Aimed at: Pros with crowded toolboxes
Pros: Capacity for lots of screwdrivers without the bulk of a screwdriver set.
Crowded Toolbox Syndrome afflicts many UK tradespeople. With so many useful and even “must have” tools available these days it doesn’t take long to end up with one or more heavy toolboxes that always seem to end up on the site just because “we might need them.”
This is particularly true with screwdriving tools. Not long ago we only needed a couple of Phillips, a couple of Pozis and a slotted screwdriver or two, with a nondescript “big one” used for levering, breaking and chiselling. Now, we have to have all of the aforementioned, plus Torx in various sizes, several hexes and maybe even a couple of square drives. Chuck in a VDE set and that all adds up to a lot of individual drivers – and inevitably to Crowded Toolbox Syndrome.
Various companies have come up with ingenious solutions to the problem and for that we have to be grateful because it really does help avoid a crowded toolbox. In the past Wiha has come up with some of the best solutions for using the screwdriver handle as a method of storing the range of extra driver bits without losing its excellent ergonomic handle design in the process. And now there are a couple more designs that extend Wiha’s range that you need to consider in your quest to reduce toolbox clutter.
The Wiha 26 One has been around for a few months and as the name suggests it has one handle but 26 different driver bits in the kit. Wiha suggests that it will save 90% of the volume and 85% of the weight of carrying all of the individual screwdrivers and that is a claim that is easy to believe.
The bits supplied are 2 slots, 4 Phillips, 2 Pozi,4 Torx, 10 hex drives (metric and imperial) and 2 square drives. Clearly some of the hex drives are aimed at the American market so I would have extras of some tips – frankly, I always like to have a couple of spares of Phillips and Pozi.
The real ingenuity of the 26 One is the way in which the Wiha engineers have shoehorned the 26 bits into the handle without making it too bulky and without making it too fiddly to find the bits. In fact, they only had to find space for 12 bits because the tips are double ended. They are all clearly laser etched and logically arranged – for example both square drives are on the same tip, as are 2 Phillips, 2 Pozis etc.
The bits are sprung out of the handle by pushing in the red release clips on the top of the handle. They are then revealed with their ends at a handy angle for easy access. The bit holders are made of a flexible red plastic so that bits are easy to take out and replace and the holders are also open top and bottom for easy identification.
The whole “carousel” of bits can rotate easily so aiding quick identification.
Simply push down on the red top of the carousel to close it down into the handle.
The trouble with some of the handled bit sets is that when it comes to everyday use they become impractical because the tips can easily fall out of the hex bit holder on the end of the driver shank. To cure this the Wiha engineers have introduced a spring loaded collar that locks the bits into place. The collar can rotate too, so is handy for the one hand to hold when guiding screws into place while the other hand rotates the handle. The clever packaging is not only eco-friendly and fully recyclable but the transparent sleeve also provides potential buyers with a very good look at the way in which the tool works as well as details of the bits.
The market is a good test and so far the 26 One is selling very well as trades make an effort to unclutter their toolboxes.
The LiftUp Electric is a VDE version of the 26 One seems to have the same size handle and bit storage mechanism, but with VDE safety levels. However, pushing in the release clips reveals only one set of six bit holders, each with a different version of the Wiha Slim VDE bits in it. The bits are: - three slotted, a PH1, a PH 2 and a SL/PZ2 – some of the most commonly used driver bits in VDE circles. Each bit is fully insulated nearly to the tip and certified to highest VDE standards, as is the handle, so the choice of this tool is not a second best. The insulation is flush with the blade and gives full access at any time.
The flexible bit holders in the handle carousel again make it easy to take out and replace the screwdriver tips and the spring mechanism is so slick that it works smoothly every time with no danger of the tips getting caught in it.
Unlike the 26 One, the VDE screwdriver bits are simply pushed into place and held there by friction and a small detent. The hold seems to me to be quite secure and the tips never felt in danger of falling out. There is also a rotating collar on the screwdriver shank and in electrical work this is quite important because the screws can often be small and need the guidance from both hands to locate successfully.
To be honest, when working with the VDE BitHolder I often didn’t bother with a toolbox – I just took the BitHolder, and a pair of VDE pliers and shoved them into my back pocket. The ultimate revenge on Crowded Toolbox Syndrome.
Finally, in tool reviews as in life, I have kept the smallest to last. The Stubby BitHolder is a short and chubby screwdriver with magnetic hex bit holder and 6 bits stored in the short handle. There is no room for springs so the cap that holds the bits is kept in place by a friction ridge and is easy to lever off with a fingernail. There are three slot bits and three PZ bits, but it would be easy to customise for your needs. I know that some trades can’t live without stubby drivers because they reach to places longer drivers just can’t, and it is really handy to be able to change bits to suit rather than carry a number of “Stubbies”.
So, by now you should have had some clues on how to solve the problem of crowded toolboxes. The Wiha drivers are excellent solutions with the necessary quality and strength for professional users.