Robertson Screwdriver
Your eyes are not going screwy – the driver, wooden block, and screws are all made out of LEGO. Shortly after its invention, the Robertson Screwdriver was referred to as “the biggest little invention of the 20th century so far.”

When building with LEGO, the builders bricks become the tools – so Toronto LEGO User Group member Jeff Lee is getting a little self-referential here in building a tool out of tools. But not just any tool – no, ask any handy Canadian, and they will tell you at length about the superior power of the Canadian invented Robertson screw head.

Born out of frustration from issues with the original slotted screwdriver head, the 19th century saw a bevy of patents submitted to try and reinvent the slotted screwdriver head, but none met with much success.

In 1907, a 27 year old Canadian named Peter Robertson (born in Seneca, which is now part of Haldimand) submitted his latest patent. Following his reinvention of the corkscrew, cufflink, and (of course) the mousetrap, Robertson had developed a new revolutionary tool in the square headed screwdriver head. The idea here was that it was designed to prevent the screw from slipping out from its place and that it could be started much more easily with just one hand.

Despite interest from investors willing to spread the design across the U.S.A. and the U.K., Robertson was unwilling to give up control of his design. Come the advent of World War 2, the development of a screw head by a man named Phillips from the U.S.A. became the new standard for screw heads, replacing the single slotted head as the most commonly featured screw head. Despite having been proven to be much less likely to result in stripped screw heads and to be far more reliable and easy to use, the Robertson’s screw head never did reach the international popularity deserving of its own quality and reliability. To this day, it remains most popular in Canada, and is a proud part of many Canadian’s toolboxes.

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