Stock up for next winter. This isn’t the ultimate toolset (that’s the Barthel machine shop), rather this is generally what the fully equipped do-it-yourselfer should have at hand, to deal competently with most tech bindings. I’ll do this in a series of blog posts. First, your basic “screwdriver” parts and pieces. Your suggestions are very welcome, comments on.
Insert bit screwdriver
Simply a screwdriver that holds 1/4″ insert bits, I prefer NAPA PN 36530 due to its low bulk, reasonably powerful magnet, and simplicity. Fancier versions such as those that ratchet tend to being fiddly. Beware oversized fat handles that can result in easily applying too much torque to sensitive screws. Below is an Amazon option that looks nice.
Endless debate on this. I began with Makita, in a cabinet shop where I worked, when the first cordless drills came out. I’ve been through a variety of brands since then — and I’m back to wanting the 18v LXT Makita compacts. Beautiful. Expensive. So I’ve standardized on the more budget oriented “blue” Bosch products. More about that in part four of these posts.
I’ve got a background in construction (including 20 year stint as a pro carpenter). When it comes to “making,” one of my pet peeves is efficiency. Thus, life is too short for only one cordless drill. Two are necessary. As necessary as four tires on a car. Or two bindings if you have two skis… the idea being to eliminate bit swapping as well as having a spare if one breaks.
Apologies in advance to all significant others out there who are now informed that your mate needs two cordless drills instead of one. Just tell them you read it on WildSnow dot com and all shall be forgiven.
Insert bit holder for cordless drill
I prefer two flavors of bit holders. Cheaper and purely magnetic are slimmer, while those with a mechanical retention collar (as well as magnet) tend to be less annoying in that the bits don’t come out unless desired. Get the retention collar type that require sliding the collar _forward_ to remove the bit. I got gypped recently by a bit holder with a collar that slid rearward to remove bit. It released the bit nearly every time the holder rubbed or bumped against something during use. Lame.
Most sets of insert bits come with the magnetic type holder, get a new set now and then at the big box and you’ll end up with numerous holders. Collar type are available at hardware stores etcetera. I tried finding an Amazon link, but the only one that came up appeared to have the collar that slid rearward to release bit. Probably better to shop for this up close and personal.
If you’re experienced with tightening fasteners you can work without a torque limiting screwdriver. But I’ve recently realized this tool can help anyone avoid annoying and sometimes costly mistakes. Problem is, most are pricey. For occasional use I’ve found the FAT wrench to be adequate.
Insert bits, 1/4 hex shank:
Perhaps the most hard-to-find tool on our list is a good insert bit for the rear spring barrel cover slot in most tech bindings (The Dynafit standard). Aside from making my own tool, the best thing I’ve found is the 080-430-430WB Leupold/Buehler Windage Screw Bit. Surprisingly, purchasing a single bit isn’t an option on Amazon. Instead, grab one at Brownells.
Other insert bits, you’ll need more than a few:
Pozidrive #3 is the gold standard of ski bindings. Trend to the ones with longer shaft, around 3 inches (to reach through brakes and such while mounting bindings), but get a few shorties as well and use when possible as they do wear out and the shorties are cheaper. Be sure you’re getting the number 3 size.
Torx (star drive) T10 (small assembly screws, Dynafit & G3) and T20 (Dynafit mounting screws)
Again, you’ll want two flavors. Acquire those with long-narrow shafts for reaching into tight spaces or use in situations where the bulk of an intervening part messes up your driver alignment. Stock several of each in standard short length as well. The longer ones tend to be fragile, so watch your torque while using to mount bindings. (Note that the housing screws on G3 ION and many other tech binding heels use torx 10, while the star drive mounting screws supplied by Dynafit require torx 20, while construction screws such as those used for decking may require T20 or T25.)
Online shopping for longer torx bits isn’t easy. Most have “security” tips with hole in the middle. Avoid those (unless you need to steal public bathroom toilet paper holders), as they’re weak. Set linked below appears to be an example of regular tips in longer version.
Shopping for shorter torx insert bits is easier. They’re not expensive, pick up at your hardware store, or shop options such as linked below:
During shopping, you’ll be tempted by astoundingly large boxes holding a variety of screwdriver insert bits. Most of these assortments will give you 100 bits you never need and be missing at least three essentials — as well as the bits often being of poor quality. Nonetheless having a variety can be useful if you tend to do different mechanical projects, and the case makes a nice holder (toss the useless and replace with what you need). If you succumb to temptation, at the least buy the biggest set you can find. Craftsman linked here has 208 pieces, which seems like a lot until you realize the vast variety these things come in. For example, despite the 2008! bits, the Craftsman lacks extended shaft versions of most.
Non-insert screwdrivers (Meaning those consisting simply of handle and shaft)
G3’s branded pozi-3 is really nice, many options on Amazon.
Clearly, throwing all this stuff in a drawer is a recipe for steel soup. Instead, figure out various holders that work for you. Me, I like the small plastic bit holders that come with many bit sets, and I installed magnetic tool holders on the wall behind my main bench. I’m not one of these guys who likes to hang every tool I own in plain view on the wall. Too cluttered (and I have too many tools). But I do like my main stuff to be within reach.
Suggestions welcome, please do so in the comments.
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WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.