A Tale of Two Screwdrivers

Sadly my favorite screwdrivers of old are beginning to show their age.  Not much life left in the few that haven’t gotten lost or broken.  While searching the web for a good ratcheting driver, I found a very interesting screwdriver. It is called a double drive screwdriver. Kobalt makes it and Lowe’s carries it. After reading about it I may have drooled a bit.  It is a ratcheting drive that turns the screw when you twist the grip. It also turns the screw when you twist the grip the other way. It looked very plastic and aluminum, but it also looked solid, so I had to try it out.   I am a technician by trade, so I use a screwdriver constantly.  A good screwdriver is a must have tool.

The price was a bit high, around 25 dollars, but it looked like a pretty nice leap in tool art.  It if worked as advertised, it would also save me time.

For comparison, I also obtained an HDX screwdriver set from Home Depot. This costs about $7.  I had already tried these out and found them to be fairly nice.   They don’t ratchet, but they have interchangeable bits and still end up working as well as a fixed bit screwdriver.   I had already converted several to wooden handles and found them to be a real pleasure to use.

Two screwdriver sets in packages

I was very exited to try out the nifty blue screwdrivers.  fortunately I had a magnifying lamp and an air conditioner that I needed to put back into working order.

My first impression was that the mechanism ran a bit rough.   Then it was Wow, this thing is fast, nearly electric screwdriver fast.   Blazing quick, in forward ratchet form it turns the screw faster than your wrist is turning the screwdriver.  Amazing speed.  More than twice as fast.   Then the issues became apparent.  First off the mechanism is sloppy and the fittings are sloppy.  This wears screw surfaces out.   To get the proper effect, it takes two hands and the slop, off angles and no hand free pretty much means the screw is thrown free when it comes out.   The slop means that starting a screw is also a nightmare.   So I quickly determined that the other simpler screwdriver was better for precision and initially starting a screw.  It was also better for removing the screw since I could catch the screw and it didn’t toss the screw in a random direction.  In the middle of the screwdriver process the double drive ruled supreme but who wants to swap out screwdrivers twice on each screw?

Two Screwdriver sets out of Packages

The cheap orange screwdriver quickly found another advantage that the expensive blue one could not match.   For deep small holes both the orange screwdrivers were functional and the expensive blue ones did nothing.    Also air conditioners can be a bit damp and they have capacitors that can shock you even when the unit is unplugged.  The orange handles won hands down in the insulation isolating you from shock department.

 

Screwdrivers side by side

The real downside to the orange screwdriver is the grey grippy material.  It feels and looks exactly like the sort of plastic that turns to sticky goo after a few years.  I have no love for this gunk.  So I had to modify the handle a bit.   I was able to wobble the metal socket out of the plastic handle on the smaller screwdriver.  Normally screwdriver handles are all push, so this wouldn’t be a problem in use, so the ease of removal is not a bad thing.   The larger handle was not cooperative however.

No love for cheap plastic handles

First I cut it after gauging how far down the bit fit into the shaft.  Then I used a drill bit that fit the hole fairly well to help drive the socket out of the grip.

Extracting Socket part 1

With the wooden ring in place I was able to push the metal bit free of the plastic handle.

Extracting Socket part 2

So now I have some spare metal collars that I can squeeze into a matching wooden hole.  A vise makes this process easy.

Parts side by side

I think this double ended screwdriver is convenient.  So did my wife.  She keeps it at her desk.

Two ended screwdriver

She also wanted another set for her emergency tool box.

Large and Small Screwdriver

I needed a few, especially since the blue screwdrivers are worthless.   They may be a brilliant design, but their execution is horrible.  After turning about three screws, the smaller blue screwdriver will only turn one way.   Great idea, horrid tool.  don’t buy one.   The orange handled HDX Screwdriver is another story entirely.  Buy several.   They also have a kit without the smaller screwdriver that has a bunch more bits.  Get at least one of those as well.   I turn spare long bits into chisels, scribes and awls.   These end up being very versatile tools.  The bits alone are worth the price of the tool.

Equivilent base cost

Bob

11 comments to A Tale of Two Screwdrivers

  • Interesting review. I especially like your wooden drivers.

  • Charles

    Nice, i might make some with brass handles

  • john

    Just one word: Yankee.

    Man, you need a Yankee or three.

  • Hi Bob,

    Your wooden drivers look great. For a ratcheting driver, take a look at the Overdriver made by Spec Tools. I wrote about it here:
    http://www.rpwoodwork.com/blog/2013/08/26/the-best-screwdriver-i-have-ever-used/
    It has a quiet, high quality ratchet system, but the best part is the on-demand 4:1 gear ratio that is faster than most power drivers. I’ve used one for 23 years without fail. They’re now available in two different handle styles. I know you’re a tool guy, so I think you’ll like it a lot.

    Rob

  • Bob Strawn

    Thanks for the suggestion, that looks like a screwdriver that I will have to save up for and obtain!

    Bob

  • Bob Strawn

    I have a Yankee and I have a couple of Eazypower push-pull click click screwdrivers. I hate to use the Yankee and put wear on the bits. One of my Eazypower screwdrivers is brilliant but I would not say the same of later ones that I have seen or acquired. Some of the Schroeder variations are interesting but for the price I will probably never take the risk.

    Bob

  • Bob Strawn

    I definitely want to see pictures of that! My favorite shiny bling metal is aluminum bronze, a pain to work, but it is an amazing metal with a lot of superb qualities.

    Bob

  • Bob Strawn

    Thanks, Ralph! I am always delighted how replacing the plastic on a decent tool turns it into a superb tool that is a joy to use.

    Bob

  • Skip J.

    Thanks Bob; for your wonderful handles…. I use them every day for something in the shop….

    Take care;

    Skip

  • victor

    Excellent solution to big-corporate production plastic! I love 4-in 1′s but always disliked the handles.
    Thanks for the inspiration.
    -victor-

  • Currently in the process of replacing all plastic with wood. Thanks for the great tips :)

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