp, the head changed size and so there are 2 different sizes floating around now. We just bought a bag or the right size and swapped them out as we ran into instruments with the other size. But currently we’re working on switching most of the side bolts over to t-handles so we don’t need a wrench for focus at all.

  12. Geoff says:

    How is Lee Wallender attempting to deploy these “useless” tools, and what does he suggest one use in place of each? Aside from the 18v cordless, what are his tools of choice to use instead? Sounds like he needs to learn to light a candle rather than curse the darkness…

  13. Chuck Cage says:

    @Figment: I definitely don’t mean to imply that any of the screwdrivers in the picture are “useless!” I completely disagree with Lee’s assessment — which is why I wrote the post here. :)

    I grabbed a CC-licensed photo because I couldn’t lay hands on one here quick enough to take a quick picture myself. (The other tools later in the post are mine.) I love the other two screwdrivers in the picture and am a big fan of variety/specialty tools. Actually pretty much all of us here at TM are. They save your ass from time to time.

    As far as variance in the tongue and groove pliers, it’s not as big a difference as I expected. My favorite of the ones in the picture is actually the Irwin set, mainly because I like the grips and the shape of the teeth. But the cheap-ass HF one (orange grips) works fine, and of course the true Channellock brand is great. The grips get a little slippery sometimes when using them for auto work, but that’s not really a big deal.

    I’m glad, too, to see that I’m not the only one who cuts up/abuses cheap knockoffs to make my life easier. :)

  14. BJN says:

    I’ve used Channelocks for manipulating spring hose clamps, as portable pipe vises, to straighten bent parts, and many other tasks. I can’t recall ever using one to manipulate a nut or bolt. The advantage they have is long handles for great one-handed leverage. If a tool person can’t find a good use for these, that person lacks imagination and the knack for improvisation.

  15. Anon says:

    What’s with this site?… is EVERYONE a entertainment/theatrical lighting tech?

  16. paanta says:

    You know what else sucks? Hammers. Every time I try to remove a bolt with a hammer, I just wind up with a broken bolt. About the only thing they’re good for is hitting stuff and thats what FISTS ARE FOR.

  17. Dave says:

    Stanley didn’t coin the term “Yankee screwdriver”. North Brothers was making their “Yankee” screwdrivers in the 1890′s, based on Zachry T. Furbish’s patent, long before Stanley bought them out in 1946.

  18. Kris says:

    About small ChannelLocks = “pump pliers” – I recall watching an episode of “This Old House” where the plumbing guy said “we don’t even start our truck without one”. I keep a small set in the junk drawer inside and a couple big ones in my plumbing tool bag. I use them often.

  19. brian says:

    @Eric

    Yes, the mega-combo is helpful. I almost always have one in by tool bag. But what about wrenching down side arms and cheeseboroughs? You can do all the jobs with the wrench, specialized jobs with the mega. If i could only carry one, I’d carry the wrench.

    And how many of us are entertainment techs? By my count it’s at least 4.

  20. Thad E Ginathom says:

    Pump pliers…yes. Don’t know about *pumps* exactly, but I do know it’s a plumber’s tool — and that it is also incredibly useful for all sorts of stuff, including rounding off bolts if misused. People will be grumbling about what a stilson wrench can do to bolt head next!

  21. terry says:

    …and, oh-by-the-way, that photo on top (#1) is their reissue of the #41 Yankee Drill.
    Handy as hell! Use it before using your useless-dead-battery-18V or your handy as hell Yankee Screwdriver.

    BTW – I wonder what Wallender thinks of the #41.

  22. Mike says:

    Apparently a lot of use are theatrical people, because I’m one also. So make it 5.
    As far as this whole article, I long ago decided that any article on about.com is pure crap. Everything I’ve ever read there on a topic I’m knowledgeable about has sounded like someone that doesn’t know the subject trying to write as if they did. So I just blow off anything from about.com anymore. Oh, and I own and have used every tool on this list other than #2 & #3. We’re all examples of my point above.
    For the other lighting guys, my choice is a mega combo wrench around the wrist and a 6″ wide mouth C-wrench in the pocket. What the combo wrench can’t handle, the C-wrench can (including cheeseboroughs) and is light enough I forget about it. Maybe once or twice a year I need to grab a 8″ or even 12″ C-wrench. For my students it’s either 6″ or 8″ C-wrenches, and the 8″ is only because they are high school kids that sometimes need the leverage.

  23. Mike47 says:

    Hmmm… Theatrical lighting… My son is Head of Lighting for the Wynn Casino Le Rev show in Las Vegas. Do I get partial credit for that? 5 1/2 now?

  24. Squidwelder says:

    Totally agree about the Vise-Grip knock-offs. We use the two or three that haven’t been stolen out of our shop by contractors more than we use any of the other clamping implements while we’re welding, especially when you need to reach around something and hold it there: a clamp can’t always do that, at least not the kinds we have. Well, we have a giant C-clamp, but I’m the only one who’s used it for anything that I know of. And that was only because we didn’t have any more Vise-Grip knock-offs.

    I gotta disagree (in part) about the foam edgers though. My mom uses them more than I’ve ever seen anyone use them, and they’re perfect for the crafting applications she uses them for (I haven’t seen her not try something out of a Michael’s at least once). But for painting, I totally agree, brushes are way faster and get you a better result, even the cheap ones, even for careful edging.

  25. tmib_seattle says:

    I’m not a lighting tech anymore, but it was my college job.

    Every one of our techs carried a crescent wrench tied to them by a short length of cord. We also would wrap the handles of the crescent wrenches in black gaffer’s tape. This made it so you’d always have a bit of gaffer’s tape handy when up working on a light.

  26. fred says:

    Yankee Drivers and Drills

    In their day – North Brothers – then Stanley (when they acquired North Brothers) produced all sorts and lengths – from a cheapo Handyman branded one to extra-long drivers and a chrome plated brass drill (like the one pictured) that was very popular with the telephone installers. I still have one – and it does a quick job of drilling pilot holes in walls – with either two-flute bits – or twist drill bits that were made with a “Yankee tang” . When I started working you saw a lot of carpenters using Yankee drivers – and bit braces (for larger screws and lags). Corded drills were typically one or 2 speed affairs – not suited for driving screws – and corded (much less cordless) screwdrivers from Milwaukee et. al. with settable clutches had not yet hit the market. BTW – where my son lived in Pennsylvania – the Amish and Mennonite communities still use Yankee drills and drivers.

    Channelock Pliers

    These tools have their place – they just might not be the universal solution for every job. We still keep some of the really big Channelocks (460’s and 480’s) for grabbing and turing large objects – a some tiny ones (424’s) for jobs at that end of the spectrum– but we do not use them as substitutes for pairs of pipe wrenches. In the smaller sizes – for some pipe fittings – we really like smooth jaw Knipex Plier-Wrenches.

    Vise Grips

    Again they are not the universal tool that they are made out to be – but they are very useful in many situations. Now that Newell-Rubbermaid’s – Irwin Subsidiary has moved production from Nebraska (the old Petersen Factory) to China – I’m not sure if quality of the original brand will suffer – but there are other brands that seem pretty good – like Grip On (there seems to be some tools bearing this name that are European-Made – maybe Spain and are of high quality – and others that seem to use a similar brand name – but are made in Asia). We particularly like some of the axial grip pliers made by Grip On for sheet metal work – and some of the Vise-Grip-Like clamps bearing the Bessey name. I try to avoid buying the real cheap knock-offs – not sure that I trust them for use in a commercial setting.

  27. DDT says:

    you never see a crescent wrench in a mechanics tool box.

  28. Ron says:

    I’m a millwright, been a millwright for 30 years. I work on machinery and conveyors in factories and turbines and pumps in power houses and anywhere else the machinery is. I have 5 or 6 different sizes of crescent wrenches and 4 or 5 different sizes of channel locks. Now I don’t use the crescent wrench when a box end or socket and ratchet will work, but if I’m climbing and can only use the tools I can carry on my belt and bolt bag you can bet a crescent and probably channel locks are along for the ride. If Mr. Wallender had more real world experience he might write something worth reading.

  29. TL says:

    The only times I’ve ever used channelocks as a wrench have been on nuts that were not to be re-used. They have come in particularly handy on rusted and rounded over exhaust system nuts. Put a four foot cheater bar down each grip and either that nut is coming off or the stud it’s attached to is going to snap. Either way that flange will be free.

  30. Eric says:

    No doubt, I carry a crescent too when I’m loading a show into another building. My mega wrench is always in my pocket though, no matter where I am. And the 2 or 3 times a year I hang a side arm there are 8″ and 10″ crescents in the office right off DSR. We’ve also stopped using crescents on cheeseboroughs. Instead we use a deepwell socket and ratchet, makes things go a lot faster especially when there are 30 of them to tighten up.

  31. Jaquandor says:

    I actually like the magnetic studfinder…but I use a version I made myself, after I read the tip in a magazine. I took the magnet out of a broken cabinet-door magnet closure and tied it to a length of fishing line. To use it, I hold the fishing line against the wall and set the magnet swinging like a pendulum, parallel to the wall. The pendulum-swinging action makes it easy to cover a lot of area with the magnet; all I have to do is move the hand that’s holding the fishing line around, and the swinging magnet covers a LOT of territory. I’ve had a lot of good luck with it; the magnet always snaps to a halt when it passes over the head of a drywall screw. So it’s useful to me at work (I do maintenance at a large grocery store).

  32. Brad Justinen says:

    Awesome post Chuck!!

    This just blows me away. This guy has no business writing about tools. I could not do my job without my adjustable wrenches and Channel Locks. I have about 8 pair of both at home too.

    Channel Locks are used to gain leverage on just about anything and probably one of my most useful tools. Knipex really is the best though.

  33. Bill says:

    The Yankee Screwdriver works better as a drill, driving a screw works better with a bit brace.

  34. Patton Kenner says:

    You guys are missing one of the best screwdrivers out there! Hidden under your nose on the “yankee screw driver” picture above. The screw driver on the far right is one of my favorite of all time. It works like a regular ratcheting screwdriver until you hold the collar at the bottom and turn. It has planetary gears that turn it a 4:1 ratio. It is great for electrical work. I have one made by MAC tools that has been discontinued. Does anyone know what the one in the pic is? Brand/part no?

  35. Coach James says:

    “you never see a crescent wrench in a mechanics tool box.”

    Every pro mechanic I know has combo wrenches in metric and SAE from 1/4 to 1″+ in stubby and regular and sometimes long pattern. They don’t need a combo wrench. I do know mechanics that carry them in their road box.

    When my family goes for a bike ride, a 6″ crescent wrench goes along with us. Another one resides in my filing cabinet at school along with a few other tools.

  36. ed says:

    Auto mechanics may not have adjustable wrenches in their boxes, but millwrights, maintenance guys, pipe fitters, electricians, and any other mechanical repairman who does not work in a shop carries at least one adjustable wrench. Tongue and groove pliers (i.e. Channellocks) are an extremely versatile and useful tool and I personally do not know a single mechanic who does not use them. As someone previously mentioned, Knipex makes the best “channellock” style pliers, and their smooth jaw adjustable pliers-wrenches are amazing. Mr. Wallander obviously does not use tools on a regular basis.

  37. Brau says:

    As I kid I spend every summer at “the cabin” without power and fifteen miles from the nearest hardware store. I quickly learned the value of Yankee drills, braces, adjustable wrenches, cheap vise grips, and channel lock pliers. As a service tech dragging tools around, on foot, downtown, heavy battery operated tools are simply not an option. An adjustable wrench, channel locks, and a push driver were regular items used each day. Many locks and security systems use looong screws, partly as a means of slowing intruders down. The driver doubles as a drill, saving a trip to the van … again!

    Clearly the author of this list leads a pampered life and can choose whatever perfectly suited tool he wants at any time. The only things I agree with are the foam brushes and magnetic stud finders.

  38. jconde says:

    I was an electronics technician in the navy and I’ve worked on a lot of computers and other electronics since then. Everything in that world is (or should be) finger tight plus a quarter turn, so an adjustable wrench is all you ever need. On the other hand I also fix my own cars and practically everything on a car is torqued within an inch of it’s life and corroded or mechanically frozen as well. It’s pure luck if an adjustable does you any good in that environment, much more likely to round things off, and bust your knuckles in the process.

    If you’re the type who’d try to fix his car at the side of the road (everyone here I’d guess :) do yourself a favor and spend 10 bucks at Walmart for a cheap socket set to leave in the truck. I’ve got an adjustable, vise grips, and duct tape in my “trunk kit” as well, but it’s the $10 sockets I grab first if I need to fix something.

  39. Morgan W says:

    I’ve used all but the magnetic stud finder (maybe they’re more useful for commercial installations where steel studs are used?) in their proper place and found them to have use.

    Yankee drivers: Yes, best used for putting screws in to pre-drilled, or even better tapped brass collets.

    Foam painting edgers, they’re mostly idiot proof, and great to give to someone with little experience painting.

    Crescent wrenches: I’m a welder, I use crescent wrenches everyday fitting pipe, pressuring plates, and yes, even tightening fittings where I don’t have space for 6 different wrenches on the unit i’m working on.

    Tooth and groove pliers: Used on pipe and a dozen other odd sized things.

    Vice grip knock offs: Agree whole-heartedly with chuck, no sense spending 35$ on a genuine vice grip just to have someone weld it to something. Or have to hack it up to make a jig for something.

    The article mostly reminded me of a Corb Lund song (http://www.corblund.com/)

    Hard on Equipment

    He’s been roundin’ off bolts since the age of fourteen
    Was that a five eighths or a nine sixteenths?
    He’s got a metric socket that don’t quite fit
    Well it’ll wiggle just a little but it ain’t quite stripped
    The safety guard’s gone from his grinding machine
    He got a stiff paint brush he only sorta got clean
    He’s the hired man, my neighbor and a cousin in law
    He’s a jerry riggin’ fool, he got the tool for the job

    Well it’s vise grips for pliers, and pliers for a wrench
    A wrench for a hammer, hammers everything else
    It just don’t seem to make much difference
    I sure do like him but he’s hard on equipment
    I sure like you son, but you’re hard on equipment

    His corners ain’t square and his floor ain’t level
    And he’s had a little trouble with the old tape measure
    His doors don’t close ‘cause the jamb ain’t plumb
    Find More lyrics at http://www.sweetslyrics.com
    And he’s a Goddamn menace with an air nail gun
    They love to see him comin’ at the lumberyard store
    Fixed the leak in his roof with a two by four
    Drilled holes in his boards with the wrong kinda bit
    And when they don’t line up he blames the government

    He got the whole front yard full of fix ‘em up cars
    Three don’t run and the rest won’t start
    Everything’s fine with his rebuilt motor
    Except of course for the couple spare washers left over
    Baler twine tie downs goin’ down the road
    On two bald tires and an oversize load
    He ain’t never read a manual ‘cause that’s like cheatin’
    He don’t mind the grease on his hands while he’s eatin’

    He’s got busted up knuckles, his thumb got bruised
    Jesus Christ was a carpenter, too

  40. ShopMonger says:

    DDT, i was a mechanic and my father in law is an ASE Master Tech and we both always have a crescent wrench handy…..

    ShopMonger

  41. DoItRite says:

    Number one useless tool:
    Cheap Screwdriver.
    I had a safety class once where they said the hand tool causing the most injuries was a screw driver.
    A good one is worth the money.

  42. Gary says:

    I responded to his post on his site. He’s the first person I ever heard say a Yankee screw driver doesn’t work.

    What a tool.

  43. Pruitt says:

    I love my Yankee drill. Have an old Craftsman model with a steel endcap.

    When I worked as a carpenter, we’d often pick up jobs for little old ladies and would spend extra time touching things up around the house.

    The Yankee Drill (never used it as a screwdriver) was always in my toolbelt and very handy for quickly and fairly cleanly drilling small hole to hang pictures nd the like. And the steel endcap was excel t and tapping old anchors/holes into the wall with a perfect detent to put sparkle into.

    I could have grabbed a drill, but I could accomplish a lot with just what I could carry in my belt.

  44. Pruitt says:

    I typed that on a phone. Please assume the best about the typos and autocorrections–I never used sparkle where spackle would do!

  45. steve says:

    Is this a joke? Every one of those tools is useful.

    “off brand” vice grips will beat any Vice Grip branded vice grip these days. My brand new Vice Grip locking pliers were destroyed the first week I owned them trying to turn a screw! The screw itself squished the teeth of the stupid plier! Vice Grip brand is GARBAGE these days. I got a GripOn brand one and have never looked back.

    While working with plumbing, no other tool is more useful than Channel locks (adjustable pliers). Same goes for the adjustable wrench.

    The “issues” the person was listing are personal ones to him alone. Anyone with any experience uses those tools every day without any problems.

    And I would love to see this guy try to do something even as simple as rebuilding a toilet without the tools he’s listed.

  46. phil says:

    There are two types of DIYer out there –
    The first type is type who grabs the plunger and unstops his toilet.
    The second type is the type who can overhaul his engine, build an addition to his house, weld, metalwork etc.

    I think Lee Wallender falls into the first type of DIYer. However, I do agree about the ‘knock offs’. – useless except for cheap customization of a tool.

  47. Mike says:

    @ Phil, I would say that Lee Wallender doesn’t fall into ANY type of DIYer. If he did, he would understand that some of these tools are useful!
    As far as the cheap knock offs, they are also good when you have to stock a shop where you expect tools to walk off regularly or be massively abused. Buy the cheap ones for the shop and keep the good ones put away!

  48. Ed Skinner says:

    I agree that magnetic stud finders are useless, and that knock-off vice-grip pliers are a waste. But, I have all of the other tools noted in the article in my bag, and I know how to use them (understanding their limitations).

    And I always love teaching a lesson to a young mechanic with my yankee. In certain applications, an electric driver works great, but, in soft wood the hand feel of the driver makes a big difference. And for screw removal, as long as you have clearance, the yankee is lighter, faster, and never needs charging.

    And ChannelLock pliers… Love them or leave them. They are not meant for machine bolts. I keep an extra large pair in the kitchen for opening stubborn pickle jar lids. There is also a difference in quality in knock-off products here, same as vice grips.

  49. 99octane says:

    Agree with the others on everything.
    Moreover, crappy tools have their uses as well.
    I have a set of twenty or so POS chinese screwdrivers I got years ago and keep in a drawer in a shed where other people may use them as well. I got the set because I needed a 15 inch long screwdriver to unscrew the nut in an onld Lee-Enfield stock. Didn’t want to spend a lot of money for a tool I’d probably use just once. The Chinese set cost me 5$ (less then a single quality screwdriver).
    The long screwdriver did what it was meant to do, and the others are kept in the shed where I have high-end tools for the jobs I do routinely, and the chinese crap for the occasional screw I need to handle. No sense in spending good money I can use for good tools I really need to buy high end screwdrivers of a size I need perhaps once a year.

  50. From Europe says:

    My favorite screwdriver is Witte Pump/ratchet screwdriver with 1/4″ hex adapter.

  51. JB says:

    @DDT
    Mechanics and techs have adjustable wrenches in their box. I do and I’m ASE master auto and diesel. I have no interest buying a wrench set for odd nut/bolt and fitting standards IE: British union fittings on some heavy construction equipment. If you are a mobile service mechanic they are nice to have in a pinch for sure.

  52. JawPaul says:

    I use a magnetic stud finder quite often at my job (most walls are steel studs) as it is quicker than an electronic one with fewer false positives. Mine is a rare earth magnet about the size of a thumb (in every dimension). If attached to an I-Beam someone much larger than me could hang from it.

    I like my crescent wrench but I love my Knipex Pliers Wrench.
    http://www.knipex.com/en/zangen-abc/wie-funktioniert-produktanimationen/86-03-250-zangenschluessel/
    They combine the smooth parallel jaws of the crescent wrench, the speed and ajustability of channelocks, the grip of vice grips, and fine german workmanship. They are amazing.

  53. The image at the very top is of the Garrett Wade Push Drill , modeled on the legendary (and defunct) Stanley Yankee Pushdrill. It is not, however, an image of the Yankee Screwdriver. Garrett Wade does sell an excellent Yankee-style Screwdriver, which is made in Germany by Schroder and which uses a modern 1/4″ hex chuck rather than the traditional notched-round collets of the Stanley originals. http://www.garrettwade.com/product.asp?pn=08C03.01

    Having used all of these tools happily for years, I’m afraid I can’t go along with the “useless” slur from About.com. I do think these kinds of lists and the comments they generate are great fun and sometimes quite enlightening.

    Best regards, Petra (GW Technical Dept)

  54. Discoman says:

    huh, I’ve always heard the channelock pliers referred to as water pump pliers.
    useful for most plumbing jobs.
    not really as useful as the adjustable wrench is.

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