Last year Stuart talked about the Craftsman Mach convertable screwdriver and gave us his first impressions. This year when Stuart asked me what tools from Craftsman I wanted to test, I requested one.
The Craftsman Mach Series screwdriver is currently on sale for $15.
I really like Klein Rapi-Driv style drivers, after buying one as part of last year’s shopping spree that Stuart sent me out on, but due to their offset handle design, it’s hard to really torque fasteners tight.
This Craftsman Mach Series convertible screwdriver is supposed to give you the best of both worlds: the speed of a Rapi-Drive-style screwdriver in one configuration, and also the torque of a T-handled driver when you fold the handle in.
Actually, it’s more of a hybrid between a T-handle and an L-handle, but for this post I’m going to call it T-handle screwdriver mode for brevity.
The screwdriver comes with a selection of 10 insert bits that store in a rubber caddie. The bits included are Phillips #1, #2, and #3; slotted 1/4″, 9/32″, and 5/16″; and hex 1/8″, 5/32″, 3/16″, and 1/4″.
I was not impressed with the handle, it squeaks and feels like it’s cheap plastic with a very thin rubber overmold. Also there’s too much friction between the handle and the shaft so it doesn’t spin smoothly.
And, at least on the screwdriver I have, there’s one spot in the rotation where the handle gets hung up. So as you are turning the screwdriver you feel: spin, clunk, spin, clunk, spin, clunk.
The rubber caddie clips onto the shaft of the screw driver for storage, but should be removed to use the screwdriver. Also, one of the bit storage holes is slightly oversized, leading to a loose fit, with the same bit frequently falling out as I carry the holder around.
There’s no in-handle storage for the bits, but the end of the screwdriver can be popped off with the aid of another screwdriver. Once you get inside you can see that the shaft doesn’t go all the way though to the end of the handle, but stops somewhere in the middle. This is probably part of the reason why the handle doesn’t turn as smoothly as it should.
There looks to be room for 6 of the 10 included bits in the remaining empty handle space, but since you can’t get the end cap off and back on easily. The handle was not designed for bit storage.
My last gripe is about how when you move the handle into its T-driver position, the handle still spins. The changing position of your grip on the T-handle is something you shouldn’t have to worry about when you are trying to apply a lot of torque to a fastener. It’d be nice if it locked in one position.
That all said, there are some positive aspects about this screwdriver. The bent screwdriver shaft is thick and beefy, and the slide-out screw retainer is nice and stiff — it stays exactly in the position you put it.
Also, the joint that allows you to convert the screwdriver from Rapi-Driv style to T-handle style is very positive. It locks into either position and there’s no feeling like it’ll slip and bend at the wrong moment.
Using the Mach Screwdriver
I’ve been trying to use the Mach Screwdriver in a variety of tasks in the shop and around the house. One of the first things I try with every new screwdriver is to remove and replace one of the screws on the above light switch.
The 1/4″ insert bit fit into the screw head perfectly, but as I started to crank the screw out, I started losing my cranking rhythym and the screwdriver slipped. I found I had to be more careful with this screwdriver than with even the wrong sized insert bit on the Rapi-Driv. I’m not sure if it was the lack of smoothness or the extra wobble in the handle because the shaft doesn’t go all the way through.
Once you get use to the screwdriver, it really does a good job at its primary function of trading a bit of torque potential for extra speed. You can rapidly drive a screw until you need more torque, then bend the handle and finish driving the screw with the extra leverage the T-handle configuration gives you.
I’ve said a lot of negative things about this screwdriver and I still agree with all of my initial assessments, but despite that I’ve found myself wanting to pick up and use the screwdriver whenever it’s in sight. It may be a character flaw that I have a thing for Rapi-Driv-type screwdrivers, or it just may be that it’s actually fun to use when you get the hang of it.
The problems I have with the Mach Screwdriver isn’t because it’s cheaply made, it’s that I think it has some real design flaws. It reminds me of a beta product. There are many parts that are well designed and executed, and then there are parts that make you scratch your head and think, “Why did they do that?”
Despite its imperfections, I still think it’s a neat screwdriver.
But to get a glowing recommendation, the handle needs to be made from a better quality plastic; you can’t fake quality with a rubber overmold. Also I could forgive the lack of storage if they made the shaft extend all the way through the handle, which would hopefully help to eliminate the clunk in the shaft rotation and make the handle spin more smoothly. As a bonus, I’d like to see the handle lock so it doesn’t spin freely when it’s in T-handle position, but that might be asking too much.
Sears lists the regular price of this screwdriver at $30, but right now they are discounting it to $15.
Thank you to Craftsman for providing the review sample unconditionally.