Maratac ¼” Pen Driver

Tool one and modifications abandoned, I came back to this driver I had found in my initial searches but had passed over at the time because I wanted something that held more bits if possible. Perfect being the enemy of the good in mind, I purchased this and resolved to use it, and boy am I glad I did!

Admittedly, my time on this tool is still quite low, only about 3 weeks, but I’m very satisfied with it already. I wasn’t originally sold on the idea that this did not have a cap to help retain the bit that is in it and to protect whatever else is in your pocket/the pocket itself from the bit. However, I have found this hasn’t been a real issue. The magnet that retains the bit is super strong, and I have been keeping this clipped to the pocket like a knife, that keeps the tip from rubbing against pretty much everything. Carpenter jeans or pants with a mid leg pocket are even better for this.

The included bits were a Phillips #0, #1 and two flat heads; a large and small. I swapped the Phillips #1 and the small flat head for a T15 Torx security and a Phillips #2. As we know, Phillips #2 is the most used screw size in everyday life and the T15 Torx security bit is specific to me and my work tasks; I have a large number of computers that use that to secure the case side for some reason. I opted to keep the Phillips #0 because it will will work in a Phillips #1 screw in a pinch and let me get at smaller stuff. I kept the larger flat bit because I figured most Phillips needs are covered, so a small flat bit wasn’t needed as a Phillips backup, there are occasionally the huge flat head screws you come across that need a big bit, and if I decided to pry on anything with it, the bigger bit will probably be more handy.

Now, how do we make the perfect more perfecter? A number of ways of course! You didn’t think I’d be satisfied with this things how it is did you?

First area of improvement, add a cap! Immediate observations are a cap over the exposed bit end would be ideal. This protects the pocket and human body from the exposed bit and adds a little more length to the tool when put on the other end. Even better than adding a simple cap, would be adding a cap that is spring loaded and cams onto the barrel so it can be twisted with force in each direction without coming unscrewed or just spinning. A small spinner could even be added to the top of the cap. Adding a cap not withstanding, you can easily added a small piece of rubber/vinyl/etc tubing to slip over the tip and achieve 50% of what a complicated modification would achieve.

The pocket clip is not in the most convenient spot; its not bad, but its not great. It does add a protrusion for a bit of leverage, but it also is kinda in the way of the fingers. With the screw cap on the end for bit storage, there isn’t much option for moving the pocket clip as it is now. But, by adding a cap you can also now easily relocate the clip to the cap. This gives you the option of using or ignoring the clip all together by screwing with/without the cap on respectively, and it relocates the clip more to the palm and away from the fingers. Just removing the pocket clip is undesirable, so a modification would be best.

I think the general shape is good, it gets around most objects at the business end, but also is fat enough for decent grip. I had considered the “what if” of if the barrel were the large diameter down the entire length, but I think that would hinder it being able to sneak around some objects.

I also think the storage compartment can be drilled further to add one additional bit in the section where the skinny portion of the barrel and the fat portion converge. The barrel would be thinner than the rest of the storage portion of the barrel, but no thinner than what the bit sits in. I think it would work just fine; expanding the barrel a couple of millimeters at the thin section if more meat were needed wouldn’t hurt either.

A bit of additional knurling about the storage cap end would be helpful for a better grip at that tip; I think enough for a couple of fingers would be sufficient.

Finally, a bit of sound deadening would be nice. There is enough space in bit storage that they can jostle around a bit….. Ok I’m picking nits here, but adding a small circle of rubber inside the cap and/or at the base of the bit storage would give a compressible surface to put the bits in tension and take up the slack when the cap is screwed on.

What are my actual next steps for modification and this tool? Well, I’m going to keep using it first and foremost! I find I’m even using it around the home a bit since it is always in my pocket. Given that I have access to a machine shop at work and this is titanium, I will likely have them drill out the barrel a smidge to store another bit. Adding the rubber pads is trivial so I’ll do that. Next I’m going to start looking for suitable round stock to make a cap out of. It should be trivially easy to thread barrel to accept a cap that I make (note the new cap isn’t intended to be flush with the barrel). Man, this makes me think (even more) that I need to get a lathe.

My Maratac driver shown with a recent development, using ¾” long bits! This allows you to fit an additional bit inside the barrel without additional drilling required! I happened to have the bits already from this Klein stubby screwdriver and a quick grind got the T15 security bit to the right length. Credit to a friend for suggesting grinding the bits shorter!

A comparison showing the 1” and ¾” bits; a ¾” bit is also in the driver.

The End?

So that’s it, I have what is the perfect EDC tool for me! That can’t be the end though… right? Correct! I now need to do the same process to figure out what knife will compliment this tool! Don’t worry, a full treatment would only be properly doable in a full part two, so I’ll just give you the primer here.

All of my knife purchases over the last five to eight years have been multi tool focused so I don’t really have too many knives that are just knives and that I’d actually want to carry for just knifing; I do after all have a few requirements a knife must meet :).

  1. Reversible pocket clip that allows the knife to be carried tip up or down in left or right pocket.

  2. The knife must have some provision for quick opening or deployment. Emerson dong preferred, assisted opening considered. Fixed blade is a good idea. Auto is possible. Knife fights are to be avoided, but another means of self defense on my person is always good.

  3. A blade that can handle some abuse. I like to pry and chisel with my knives so a thin blade would no do. The steel must also be considered.

In meeting these requirements, find myself unfortunately constrained in a couple of ways. First, by the laws of the state in which I live, CT. I am limited to a 4” folder or fixed blade and automatic and gravity knives cannot be legally carried for all practical purposes. So no Microtech, switch blades, or anything else fun or cool like that.

Second, my job. Being a Balisong enthusiast and shitty trick flipper, I’d love to EDC a Balisong and I have a number of knives that I could legally EDC. Shockingly, there is no specific law about carrying a Balisong in CT, it is just a folding knife after all! However, my job is full of normies, and there is no way I would get away with whipping out a Balisong for some basic cutting task, even if I opened it excruciatingly slow with two hands. As it is, the pocket knife is a technical violation of the employee manual, but enough people carry one that I can get away with it. Once the HR guy did question it, and I simply responded with “Oh this thing, it’s just a handy tool to have” and that ended that. I can hear you all saying, well if you want a knife for self defense get a fixed blade! For the work environment reason, I also cannot foresee whipping out a fixed blade knife going over any better than a wet sloppy fart in a board meeting. I have come up with an innovative solution to the fixed blade problem though, I keep a fixed blade in my boot now. Because I’m a cowboy baby!

With these consideration to my requirements in hand, I will leave you with the finalized list of knife requirements where we would start off a hypothetical part two. Any recommendations on knives or EDC tools are welcome! I will happily update you on the progress of any modifications I do end up making to the Maratac pen driver and I hope you enjoyed my extremely long explanation of how I eventually settled upon what was likely obvious from the beginning.

  1. A pocket clip that allows the knife to be carried tip up in left pocket; I’m left handed and carry my knives strong side.

  1. An Emerson dong or a blade that can be modified to have one.

  2. A reasonably stout blade that can handle some abuse.

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By Lenard

7 thoughts on “Best Pocket Tool (3 of 3)”
  1. Update on using the Maratac driver, it’s been in use a bit longer since I initially wrote this article.
    I’m LOVING it!
    I find I’m even using it around the house for tasks I would normally get a real screw driver for; and not just for the convenience of it being on my person, but because it actually has excellent capabilities as an actual usable tool.

  2. Before you settle on the Emerson wave, have you tried a flipper assisted opener? Since I got a Kershaw assisted flipper (with liner lock – I just don’t happen to like frame locks even though they are theoretically stronger) I don’t carry anything else. If you must have an Emerson wave, look at the Spyderco Delica Wave. I also just learned that there are wave attachment that fits the Spyderco hole and to convert them to Emersons. Also, Kershaw has several Emerson wave knives that are excellent.

    1. I have recently found those add fingers on for the knives, ty though! With those my options are much wider on what I settle on.
      I like the non assisted because you can open it normally to not scare a normie and the assisted do get clogged up and slow down after a while. Even with cleaning, I’ve had a couple such as the CRKT Ignite where the spring has lost some power and it doesn’t realiably open 100% of the time.

    2. Glad you enjoyed it! I’m quite impressed with the quality of the Maratac driver and there are a few other things they make I’ve been eyeing.

    3. In this case the short bits extend a small amount past the bit holder on the Maratac driver, so perfect for this application at least! If I were to grind them down really any shorter than 3/4″, that would also require grinding the driver down since the actual business part of the bit starts to become recessed at around the 2/3″ mark.

  3. Thank you for the excellent series. I have found Maratac products to be very good. I carry a small Maratac flashlight on the weekends with a Swiss Tool Spirit X and mini sharpie in a leatherman belt holster. For work I carry 2 Swiss Army knives. A victorinox rambler in my pocket and a cybertool 29 in a small belt pouch. The Cybertool 29 has bits including torx but no scissors. I could go down to just the Cybertool 34 which has scissors but it doesn’t fit in my pouch and I like the nail file on the rambler.

  4. Those short bits are a mixed blessing. Yes, they allow more bits in tools like this, but they are likely to be incompatible with any other bit holder because the tip won’t extend far enough (if at all) out of the holder. I have the same issue when I tried to use standard magnetic-hold type bits in my extension shaft which has a ball lock designed for the long bits that have a locking groove on them.

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