My Father once told me that I should make sure I had an extra-long screwdriver. So, around 12 years ago (according to my Amazon order history), I did just that – I purchased two Gearwrench 16″ screwdrivers, a Phillips #2 and a 3/8″ slotted screwdriver.
I used one of those Gearwrench screwdrivers the other day, and it prompted me to think back to how much – or little – use these 16″ screwdrivers have seen.
I don’t think my Father really meant for me to get such long screwdrivers – maybe a typical slightly extended length screwdriver was what he had in mind. I also remember partially buying the screwdrivers in jest.
But, they’ve come in handy more than a couple of times over the years.
As bad as it might sound, the screwdrivers have been used at least 4 out of 5 times for poking, probing, or part manipulation purposes. Sometimes that’s just what I need, over say a flexible-shaft pickup tool. Having two long screwdrivers with strong and rigid shafts and comfortable handles means I don’t have to improvise with electrical fish rods or cut up a clothes hanger.
Yes, there are telescoping parts grabbers, but they’re weak and can’t take any force. Any more than the slightest pressure could foul up most extending pickup tools.
I have really been liking Gearwrench’s screwdrivers, and recently bought more. I bought their 16″ screwdrivers way back because I was fond of the Gearwrench brand and because the price is right, and I’d buy them again today.
I have accepted that I might not have an “only a 16″ screwdriver can tackle this task” type of moment. I have used these screwdrivers in the way they’re meant to be used, such as accessing fasteners in the back of deep cabinets, or under tables. I suppose it’s fair to say that they made the tasks easier, despite not truly being indispensable.
But, I suppose that’s okay, right? Some electricians use knives or even their teeth to strip wires (please don’t do this!), but a wire stripper works best and easiest.
So even if there might be a time when ONLY these screwdrivers can help me complete a task, they make some tasks easier on occasion, thus earning them a permanent spot in my tool box.
When I purchased them, I couldn’t think of any application where I’d be reaching into something deep enough where only this would work, but I have been proven wrong. Let’s say, for example, you need to tighten something and there’s an obstacle in the way; having the extra reach means not having to first empty a shelf in order to fit my entire arm in there.
Or, consider having to install or tighten a bracket at the rear of a cabinet – a 16″ shaft means I don’t have to awkwardly crawl inside, I can reach the fastener from a more comfortable position.
It goes against my nature to misuse tools – or at least to publicly admit to it – but those 4 out of 5 times when I need these drivers for just having strong long shafts and comfortable handles – that’s when they’ve been indispensable.
There was one time after our last move when I couldn’t find these screwdrivers, and I had to tape together several other tools and accessories in order to reach something.
It’s been around 12 years, and I’ve definitely gotten my money’s worth out of these Gearwrench screwdrivers, even if we just talk about just the 1 out of 5 times when there have been tricky fastening tasks that were made faster or easier.
They also have similar screwdrivers in 20″ and 24″ lengths, but I think 16″ proved to be a good sweet spot for me. I’m also glad I went with Gearwrench, and must admit that I find the new model’s updated handle design to be awfully tempting. But, my older red-handle-styled screwdriver is still going strong, and so there’s no need to upgrade yet.
Now that I’ve tarnished my reputation by admitting to mostly using these extended length screwdrivers for tasks that don’t involve tightening or loosening screws, I want to hear about your experiences.
Do you own any long screwdrivers? How do you use them? Or is this a “never needed one” type of tool for you?
I’d definitely buy the Phillips #2 again. I don’t recall when I purchased the Phillips screwdriver, but it might have been earlier than the slotted driver I picked up 12 years ago on sale and with a gift card. I haven’t used the extended length slotted screwdriver as much use as the Phillips, but I have no regrets as I bought it at a good discount and with a gift card.