Proof That Even A Screwdriver Becomes Obsolete

Stanley Works has been making hand tools in New Britain, Connecticut, since the middle of the 19th century. Som time in the 20th century, the company came up with this terrible screwdriver.

It has a handle with rigid, jagged plastic edges that gouge your palms at every inch-pound of torque. Yet the handle is somehow always slick, requiring a firm, skin-sacrificing grip. The screwdriver is downright painful to use. It is, as far as toolbox technology goes, obsolete.

Now, the old Stanley's steel shank is solid, and the tool is technically capable of driving a screw. It's like a decade-old laptop -- technically capable of sending an email. But there are better ways to do it. The screw itself is a mechanical marvel, an inclined plane wrapped around a cylinder, and experiencing this miracle of hardware should be an act of pure pleasure.

To truly enjoy some fine screwing, try Stanley's new Stubby Ratcheting Multi-Bit screwdriver. It stores six common bits in its handle -- with a duplicate of the critical #2 Phillips -- and each one magnetically pops into the tip. The tool's ratcheting action is a heavenly shortcut that allows the bit to remain engaged in the screw while adjusting your wrist for the the next crank.

But screws in spots too cramped for the Stubby need a long-shanked tool like the old Stanley. And the Wiha 531 proves that the humble screwdriver can be radically improved. With its hardened, chrome-vanadium-molybdenum steel shaft, and a cushy, contoured grip that holds still in a sweaty palm, the Wiha is good as a single-bit screwdriver gets.

And yet, for all the Stanley's shortcomings, it is not headed to the rubbish bin. Even obsolete technology can make a worthwhile donation. Someone will come along, complaining of cabinets hanging loose on their hinges, stuck with a bare toolbox in need of even a flawed Phillips screwdriver. A free screwdriver will be given away that day, along with a warning: wear a glove.



    The old ¨sharp¨ edged handle had some great advantages, it is usable with oily hands, can be used with finger tips if reaching beyond the shafts limits, and being relatively narrow it can be used close to the side of a wall or cabinet.

      I agree, if you already have a good set of classic screwdriver I would never go for a cheap all in one replacement.

      Thats like choosing a sport/luxury SUV over owning both a high end sports car and a top of the line 4WD. Specialised tools are always better.

    If using a screwdriver hurts your hand you need to man up a bit.

      I'd comment but it's too funny that people need to be told !

      oh, just go and get the drill and screw attachment already ....

      what about the female toolies

        'Toughen up' may be a better word for it.

      I think the expression is "have a cup of concrete"

      but still +1

    The biggest advantage to the old Stanley, which fortunately that Wiha can also do (All be it, with slightly less functionality) is the ability to use a Shifter/Spanner on the handle to get more purchase and leverage on the handle. That's why the top is rounded so you can put your weight down on it and twist with a shifter.

    "skin-sacrificing grip".... come on. I'm a computer nerd by trade but I think the author needs to stop moisturising.
    There are several reasons why traditional screwdrivers exist in the current format. For those who can't deal with it, pick up an ikea tool kit the next time you go there becuase, lets face it, flat pack furniture is about the only application you'll ever use on for.

    Proof That Even A Screwdriver Becomes Obsolete
    WTF..? This is ridiculous, since when has the Phillips head in any form obsolete..? Not to mention that Stanley didn't invent it, Henry Phillips did in the 1930's. This article is just an ad for the latest Stanley screwdriver! The Phillips head design was a major improvement over the old flat tip. The only problem being, using the wrong size tool for the screw. And what's this "But screws in spots too cramped for the Stubby need a long-shanked tool like the old Stanley" What Now....

      If you'd read the article you may realise that it was concerned with the form factor of the screwdriver itself, not the type of bit. You can stop rolling Henry Phillips over in his grave.

        The heading says "A Screwdriver Becomes Obsolete" How does changing the handle change the form factor? The screwdriver is the metal bit not the handle! In effect nothing has changed because there are handles out just like this one. .!

          I can picture you in your backyard yelling/whinging at ants because they don't walk in a straight/efficient line…

    I once had a young tradie doing some work for me. With only one or two screws to put in, the battery on his cordless died. He looked lost, so I handed him a screwdriver and he just looked at me with a blank expression. I finished the job myself. So yes, screwdrivers are becoming redundant.

      Screw drivers will only become redundant when the size of the electric ones matches Dr Who's Sonic one. Till then, they're here for the long run. Also the battery will have to be something from the future too.

      Nah, I disagree. Your story says your screw driver operator (Tradie) was redundant. You still had to pull out ascrewdriver and use it.

    hey harry, they make wood saws that don't make your muscle-wussles youchy-wouchy too. rather than pushing the blade across the wood and back, the circular blade spins around and around. thanks for the latest news on screwdrivers...

    Plus, Stanley also make a series of screwdrivers with cushioned easy-grip handles, not just the hard plastic ones. "Harry Sawyers" needs to have a stern talking-to by his editor.

    Isn't this proof that the screwdriver will never become obsolete?

    This is a ridiculous article.
    The "reporter" definitely needs to go back to school and learn about how to write headlines and how to do proper research.
    This article will become the laughing stock of Gizmodo.

    Author does not hear your ridicule - his editor has sent him off to find a left-handed screwdriver...

      He said to"get a long weight" while your there...... :)

        Plus a torque (talk) hammer, replacement bubble for the sprit level and some welder sparks...

        Then he can write a real article!

    This article should have been marked as "Advertisement".

    I think I just heard my hammer running in fear of Neowin.

    Back in the old days (1960's) I loved the 'Yankee' screw driver. You pushed down on it and it drove the screw in. For those who needed comfort, it had a smooth, rounded wooden handle. Great stuff. ;-P.
    Very clever tool, made in America, funnily enough.

    For obstinate screws: drill a hole near the top of the screwdriver, at 90 degrees to the shaft. Insert a SECOND scredriver, and you have a "T Handle". Better scredrivers already have this hole, pre-drilled.

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