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Return of Some Classic Hand Tools

comments (4) July 13th, 2010 in Blogs
JFink Justin Fink, Senior Editor

Just like a old leather tool belt or worn pair of double-knee Carhartts, there's a certain romance to classic hand tools.

I was flipping through the latest Garrett Wade catalog and decided it would be fun to share a few of my favorite tools that really capture that vintage feel. All photos are straight from Garrett Wade.


Universal Screw Starter - Installing a boat-load of hinges on custom kitchen cabinets is a pain in the neck. Drawer slides are even worse. Similar in size and shape to a philips screwdriver, this old fashioned $11 screw starter used to be the go-to tool for breaking the surface of wood to make setting screws easier, now it's back as a tempting alternative to a full size drill.






Extra H.D. Slot Screwdrivers - When was the last time you took "regular strength" ibuprofen after humping sheets of drywall all day? Yeah, I can't remember either. We live in a maximum strength, all-purpose, heavy-duty world. These screwdrivers, which used to be standard issue on U.S. Army tanks, look like they'd be equally at home popping the lid off a gallon of paint as they would prying my truck out of the mud at the town dump (well, if they were a little longer, maybe). Set of four sells for $30.


Western Log Saw - If my luck with chainsaw maintenance doesn't improve, I may consider trading the noise and headache of a powersaw for the pleasure of this 28-in. throwback.  The folks at Garrett Wade claim the tool is equally at home in wet and dry wood, and the large teeth (4 tpi) don't clog during use. Heck, it would even look good over my mantel.






posted in: Blogs, handsaws
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Comments (4)

Dreamcatcher Dreamcatcher writes: A good article on the Felo screwdrivers:
Posted: 3:53 pm on July 14th

Dreamcatcher Dreamcatcher writes: Thanks Justin, while those are some stout looking screwdrivers, I am in pursuit of a more elegant set. I already have a few sets of screwdrivers; a Snap-on set in my mechanic's tools, a Klein set in my electrical tools and a Stanley set for general use. But what I would like now is a cabinetmaker set to hang in my woodshop above the bench.

Have a look at Andy Rae's [probably custom made] screwdriver collection hanging in his now famous tool cabinet on the cover and pg. 96 of Jim Tolpin's 'The Toolbox Book' as well as the cover and pgs. 111 & 113 of Andy's own book 'Choosing & Using Hand Tools'.

Like I said, I have been on the hunt for years. Don't get me wrong, I get by just fine using standard plastic handled screwdrivers but something about those wood handled screwdrivers is just... nostalgic.

Maybe I will eventually get time to make my own custom set or settle.

My back-up set to settle on is the Felo 22155 beech "ergo-grip" handled screwdriver set ( A friend of mine has these and feel great in the hand while still having that classic look.


Posted: 3:47 pm on July 14th

JFink JFink writes: Hey Dreamcatcher,
I wonder if the folks at Garrett Wade are trying to make some sort of link between the "H.D." in the original H.D. Smith name and their spin of "Heavy Duty." Subtle tip of the hat to the original makers?

As for philips, I've had a set from Lee Valley for a few years now and I'm a big fan. The handles have a subtle trianglular shape that really makes them easy to grip when twisting hard. Plus, they're really stout and can take a beating, which is a requirement in my world. If you've never seen them, check em out here (they have square drive, too!),43411,43417&ap=2
Posted: 10:09 am on July 14th

Dreamcatcher Dreamcatcher writes: Find me those "Extra H.D. Slot Screwdrivers" in a phillips, square, or torx tip and you got a deal.

Note: those particular handled screwdrivers are better known as 'Perfect Handle' screwdrivers popularized by H.D. Smith & Company from the mid 1800's to the early 1900's. Another famous wooden handled screw driver line were the oval handled 'turn screws' which have a flat on the shank between the handle and the tip that could accommodate a wrench for extra turning force when needed. (

I have been searching for a good set of oval wood handled phillips screwdrivers for years without luck. It's odd to me that so many companies make great looking (presumably high quality) wood handled slotted screwdrivers but overlook making them in phillips or other tips. There is certainly a market out there for them amongst woodworkers, carpenters, and other fellow wooden handled tool lovers.

Posted: 8:05 am on July 14th

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