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I just bought this overpriced Wiha 386 screwdriver. It takes a 1/4 bit. It also has a "retaining ring." I put a bit in it, and everything went great. But.. how do I get the bit out of it?

I know it sounds stupid, but I can't figure out how to get the bit ouf of this screwdriver. What's the trick. This has to be a German joke of some sort. The screwdriver is titled, "Wiha 38600 Bit Holder 1/4" with Retaining Ring, Flexible Shaft."

  • did you try a strong pull? a magnet holding the bit can be surprisingly strong, same with the retaining rings – ratchet freak Nov 30 '14 at 0:28
  • Wiha are expensive, but also fall into the "when you buy a good tool, you only cry once" (at the price) category, .vs. "saving" money on cheap tools that never quite work as well (cry many times) and need to be replaced (cry some more) - so "overpriced" may be a somewhat unfair characterization. – Ecnerwal Nov 30 '14 at 15:27
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Pull it straight out the opposite way it went in. The retaining ring is a spring steel circle of round wire that is split on one side. The diameter of the circle is very slightly smaller than the distance around the points of the 1/4" hex bit:

enter image description here

The ring is inserted so that it floats inside of a groove around the inside end of the driver tool socket.

When a bit is first inserted into the tool socket the rounded fillet on the back end of the 1/4" hex bit is designed to allow the ring in the groove to expand out around the hex bit.

enter image description here

Just as the bit reaches its full insertion depth the ring is allowed to drop into a series of notches that are machined into the corners of the bit all the way around:

enter image description here

This is what helps to keep the bit from falling out of the tool socket. Sometimes with a new tool where the ring has not been exercised much it can clamp into the grooves extra hard. Another factor is that some hex bits have deeper notches which may also enhance the grab the ring has on the bit.

The normal thing to deal with this situation is that the insertion and removal of bits needs to be done a few times to relax the spring steel ring some. At first it may be necessary to use a pair of pliers to extract the bit. A small amount of lubricant could help too.....but it is not recommended for several usage scenarios. One example is if the tool is being used around raw unfinished wood the lubricant can stain the wood in an undesirable manner.

Note that not all hex bits have the retainer ring grooves. The retainer ring can still help keep such bits from falling out of the tool socket but the retention is based purely on the friction against the bit as opposed to the snap action of the notches on the bit.

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I tried all the usual methods: use side cutters to grab and pry up = nothing. Grabbed it with vise grips and pull straight out = nothing. I finally had to put the bit in the chuck on the lathe and pull with both hands on the handle, and pull, and pull. It finally let go, all at once. I would guess it took about 75 lbs of force to remove it.

  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. First, someone named "Duke" created two separate accounts yesterday. Was that you? If so, then please stop creating new accounts. Second, there's no way your behavior was by design; something must be wrong with your driver, which means this anecdote isn't going to be useful to anyone else. – Daniel Griscom Mar 27 at 11:11

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