Chapman Master Kit - Canadian Woodworking Magazine

A fabulous precison screwdriver kit with a great assortment of bits


Chapman Master Kit

Go into any tool or equipment supplier, or your local hardware store, and you'll be hard pressed to find a quality precision screwdriver set. Finding one online isn't much easier. What you are likely to find are conventional sized and common types of screwdrivers and drives. Which is why I was pleasantly surprised to hear about The Chapman Manufacturing Company, based in Durham, CT. Chapman has been manufacturing high quality, precision screwdriver sets for over 75 years. They have almost two dozen hard and soft case kits available, and a selection of over 50 drives — or what Chapman refers to as 'adapters'.
The Master Kit (5575) is their premier kit, containing two different driver handles, an extension bar that provides extra reach for the driver handles, and a selection of all the Chapman drives. It's an ideal kit for machinists, medical professionals, computer technicians, motorcycle and cycling enthusiasts, clock and small instrument makers — in fact, anyone who uses small fasteners.

Injection-molded, crush resistant ABS plastic case     
The Master Kit comes in an injection-molded, crush resistant polypropylene case with a quick snap latch, measuring a compact 1-5/8" x 4-3/4" x 7-7/8", and weighs only 1.6 pounds, fully loaded. The case keeps everything neatly organized and convenient for storage or transportation to a job site.


53 drives in 9 styles   

Drive Chart
Inside the kit are six removable driver racks, holding a total of 53 assorted drivers grouped into 9 styles. Chapman has thoughtfully attached a drive chart to the inside of the lid, which makes it quicker to find the right tool.
The drives are made of chrome nickel molybdenum alloy steel, and heat treated to between Rc52 and Rc55, depending on the type and size of drive. This results in drives that are strong but have some spring to them, which minimizes the chances of breaking when torque is applied.

Unique bit design     
The drives are made with parallel sides that extend to the depth of the screw slot so that force is applied to the full depth of the screw and not just the tip. Better gripping drives means that they're much less likely to strip the head. Of course, you need to use the correct size bit for the screw you're setting, and make sure that you apply the correct amount of torque.
Two 'ears' keep the bits properly seated in the driver handles, and a captive ball bearing ensures a snug fit in the driver chuck. The size of each drive is stamped on its side - I found this handy, as some of the drives, such as the Imperial Allen and Metric Allen drives, are hard to tell apart visually.

Knurled grips on the shanks make the drives easy to rotate by hand           
The ends of all the drives — except the Torx — have knurled finger grips. When you need to apply precise torque to a screw, you can simply rotate the drives by hand, without using a handle.

Top to bottom: Straight handle, midget ratchet, extension arm          
There are two handles and one extension arm included in the set, all with 1/4" hex chucks.
The straight handle is made of a chemical resistant, high impact plastic that is 1" in diameter and 3-5/8" long. The flared neck makes it comfortable to hold with thumb and forefinger, particularly when you need to make precise screw adjustments, and the hexagonal shape keeps it from rolling around on a workbench. There is also a set screw at the chuck end that enables you to lock the extension arm firmly to the handle (no Allen key provided). I haven't found it necessary to use the set screw, finding that the extension arm and drives seat firmly into the chuck. Turning the straight driver with only your thumb and fingers will generate up to about 17 in-lbs of torque. Grasping and turning the handle with full hand pressure will generate upwards of 50 in-lbs.
The midget ratchet is made from stainless steel, and measures 1/4" x 19/32" x 3-3/4". The contoured shape of the handle makes for a very comfortable grip. I especially like the 20-tooth gear, as it provides an 18° working arc that enables you to use it in very tight quarters. One side of the ratchet applies torque in one direction — simply reinsert the drive into the other side of the ratchet to change the torque direction. A simple yet very effective design. Chapman cautions that you need to be very careful when using the ratchet, as it generates four times the torque of a large screw driver - up to an impressive 200 inch-lbs of torque. That's enough torque to easily break the heads off small screws. Chapman provides a convenient, and very useful, torque chart for various bit types and sizes.
The steel extension arm is great for those occasions when you need a bit of extra reach, or when you want to apply maximum torque. It has an overall length of 3-5/8", and like the driver handle has a set screw located near the chuck so that you can lock in a driver.



Two handles provide four ways to mount drives             
The two handles and the extension arm provide four different ways to mount drives. You can mount them directly into the chuck on either handle, or by means of the extension arm.

Use the extension arm as a mini precision driver         
You can also use the extension arm as a mini precision driver. The end of the shank is knurled to provide a finger grip, and the top of the arm, just below the set screw, has a ribbed collar that enhances your grip when you need to make precise adjustments on small screws.

One-handed drive removal             
Removing a drive from the ratchet is pretty simple — just push the end of the drive with you thumb and it will pop out of the ratchet. This doesn't mean that the drives will easily fall out of the ratchet in use. Once installed they remain firmly in place.

Instant socket wrench     
The 1/4" square drive adapter that comes with the kit effectively converts the ratchet into a convenient socket wrench.

A superb kit that will earn its keep in any shop  
For just under $90, this is one sweet kit. It has just about every style and size of drive that you'll ever need. The kit is very well made, and the two drive handles provide you with four options for setting screws.
Replacement drives very economical, at an average of $1.30 each. The ratchet and extension bar don't have magnetized chucks, so you'll need to use drives that have ball bearings on their shanks otherwise they'll fall out. However, I had no problem using my 1/4" hex drives in the straight handle. And, with the 1/4" square drive adapter all you need is a set of sockets to expand the capability of this set even further.
If you consistently work with small screws and are looking for a versatile, quality driver kit, then the Chapman Master Kit (5575) has you covered.


  • Injection-molded ABS plastic case
  • Removable bit racks
  • 3-5/8" chemical resistant, high impact plastic screwdriver handle
  • 3-3/4" 20-tooth stainless steel ratchet
  • 3-5/8" steel extension arm
  • 53 chrome nickel molybdenum alloy drives
COMPANY:Chapman Manufacturing Co
Carl Duguay, November 2012
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