The Ferrari of Screwdrivers

When I say Ferrari, your mind immediately thinks about a sleek, well-designed, powerful and possibly overbuilt sports car. After you read about the screwdrivers produced by Elkhead Tools, the same emotions will leap into your thoughts.

Before we look under the hood, take a look at the design. The premium cocobolo handles are finely turned. The finish is smooth and with three sizes available the tool is sure to fit your hand. Your thumb seats into the cove that’s just behind the flared edge above the ferrule. And what a ferrule it is. According to the company, and I agree, the ferrule is “the true secret of our screwdriver.” (The acorn shaped nub is only part of the story.)

The driver blade is made from German steel that’s engineered and produced to exacting specifications , the tips provide an incredible holding power that reduces slippage and galling of screw heads. The fit is so exact that you almost hear a “pop” as you disengage the driver from a screw. If you place a screw on the tip then turn the screwdriver upright, the screw, with no magnetism involved, stays attached to the tip. Try that with your typical screwdriver.

Looks are one thing, but all is lost if the screwdriver falls apart when put to use. I’ll bet these screwdrivers are up to the task. Here’s why. Take a look at the photo to the left and you’ll see the three parts that make up these screwdrivers: the handle, the driver blade and a 3″-long section of brass. The acorn design adorns the end of that 3″ piece of brass. The remaining 2 1/4″ is formed into a square then slid into the handle, and that contributes to how balanced the feel is as you hold the tool in your hand. Now the sentence, “And what a ferrule it is” makes sense, huh? The driver blade slides through and is attached to the ferrule, then the ferrule unit fits to the handle. There’s no way the handle gives out as it can on many lesser-grade screwdrivers.

The three guys behind Elkhead Tools just want to make great tools. And boy do they. They are not tool manufacturers , they’re three business guys with backgrounds in the service industry. (That knowledge is key to the next bit of information.) In testing the abilities of their screwdriver, they thought it best to make sure the driver outlasted the torque needed to destroy a screw. They gathered information on screws and found a supplier that had screws that withstood 121 foot pounds of torque. The guys rigged and tested their driver , 12 renditions before a final design was realized , and the best reading they could get was 25 foot pounds, regardless of what they did.

Eventually, one of the crew remembered that the lug nuts on his car were tightened to 130 foot pounds and to break them loose, he had to stand on the wrench. Upon looking more closely at their figures, they realized that the screw torque was listed at inch pounds – 121 inch pounds was more like 11 foot pounds. After getting a handle on torque measurements, the guys concluded that their screwdrivers passed the test. Not only are these tools  built to last, they are easy on the eyes, too.

One other thing about the Ferrari. You wouldn’t expect to buy one for a song would you? You know you’ll have to pay a fair price. The same holds true with these screwdrivers. They’re not cheap and they are not cheaply made. Elkhead Tools offers these screwdrivers for $70 each. Don’t shake your head! You know you want to drive one.

If you’re attending the Woodworking in America conference, you’ll have a chance to get a close up look at these screwdrivers. Elkhead Tools has a booth in the marketplace. And while the conference is sold out, $7 gets you a two-day pass to the marketplace , and Elkhead promises to bring plenty of tool eye candy. In fact, there is hope that the company will have a new tool to show at the conference. And you know it will be well designed.

– Glen D. Huey

14 thoughts on “The Ferrari of Screwdrivers

  1. Snoopy

    > Engineering is theory

    Uh…no. Physics is theory. Engineering is practice.

    And ad-hoc testing is neither.

  2. Gene

    Engineering is theory, performance is what counts. It sounds to me like they were actually testing these units in the real world and just mis-read the torque values. Quality items, made in the USA on a small scale cost more.

  3. Snoopy

    I’ve got to say: the fact that they had so much trouble with foot-pounds and inch-pounds troubles me. I seriously doubt they had any engineers involved, not did they consult any.

    Lots of people can make pretty things. What makes a Ferrari a Ferrari is that it’s pretty, *and* well engineered.

  4. jim

    So a set of seven screwdrivers will cost over
    $ 500? For Screwdrivers?
    Excuse me but that is flat out crazy.

    Popular Woodworking needs to get a grip on reality.
    Jim

  5. scott stahl

    Is the picture of a stock screwdriver? If so, it bothers me that you were able to disassemble it so easily.

    —-

    Thanks for the tip on the Lee Valley screwdrivers. Craftsmen still works fine for me, but I would not mind a quality hefty #1 Phillips.

  6. Rob Porcaro

    Glen,

    They look like great tools. This is another example of the goodness in doing a simple thing profoundly well.

    Regarding the torque numbers, I would be pretty sure that the screws can withstand more than 121 inch-pounds of torque since most drill-drivers now can deliver in the range of 400 in-lbs, and impact drivers are in the range of 1200 in-lbs.

    On the other hand, 121 foot-pounds is surely an overestimate.

    Thanks for the cool tool tip.

    Rob

  7. Tom Redd

    Looks like a very nice driver to me. I look forward to having one in my hands and taking it for a drive.

  8. Gary Benson

    The introductory price is $70, good for all orders placed by the end of WWIA.

    Gary Benson

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