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When I first started working at the University, one of the tools I inherited from my predecessor was a longish, Phillips head screwdriver. After some use and experimentation I discovered that this Enderes Tools twelve inch Phillips head screwdriver is the Perfect Screwdriver. It has a head that fits all but the smallest of screws and seems designed to accommodate PC case screws. The shaft is not a cheap stainless plated metal, but rather seems to be milled, and has a pleasing dull color and mat finish.

The shaft of most screwdrivers has a circular cross section, not my screwdriver. My screwdriver has a hexagonal cross section, much like a pencil. This combined with it's more fricative finish and superbly balanced handle, allows one to twirl the shaft betwixt the fingers and swiftly send a screw home. Using this technique I can often secure a screw faster than someone using an electric screwdriver.

Put simply, I love my screwdriver, and others covet it. My coworker, Roger, was blessed to have been issued an identical screwdriver. We had taken the precaution of marking our beloved screwdrivers, to prevent any mix-up, as we were both militant about our possession of these wonderful tools. Unfortunately he broke the tip off his while attempting to improperly torque a screw in an HP LaserJet. For some time he tried to claim that it was instead my own screwdriver that had become damaged, and that I had modified the markings so that I may own the tool that was whole.

That was of course a bloody lie, but seeing as how I am a warm, kind, and understanding man I would occasionally let him borrow my undamaged wonder tool. Of course I also took these opportunities to make jest at his misfortune, I'm also a prankster with a mean streak.

About eighteen months ago my uber driver went missing. I combed the shop looking for it and went through all my tool areas. It was lost. I blamed Roger for stealing it, claiming that he was jealous of my hexagonal shaft, and in a fit of rage had conspired to deprive me of my most prized possession. He objected, claiming that even had he taken it, it was his right for suffering my taunting. I lamented the loss of such a fine tool, but time must march forward.

And march forward it did, until last Monday. On Monday I was forced to deal with my office. The stacks of free magazines, software manuals and office memorandums had reached preposterous heights. There was a small hole on the top of my desk were my keyboard sat, all around it were sliding piles of paper, CD's and mostly empty soda cans. I make no apologies for the way I live, I'm a busy man and often lack the necessary time to effectively clean my surroundings.

Yet, on Monday last, the towers of filth had reached Homeric proportions. I inched one stack of Internet Week, over to provide a better view of my left hand monitor when all of the sudden the pile twitched violently, keeled to one side and scattered across my keyboard, off the desk, and onto the garbage can, dispersing three weeks of carryout containers.

Twas then I decided I should clean my office. Two and a half hours and two full size garbage cans later, I made a discovery. Under the remains of a mostly disassembled scan jet I found my most prized tool. Irony at it's finest, for over a year I had blamed a coworker for the theft of an object that I had lost due to my own slovenly habits.

I did the only thing possible in this situation. I snuck into Roger’s office while he was away and hid the screwdriver amongst his other tools. When he returned I entered and began a ploy about borrowing his Torx set when I pretended to discover the prize and then blamed him for stealing it and hiding it from me. His first response, “(laughing) Where did you find it? Did you finally clean your office? (more laughing).”

All’s well that ends well.

As a professional tool user, namely an electrician, I believe there is no single perfect screwdriver. Flat head screwdrivers excell at applying torque. If you need a tight fit, put in flat heads. Phillips screwdrivers excel at ease of use, with less slippage, but they cannot match flathead's torque.

Screwdrivers vary first in length and width. Length refers to the length of the shaft. Width refers to the length of the tip, on its wide side. Generally, the width of both tip dimensions are directly related. Wider screwdrivers can deliver more torque, but can be too large to fit in tight spots. Length matters in that shaft length can make a job comfortable, or simply possible. Four inches is probably the most common length. An eight inch screwdriver is a really big driver. Length and width are often related, but may be the inverse of each other. For every job, there is a tool.

Phillips screwdrivers are numbered from #1 through #4 with the width of the tip increasing with number. In my opinion the #2 is the most versatile. Not surprisingly it is also the most common. The bigger the screw {or bolt} the bigger the number used. For most people, a #1 and a #2 will get you through everything. I've had a #4 for years and used once. Like flatheads, the bigger the number, the more torque can be delivered

I have used torx head. They do a good job at both torque and finding an easy lock-up. They are rare because you must have exactly the right size for the system to work. More conventional drivers are more flexible. But a torx driver's uncommoness offers some degree of tamper proof.

Remember, for working men, tools must be carried! Most of the time, I carry five screwdrivers. One big, big flathead that is for ultimate torque. A #2 phillips . Plus a four inch phillips and square shank flathead. Square shanks are stronger than rounded shanks, but both wil probably outlast the tiip. My jeweler's flathead for electronic work, and often my stubbies, with 1 1/2" shanks.

The screw --- or bolt-- chosen by the designer determines the ideal screw driver. In addition, how much room do you have to work, I have two stubbies and plan to purchase two offset drivers for special situations. I also use several very small jeweler's screwdrivers for fire alarm and electronic work. In many situations, there is only one screwdriver capable of doing the job. So I keep a dozen or so in my tool bag besides those carried in my pouch. An auto mechanic will own even more He or she doesn't have to carry tools and faces lots of situations. A mechanic may keep dozens in his tool box.

When purchasing screwdrivers I prefer rubber handled drivers over the plastic models. They cost more, but are far more comfortable for regular use, I have a stanley that is shaped plastic with rubber bits and it is quite comfortable. A professional quality square-shank Klein or Ideal 4" screwdriver costs about seven bucks, a lot more than the Craftsmen tools on sale. Professional quality screwdrivers have a hardned tip and last a lot longer, in addition to the better handle. But you can return them, should they break.

Although they are used as such, screwdrivers are not chisels. They aren't good at chipping, and it wears them prematurely. But I've done that, in a pinch. If you want to chisel much, buy a chisel. When you go to return it, the salesman will be able to tell that you've been using your broken driver as a chisel. Chiseling leaves markes on the handle. Using a screwdriver as a chisel is an OSHA violation that workers can be fined for. That's because screwdrivers slip more, and don't offer much hand protection.

There is no such thing as the perfect screwdriver. But our basic designs are sound. As a science fiction writer I use both flatblade and phillips in alien tech. The basic designs are too logical not to be reproduced by alien engineers. All screwdrivers are flexible tools. None are perfect for every job.

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