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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everybody, just wanted to get some thoughts from those out there with more experience using either of these company's screwdrivers. I've asked Santa Clause for a shiny new set (5 or 6 drivers anyway) of J.L. Smith's GoldGrip Screwdrivers. I've been very impatient and over-excited, fiddling with my trusty WIHA's, counting the days til I own my own set of "Big Guy Repairman" screwdrivers. However Santa emailed last night and told me JL Smith is backordered til at least end of January :(

I've got my mind set on JLS's, and I've read quite a bit, researching wherever I can regarding Quality, Durability, ideal sizes and shapes. JLS versus Ferree's, WIHA's versus JLS, can I track down any Kraus's for sale that are still up to par... (no)

The question is, should I hold out for JL Smith, if indeed they ARE the best? Or are Ferree's drivers just as good? Maybe I'll just get those?
What's the gap between the two for performance and quality? Substantial, barely noticable? Also please feel free to elaborate on the topic, if you'd like to expand my knowledge a bit. Thanks alot everybody! I appreciate your time,

Ryan
 

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Which Ferree's screwdrivers do you mean? They have many. If you mean the ones with the big hex swivel end, I didn't like them because I didn't like the feel of the big hex swivel in my hand.

Allied now sells the Music Center screwdrivers (from Italy). I don't know if they are made by Music Center or some other company for them, but they are excellent. I haven't "tortured" them yet so can't say for sure, but working a little with them, I don't notice a significant difference from the Kraus screwdrivers.
 

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Sounds like three choices, approximately equally good.
 

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I think the price of a handle + blade is about the same as the Kraus screwdrivers (I don't remember exactly).
The handles are pretty similar to the Kraus ones and also use a set screw to attach the blades. I know Allied sells both complete screwdrivers and also blades separately (maybe handles separately too, don't remember) so I'm guessing Music Center does too.
 

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I have had trouble with Ferree's metal hardening. Some times it's too brittle, and sometimes it's too soft. Go with JL Smith
I think Kraus screwdrivers are the best but they are gone.
 

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I think all manufacturers blades are a bit lacking on the heat treatment side, but they are making things on volume so sometimes its a bit hit and miss, also the thickness of the metal and its thinness as far as quenching makes it hit and miss as well, that being said, if its too soft or too hard, you can always do a quick and dirty heat treatment on it yourself, experiment to find something that "works", or use a proper heat treatment oven and get it the exact way you want it.

I do both, I do a quick and dirty treatment on ones I need in a rush to get a job done, but if its going to be a permanent blade for me to use, Ill put it in the oven and do a proper heat treatment and temper

Steve
 

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The beauty of the Burgeon blades is that the heat treatment is impeccable in my experience.

But they only come in quite a short length. Which is why I made my own long handle to take the 1.4 mm
 

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There is a huge difference in the demands placed on a screwdriver depending on use.

The demands are not great for working on a "healthy' instrument, but for badly gummed up or rusted pivots, even the best drivers can be pushed close to their limits. That is when edges burr, blades twist, and blades chip.
 

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I would concur, I prefer to buy than make, as time is money.

So I have bought almost every possible brand of screwdriver out there, music medics ones are nice, but the handles break within a day of use in a commercial setting, and I have at least 20 of them.

I only resort to making them as they are the most important tool on my shop, and need to be accurate, but I still use jl smith handles, and there blades are acceptable as well

Steve
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thank you everyone, I really appreciate all the feedback. So, as I pretty much expected, neither JLS or Ferrees are dogs ( As well as the MusicCenter/Allied versions) and arent going to wilt after a solid month of use, that's good to know. I agree with you simso, they've proven to be the tool I depend on and rely on and use daily for every project, 9 out of 10 times it's an older sax, so they will get a workout dealing with all the elements.
I'm still leaning J.L. Smith's way, based on feedback from techs using them these days. Also I like the 'vibe' of that company (very similar in this way to the MusicMedic crew): they clearly are happiest in the repair shop getting hands dirty to resurect some once-powerful beast to its due glory, they are very accesible for their repair customers needs, they seem to always be trying to improve the tools and products they currently offer... All that I like and appreciate. Actually I think they just DID upgrade their drivers, a tweak or two. So go JLS!

AFA Allied goes, I would love to see their catalog and get some familiarity with them. All I hear are great things. I cannot fulfill all their requirements to be able to order through them, as a small small one-man show. If anyone's got last year's or something, or a PDF, I'd love to see it.
Thanks keep 'em comin!

Ryan
 

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Sismo, have you tried Kraus Music or Music Center screwdrivers? Those are the two types I found to be best so far. They both have metal handles with replacable blades.
 

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I haven't tried Kraus, as from what I understand they are the best but no longer manufacture blades, so missed the opportunity there,

I've never bought anything from music centre, from what I understand last time I looked them up they they are in England and Italy, so exchange rate is very poor

Steve
 

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Music Center is in Italy. The same screwdrivers are also sold by Allied in USA.
You're right that Kraus stopped making their screwdrivers.
If I remrember these two types are also the two most expensive ones, but were worth it to me. I actually don't use them often, only for more problematic screws. Most of the time I use a few other also very good but not as good/expensive ones.
 

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Yes time is money, I would rather buy a set of the kraus ones if available solely because of there reputation, than make a blade from scratch / heat treat / temper it and so forth.

However, I now make my new blades in batches so I dont have the furnace on for just a singular unit. If I over grind when sharpening old blades and accidently remove the hardness by some agressive re-grinding, then I dump it in the bucket awaiting heat treatment run again.

So long story short, I have about 16 jl smith handles in our workshop and close to about 40 blades for swapping out as required

As mentioned above, screwdrivers in my opinion are the most important tools in our trade.

Steve
 

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I don't know, I just feel like screwdrivers aren't worth this much contemplation and planning. I use some cheapo screwdrivers I got at Harbor Freight for $6 plus tax, and I have no complaints. I also have a few cheapo precision screwdrivers for the tiny stuff that I tempered with a Zippo lighter and a paper cup of water that have served me well.
I normally just maintain horns that are in pretty good shape (mine), but I have worked on a few problematic mechanisms, and I've used these things on saxes (and whatever else I mess with) for three years and still do. Not bad for about $10 total.
I will acknowledge that screwdrivers are extremely important to instrument repair, but IMO for $15+ apiece they'd better turn themselves and hand me the screw when they're done.
 

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I don't know, I just feel like screwdrivers aren't worth this much contemplation and planning.
As a repairer we average 150-200 screws-rods removals and then replacements in a day, if a screw is stuffed during the removal process, then that can add another 30 minutes to an hr onto a job, drilling / tapping making a new screw, so for us, fit is very important.

Steve
 
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