Hand screwdrivers are essential in any toolkit, ideal for when you want precision, have an awkward angle, or need to take it slowly. Screwdrivers vary according to the type of screw that they are designed to drive, and it’s important to use the right screwdriver for the screw to avoid damaging the screw or the screw head. Here’s a complete guide to screwdrivers.
Different types of Regular Screwdriver
There are generally two types of screwdriver – slotted and cross-headed, with the most common types of cross-headed being Phillips and Pozidriv. Other types if screwdriver made for specific screw designs are available, but these tend to be more associated with electric drivers.
- Slotted screwdriver have a flattened, often tapered head and a straight tip. They work with slotted screws.
- Phillips screwdrivers are a type of cross-shaped headed tool, the tip may be pointed or flattened. The smaller ones tend to be pointed and the larger ones, flatter.
- Pozidriv Screwdrivers are similar to a Phillips, except that between each cross-projection is a smaller projection that provides greater grip.
Some screwdrivers are designed to enable you to fix screws in inaccessible areas, while others have been developed to make the task of driving screws easier.
- Stubby Screwdrivers are noticeably short and are designed for use in areas that regular screwdrivers won’t fit into.
- Precision Screwdrivers are designed for intricate tasks such as jewellery. The head is placed in the slot and pressure is applied, the shaft is turned by the revolving head allowing you to use your fingers instead of your whole grip giving you more precision.
- Electric Screwdrivers can make working with screws much quicker. It comes with a selection of interchangeable bits that fit into the shaft and is usually powered by a rechargeable battery. They’re great for lightweight work where a power drill is too heavy handed, but you need more strength than a hand tool can give you.
- Ratchet Screwdrivers allows you to drive in or take out a screw without changing you grip as the mechanism rotates in one direction but locks the other way. The direction of turning can be switched with a button on the shaft.
- Electrical Testing Screwdrivers have an internal neon to enable you to check if there is any current running through a screw or plug socket. They tend to be made from clear plastic with a slotted so you can see the neon light up as an indicator.
- Insulated Screwdrivers are a specially designed tool that has a tough, non-conductive plastic cover over its shaft and handles, which protects the user from the possibility of touching live parts of a circuit. Only the tip of an insulated screwdriver is exposed. Insulated screwdrivers also can prevent damage to delicate electronic parts that might be destroyed by an electrical short.
Most modern screwdrivers have a soft, ergonomic shaped handle that fits neatly in your palm and assist in the manoeuvring of the tool, but there are also more bulbous shapes that are designed to nestle in the palm of your hand for when you want to apply pressure comfortably. There are also fluted handles for better finger control.
Shafts are generally made from a hardened steel or chrome vanadium alloy. Screwdriver shafts can be either round or square in cross-section. Square shaped shafts allow spanners or pliers to clamp on so that you can apply greater torque to the drive. Long shafted screwdrivers can also help get into hard to reach places, which can only take the shaft part of the screwdriver and not the handle / your arm.
Slotted screwdrivers often have flared tips to make it stronger, allowing you to apply extra torque. The alternative is parallel tips which align with the width of the screw shaft and is useful when the screw needs to be driven in below the surface level, so the edges of the tip don’t fill or wedge in the hole. Phillips and Pozidriv fit into a screw head more securely than a slotted tip, enabling greater rotational force. Many tips are magnetic to help you keep your place on the screw, or keep the screw attached when removed.