Everybody needs some screwdrivers, and in fact everyone needs a very small, basic tool kit at the very least. A screwdriver, pair of pliers, and a crescent wrench will save your day at some point. This blog entry is for the people that just need some basic hand tools and to provide a thing or two to think about before you spend your money.
I’ve spent a lot of time researching tools in the last week, and I’ve learned a lot about them. Who actually owns the companies, where they are made, and how they hold up. I’ve seen comparison videos where devious engineers design devious tests and then stack them up against each other. While I greatly appreciate the study, thought, and application of those tests, it just isn’t relevant to 95% of the population.
I’ve seen untold forum posts of “What Screwdriver Should I Get”. Believe it or not the most common answer seems to be………..”Get something you can afford and don’t look back”.
The reality is that uber quality just isn’t necessary for most of us. Then again, I’m not most of us. I made my living using tools and a lot of people do. I subscribe to the theory of “That Many People Can’t Be Wrong” when it comes to tool recommendations. So let’s get on with the recommendations.
Here is my basic criteria for screwdriver selection:
- Cost – always first and foremost
- Need – Do you need a super high quality of tools? Will you make your living with these tools?
- Frequency – How often will you use these tools? Daily, or almost not at all?
- Special Characteristics – Do these tools get used in any unusual environments? Oils, Solvents, Aviation hydraulic fluids such as Skydrol?
- Warranty – Does it have a warranty?
- Return – If it does have a warranty, how easy is it to replace?
- Woke – Is your company woke? Get woke, go broke, I always say.
Here’s an example of woke. Craftsman Tools. My Dad LOVED Craftsman tools, and he taught me that they were the greatest tools on planet earth, pound for pound, dollar for dollar. He loved Craftsman SO MUCH that it was a staple at Christmas time. Dad is long gone but I CHERISH this set he got me.
Again, that is how much he LOVED Craftsman Tools. But the other day I’m researching Craftsman for this blog and I stumble upon this:
We Build Pride.
Okay. When I was a kid that probably was a PERFECT slogan. Now, to me, it means something else. To make sure it wasn’t just me I showed this to no less than 6 people I knew. Their reaction was the same as mine. They are pandering to a woke community. To be fair, its pretty subtle. You decide.
Also to be fair, I’d be willing to bet almost no one is going to go to the “Where It’s Made” page where I found it. And it is way at the bottom. It’s buried alive on their site………but it’s still there. The Slogan is at the bottom of their main page, without that picture. By the way, Craftsman is owned by Stanley Black and Decker.
If you can get past this, or don’t care about this …………let’s talk about Craftsman Screwdrivers. They aren’t bad. However having said that, they aren’t the Craftsman Screwdrivers that my Dad owned. Now they are made mostly in China or Taiwan and if you hold a 1970’s Craftsman in one hand and a 2020’s Craftsman in the other …….. you can feel the difference.
Craftsman has a Lifetime Warranty but sadly there are very few Sears stores left. Lowes will replace Craftsman tools however the part numbers of the “Sears” tools and the Lowes tools are different and sometimes they can’t or won’t replace them. At that point you have to call Craftsman Customer Service.
My recommendation: Buy them FROM Lowes. Here’s a great starter set as well. This 12 piece set will set you back $20 and you can probably get it cheaper from time to time as well.
This set is almost perfect for an around the house set of screwdrivers for that non-professional. It consists of a good mix of good quality tools, and it has a lifetime warranty.
If you buy it from Lowes it should be easy enough to exchange as well.
I highly recommend this set.
These are good screwdrivers for a working man too, however the acetate handles are NOT chemical resistant. Years ago I worked at an FAA approved repair station and commercial aircraft use a hydraulic fluid called Skydrol. Skydrol will flat out MELT these handles.
If you need chemical resistant screwdriver handles you’re going to have to do some involved research. I ended up getting black handle Snap-On screwdrivers as they were chemical resistant. My personal choice of screwdrivers, Wera Kraftform, are NOT chemical resistant.
Good thing I don’t need that anymore.
This 6 piece set though costs about $35. You get about half the tools for almost double the cost of the Craftsman set I linked above.
I actually own a different set that has hexagon shaped screwdriver shafts (for extra torque) and that bumps the price up to about $55
Ouch! You gotta really love it.
These tools have laser etched tips though and that causes them to bite into the screw head and they are much less prone to cam out or slippage.
It all depends on what your needs are, I guess. John’s Tech Blog thinks the Wera Kraftform screwdrivers are exceptional tools.
Back to Snap-On. Snap-On was and still is the tools that pros lust over. But my goodness a small set of screwdrivers costs about $260. But the solid handle ones are chemical resistant and if you need that, you need that. Naturally there are other brands that also have chemical resistant handles. Regarding handles though……….handle composition seems Top Secret and proprietary to most of these companies. I guess what I’m saying is that a lot of them don’t really reveal the composition of the handle. Even my beloved Wera screwdrivers are “Multi-Component” handles.
If you dig Snap-On but not Snap-On prices you can get Williams brand screwdrivers. Williams is a Snap-On Industrial company which means basically………….they are Snap-On tools at a fraction of the price.
This 8 piece set costs over $80. That’s kind of steep but it is essentially Snap-On, made by Snap-On at a bargain price.
There are so many screwdriver brands out there I haven’t even begun to do this justice. If you need a screwdriver set, go to Lowes, or HomeDepot and get a brand name tool (Dewalt, Milwaukee, Klein, etc.) that has a warranty. You can get them cheap as well and dirt cheap certain times of the year. Avoid tools from the Dollar Tree or Walmart which oddly enough cost roughly the same and are essentially crap with no warranty other than the typical store return policy.
If you are a pro, want to look like and smell like a pro get some Wera, Wiha, Snap-On, Williams or PB Swiss, There are other high end brands as well.
For the typical homeowner, young couple, single female (or male for that matter) go to Lowes and grab a set of Craftsman screwdrivers which are way more than adequate for 95% or more of the people on planet earth at a good price, and with a Lifetime Warranty.
Or be like me and be a Wera Tool Rebel. I haven’t mentioned innovation at all in this post. Look around their website and you’ll quickly see that they are taking old, tired tool designs and making them better.
Lastly and ideally you can probably pick up some vintage tools like those Craftsman 1960’s and 1970’s screwdriver sets from Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist or Estate Sales for pennies on the dollar. They might have a nick or two on them but they still have that lifetime warranty!