Hold On To Your Bolts! (and screws and nuts and….)

Some tools are truly utilitarian like hammers, screwdrivers, and ratchets. Some tools are uber-specific. There are tools for protection, for grabbing, for seeing, for oiling, and for just looking cool. Then there are those certain tools that make your life just a bit easier and specifically in this case, tools that HOLD things. Now I don’t mean clamps, vices, and the like, I mean holding the small things that can get lost in the machine or the carpet. Some of our loved German tool brands make grippers, magnets, and adapters to secure fasteners to our tools as we are working. Let’s look at some.

Wera Screw Gripper

The most basic one to look at is a simple magnetizer. Many companies make their own magnetizer, some as their own tool, others built in to a tool or set. So what is the advantage? By simply running the shaft of a screwdriver through (or on, depending) a magnetizer, the tool will then become (surprise!) a magnet. This means it will magnetically hold on to a screw or bolt or whatever fastener you are working with. If it’s light enough, this might mean that the head of the fastener will stay latched on the tool, making for an easy job. It should also not be missed that if you drop something metal in a place you can’t get to, a magnetic tool could aid in retrieving your lost soldier.

Maybe you need something a little more secure to hold your fastener. This is where screw Grippers come in. Wera makes a great example of this and were featured in the May 2015 edition of This Old House magazine in their “What is it?” feature. You can place these on the end of a screwdriver (they even come in bigger sizes to accommodate insulated shafts) and it will securely hold screws and bolts in place without the use of magnets. The holder will also slowly cam out when they reach the material you are fastening into. Both Wiha And Felo also make screwdrivers with this feature built in to the driver.

Finally, we come to those holders that are geared more towards hex, nuts, and socket tools. For hard to reach places to get a nut secured, Gedore makes a combination holding tool that will hold one securely in place where fat fingers may not be able to reach. If you would rather have a nut secured to the wrench itself, Gedore also makes a retaining clip that fits directly on the tool and magnetically holds the nut in place.

Gedore Magnetic Extension

Gedore excels in this arena though, so we must discuss their socket extensions with built in magnet, which comes in both 1/2” and 3/8” drive versions. Who knew such a simple addition could make work so much easier. The magnet fits through the socket and secures it inside so that it goes nowhere. It is even spring loaded, so it will stay with you for most of the process. This was so clever that it won the prestigious Eisen Award For Innovation in 2014.

Check out this youtube video for a demonstration of a few of these and as always, shop all your little helper tools at KC Tool.


Ball-End Hex Tools: A Guide

Hex Key, Allen Wrench, L-Key, no matter what name you call it, if you have ever assembled anything you have probably used one. You can get them in Metric or SAE and they come in all kinds of sizes, from the tiny .028 inch to massive one inch. They are commonly used for furniture assembly because they are cheap to manufacture and can be tossed in the box for the customer to use (evidently they are like paperclips at IKEA and they will give you one if you ask nicely).

We have grown so accustomed to getting free L-keys in our furniture boxes that we take for granted the inferior quality of them and are very likely just to throw the tool away with the plastic bag it came in when we’re done. As any reader of this blog should know though, we buy good quality tools and demand only the best, so why use that freebie in the first place? A good set of L-keys will last you decades without showing wear and tear. But there is one big advantage to buying a quality set of L-keys and that’s the ball end.Read More »

What is a DIN number?

There are various sets of standards in the tool world.  In America we have The American National Standards Institute or ANSI for short.  On a global level, there is the International Organization for Standardization, or ISO.  Since this is a blog about specifically German made tools we will look at the German version: DIN.

DIN stands for Deutsches Institut Für Normung or German Institute for Standardization in English.  They have been operating for literally 100 years and have always been highly regarded in the standards community.  Though the name implies an exclusively German operation, the DIN standards have been adopted across the world and influenced many other standards organizations including the ISO.  The best example of this is the DIN standard 476 from 1922 introducing the A sizes of paper which would later become ISO 216 in 1975.Read More »

Penta-What? Pentalobe!

What is a pentalobe screw and why would you need a pentalobe screwdriver?  Let’s examine a brief history of this little beast.

Firstly, like a Pentagon (shape with five sides) a Pentalobe is a screw or screwdriver with five points.  They come in six sizes from 1 to 6.  The nomenclature of this can be confusing though, as different companies have different ways of naming their pentalobe sizes.  You will see TS1, which can easily be mistaken for Torx size.  You will also see variations on the letter P (P1, P2, Etc..) and PL (PL1, PL2…).  There even some who make it as clear as possible and call it Five Lobe.

Pents up close 2.jpgThe confusion doesn’t stop there, though.    In 2009 Apple launched the pentalobe screw, and that’s about all they did.  There was no regulatory sizing so the brains at iFixit reverse engineered the screw and made a driver to work with it.  Since it was similar in size to a Torx T2, the called it a P2.  After they did this, Apple released sizing information and revealed that iFixit’s P2 was actually a size 1.  It was after all this commotion that WIha released their set of pentalobes (to Apple Standards), so their PL1 is actually the same size as iFixit’s P2.  Did you get all that?  To keep things simple (and since this is the GERMAN tool blog) we will use Wiha’s sizing standard, PL1-PL6.Read More »