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Tools - JIS screwdrivers (Pete’s annual rant)

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by MaxPete, Jan 10, 2019.

  1. MaxPete

    MaxPete Lucille, Betty & Demi - I suggest but THEY decide. XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor


    There is not a single Phillips screw on your bike and so why the heck would use a Phillips driver on it? You wouldn’t use a butter knife to drive in a nail would you?

    Those screws on your YamaHondaKawaZuki that look like Phillips - aren’t Phillips. They are JIS (Japan Industrial Standard) and they are sufficiently different from Phillips screws that using the wrong driver on them will invariably result in a stripped screwhead leading to a drill-out job which often ends in tears and non-child approved language.

    Here is an excellent article explaining the JIS-Phillips conundrum.


    The key take-away is that if you work on Japanese bikes/cars/toasters/....whatever, you truly need a set of JIS drivers. Using a Philips driver is a big & stupid mistake as it will damage the JIS screw heads and thus, it will eventually strip them. In addition to NOT stripping the screws on your bike, the JIS driver is superior to the Phillips in other ways..for example, could you do THIS with a Phillips?


    As for brands, the Japanese “Vessel” brand is definitely top-drawer and is readily available on the web at reasonable cost. Be sure to get the big IMPACTA model with the #3 JIS end. It has a silver handle which incorporates an impact driver function that makes XS650 clutch basket screws a doddle (even if some earlier “mechanic” has f@cked them up quite badly). I also like the knurled shaft on the snazzy blue-green driver handled Vessels with makes spinning in/out long screws, a breeze.

    As an excellent alternative to Vessel, Canadian tool vender Paul Jones of London, Ontario also makes a lovely set of JIS drivers, including some with a hex end on the handle for added torque, which he markets at Go Fast Innovations:


    The three-driver set above sells for $34.95 shipped (that’s CDN which equals around $3.47 USD I think). Paul has just introduced a cool set of 1/4” shank hex impact driver JIS bits for the princely sum of $24.95 CDN shipped (that’s about $2.12 USD at the present rate of exchange). They really are about the nicest screwdrivers I’ve ever used PLUS, they work perfectly on Phillips screws. So, you can just toss your existing Phillips drivers (or give them to someone you don’t like...:rolleyes:).

    I have ordered from Paul several times (including 2 sets of those new impact bits about 15 minutes ago) and he’s honest, fast, efficient, cost effective and a great guy who deserves our patronage IMHO.

    Check ‘em out!

    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
  2. I got a set of 3 JIS drivers for the XS. They work flawlessly. I mostly use the middle size, even on screws that are small and look like they would prefer the small size driver, but no. I now routinely use the JIS drivers in my boat that was built in 1986 in Taiwan?
    Greyandridin, Jim and MaxPete like this.
  3. rick1956

    rick1956 Just a regular guy.

    A good friend of mine just recently enlightened me about the JIS drivers. I must say--for a guy that has been around motorcycles all my life (dad had a small Honda repair shop) I'm surprised I had missed out on them all this time. I doubt they were widely available to "regular folks" in the sixties...?
    They do indeed made a HUGE difference in bite and grab!
    Greyandridin, Jim and MaxPete like this.
  4. MaxPete

    MaxPete Lucille, Betty & Demi - I suggest but THEY decide. XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    Yup - I’d say that very few bike shops in the 1960-70s had the proper tools and that accounted for the view of many people that Japanese products were of poor quality and particularly that the fasteners were made of inferior materials.

    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
  5. MaxPete

    MaxPete Lucille, Betty & Demi - I suggest but THEY decide. XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    I think that the “deluxe” driver’s sold by MikesXS are the same ones sold by Go Fast Innovations but Mike’s price is in USD and Paul Jones’ price is in CAD - so a 36% discount from Paul and his price includes shipping with no minimum.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
  6. Downeaster

    Downeaster Everything in XS Top Contributor

    +1 to everything the Pete-meister said!

    I have a set of Vessels and I almost never reach for a Phillips any more.

    The bigguns are obviously the ticket for bikes, but don't pass up an opportunity for the small and even micro ones either. Virtually ALL electronics use the smaller JIS screws.
    geedubya, MaxPete and Jim like this.
  7. fredintoon

    fredintoon Fred Hill, S'toon. Top Contributor

    Hi Pete,
    I bought 6 sets of JIS drivers from Go Fast (for me, my son & 4 rally quiz prizes) right after this list told me about them.
    But while JIS are way better than Phillips they are still beveledgedbrassboundclinkerbuiltblackenamel crosspoints.
    What I have done on my XS650 is each time I removed a crosspoint I replaced it with an Allen screw.
    All you gotta do with Allen keys is keep the Metric sizes and the inch sizes separate.
    gggGary, geedubya, MaxPete and 3 others like this.
  8. gggGary

    gggGary I'm listening, change my mind XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    The inevitable counter opinion; I use QUALITY phillips drivers on the XS all the time, even in the OMG! throttle shaft screws!
    Quality, NOT worn out, proper technique, you'll be good to go.
    And yes I do have several sets of the vessel JIS drivers. If they are handy I use them.
    While true that the original spec for phillips included by design cam out action to prevent breaking screws in assembly line installs. Most available drivers fit JIS heads properly and won't cam out if your technique is satisfactory.
    Story; the #3 on the carb body connectors are locktited and sometimes brutal to remove. One screw was the worst I ever fought, HEAT, impacts, rust buster, back and forth multiple times using a PHILLIPS #3 bit. The head finally snapped off the screw and I had to drill it out out and extract the remains with a tap. Never cammed the bit out of the screw head. the broken off head still had a like new "slot". I never have problems with clutch basket screws either, even previously butched heads. With really butchered up heads when even reforming with a bit and hammer hasn't worked, I rework the head with a sharp punch and hammer. so a bit can be tapped in and twisted. trust me boys it's all in the wrist, and hand impact use LOL.
    Greyandridin, Eotnak, delagem and 4 others like this.
  9. xjwmx

    xjwmx It's just the unknown. Top Contributor

    I have a mixture of JIS, modified phillips, and phillips bits that I use in magnetic handle. The bit can wobble a little in the handle, which might make it center better, or might make it less solid...interesting question. I do better with it though than with a screwdriver.
    gggGary and Greyandridin like this.
  10. Jim

    Jim Beyond the edge is the unknown. Here be Dragons XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    A #2 Phillips ground like this is a perfect fit for a #3 JIS....

  11. MaxPete

    MaxPete Lucille, Betty & Demi - I suggest but THEY decide. XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    IMPACT DRIVERS - the Miracle Motorcycle Tool

    The key trick to using an impact driver of any kind is that you must “preload” it by rotating the driver in the screwhead in the loosening direction and firmly holding it there and THEN giving the driver a smart cuff with a dead blow hammer. The axial force of the hammer does not translate into very much rotation of the tip. The tip rotates juuuust enough to crack the screw loose (I'd estimate perhaps 5-10 degrees tops depending on how hard you hit the end of the impact driver).

    Thus, you need the "preload" to ensure that the tiny rotation of the driver tip actually turns the screw and is not simply taken up in the sloppy fit between the drive tip and the screwhead.

    Using this technique, I have found that even the tightest screws with totally messed-up heads will pop loose on the first, or at most the second, whack.

    If you simply insert the driver into the screwhead and start wailing on it with a hammer - you are likely to either strip the screwhead or bust it clean off the screw (leading to tears and/or non-approved language). :wtf::cussing:

    The other tip I can offer based on several decades of using impact drivers is that, because they don’t get used very often, the little ramps inside the driver mechanism can get “crusty” which results in the force of the hammer blow NOT being effectively transformed into screwdriver tip rotation.

    For that reason, I give my impact drivers a little squirt of oil just about every time I use them to make sure that everything inside is nice and slidy.

    Last edited: Jan 11, 2019
    Greyandridin, Eotnak, peanut and 4 others like this.
  12. Brassneck

    Brassneck XS650 Guru

    Good rant Pete.
    JIS bits are something I got wind of after tearing down one of my first bikes in the mid-nineties...and pretty much destroying every screw head on that bike (God rest it's soul)... Since then I have defaulted to JIS drivers on anything remotely Japanese. But, everyone once in a while a head will begin to strip out all the same...and then its impact driver and a little prayer to the God of Seized Fasteners. Failure there results in a quick expletive followed with the infamous "eff-it" it's vise-grips and a Hail Mary time. Ha ha.

    Nowadays, I tend to swap out anything that looks like a Philips/JIS head with an allen head whenever possible. Unless it's a part that seldom get's attention or has a certain finish to it (Like the points and advancer covers). I buy them in bulk and in an assortment of sizes and finishes. Carb bowl fasteners are one of my favorite swap items. Way easier to drop a bowl with the carb still on the bike using an allen head screw in my opinion.
  13. MaxPete

    MaxPete Lucille, Betty & Demi - I suggest but THEY decide. XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    Posilutely Brassneck - Allen heads are superior to nearly any other type of screw.

    gggGary, Greyandridin and 59Tebo like this.
  14. 650Skull

    650Skull SSSSSSSSSlither Top Contributor

    I done away with impact drivers for 2 reasons..........Bits would brake on a regular bases and the difficulty of getting at screws that required a distance.

    Bought a set of through shaft screwdrivers as per these.

    Use them the same as the impact driver and put rotating pressure on the handle before impacting with a hammer. Usually a few straight on hits first to seat the screwdriver and to break the screw....................If it is stubborn a small adjustable wrench or correct size open end on the end of the screwdriver can be used as a lever while putting turning pressure on the handle......Sometimes a lot of small sharp taps while holding turning pressure on the handle helps to break stubborn ones as well.....Got many a damaged screw out using this method.
    Greyandridin, Mailman, Jim and 4 others like this.
  15. TwoManyXS1Bs

    TwoManyXS1Bs BBQ Hunter Top Contributor


    I've been meaning to post up about this for quite awhile, might as well put it in MaxPete's thread. A bit of oldschool that doesn't seem to be documented in the modern web.

    My first experience with hammer impact drivers was in the '60s, with some fellows that did generator and starter rebuilds. The pole shoes that hold the windings to the inside of the case are held in place with some large countersunk screws.
    PoleShoeScrew01.jpg PoleShoeScrew02.jpg PoleShoeScrew03.jpg

    Those are some really tough screws to remove.
    Some shops resort to using press setups to remove them.

    But, at this shop, using the hammer impact driver made the job easy. In fact, according to them, the only way to do it correctly, for both removal and installation.

    Yes, the impact tool imparts a twisting force on the fastener, but that's secondary to the actual function, which is to send a shock wave down thru the fastener, momentarily unloading the threads, releasing their frictional hold on the threads, allowing them to rotate. When the compression shockwave subsides, the parts re-expand, putting higher than normal tension on the fastener.

    During installation, this momentary release of the threads allows for fastener tension beyond what would be achievable with normal torquing. And, avoids the inevitable thread stripping that would occur with normal tightening, with threads scrubbing and shearing against each other. And, this higher tension would ensure that the fastener was securely friction-locked in place.

    Visualize this fastener cross section. As a hammer impact occurs atop the fastener, the fastener is driven downward, like a nail.
    A shockwave progresses downward thru the fastener shank. Simultaneously, the "upper clamped part" is slightly compressed and driven downward. And this also compresses the gasket below that. Those actions reduce, can even remove, the upward frictional hold of the fastener's threads against the bottom part's threads. Within that minuscule moment, the fastener is easily turned, loosened or tightened.

    All the old Hondas of that time were assembled with impact driven screws, and disassembled the same way. The resulting fastener tensions were greater than what would have been normally achievable with typical torquing. And, aluminum threads were less likely to be stripped.

    When the aftermarket allen-head bolt kits came out is when we started to see an increase in stripped threads. When I first got my XS1B back then, I noticed it came stock with Allen screws for the side covers. Pretty cool, I thought, but be careful of stripping threads...
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
    Greyandridin, FB71, peanut and 3 others like this.
  16. GLJ

    GLJ Never go faster than your guardian angle can fly. Top Contributor

    Rebuilt many starters and generators. Used these to get the pole shoes to conform. When putting in new field coils the shoes have to pull them into shape. Otherwise the armature will bind,
    TwoManyXS1Bs, gggGary and peanut like this.
  17. cafetools

    cafetools XS650 Addict

    My vessels are awesome. I have the #3 impact Grey version and it works great for rusted petcock screws.
    peanut, gggGary and MaxPete like this.
  18. cafetools

    cafetools XS650 Addict

    I also bought some #2 bits that go into my cordless impact gun.
    peanut, gggGary and MaxPete like this.
  19. Mailman

    Mailman Hardly a Guru Top Contributor

    38791240-F2B4-4CDB-849D-FF21C84DE6C8.jpeg That’s a good point Steve. I have actually used a small ball peen to tap on the head of a bolt while applying pressure with a wrench to break loose a hard to remove bolt. The tapping works better than a breaker bar.
    TwoManyXS1Bs, peanut, gggGary and 2 others like this.

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