As usual, click any photo to bring up a larger version.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
page. They are also available online at
#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
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
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