I got a box in the mail last week and as usual when something arrives at the front door, my dog Alex goes nuts with excitement. You see everyone that comes to our door must be there to be his best friend so there is always lots of room for excitement. The mailman dropped off a small package that of course must be for him, but just in case he decided to play guard dog and sniff it out for anything illegal.
Deciding that everything was clear, he helped me open the package. Within moments the contents were bared to the world and I was immediately impressed. Gary at Elk Head Tools contacted me about taking a look at their fine screwdrivers a few weeks back and I was thrilled (hey, free tools right) to be able to help them spread the word. I had heard from several folks about their booth at Woodworking in America last year and what nice folks they are. You may remember that Marc Spagnuolo did a review on them a while back. I guess the marketing department over there decided it was time to get another take.
First impressions of a tool plays a big factor in the overall appeal and these screwdrivers make a good impression in a big way. Of course the Cocobolo handles make a powerful statement, but more important is the shape. The handle is massive enough to feel weighty yet, shaped delicately so they feel like they grew out of your hand. The finishing touches are very nice. The brass ferrule continues the line of the handle and curves out of the handle and into the screwdriver rod effortlessly. Truly these were made by someone with a great love for what they do. I have worked with enough Cocobolo to know that the color and grain vary wildly from piece to piece. The color match between the two drivers they sent me, tell me they thought about trying to get them out of the same blank for the best match. That is a very nice touch. I imagine ordering a larger set might make it a little more difficult, but honestly who cares. These handles are so beautiful.
The Elk Head Tools web site speaks about their patented brass ferrule lock that permanently locks the hardware onto the wooden handle so I can only assume that these drivers will be as rock solid in 200 years as they are now. The driver is top quality tool steel with a different type of steel on the tip. I don’t know much about steel, but I know that this tip is much harder than the rest of the rod so you won’t be seeing the tip degrade…ever.
The weight and balance of these drivers is just about perfect and I was worried that they might be a bit too heavy duty for smaller applications, but I was able to install some small brass screws for a hinge without over torking and breaking the screws. I have only ever worked with cheap home center screwdrivers before so it is hard to judge but I definitely feel more direct feedback with these drivers than you would with a plastic handled driver.
Now the tough part. $75 is a lot to spend for anybody on a screwdriver. There is no question that these will perform better than your plastic handled economy version, but how much better do you really need to be able to screw in a screw? I really don’t think these tools are about performance, but more about a respect for craftsmanship and fine tools. Maybe it’s like that old dogma, “you are what you eat”. Surround yourself with beautiful tools and it seems that you will elevate your game out of respect. I have no doubt that the money invested is worth the quality of product you get back, but whether that product is something your work needs is up to your own sense of aesthetics. I know that every time I use one of these, it makes me happy. ‘Nuff said right?
Final verdict: these are rock star tools, perfect for the distinguishing guy who wants archaeologists 500 years from know to uncover his shop and say, “wow this guy must have made some beautiful stuff, look at his screwdrivers!”
Head over to the Elk Head Tools web site as they have a few more surprises in store. Gary is making dowel center jigs based on Rob Cosman’s wooden hinge drilling jig. Elk Head Tools are making them in multiple sizes and out of very high quality materials. Additionally, they are now offering a jig that allows the woodworker to safely cut their own dowels on the table saw. Right now they are working on the 1/2″ jig but more sizes are in production. Taking a look at the site tells you that these are top notch woodworkers looking to sell top notch tools to their brothers in sawdust. I think we can expect to see some great stuff from these guys in the future as well. Great work guys!
As a special bonus, order some Elk Head screwdrivers today and receive a free dog toy with every purchase!