It’s called a pin vise. And it doesn’t look like either of those two words. Hence, perhaps, the confusion whenever I’m in a hardware store and ask where I might find them. (I’m glad I can now order them online!)
The older ones I’ve bought look a lot like the ubiquitous X-Acto knife we all know and love. Pin vises are about the same size, shape, and color.
They are a handy tool to have around, especially for the situations where you a) don’t have an electric drill, or b) don’t want to use an electric drill, or c) can’t use an electric drill. (No outlet?)
Perhaps you are working with something soft, like baked polymer clay. Maybe it’s a small, precise job, and you want more control than a power drill, or even a Dremel or jeweler’s drill, though I love those, too.
Pin vises are now called) are small, usually about 4″ long. They usually come with a set of at least 6 mini bits. (You unscrew the bottom of the tube, the bits are inside.)
They are inexpensive. I found the old versions I like best for under $2. I ordered eight, and even with shipping and tax, the order came to under $20.
And it’s one of those tools that, if you get one and hate it (???really???) you will almost certainly find someone who will be delighted to take it off your hands!