The debate over bit holders and screwdriver bits vs. individual screwdriver sizes rages on. Personally, I use both, but there are times when screwdriver bits are just the wrong tool for the job, such as when accessing screws in recesses.
Especially with smaller sizes, such as Phillips #0 and #1, but even with #2, screwdriver bits with short tip lengths just can’t reach fasteners within recesses or counterbored holes.
This is a bit holder – one of my favorites – with a Phillips #2 bit. Examine where the bit holder meets the tip – the end of the bit holder has a constant and much larger radius than the 1/4″ hex bit.
This is the tip of an individually-sized Phillips #2 screwdriver. Here you can see that the shaft diameter is barely larger than the bit diameter.
Which screwdriver configuration will have an easier time accessing fasteners within holes or recesses?
That’s where long or extended-length screwdriver bits come into play – they have narrow diameters that *should* be long enough to reach screws that would otherwise be inaccessible to shorter standard 1/4″ hex screwdriver bits.
This set is priced at just under $8 at Amazon, and they have similar Wiha sets with slotted or hex bit sizes. There are also sets from no-name straight-to-Amazon brands. Or, if you shop industrial suppliers such as McMaster Carr, you can get 3-1/2″ bits for maybe $1.60 each, sometimes more (the Phillips #0 is a lot more).
The Wiha set comes with Phillips #0, #1, #2, #4 sizes, and they’re all 90 mm (~3-1/2″) long.
These and other bits like them might not be essential, but they could be problem-solvers. They solve the accessibility issue that bit holders, cordless drills, and power screwdrivers can run into. And, when the longer length bits aren’t needed, you can switch them out for standard 1″ or 2″ bits.
Buy Now via Amazon
See Also: Other Styles
Compare: Wera 33pc Set with Handle
Other available styles include:
- Security Hex
- Security Torx
- Security Spanner
Those hex bits are nice and hard to find – and perfect for assembling furniture these days.
All at once, by Wera: https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B000NI7RRS/
Looks like an excellent group of bits. Santa didn’t know about these last week, but my birthday is coming up in March so these should be on my wishlist before then…
I’ve been looking for some 2 inch torx and hex bits. Shame you can get stuff like this from american companies easily. Though they exist.
Would be nice to have a set of 2, 3 and then 5 ish inch length. LIke you say there are needs for them. but then there also a good need for a set of dedicated drivers. I do however love my bit holders. when I wear out a philips I don’t feel so bad.
PB Swiss has excellent bits in multiple sizes. They’re pricey but I’ve never ruined one with occasional use. They’re color coded by drive style too (yellow for Philips, green for pozidriv etc).
I really prefer those extended length bits. I’ve ordered Wiha stuff in the past and liked their stuff. Last year I caught a good sale price on their Drive-Loc screwdriver, that thing is fantastic, though a bit pricey.
I’m not aware of any US sources, but Picquic bits are readily available online, I believe they’re made in Canada.
Picquic bits are made in Taiwan, plastic bit holders – in Canada.
APEX is the only US vendor I know of but they are hard to buy from. They specialize in quantity purchase. We use them in our hanger for example but if you want to buy say a 4MM hex in 2 inch you really end up having to buy nearly 20 of them, and you might should order some other stuff to normalize the shipping.
They are also sold though MSC and Fastenal that I know of but also quantity is an issue.
THey don’t package a set that I know of.
I have never used this company that you can order Picquic bits in bulk from. http://www.firehawktech.com/pq_home.html
With a standard 1/4″ hex shank the 3″ bits may not work in a recess. But they also have 3/16″ bits, and a driver, that might. It is a good little driver and quite compact for EDC.
Quality power bits at great price, you cannot beat that.
Is Volcanic Tool Co closed for good? They sure don’t make it easy for customer to buy their tools.
I have a lot of these in slotted,square,phillips and pozidriv with a Wera handle that I keep in my go bag at work. Keep the bits in a little tool roll. Very handy and they all work great. Saves a lot of room in the bag over regular screwdrivers. They have always worked great.
Anyone know the purpose for the black coating on the screwdriver bit shown in the 3rd pic?
Obviously it adds to the production process. But if it wears down after use, what benefit are we losing when the coating is gone?
for some it was once marketed as hardened tips, in others it was marketed as grip coating.
The idea being the fully chromed metal was smoother due to the plating. So they would purposely not chrome plate the tips and then black oxide (or black chrome) the tips so as to increase their grip. You still see it on slotted ones too.
Other makers stopped smooth chrome plating tools and use a media blasted finish (that matte metal finish) and since the metal is CR-V steel or variations of such it won’t corrode easily anyway.
Yes once fully worn off it does lessen the effect I suppose but probably not measurably. I am curious as to how the diamond dust coated philps tips hold up.
Well explained, thank you for the history and function behind it. Just checked my toolbox and sure enough, all of the chrome shafted screwdrivers have a matte finish at the tip. Never consciously noticed before your explanation. I have none with black tips.
Also wondering about diamond tipped bits now. Kctool just sent a free titanium nitride coated torx bit with a recent order. It’s cool seeing good tipped bits but the normal grk ones last long enough as is.
I picked up an assortment of extra-extra long screwdriver bits from Amazon. Nearly 12” long. Every once in a while you find an appliance that has an absurdly difficult to reach screw.
I’ve been using 12″ #3 Phillips bits from McMaster to run Chatsworth rack screws (best rack screws ever) behind a lot of cabling & in cabinets. Works great. Sometimes I’ve had to add a magnetic ring to the shaft, keeping the screw in place, but that’s rare.
Have always used Wera and Felo versions. Good to have for hard to reach spots where you need a long thin shank. The Wera Harpoon version, while more expensive, would be good for this.
These sorts of bits and a drill/driver are, to me, a natural match. Add a handle, bang, done. Though, my use is mainly machine screws, and little friction until the end – so mine don’t wear out, really.
… and, Stuart tells me this AFTER I got two of those fancy premium EU multi bit drivers for xmas / birthday, got odd looks from the wife “ like you need more screwdrivers “ upon which I said, but with this I can get rid of all the other ones, this is 10 in 1, 20 in 1, … mmmmmmm.
TIP: used extended bits to make removal of painted-over fasteners WAY faster- saves the boards as well. As everyone knows, if you can’t back the screw out, before removing the board you normally destroy or at least damage the board and sometimes the joist below.
Think removing decking, etc.
While holding the long bit in your hand, set it on top of the fastener, somewhat lining up the bit “into” the screw (the paint is in the way–if you used an impact driver in reverse at this point, you’d just strip out the screw head.
Take a hammer and WHACK the long bit down into the screw head, down into and through the paint.
This will almost always allow you to now remove the screw with an impact driver.
2 or 3 guys can remove the decking on an average-sized deck in a VERY short time, with very little damage to the decking (if you want to save it) or the joists underneath.
Time is money, and this saves TONS of time, not to mention saving any materials wanted to be reused.
There was a time when a “cordless screwdriver” was muscle-powered and battery-powered tools had not yet been invented. Back then, we used to use a hammer to tap on the handle of the screwdriver whilst attempting to turn a stuck or paint-encrusted screw. Those hammer driven impact screwdrivers were also popular:
These kinds of bits are great for using with a torque screwdriver, too. Lots of electrical connections dont work very well with a bit-holding screwdriver, but a bit-holding torque screwdriver with an extended bit does the trick.
Koko The Talking Ape
“The debate over bit holders and screwdriver bits vs. individual screwdriver sizes rages on. Personally, I use both, but there are times when screwdriver bits are just the wrong tool for the job…”
But the article shows us these nice long bits, which would seem to strike a blow against the individual screwdrivers.
I’m firmly on the bit side. If and when I need to reach into long narrow crevices with screwdrivers, I’ll get long bits like these (after my current screwdriver set wears out.)
But what do you do when the project or task calls for 4 different sizes of bits? It’s easier to reach for different drivers than swap bits continuously.
Pros and cons to both approaches, with experiences dictating preferences.
Koko The Talking Ape
Hm, I can’t really think of any jobs I’ve had like that. If I’m buying the screws myself, I try to get ones with that take the same driver. (Sadly, those fancy deck screws didn’t work out that way.) Disassembly work might be different.
Anyway, I have several bit holders. Just as easy to pick up a bit holder as a screwdriver.
While these all have their place, I have found having a 6” and 12” locking extension, in combination with 2” bits, absolutely invaluable in doing remodeling. While it doesn’t solve the deep recess issue, I helps in so many other cases. They can be joined together to give an 18” reach if needed, and you can put spade bits and hex stank drill bits on the ends as well.
On a related note, the Milwaukee 48-28-4008 hole saw extension has really saved me on a few occasions
I recently got the Wiha set in the hex head version. I was so glad to find these, they enabled me to do the job that I needed to do quickly and easily. It was something I couldn’t see, so I just had to put the hex head in blindly.
Unless you are absolutely sure these bits are made in Germany (and not Vietnam as Wiha does) I would skip them and get Taiwanese bits instead or even Chinese. Wiha has been off-shoring practically everything they produce (mostly in Vietnam) with a few exceptions.