Quick Change Flip Drill Driver Bits

Quick change flip drill driver bits are handy little gadgets that combine a drill/countersink and screw driver into one compact unit. They can save lots of time because there’s no hunting around for separate bits or drivers. Another convenience is that only a single drill is needed. I think they’re here to stay.

The way these bad boys work is that you first lock the base into your drill’s chuck. The end of the base has a hex shaped opening that accommodates a removable appendage (the male unit if you will) that has a drill bit/countersink on one end and a screwdriver on the other. In operation, you insert the screwdriver end into the opening and lock it in place with a sliding collar. You drill the hole, release the collar, flip the bit so the screwdriver is protruding, lock it in place, and drive home the screw(s).

An assortment of flipper bits I have used

An assortment of flipper bits I have used

I have used several different brands of “flippers” over the years, including Craftsman, Dewalt, Makita, and Ryobi. I have been generally pleased with them and usually keep a flipper bit attached to my favorite cordless drill as a matter of habit. I particularly like using them in situations where there’s only a small number of screws to fasten or when it’s not convenient to lug around separate drills or drilling accessories (which applies to many woodshop and household situations). If I need to insert a large number of screws, that’s when I’ll opt to use two dedicated drills – one for drilling and one for driving screws. But for tasks like hanging a shelf or a few cabinet doors, the single drill flipper combo is my first choice.

Quick change drill sets aren’t without their drawbacks. It has been my experience that they work well for awhile but eventually the sliding lock mechanism tends to act up. It either becomes “sticky” (difficult to slide), or slips out of the lock position, allowing the bit to fall out. I’ve had some success fixing the stickiness by adding a little oil to the inside of the collar but this doesn’t help with the bit slipping out. In fact, it probably exacerbates the problem… But I’m not complaining (much) because by the time the locking mechanism starts to get ornery, I’ve usually gotten lots of service out of the drill set.

Of the various quick change drill sets that I’ve used, I was least impressed with the Speed Load flipper unit from Ryobi. I find it somewhat difficult to lock the bit in place, probably because it’s tricky getting the hex shank to seat properly in its receptacle. At least for me it is. I also question the workmanship. After only a few uses, a metal ring at the base of the locking collar came loose (see photo). The rubber pad surrounding the collar also slides off without much provocation. But, for $10, I guess one shouldn’t expect too much. On the plus side, the countersink and drill work well.

Retainer ring came loose on this flipper bit

Retainer ring came loose on this flipper bit

Looking forward, I intend to try out the Snappy Quick Change drill set and/or the Rockler Insty-Drive. I’ve heard good things about both. They aren’t really flipper systems and they do cost a bit more than the sets I’ve used thus far. But, if they work well, and get the job done, that’s what matters.

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