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Multi-Tip Screwdrivers

 

As woodworkers we strive to buy good tools, and equip our shops with them. The problem is when those tools go wandering elsewhere in the house, never to return. (And don't go blaming your spouse or kids! You know that you are just as likely to grab a screwdriver for tightening up a lid in the kitchen and forget to return it.)

Therefore, I would like to present some good suggestions for the kitchen-drawer screwdriver. This could also be the office-desk screwdriver or the car glove compartment screwdriver... you get the idea. In those locations, I think that a good multi-tip screwdriver is the best solution. They are compact, yet contain a good selection of bits, which hopefully will address your need.

(Note: I have personal experience with all of the screwdrivers recommended here.)


#1: Auto-loader

My first recommendation is one of these auto-loader type of screwdrivers. I believe that these are a fairly recent invention. I first came across one of these somewhere around 2004/5 in the hands of a computer technician.

Mine (pictured here) came from Canadian Tire. Lee Valley also carries one currently.

This screwdriver is equipped with six bits. They are stored inside the handle in a clear compartment. You change bits by pulling back on the handle, which returns the current bit to it's "parking spot" inside the handle. You then turn the grey part of the handle until it's arrow points at the bit you want, and then push the handle forward, which pops out the new bit. It really is quite a fascinating mechanism.

The bits are 1" long. The handle is a bit plasticy feeling, but provides a fair grip. I would classify this screwdriver as best for lighter work. I would not suggest using it for much heavy duty screwing. Select one of the others for that. But as a kitchen-drawer screwdriver, it works just fine. My wife keeps this one in her sewing room toolbox.

And just for fun, I dug up this Youtube Video Link. This is a short 30 second video from Thinkgeek.com which demonstrates an autoloader screwdriver.


#2: Picquic

Here is my own kitchen drawer screwdriver. This is a Picquic Dash 7. Don't be surprised if you've never heard of them, as I don't think they are all that common in the USA. These are a Canadian invention, still made here in Canada: www.picquic.com
This is a strong and rugged multi-tip screwdriver. In fact I find it to be just about as strong as a regular screwdriver. These screwdrivers come with seven bits. There are six stored in the handle, and the seventh is in the bit-holder. The bit holder has a strong magnet (probably a rare-earth, based on how it feels) which firmly holds the bit in place. To switch bits, pull out the seventh bit, and use it to push out the desired bit. It's easier to do than explain! The base of the shaft is also squared off, so you could use a wrench if needed for extra torque. The bits can also be popped into a drill-driver if you like.
My focus here has been on around-the-house usage. However, this screwdriver would be an excellent choice for your on-the-go toolbox.

(If you're having trouble finding these, you can check Picquic's where-to-buy web page. They are also available online at Amazon.com)


#3: Reversible Tip Screwdriver

This style is another ingenious design. These screwdrivers have a removable tip in the end. The tip is reversible and is held in place by a tiny ball bearing catch. This gives two tips. The tip is mounted into a tube which is itself also reversible, also held in place by a tiny ball bearing catch, and has another tip at it's other end. That gives four screwdriver tips.
But as the popular saying goes: "But wait! There's More!"
The shaft of the screwdriver itself is also reversible, and is also held in place by a not-quite-as-tiny ball bearing catch. So once you pull it out and swap it end-for-end there is another tube mounted with another pair of tips at each end. That gives a total of eight different screwdriver tips.

The engineering and design is brilliant.

I've got two examples of this, as you can see in the photos. The first one is from a company named Klein Tools. This screwdriver has lived in our computer room at work for years, used for working on computers and all those related gizmos. Here is the Klein Tools web page for that particular screwdriver. Their Where-To-Buy page lists many distributors, so they should be fairly easy to find. The unique thing about this particular screw driver is that it contains two torx tips as well as two each of the more ordinary Philips, slotted, and Robertson. This makes it ideal for our usage, as torx bits are frequently used in computers and electronics. (as a die-hard Robertson screw fan, it feels disloyal to say so, but Robertson screws simply don't get used in electronics or computer components in my experience, whereas torx do.)
The second one is from Milwaukee. I believe that this is the company web page for this screwdriver. Full disclosure: I got this for free at a woodshow a few years ago. It now lives in my desk at work, as a handy multi-tip screwdriver for the occasional job. This screwdriver is not really meant for me. It was designed for electricians, which I am not, and has a few specific features aimed at them. Instead of eight tips, it only has six. One end has two tips specifically shaped/designed for use in electrical boxes and also a nut driver. Unfortunately those really aren't much use to me for my light use. If you're an electrician, on the other hand, you might love it.

To be completely honest, I have no idea what the "official" name is for this style of screwdriver. I coined the term "reversible tip" on my own, to distinguish it from the other styles. Both Klein and Milwaukee give their products rather un-original names along the lines of "11-in-1 screwdriver"


#4: A NON-recommendation

One type of multi-tip screwdriver that I will NOT recommend is any screwdriver with a loose collection of bits rattling around in the handle.

I don't even know what you call these, but I've used them many times over the years, and I really dislike them. The simple problem is that when you unscrew the cap on the handle you are quite likely to drop one of the small bits when tipping them out into your palm, or when trying to tip them back into the handle. Or you might drop the cap as well. There are many loose bits to keep track of.

I just found it to be a very awkward and weak design. As well, with those other three excellent designs readily available in the market, there is simply no reason to put up with an inferior tool.


Which One should you get?

Which one is for you depends on the use. I like the picquic or the autoloader for the kitchen drawer. I like the Klein best in my office desk, with the autoloader a close second. Really, for general around-the-house/office usage, you can't go wrong with any of these options. The bonus is if they help keep your "real" tools safe in your workshop!

Thanks for reading!

Some of the Tools/Supplies Used In This Project: (Affiliate Links)

Picquic Screwdrivers -- some of the best “multi-bit” screwdrivers around. (But get the ones with Robertson tips!)
Klein 11-in-1 Screwdrivers
Milwaukee multi-tip -- similar to the Klein
Autoloader screwdrivers

 

other screwdriver options...
Robertson Screwdrivers
Robertson Driver bits also
GRK Torx Screws
GRK Torx bits for your driver
Torx Screwdrivers
Robertson Screws
AKA Square Screws

 

Thanks for reading!