Just about everything has screws, which means that just about every job you’ll do around the house will require some kind of screwdriver. In fact, it’s a good bet that you probably own several screwdrivers already. But although they may look pretty similar, there are a lot of specialized uses for them. In other words, the types of screwdrivers available are as varied as the jobs you can use them on.
We’ve looked at several different kinds, from the ones you twist by hand to power tools. Read on for our overview of basic models, which is really a sort of primer to help you figure out which one is going to get your job done.
If you’ve got a junk drawer, odds are pretty good it’s holding some combination of basic screwdrivers. They’re probably there for the little jobs that pop up during the day that don’t warrant breaking out the toolbox.
These head shapes and sizing concepts are pretty universal when it comes to screwdrivers. So, if this is your intro to the tool, give our basic models a good read.
Just your basic, single-bladed head at the end of a shank and a handle. Chances are, you’ve probably collected so many over the years, you might even think you’ve got a breeding population. This is a basic tool to produce a basic fit, but make sure you size it right or else you could strip the head of your screw.
Also called the crosshead screwdriver, when the X-shape blade fits snugly into the head cavity it provides better traction when tightening or loosening the screw. Originally designed for use with power tools, they’re also standard on electronics
Most people call these Allen wrenches, but they actually drive screws. IKEA made them popular with furniture kits, but you can also find them with bicycles, too. The broad holes and thick drivers allow you to maximize the amount of pressure you can apply with just a little elbow grease.
These small-headed screwdrivers have wide-ranging applications in the home. One of the most popular uses is repairing glasses, but if you’ve got some simple electronics, these are invaluable for breaking down those components. They also used to be popular for repairing watches.
These screwdrivers have a shank with a hexagonal hole at the end where you can fit either a double-sided bit with drivers on both sides, or a variety of drivers depending on the intended use of the set. Because these offer maximum versatility and economy of space, these are a very popular toolset among homeowners who have only basic needs.
Most people associate ratchets with nut drivers, but they also work with screws. In fact, most good multiuse screwdrivers incorporate some ratcheting capability within the shank. Lots of ratchet sets include heads capable of holding screw bits, which is why we give them their own entry.
Most of these aren’t screwdrivers per se, but because a lot of people use power tools to drive in screws (among other tasks), they can’t be overlooked. These provide fast power so that you can drive in your screws without tiring out your wrists. These work with both wood and drywall screws, and tightening a nut and bolt set.
The most powerful screwdrivers, these are primarily intended to drive in screws for projects that require a lot of muscle like building frames. You are limited in range by the distance from an outlet, however, with extension cords delivering a diminishing amount of torque the longer they are.
Among the most popular and basic tools in most home inventories, this tool allows its user to use a multitude of attachments from screwdriver bits to drill bits. They also go easy on a user’s wrists by substituting a battery for elbow grease. Most models these days come with long-lasting lithium-ion batteries.
A cordless screwdriver is basically just a battery connected to a drive shaft that turns; it can accommodate hexagonal fitting for flathead and Phillips head bits. These are very portable and most of them come with charging plugs right in the body. For that, they don’t offer much more power than what’s needed to tighten a nut and bolt. If you’ve got heavy work, this isn’t suitable.
Impact drivers are intended for things like deck screws, where your work requires that you drill long fasteners into hardwood. Nowadays, most of them are constructed with versatility in mind. That is, they can slum it with basic screwdriver work.
Drivers for electronics
For most modern electronics, you can get by with just a basic jewelry screwdriver kit, but if you’re working on cell phones and other delicate gear, you might need some additional bits. We’re talking about different driver bit types, and you can find them in things like cell phones and even more exotic laptops.
These six-pointed stars are found most commonly in laptops and cell phones, but you can also find them in cars and bicycles. The difference, of course, is that the ones for cars and bikes are much bigger than the ones for electronics.
If you’ve got an iPhone and do any of your own work on it, don’t tell the people at Apple that you know what a Tri-point screwdriver looks like. It’ll invalidate your warranty unless you’re a licensed repair person. To be honest, you can find these in a number of other electronic units, too.
Most people will only need to work with the basic screwdriver models we’ve run through. But you might have special needs, and there are probably screwdrivers designed to deliver them. Here’s a handful for you to consider.
Electrical screwdrivers come with added insulation to protect the user from receiving a nasty shock. You’ll pay for the added protection. But if you work around any live circuits, it’s more like buying an additional layer of life insurance.
Torque is most commonly known for its application on cars, but anything that has pressure requirements needs tools rated for it. These screwdrivers can perform highly specialized applications involving everything from military repair to aircraft.
Kind of the reverse of the Allen driver, these have hexagonal heads protruding from above the screw. These are used a lot in fastening metal together with metal via nuts and bolts, but there are some wood screws with these heads.
While most people aren’t aware of the triangle head, it’s used in a number of common household items like vacuum cleaners, camping stoves, and golf clubs. It’s pretty specialized use, but when you need one of these and have to buy it, you’ll always have it on hand.
Specially designed to apply maximum torque to a small turning surface, these screwdrivers are built from very hard materials so that you can maximize turning power without stripped screw heads.
Designed to let you get at screws in hard-to-reach places, the stubby screwdriver comes in all head shapes and sizes. It won’t let you apply a lot of power, so it’s got limited utility for screwing things in.
Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!