Screwdrivers

There are dozens of different types of screwdrivers on the market. Generally, they’re classified by the type of drive tip that corresponds to a specific scre­whead. The three most common types for woodworkers and DIYers are slot (a.k.a. flat), Phillips (a.k.a. cross­head) and Robertson (a.k.a. square). There are also application-specific screwdrivers such as insulated (pre­ferred by electricians), torque (widely used by mechanics and machinists) and tri-point (used in the digital industry). Ratcheting screwdriv­ers rely on wrist power but use an internal ball-bearing mechanism that enables you to make multiple turns of the screw without removing the tip from the screw, saving time and reducing effort. The most impor­tant part of the screwdriver is the tip, which can be made of high-speed steel, stainless steel, tool grade steel, titanium or a blend of metals. Tips on low-cost screwdrivers tend to deform prematurely. Handles can be made of wood or plastic, and in a variety of shapes, sizes and configurations. Select a handle that best suits your hand size. Screwdriver sets can con­sist of a single type (e.g. Robertson) in a range of sizes or a range of screw­driver types in various sizes.

Price: $5 to $50 (per single); $10 to $300 (sets)

Get the Most Out of Your Screwdriver

 

It’s a “screw” driver not a…

Any good-quality screw­driver will last about a lifetime, provided you don’t abuse it. Don’t use it as a pry bar, chisel, punch, paint scraper, wedge, pinch bar or whatever.

Use the right head

Use a screwdriver with the right tip for the job at hand. A slot driver isn’t meant for Phillips head screws, nor a square for hex screws.

Use the right tip size

Just as most common wood screws come in different sizes, so do screw­drivers. Select a screwdriver that’s designed for the specific size of screw you’re using. For example, Robertson screwdrivers are available in five sizes (#00 to #4) to match Robertson screw sizes, which range from #1 (1/16″) to #12 (3/8″).

The shocking truth

Don’t use a standard screwdriver when doing electrical work. Even those with plastic or rub­ber handles won’t protect you from an electrical shock. Use a properly insulated screwdriver.

Pre-drill and wax

Pre-drilling holes puts less stress on screws (so heads are less likely to break off) and the wood is less likely to split. Putting a dab of wax or paraffin on the screw threads makes setting the screws easier, especially in hardwoods.


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