MAKE:TNT Tools 'n' Tips

Screw Gun Alternative


Tool photo.

I had a screw-off with the famous Don Montague the other day. We squared off across a crate that had too much stuff attached to it with drywall screws. We would vie to see who could extract them most rapidly. He had his trusty sidearm, the Dewalt battery drill. I used my old faithful brace and bit with a screwdriver bit. He pulled ahead at first, zipping the screws out as fast as they would come. I wasn't far behind. Once a screw got started, I'd switch to one-handed, gripping the top knob and swinging the handle around like a flywheel, so the screws were coming out almost as fast as with a drill.

Then we started swapping yarns and the brace really shone; it was so quiet I didn't have to stop working to talk. The battery drill was loud enough that Don had to syncopate his work to let the tales flow. So I started to catch up. Unfortunately, we ran out of screws to pull. When the smoke cleared, Don was the winner. (Due to his skill and indomitable spirit more than the equipment, of course.)

We were both surprised how well the thousand-year-old tool had done, the basic old brace and bit you never use. Pick it up again and try it with a screwdriver bit. It's got no batteries to charge or cord to trip over; it's quiet; and you can even drop it in the water a couple of times without hurting it or electrocuting yourself. It's a whole lot faster than you'd expect, and you won't split your wood or break screws as much as before.

Editor's Note: Tim received a few comments recommending a variation on the brace and bit, the push driver. Besides the one below, see Instructables for the complete conversation.

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