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A holding screwdriver is a useful tool in many applications, because sometimes no matter how you try, you can’t hold the screw yourself.  So last year Wera introduced the Screw Gripper, an accessory that turns any of their screwdrivers, and probably most other brands, into a holding screwdriver.

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I’ve seen a number of different sources claiming that you should use a stainless steel screwdriver or bit insert to drive stainless steel screws, but Wera does the best job of explaining why:

Stainless steel does not rust. However, if conventional steel tools are used on stainless steel elements or stainless steel screws the wear debris of these tools can adhere to the surface an begin to rust. This effect, known as extraneous rust, can impair the visual impact and even cause structural damage, resulting in high costs for the necessary repair work.

This sounds all well and good, but stainless steel screwdrivers aren’t as hard as screwdrivers made from other materials, so Wera solves this with their new vacuum ice hardening process. If I understand the process correctly, they allow the steel to cool in a cryogenic vacuum chamber.

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Perusing through Home Depot’s “gift” section, I came across a lot of cheap flashlights and multifunction tools, but one tool really caught my eye. It was your run-of-the-mill multi-bit screwdriver from Husky — but it had a hole in the middle of the handle that you could stick the shaft into to make it a T-handled screwdriver. I thought, “Holy crap, why have I never seen something like this before?”

Now given, if you have to crank on a screw so hard that you need a T-handle screwdriver, you’re probably doing something wrong, but there are times when you just can’t get enough leverage to remove a stuck screw — and I could totally see this tool saving your ass in that situation.

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Many, MANY years ago, I happened to be driving through Albuquerque just as a new Snap-On store was having its grand opening. I, of course, stopped in and bought my first and, until now, my only Snap-On tool: the pistol-grip ratcheting screwdriver shown on the right above (I was young then, and probably attracted by the bright color). I don’t remember how much I paid for it; I was just happy to have a real Snap-On tool, and a neat ratcheting screwdriver to boot.

Recently I found that its ratcheting mechanism would not stay in one position no matter how much I fiddled with it, so I emailed Snap-On support to see if there was something (adjustment, lube…) I could do to fix it. Snap-On quickly replied that there was nothing to do once it doesn’t stay in gear, but, if I would give them my address, they would send me a replacement.

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While researching the DuraGear Flexible Shaft Screwdriver, I saw a reference to this book by Witold Rybczyski and wound up getting a copy through PaperBackSwap. It’s fascinating (well, for me at least, but then I really enjoyed the “History of Engineering” course I took lo those many years ago in college) account of when and where the screwdriver and screw were invented. No mention is made of the illusive laser-guided screwdriver, but it does offer lots of other interesting historical information starting with Archimedes and progressing through Peter L. Robertson* and beyond.

Given that you can pick up a copy for $5 or less, I would say this is a good and economical read.

*including his invention of the Wrench-Brace (apparently an early multi-tool combining a brace, monkey wrench, screwdriver, bench vise, and rivet maker); if anyone has any information about this device, I would be interested, as my web searches for details have been futile.

Via Amazon [What’s This?]
Street Pricing [Google Products]

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The $5 Screw Key set puts one Phillips and one slotted blade on your key ring. They’re made from heat-treated blackened steel. Are these any better — or worse — than the Utili-Key (Noted on TM back in May of this year and again in July 2008)? Or, with a little grinding and drilling work, you could make your own from a couple of old bits. What do you think?

County Comm [Manufacturer's Site]

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“No batteries, no electricity needed!” Okay, so the is a bit overboard*, but $8 for the DuraGear Flexible Shaft Screwdriver seems reasonable (especially with free shipping, if you remember to specifically click that option during checkout). Five sockets and six bits store in the handle, with eight more bits in a ring at the bottom of the screwdriver and one in the tip. The flexible shaft retracts, and the base of the handle includes a built-in slot for driving cup hooks.

*Although it did mention that the New York Times selected the screwdriver as the “Most Useful Tool of the Millennium” in a Y2K supplement.

Street Pricing [Google Products]
Screwdriver Feature [New York Times]

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