Thursday, April 16, 2009

Sharps: A little bit, better

The folks at Victorinox have been making world-class cutlery for 125 years now, so it doesn't make much sense for me to fiddle with something that works as well as a Swiss Army Knife. A number of years ago, however, I did discover a small modification that greatly improves (for my purposes) the function of the small screwdriver bit found on many Victorinox knives and multi-tools.

This screwdriver is little more than a bump on the end of the can-opener tool, and it doesn't play nice with screws that have deep slots. Also, the curve of the can opener acts like a cam, making the screwdriver tip prone to climbing out when turning force is applied.

Someone eventually decided that this screwdriver would work a lot better if it looked more like a screwdriver, and that's the goal of the modification.

All that's required is a round needle file, a few minutes and some patience. One stroke at a time -- lightly and carefully -- remove material where the base of the screwdriver bit meets the sharpened blade of the can opener. (See the right-hand photo above.)

File straight across the edge and check the tool's profile after each stroke or two. Don't go crazy with this -- it doesn't take much effort.

In using the modified tool, it bears remembering that a small amount of material that once buttressed the screwdriver is no longer there. It's by no means fragile, but to avoid bending or breaking the tip, torque should be applied accordingly. I make this simple mod to all of my Victorinox knives so equipped and, for what it's worth, I've never had a problem.

Yes, the can opener still works fine. And no, it's not a good idea to use a Dremel Tool for this job.

It's great when a minor change yields a big improvement, and this mod does just that.

Earlier posts
Sharps: A modern-day Soldier
Sharps: Rite of passage
Sharps, Part I: In the pocket

Swiss Army
Secret Order of Swiss Army Knives