The Screwdriver You Don’t Need, But Probably Want

Screwdrivers are simple devices with a simple purpose, and there is generally little fanfare involved with buying yourself a new set. We’ve never seen one marketed as an object of desire, but we have to admit that [Giaco] managed to do precisely that. He created the Kinetic Driver, a fidget spinner precision screwdriver designed to use its rotational momentum to loosen and tighten screws.

The main difference between the Kinetic Driver and other screwdrivers is a big brass mass at the front end for high rotational inertia and a high-quality ceramic bearing at the back end for minimal drag. It uses 4 mm precision bits, so its utility will be limited to small screws, which makes it perfect for working on small electronics.

[Giaco] says the idea came after running a successful Kickstarter campaign for a utility knife, where he found that his favorite screwdriver for the many small screws was one with a fat metal body which allowed it to spin easily. In the video after the break, he gives an excellent insight into the development process. He started by creating a series of 3D printed prototypes to figure out the basic shape, before making the first metal prototype. [Giaco] also shows the importance of figuring out the order of operation for machining, which is often glossed over in other machining videos. Be sure to check out the beautiful launch video at 17:52.

It’s difficult to pass judgment on how well the Kinetic Driver would work from [Giaco]’s videos alone, but it looks like it has potential. The friction experienced by any specific screw will be a factor. From the current status of the Kickstarter campaign at 70x the funding goal, we hope [Giaco] has the production and supply chain figured out, because he’ll be making a LOT of Kinetic Drivers.

For many applications, especially production, electric screwdrivers might be superior, if you remember to keep them charged of course. We’ve a few electric screwdrivers you can build yourself.

50 thoughts on “The Screwdriver You Don’t Need, But Probably Want

        1. I fund it funny that what was apparently intended to be a one-off joke for an ad ended up becoming the company mascot, and most of their television advertising since has been humor or fakeout themed. The first time I saw their Tiny House reality show advert I really believed it was an ad for a reality TV show. Dammit! I wanted to see “Tiny House”. I think it would be a neat concept, build some houses suitable for dwarves then challenge full sized couples to live in them. Who ever lasts the longest wins a new full sized house, with the others getting lesser amounts of money depending on when they bail out.

          GEICO’s advertising strategy is unique. Rather than beating people over the head incessantly with just one slogan and theme, they throw a whole bunch of different things out there simultaneously so that the viewer will watch all of a new GEICO advert at least once, especially the better fakeout ones that successfully fool some people into thinking it’s something other than another GEICO advert.

  1. As a mechanics, I don’t see that much use in that, push-to-turn design would have been more practical, maybe still with the kinetic cylinder, if it wouldn’t have mean too much stress/pressure on the screw.
    And no, you don’t need one for each direction, shock screwdrivers are reversible, for example.
    Opened ball bearing is a very good candidate to dust collecting and subsequent cranking.

    The launch video is genius, I love the point of view they chose to expose.

    Other than that, the guy has the tools and the know-how and this is appreciable.
    While I have never seen machine knurling this way before, the issues he’s facing doesn’t elude me, it’s quite expectable.
    I’m afraid he’s lathing quite deep for a carbide bit tool in steel in the CNC too. I personally wouldn’t have dared this much.

    And never use hands or hand tools on a running lathe! Never ever!

      1. A wood lathe has a rest specifically designed for this. It allows control in an otherwise dangerous situation. Despite that, tool can still catch. Wood turners use a lot of tricks and positioning to keep themselves safe. They are very aware of the risks.

        1. Wood lathe tools are also quite long to provide a lot of leverage so if the tip catches the human can hang on long enough to yank the tool back, or have a chunk rip out of the wood.

    1. That rag on a freshly knurled part! Wrapped around his hand no less (BOTH hands even it seems). Just… NO! ARGHHH!! (Watch one of Adam Savages recent video’s. He got his hand nearly torn to bits while cleaning the leadscrew of his lathe with a rag and it caught.)

      That’s a definite NO, don’t do that!

  2. I don’t really see much use for this tbh, if a screw is almost unscrewed, I don’t care to save the extra 2 seconds by using a dedicated tool.

    This however made me wonder, why don’t we have screwdrivers which have a gearbox? For those extra tight screws?

    1. >why don’t we have screwdrivers which have a gearbox? For those extra tight screws?
      It’s been tried with nutcrackers for wheel lugs. there’s two ways of going at it, one needs a support leg to prop the force and the other reverses the direction of travel, neither of which are suitable, when an impact driver works better on screws.

    2. They do, look up torque multipliers. Though they are mostly for bolts since you use them with sockets. You also need either two arms or something for the torque arm to rest against.

      If you have screws that dont come loose look at an impact driver. Like these: https://www.amazon.com/CRAFTSMAN-Impact-Driver-8-Inch-CMMT14104/

      You put it on the offending screw and give it a whack with a large hammer, it has a cam mechanism inside that coverts that into rotation and knocks screws loose pretty well. A must when working with old cars, the impact also prevents you from stripping or caming out of the threads.

  3. Well the title got me all excited, expecting a screwdriver on a par with Dr Who’s… but then I read on and realize it’s similar to one I’ve been using for 7 or 8 years. Mine is a plastic barrel one I jam fitted/self tapped a large nut onto. Funny though, it’s just one of those “making tools how I like them” kludges that one never thinks worth sharing or explaining.

    1. let’s see….

      “The screwdriver probably eats less though.”

      “This tool never needs a break between screws though.”

      “It’s probably much easier to lose this tool though.”

      ok, that’s enough empathy for the day. :)

  4. This feels like buying a golden hammer. It can only screw in/out things that require very little torque, just like a golden hammer can only hammer in things that require very little force. Might as well have made it diamond if it’s just a way to flush luxury money down the drain.

    1. Having used my version with a flywheel mass (see above) the thing it’s most useful for are those like 10mm long M3s you find in some laptops. Most of the other shorter 3mm screws it doesn’t feel like much of an advantage, you get a short spin on 5mm up.

  5. “It’s difficult to pass judgment on how well the Kinetic Driver would work from [Giaco]’s videos alone, but it looks like it has potential. ”

    I see what you did there!! Nice! :-)

    1. Probably depends on what bit you put in it.

      Magnetic or not, this thing seems perfect for flinging tiny screw across the room, so that you will never be able to find them ever again, much more efficiently than any other screwdriver.

  6. I participated in the Makerknife Kickstarter mentioned in the writeup and would not do business with Giaco again. The product was costly (which I accepted upfront) and horribly delayed (which was frustrating, but understandable). Packaging, pack-ins, and promo material were top-notch, but the engineering of the actual product was mediocre at best. I fiddled with it and tweaked it as the instructions directed, but never got it to work anything like the way it was represented to work. It was a big waste of money.

    1. Whats so special about the maker knife? I’m asking, because all I can find on the site is a few pictures and the statement that “because there are no holders designed to fit the needs of us makers….so we made one”. What? There are several designs similar at my local big box store, except they fold. Is it designed for one handed opening or something? (so is my kobalt utility knife that was like $3). And why on earth would something like this need tuning out of the box? It’s a utility knife!

  7. Pretty cool – but the screwdriver you *need* and should *want* is a set of JIS (Japanese Industry Standard) screwdrivers. They are what Phillips can’t be – a no-slipping, no-camming out drive this screw all the way to hell device.

    They are compatible (that’s one way to put it, I think they are vastly superior) with Phillips and come in handled screw drivers and many bit configurations. They bite and drive with confidence.

    You will never look at a tight Phillips the same way knowing you’ve got one of the best tools to get it out.

    You’ll drive those Phillips screws knowing that the torque is set by your driver and not the bit camming out of the hole.

    It will make you cry thinking about how much of your life was spent using Phillips drivers rather than these beauties.

    Staying tied into the article – yeah, you can get smaller JIS sizes in 4mm bits.

    Look for the stuff made in Japan.

    1. Hmm … that doesn’t sound quite right:
      While JIS can be great to untighten locked screws, Philips actually have a reason for being constructed the way they are: They are meant to NOT be tightened too fast, they have been engineered to “bulge out” before you harm the material they are pressing through.

      The technical difference is that JIS are a “simple cross” design that does not give any “end to the force applied”, while Philips have soft angles and “ramps” that make the screw driver loosen its grip “at the right time”.

      JIS are not a replacement for Philips but can help in “hopeless times”.

    2. Phillips really aren’t that bad when you find a good brand of screw that has great tolerance and invest in some big boy drill bits instead of those toys at the big box store. A well ground bit will grab the screw tight enough to rip the phillips section of the head clear off if the shaft below the head doesn’t give. I use my Wera bits all the time with Osmium screws that resist blue tack and magnetism, they hold on by sheer fit. However drywall screws are hit or miss, not so good tolerances on those.

  8. All negativity aside, stunningly amazing video… too bad he stopped recording so early. It’s a beautiful piece of craftsmanship and a good example of machining porn. I much prefer the small electric screwdrivers.

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