Yankee screwdrivers are great for getting close to the glass of an upper sash to loosen or secure sash locks. They also work well to tighten or remove the screws that secure inner stops, as well as the screw heads often deeply resting inside brackets holding window blinds and shades. Plus their spiral action and retro feel are cool as all get out. Also, are there dead batteries in your cordless? With a Yankee, you’re still in business.
Unfortunately Stanley stopped producing these ingenious tools a while back. Fortunately, some German companies have revived the Yankee and have even made some improvements. Notably, they have added a hex chuck so standard hex-shank bits can be used. Unfortunately some of these models are not without flaws. Here is what we’ve found.
Schroeder (above, right.)
Flawless finish. Smooth and accurate operation. Feels good in your hand. Includes twist-to-tighten hex chuck – not as easy to operate as standard spring loaded and magnetic bit holders. And, unfortunately, it only works well on unnotched hex bits (A couple of these are included.) When using a notched hex bit, the o-ring squeezes by the notch and out through the hole in the ferule. Since most hex bits do have a notch, this is a problem. The problem can be rectified by adding a magnetic (or spring-loaded) bit holder without a notch (I sawed off the notch on a magnetic bit holder, shortening the shank, and it worked well) but this adapter on top of adapter creates an unwieldy device.
Lutz (above, left)
Crude and beefy. Doesn’t include hex-shank adapter so only standard proprietary bits (included) can be used.
Lee Valley and Garrett Wade
The Lee Valley seems just like the Shroeder but with a non-hex bit holder. They do offer optional spring loaded bit holders, but as mentioned above this is a clunky solution. The Garrett Wade also seems like the Schroeder but with the flawed twist-style hex shank adapter inserted into the proprietary non-hex shank adapter. This effectively takes an old design, adds onto it making it more cumbersome and not fully solving the problem.
Menard’s and Harbor Freight
Cheap Chinese knock-off with crude finish. Does, however, include hex bit holder. Sears and others also sells an inexpensive plastic-handled model that others have tried with mixed results.
The bottom line: None of the German models have an integrated Snappy-style bit holder. The Chinese models lack the precision that many would find desirable.