Saturday, September 7, 2013

Basic Instict

Next up in the Snap-on line of screwdrivers is their Instinct handled set.  You can get these in hard-handle and soft handle versions, with a chrome finish on the blade or a black, industrial finish.  Plenty of options for different lengths, but your tip options are pretty much the standards:  flat, phillips, Torx, and Pozidrive.  No hex options or security tips or nut drivers.

These screwdrivers use the triangle shaped handle like the ratcheting driver, but only certain areas of the handle are soft.  This works well- the shape and weight of the handle is pretty close to perfect for my hands.  Never gets slippery and cleans up easily.  I have used these drivers for home use for a while now- the oldest are about 8 years on now- and they wear well.  The handles clean up easily enough, but you need a solvent of some sort- soapy water or alcohol, the dry-rag wipedown just does not work with soft handles.

Snap-on uses their ACR shape for phillips bits, the little ridges at the tip of each flute help to keep the driver inside the screw.  Seems to work well enough, also seems to be the first thing to wear on the tip.  I do a lot of automotive work at home, and more than your usual amount of handyman type projects, so these get put to work pretty regularly- and the chrome plate has held up well with the tips showing minimal deformation.

Some plate loss on the flat tip drivers, but no rust or bends or chips (and I don't treat my screwdrivers gingerly).   All the tips have a coarse, vapor-blasted finish, that should help the driver stick to the screw better.  Not sure how effective it actually is, but at least the finish does not wear off quickly.   The flat tip drivers have flat bevels to the tip:  

 This can lead to a very strong connection with a flat-head screw, but will often also lead to some deformation of the screw head.  This is just how flat-head screws work, you apply force in a limited area and this ends up marking the screw heads.  So- this taper-shaped tip is perfect for cranking on rusty hose clamps and the like, or when you really need to get a screw removed from metal, but for work in wood or anything you don't want to risk damaging (aesthetically, anyway), different drivers would be recommended.

The handles have their type set into the top of the handle, for easy identification:

These handles have seen the business end of a hammer once or twice and the labels have held up- the writing is set into the plastic a bit so they don't wear/wash off.  My biggest complaint:  no sizes!  Is that a Phillips #1 or #3?  Actually, the driver on the far right is a Pozidrive #2, but it has the same marking as a Phillips #2.  Come on, Snap-on, this is basic stuff.  

The shafts of the blades have the hex bolster for super torquing, but no knurled section for fast spinning.  In 25 years of using tools seriously, I have needed a torque cheater on a screwdriver MAYBE two times.  I use the spinny-knurling every day.  (OK- after writing this I was assembling some IKEA furniture and the screwdriver needed to go into a tight corner.   I could not get my hand completely around the handle to turn, so I wound up pushing the driver straight at the screw with one hand and turning the wrench on the shaft with the other.  Learn new tricks every day).

So those are my general thoughts on the Instinct handled drivers from the big S-O:  Great tools for a shop, they really take abuse and fit my hand perfectly.  Comfortable to turn, with torque to spare and show little wear after almost a decade of use, but probably overkill for home use.  You can get an entire set of good-quality drivers for the cost of one Instinct handled driver.  Unless you are doing a lot of outdoor industrial machinery work I would suggest looking at other options.  (If you still want to spend money, look at the PB Swiss line of drivers;  if you want to save some money check out Wera or wait for the Felo's to go on sale).


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