Sunday, June 30, 2024

Test driving the Metmo Pocket Driver, for real!

A while back, just a tad more than a year ago, I posted a narrative about what I consider to be cool tools.

I just went back to take stock of that episode, and I liked what I said back then, so I'll repeat that here:

I said that I thought cool tools were "tools that fit their purpose to perfection. Tools that take very little room, yet are reliably there when they are needed, but otherwise, are all but invisible. That is my definition of cool tools."

The tools that I covered in that post were my Leatherman Wave multitool, my Brompton tool, and a tool I didn't even have at that time, the MetMo Pocket Driver.

Here we are a year later, and, guess what?

You are 100% correct. I now actually have that MetMo Pocket Driver.

Sean Sykes, the founder of MetMo, and a U.K. serial entrepreneur, reached out to me to see if I would be willing to do a hands-on review of the MetMo Pocket Driver. He offered to send me one if I was inclined to participate and give him a hand.

As you can imagine, I quickly agreed.

About two weeks ago, the MetMo Pocket Driver landed on my doorstep.

No sooner than I had it in my hot little hands, I had to skip town for a series of important meetings in Montreal and Ottawa.

Predictably, when I got home, all the stuff that has to take priority in my professional life was somewhat backed-up and screaming for attention. One more week later, and I was finally focused on sharing my impressions of this little wonder of a pocket-sized ratchet driver.

I may have been focused, but wasn't even close to focused on how I might actually use the MetMo Pocket Driver in a way you would find entertaining, or useful.

Fortunately our cleaning lady came to the rescue.

When she cleans, she CLEANS!

Of course it's beyond unfair and inappropriate for me to blame our excellent cleaning lady for my admittedly complex home lighting setup going awry. Some of my wiring, done years back, clearly lent itself to being vacuumed out of commission.

Last weekend I vowed to rethink, and re-do the wiring.

I moved that large glass curio cabinet in the living room, got in behind that to access the wiring.

Then I crawled under that sideboard in the dining room to access the wiring there; in both those very tight places I re-thought, re-ordered, and re-routed the wiring supporting the lighting and the semi-wireless wireless speakers.

Ha! That's funny... my "wireless" speakers have... wires! Well, they have electrical supply wires. The data that drives them is, in fact, thankfully, completely wireless.

One of the challenges I faced was that the wire management device under the dining room sideboard relied on a self-sticky pad-thing. Not surprisingly, it had become unstuck. Easy fix: the device was designed to take a screw, it just needed to be screwed in.

It was quite an awkward thing to do.

It was one of those jobs that would have been a snap if I had been willing to empty the sideboard of all its fine china, glass, crystal, and silver entertaining stuff, turn the sideboard upside down and screw in the wire management device, after having drilled a perfect guide hole for the screw.

Right! You know that wasn't going to happen. 

Just wedge yourself under the sideboard and drive in that screw you moron!

Drill a guide hole? Ya, no! Just barely space for me, but not for me and a drill.

Just take the Phillips screw, and drive it in there, why don't you?

After quite a few pathetic failed attempts with a screwdriver, and some salty cursing, I gave up on that. 

Empty the sideboard? Hell no!

And that was when my new MetMo Pocket Driver wiggled itself into my consciousness. Might that little wonder do the trick, as its inventor claims?

The MetMo Pocket Driver turned out to be perfect for the job, from holding the small Phillips screw magnetically, reliably, and firmly, and then allowing me, in spite of my cramped and awkward position, to apply the significant leverage needed to drive the screw without drilling a hole. Since it has a nice, satisfying ratchet, there was no need to relax the leverage to shift my grip. Just like that, the screw was firmly installed on the first attempt with the MetMo Pocket Driver, and the wire management device now had an unshakable grip on the wiring and on the bottom of the sideboard.

I struggled out from under the sideboard, dealt with all the little tails I had clipped off the tie-wraps, and then stepped back to take a look. Ahhhhh... I was suitably impressed. Jazz playing pleasantly on the Bose speakers, soft lighting setting the stage, and no wires to be seen, or vacuumed out of their outlets. Perfect.

I was genuinely impressed with the MetMo Pocket Driver.

Its design is... I have to say, a touch peculiar.

I just love it.

It turns out, I assume from very clever and insightful British design (a little like my amazing and quirky Brompton bike), that it mates perfectly to your hand in a way that lets you drive the screw or nut, all while applying a lot of leverage.

A traditional screwdriver can't really do that because the tool is completely linear, and that limits the hand's ability to apply torque, especially in cramped quarters.

Many ratchet drivers are brilliant for applying torque since you pull to apply rotary force at 90 degrees to the rotation, but, unless you can bear down, or in my case bear up, vertically on the driver's axis (the straight line about which the driver rotates) you just can't get to where you can force the screw to bite into the wood properly.

The MetMo Pocket Driver's secret to success, in my view, lies in the hinged handle.

The shape of the handle naturally settles into the palm of your hand giving you a flawless grip at the perfect angle from the axis of the driver that lets you access that torque you need.

That angle, depending on circumstances can vary from 20 degrees, to 90 degrees, to 140 degrees. I'm a lawyer, not an engineer, but I estimate the angle that worked best for me driving that stubborn screw was about 120 degrees. A normal screwdriver is linear, so the angle to the axis is zero degrees, offering minimal leverage. A ratchet driver is typically 90 degrees to the axis of the shaft and offers excellent leverage. The beauty of the Metmo Pocket Driver is that wide range of angles that it allows. It just naturally adjusts to your grip, and to the difficulty of the task, in a way that gives you the leverage you need to get the job done.  

Now my lighting and wireless speakers, and cursed wires, are vacuum-cleaner-proof, and all but invisible to guests.

Now for the acid test... Our cleaning lady was here just the other day and... Yup! All is fine speaker and light-wise. Dust vacuumed away into oblivion, wiring all intact!

If you think that's all I have to say... well, I'm not quite done. 

The MetMo Pocket Driver needs a bit of context. More than a bit, in truth.

In fact, what it really needs are many bits. It also needs a home... for storage and travel. A travel home. Some people call that a sheath. Yes, a sheath. And bits, lots of bits.

The reality is, that as soon as I got my hands on the Metmo Pocket Driver my mind shifted to bits. It does come with two Phillips bits: one Phillips bit and one Phillips Pozidriv bit, both size 2, the standard Phillips size. They are stored in the driver's body, under the bit storage cap. 

The Pozidriv bit is the one that gripped the screw I was installing perfectly and allowed me to drive the screw home so brilliantly.

After poking around on the usual online sites, and looking at many different bit options, I eventually looked to my Leatherman Wave.

I happen to have 40 super-compact Leatherman Wave bits. They store in the Leatherman Wave's sheath, taking up next to no room. While the Leatherman Wave bits won't work directly with the Metmo Pocket Driver, the Leatherman Wave also has a driver bit-holder extension, and that works perfectly with the Metmo Pocket Driver, allowing the Metmo Pocket Driver to take advantage of all those 40 bits.

It also turns out, after a whole lot more online searching, just by peculiar coincidence, that the Leatherman Wave sheath fits the Metmo Pocket Driver perfectly. So I did the smart thing, and purchased a second Leatherman sheath. When that was delivered, it turned out to be even better for the Leatherman Wave than the one that actually came with the Leatherman Wave originally. So that original Leatherman Wave sheath is now the new home for the Metmo Pocket Driver. Perfect! The Metmo Pocket Driver now has its own perfect travel home.

And now I have the ideal every-day-carry ("EDC") tool family: The Leatherman Wave with its 40 driver bits; and the Metmo Pocket Driver that way, way outperforms the Leatherman Wave as a screwdriver. With those two tools with me, I feel that there are very few challenges that I couldn't solve.

Now am I done, you ask?

Not quite, but almost.

Not ready to rest on his laurels basking in the success of the Metmo Pocket Driver, Sean Sykes now has a new Kickstarter campaign promoting the brand new MetMo Multi Drive. MetMo calls it the ultimate desktop multi-tool.

It's a scalpel, a pencil, a scribe, a drill, a file, and a micro driver, each matched to a single precision-crafted shaft with an ingenious hex collet. This is the ultimate tool for the creator, the artist, the craftsman, the engineer, the bookbinder, the architect, or the fixer. If like me, you have a steel ruler, a pen, a pencil, and a scalpel close by your desktop, this MetMo Multi Drive is the first tool to reach for when the creative urge pokes you. If that describes you as well, I suggest you hop right over to MetMo's Kickstarter for the Metmo Multi Drive right now!

Following up: It's now July 12, so almost two weeks later. I was replacing some chrome trim on the hood of my Mini Cooper Cabriolet. Not a too complex proposition. Four easily accessible screws, and a bunch of pressure clips. I had already gotten advice from a very helpful YouTube video. I was fairly certain that all I needed to get the job done was the combination of my Leatherman Wave and my Metmo Pocket Driver. I was correct.

But the more you use what I call a 'perfect tool' the more you learn about completely unexpected features that you couldn't really predict. 

In this case, the car's hood was open, and I had to locate and remove the four small Phillips screws. Using the Metmo Pocket Driver it was supper easy loosening the screws. But the trick was not to drop any of the small screws in the engine compartment. 

This is when the Metmo Pocket Driver surprised me.

As I hope you can make out in this photo, because the Metmo Pocket Driver is so compact, and because the swivel-handle fits your palm so compactly, you can extend your thumb and forefinger to grasp what I will call the nose of the driver, and thanks to the ratchet, as the screw becomes loose, you can continue loosening the screw using your thumb and forefinger. I was even able to extend my thumb and forefinger while twisting the ratchet, to the point where I was able to grab the screw, turning what has always been a two-hand task into a one-handed wonder.

Wow, that was really an eye-opener.

Thanks MetMo!

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The copyright in all text and photographs, except as noted, belongs to David Masse.