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Thread: Who makes the best screwdrivers?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
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    Default Who makes the best screwdrivers?

    I've been buying Craftsman most of my life, but I'd like to treat myself to a small set of my most common sizes...Maybe something forged, with true hollow ground and hardened tips??? Like many "simple" things there may often be more than meets the eye, so what features make a great screwdriver?

  2. #2
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    Very bright colors.
    Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Origin now settable to bottom left! All values positive. Click Here

  3. #3
    IOWOLF Guest

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    Chapman has a set of interchangeable tiped ones hollow ground ,this set is made for gunsmiths.

  4. #4
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    Sep 2005
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    Thumbs up I like gun screwdrivers

    Take a look at Brownells online. They have a number of fixed shaft and hex bit style drivers. All of them are hollow ground and made to fit slotted screws really tight. I have a set that I have used for years and when you insert them in a screw slot you NEED to thump them in with the palm of your hand. Once in the screw slot the driver will stand there by itself. The only tough thing about this is that often times getting the screw off the tip of the driver can be a struggle. I have never damaged a screw slot with these and I do a LOT of gun work. Always makes my skin crawl when I get a gun to work on that has boogered screw slots. The set of drivers I have covers everything from slotted to phillips, allens and torx bits. Volumes can be written on the matter of using proper hollow ground drivers. Only one word need be said regarding using an ill fitting driver and boogering screws..... Hack. Cheers to you for knowing what a difference the right driver can make. If I was very wealthy I would buy everyone I know a set of quality drivers and teach everyone of them how to dress the tips to keep them in good shape. I have a buddy that I bought a set of cold chisels for.....then dressed all his screwdrivers... That was the end of his universal tool...screwdriver, chisel, prybar, paint scraper, can opener...etc.

    Cheers
    -Bill

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
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    484

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    For ease of locating them and reasonable price I like Klein electricians screwdrivers. I got the ones with the little dowel by the handle that lets you bend a hook in wire, real handy when wiring up the shop.

    My last set of Craftsman screwdrivers will be exactly that.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
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    767

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    Not sure who makes the best but in my drinking days there was this place that fresh squeezed the orange juice.....



    I like Klein as well BTW

  7. #7
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    Aug 2004
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    The craftsman drivers work fine for me. A screw driver is a real simple tool. The quality should be increased in the fastener. The variations in slot or star make for a variety of mismatched tools to screws.

    Watch out for the gunsmith drivers. High quality, yes. But there are some sets which are designed to break prior to breaking or stripping the fastener they were designed for.
    JRouche

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    Keystone State
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    The "best" screwdriver depends greatly on the use and expected abuse, I have a quite a few (hundreds) of "all" the major brands. USA and quality imports, I favor the ones with handles that "fill" my hand, have a "spot" for a wrench on the shaft (hex or square). I don't like the new "soft grip" handles in the machine shop, they quickly get full of bits of sharp metal.

    I am not a collector of screwdrivers, it was a "market research" perk of the part-time tool sales job.

    One hundred bottles of Vodka on the wall...
    Today I will gladly share my experience and advice, for there no sweeter words than "I told you so."

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
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    403

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    abn --

    I'm partial to the "PB" screwdrivers made in Switzerland by P B Baumann, but they're not likely to be on the rack at your local hardware store. Baumann's US distributor is Count-On-Tools out of Georgia, and the C-O-T website is www.pbbaumann.com

    Other very good European screwdrivers include the German-made Ceka, Wera, Wiha, Witte, and the French-made Facom. (Until fairly recently Facom owned SK, and several of the SK screwdrivers lines were simply Facom screwdrivers stamped with the SK Tools name. Within the last several months, though, Facom sold SK to its American management and then Facom itself was sold to Stanley, so SK may now be getting their screwdrivers from a different source.)

    I don't have any first-hand experience with the screwdrivers that Pratt-Read is importing from Slovakia, but I have heard that those screwdrivers are very good and commonly available at True Value Hardware stores.

    Pratt-Read also makes a large variety of screwdrivers in their Bridgeport, Connecticut plant . . . including ones private-branded for most of the socket-and-wrench makers. Their top-of-the-line drivers are probably as good as any other US maker's screwdrivers, but they play at the lower end of the price-and-quality continuum also, so caveat emptor.

    Other highly-reputed US-made screwdrivers include Snap-On and Klein. (I'm sure that you have your own opinion about Snap-On, and know how to buy a set if you want them.) Klein's screwdrivers have traditionally been available primarily through electrical supply houses, but in the last few years Klein has been selling through both Sears and Home Depot. Klein also owns Vaco, which I consider to be a step or two down the quality ladder from the Klein-branded screwdrivers.

    Over the last couple of years Sears has been splitting their purchases of Craftsman-branded screwdrivers between Western Forge (which had been practically their sole source for C'man drivers since the mid 1960s) and Pratt-Read. From what I've seen, today's standard Craftsman drivers are pretty much the same marginal quality no matter which maker made them. The Craftsman Professional drivers that Western Forge was making -- the ones with the unplated blades with black or neon-orange handles -- were much better; I haven't used the newer Pratt-Read version of the C'man Pro drivers enough to form any more than a superficial opinion . . . but a round-shank Craftsman screwdriver just seems wrong to me.

    I'm not a big fan of Cooper Group's screwdrivers, which usually carry the Crescent or Xcelite brand names.

    Stanley? Their top-of-the-line screwdrivers are still among the best and their "contractor's grade" are fine, but hesitate to go below those price-and-quality points.

    Ace Hardware imports a line of Ace branded screwdrivers from Taiwan that are pretty darn good.

    [Sounds of clattering as I climb onto soap box] The proper fit of a straight-slot screwdriver in the screw slot is fairly obvious: the tip should fill the slot both ways (lengthwise and widthwise) and the flanks of the tip fitting into the slot should be parallel or even slightly hollow-ground. The proper fit of a cross-recess screwdriver is more complex, and so poorly understood here in the US that most US screwdriver makers don't make screwdriver tips to fit many of the cross-recess screwheads in use.

    Yes, most of us have heard about the difference between Phillips and Frearson (aka Reed & Prince) cross-slot screwdrivers . . . but those are US screw slot designs that don't fit "JIS Crosspoint" screws that are commonly used on products engineered in Japan, and THAT explains a majority of the problems most of us have experienced with "those %^&()& Japanese Phillips screws". Those screws aren't really Phillips screws, they're JIS Crosspoint screws and they need JIS Crosspoint screwdrivers (Google will find you a mail-order supplier) OR a screwdriver designed to fit BOTH the Phillips and JIS Crosspoint screws as made by several of the European makers (including P B Baumann, Wiha, and -- I believe -- the Slovakian maker whose screwdrivers Pratt-Read imports.)

    Tracking down a set of screwdrivers to properly fit JIS Crosspoint screws is a wise investment of time and money, and will probably change your opinion about "Japanese Phillips" screws.

    And, there's more. The Europeans have their own DIN/ISO Crosspoint screw heads that conventional Phillips-tip drivers do fit, but the European equipment makers seem especially fond of Pozi-Drive screws, which is another crosspoint tip that the Phillips drivers don't fit. The Pozi-Drive screws need a Pozi-Drive driver, which are made by both US and European screwdriver makers. Here too, a set of Pozi-Drive screwdrivers is well worth the investment.

    The "good news" about Pozi-Drive screws is that they are usually easier to identify than are JIS Crosspoint screws. The heads usually have radial lines stamped midway between the arms of the drive-recess crosses, and there's a small square recess superimposed on the center of the cross.

    [More clattering, as I get down off the soap box.]

    But none of this answers the question you asked: " . . . what features make a great screwdriver?"

    Ok, well I prefer a square shank and tips ground lengthwise, but hex shanks or bolstered round shanks are ok. I also prefer a substantial, brightly-colored handle.

    John

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    Kind of hard to pin that down. I used craftsman at work until I started getting poor ones. Then the Grey brand was good, but I got some poor ones under that name as well. I would always buy one and use it a few days, and if the tip didn't start rounding over, I'd go back and get a few more. There was a german make that I bought a few of at a liqiuidation store, and I'm still kicking myself that I didn't get more at that time.
    Lately, I've been using the craftsman again, and the tips seem to be good.
    Best ones I own are an old set made by IBM. These were made for techs working on business machines like photocopiers.
    How can you tell if a screwdriver is good unless you buy one and put it to work- no one brand has been consistently good for me. I haven't bought snap-on, or klein, or bondhus, or proto- makes that are supposed to be good.
    If I was to buy a set of screwdrivers today, I have no idea what I'd get to expect them to be good, except a money back guarantee.

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