Ron's Tackle Tips — Hand Tools

Ken Jones

Staff member
Hand Tools

By Ron Crandall of Ron's Reel Repair (October & November 1999)

This is the first of an intermittent series of articles about the tools needed to do your own reel maintenance or repair.

Think of the legendary gunsmith, whose reputation included, "his work is so good that he doesn't even damage the screwheads".

Why not apply this same care to your reels. In other words, use the proper screwdriver to remove screws, instead of taking a monkey wrench to your reels.

The Screwdriver: Part 1 — The Hollow Ground Flat Bladed Screwdriver

Although screwdrivers look simple, and you can get them almost everywhere for practically nothing, there’s a catch! The blade of the driver must fit the screw heads to keep from mangling them. Simple? Read on.

For slotted screws like the older Penn’s, (some new Penn’s use cross points), use a plain old screwdriver blade that fits the screwhead. Right? Not quite.

Consider that the screw you wish to remove is probably slightly or greatly corroded thereby requiring a lot of pressure and twist to remove.

The common, readily available screwdrivers, have a high volume grind the gives a tip that looks like a "V", as viewed from the side. Now think about the screw slot. It is shaped more like a "U", with parallel straight sides. This means that when you insert to screwdriver blade into the screw slot, the twisting force is only on the top edge of the screw head, the top of the "U", instead of along the full length of the parallel sides of the "U." This will begin to force the top edge of the screw head outwards, making the slot look more like a "V", when viewed from the side, and more like a lopsided "X", when viewed from the top.

Secondly, reel screws are smaller than screws you would normally use around the house. As the width of the common screwdriver blade is made narrower, the thickness of the blade also decreases. Now, not only are you exerting force only on the top edge of the screw slot, but because the blade is too loose in the slot, you are exerting force only on the top edge corners. (Wonder why it is sometimes so hard to get a screw out?)

The correct screwdriver to use has a hollow ground blade. Hollow grinding tapers the last quarter inch of the flat blade to form parallel sides on the tip, instead of the "V" shape. Unfortunately, these screwdrivers are not easy to find. If you have access to specialty or industrial tool catalogs you can usually find hollow ground screw drivers, (look for the Niwa brand.)

As a simpler alternative, check out the hex tips that are used in power drivers. (Not the 39 cent ones at the cash register.) You will note that they are hollow ground and very finely made. With a hand adapter, available through most larger hardware stores, (or sees note below); you can build a wonderful collection of individual drivers that fit the screws on your reels. Also don’t be afraid to carefully modify the hex tips so you get a perfect match. To do this, first find a screwdriver that is a comfortable fit for screw slot thickness, and then gently grind the width of the blade down until you have a perfect fit, being very careful that you don’t overheat the bit and destroy its temper. By having a perfect fit, you will not ruin the screw slot, and you will be better able to remove tight screws.

Hollow ground screwdrivers will also work in some of the new modified crosspoint screws, such as are used in the new Shimano and Daiwa Reels. See next month’s Tips on Crosspoint Screwdrivers for more information.

A note on adapters for bits. What I did, was to take a three inch magnetic extension and epoxyed a comfortable wooden handle to it. Now I can change bits as needed, to fit the different screws on the reels.

The Screwdriver: Part 2 — The Cross-Point Screwdriver

Most currently manufactured reels use crosspoint screws. While they may look like what most people and screwdriver manufacturers like to call Phillips screws, they are different. The crosspoint screws are 58 degrees and have a blunt point, while the Phillips screws have an angle of 55 degrees and are more pointed at the tip. Most screws now used, either for reels or in your home are cross-point screws. A Phillips screwdriver does not properly fit a crosspoint screw. Most American made screwdrivers sold to fit these screws are designed for Phillips screws. (Go Figure)

Using an unmodified Phillips screwdriver, the ones commonly found at your local hardware store, will cause you to have difficulty because the screwdriver taper is longer than the taper of the screw. You must use a bigger Phillips screwdriver to fit the crosspoint screw. The improper size of Phillips screwdriver will cause the points of the blade to override the grooves on the screw and ruin the head.

Since you cannot conveniently buy a crosspoint screwdriver, one modification that can be made to a Phillips screwdriver is to grind off the tip of the blade thereby shortening the taper.

Again, a simple alternative is to use hex tips that are made for power drivers, (not the 39 cent ones at the cash register.) with a hand adapter. (A discussion of hand adapters is in Part One.) Most are made to fit the cross point screw.

In some cases, you will come across a "modified crosspoint screw". These have one of the cross bars extending all the way across the head of the screw. On this type of screw, you can use a hollow ground flat bladed screwdriver, as discussed in Part 1. This type of screw can be found on the new Shimano and Daiwa Reels.