Clever new tools take on a familiar task: the turn of the screw
Screwdrivers are survivors. Rather than face extinction by the superior screw-torquing thrust of power tools, they've adapted and evolved into versions that are more useful than ever.
This bit-packing, auto-loading screwdriver works like a mix between a multicolor ballpoint pen and a pump-action shotgun. Extend the handle (inset A), align the desired bit with an arrow, and re-engage the handle to load. It switches bits with unmatched speed, letting you quickly take on screwheads of various sizes and shapes. If you're attacking specialized screws, engage the bit in the handle you're replacing and pull it out of the hex-shaped end, then put in any standard 1/4-inch bit.
Approximately $30; Garrett Wade
Set this driver to "Speed Mode," and internal gears spin the bit four times for every turn of the handle.
The 4:1 revolution ratio is for low-torque turning; the ratcheting driver also locks into a standard 1:1 mode for when you need to bear down. A two-tiered magazine in the handle holds eight extra bits that easily pop in and out of the magnetic tip.
Approximately $20; Sears
This ratcheting-action screwdriver comes with eight double-ended bits and three sizes of bit holders that can each be used as nut drivers in a pinch. Most of these attachments fit snugly in the rubber handle, letting you quickly and easily tackle more than a dozen types of screws.
Approximately $17; Lee Valley
This 4 1/2-inch offset driver is able to reach screws in close quarters, thanks to a magnetic bit holder that's set perpendicular to the handle. (Think socket wrench.) It ratchets both ways and includes 10 bits, which store in a separate magazine.
Approximately $7; Lee Valley
A nonconductive coating beneath the orange plastic jacket insulates this screwdriver's shaft. Stuck on a nonconductive handle, it protects users from up to 1,000 volts of electricity. We jammed it in an outlet, and guess what? It works!
Set of two (slotted- and Phillips-head) will run you about $35; Klein Tools
This single rod of cold-formed steel has a shatter-resistant acetate-and-rubber handle molded around one end. Strike the steel cap on the handle's butt and the force transfers to the tip, carving new channels in the heads of stripped or paint-clogged screws and giving you a bite to get them moving. It's also useful as an impromptu pry bar, wedge, or ice pick.
Approximately $15; Stanley Tools
This German driver's cork-and-plastic handle offers a pleasant reprieve from the palm-pinching plastic grips found on lesser models. Its bulbous shape—in cross section, it's like a triangle with rounded corners—fits comfortably in your hand and won't roll off a table. Just the thing for a comfortable crank on a stubborn screw.
Approximately $10; Anglo American Tools
Microfiber insets make the handle so slip-resistant you can turn it even with a palm soaked in sweat or slathered in grease. powerful magnet sucks bits into place, temporarily magnetizing them to prevent the dreaded rooftop screw drop. It includes six bits that store in the handle.
Approximately $25; Anglo American Tools