You know we here at ManMade always have praise for specialized, high-quality, long lasting tools. Chris went in-depth on screwdrivers earlier this year, and I second his opinion:
“a high-quality set of wood handled screwdrivers are a true joy to use.” But let me also put in a plug for the less-glamorous cousin, the ratcheting screwdriver. It probably won’t last a lifetime, and it’s certainly not hand-crafted, but it can be a joy to use, in the right circumstances, and I think every guy should own one (or two, or three).
Throw one in your toolbox, another in the trunk of your car, and a leave a third in your desk drawer at the office. Make sure you get a model that stores a collection of bits in the handle, and you’ll be prepared for (almost) any screw-related challenge.
Now, you might be tempted to just go out and buy the first ratcheting screwdriver you see on an endcap at the hardware store (they’re all the same, right!?). But don’t be. A crappy ratcheting mechanism is, well … crappy. And as with any tool that has moving parts, you want one that’s well-made, or it’ll fall apart on you.
Who Needs One
Contractors – and professionals who are constantly whipping out a screwdriver – love these. They save a bunch of space in a tool belt or toolbox. But they’re also really handy to have around the house – the convenience of having all your bits in one place is hard to beat (no more running back down to the basement to grab a different-sized screwdriver). And the ratcheting action simplifies jobs like adjusting door hardware or screwing in something over your head (like a ceiling fixture).
What to Look For
– Comfortable handle with a little weight to it
– Quality build (metal components, smooth gearing)
– Easy access to the ratchet toggle (ideally you should be able to toggle with one hand)
For regular use: Megapro 13-in-1 Ratcheting Driver ($28 on Amazon)
This one is the best-reviewed model we found. With an extra-long shank, a good collection of ultra-durable bits, and super-smooth ratcheting action, it’s a tool that will last a long time. I’d recommend this one if you think you’ll be using the tool on a daily basis, or plan on investing in a multi-use tool like this one in place of buying a dedicated screwdriver set.
Bang for your Buck: The Kobalt 13-in-1 Double Drive ($10 at Lowe’s)
This is the screwdriver pictured above (and the one I one). It’s not as well reviewed as the MegaPro, but I think for intermittent use, it’ll hold up just fine. I’ve had mine for a few years (again, not daily use) and haven’t had any problems.
The Kobalt also has another feature I really like: the double-drive action. Basically, this means there’s a fearing mechanism in the tool that allows you to, say, drive a screw in with a twist of the handle in either direction (left or right). In other words, it can drive a screw twice as fast as a normal ratchet. I find that feature incredibly helpful and find myself happily using it all the time. At a third of the price of the MegaPro, you can afford to buy three of ’em.
I don’t even know how it got in my toolbox, but the tiny ratcheting screwdriver pictured above comes in really handy. It’s about the size of my palm, and stores six bits right inside the handle. For tight spots, or for just throwing in your pocket when you’re running out to fix something, it’s pretty awesome.
I’m not sure it matters which one of these you get, but it is kind of nice to have around. The Stanley Stubby Ratcheting MultiBit screwdriver costs $5 at Amazon and has a ton of good reviews.