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Screwdriver Beginner’s Guide

Learn about the different types of common screwdrivers you can use for your next home project.

Not all screwdrivers are created equal. Screwdrivers can screw or unscrew a screw drive. The key to using a screwdriver is using the correct one with the corresponding screw drive.

Screwdrivers are typically used with small electronics, computers, electrical work, furniture and automotive work. Impact drivers and cordless drills can be use for bigger jobs like construction.

Types of Hand Screwdrivers

Each type of screwdriver is used with a different screw drive. The two most commonly used screwdrivers are the flat head/slot head and Phillips screwdrivers.

Flat Head Screwdriver

Screwdriver Beginner's Guide
One tool you will definitely need in your tool box is a screwdriver. From Phillips to flat head, learn about about the different types of common screwdrivers.

A flat head screwdriver is used with a slot head screw. A slot head screw has a single slot across the screw head. You’ll find flat head screws used in simple woodworking projects.

Phillips Screwdriver

A Phillips screwdriver is used with a Phillips screw drive.  A Phillips screwdriver has a four-pointed star drive or bit tip. Look for a Phillips head made with a quality metal, such as steel. The harder the tip, the less chance you have of stripping the screw. You can produce more torque with a Phillips screwdriver compared to a flat head.

You may also see stubby Phillips screwdrivers. These little guys are meant for small workspaces, where your standard Phillips screwdriver won’t fit.

Hex Key

Hex keys are kind of in between screwdrivers and wrench.They are also known as an Allen wrench. Hex keys are used by inserting the tip into the head of a hex bolt. You can loosen or tighten the bolt, just like you would with a screw and screwdriver. Finding the right size is the key to properly using a hex key. Luckily, there are inexpensive hex key sets with varying sizes to suit your needs.

Star Screwdriver

If you’re going to use a star head screw, you’ll need a star head screwdriver. These are used for when you really need to tightly screw something.

Robertson Screwdriver

The Robertson screwdrivers are known by their square tip or bit. The use of square screws and screwdrivers is becoming more common. This is because the screwdriver can lock on tighter to the screw, creating a tighter fit. You can also easily use a Robertson one-handed, because the tip easily stays locked with the screw.

Use of a Power Drill/Driver

A power drill or driver is used when you’re going to be applying a lot of screws, such as in an assembly line or construction jobs. There are two main advantages to power drills: versatility and efficiency. You can swap out bits, depending on what size or type of screw you’re working with. They’re efficient, but you have to be careful not to damage the surface you’re screwing. Because it’s a power tool, you’re going to produce more torque. The power drill can be too powerful, causing holes in your walls, or strip the screw. It’s best to determine if you really need a cordless drill or impact driver. When you’re using a power drill, make sure to wear eye protection.

Stripped Screws

If you take anything away from this article, let it be this: use the right screwdriver with the correct screw. Using the wrong screwdriver will definitely lead to a stripped screw. The screw drive is stripped down, rendering the screw unusable. You’ll also likely damage the tip of your screwdriver. If you do end up with a stripped screw, you can use a screw extractor to easily remove it.

Screwdriver Sizes

Use the right size screwdriver. If you use too small of a screwdriver, you’ll have to put more muscle into it. You also will increase your chances of stripping the screw or damaging your screwdriver.

Screwdrivers are also broken down into sizes. You’ll find Phillips screwdrivers ranging from size #0 to #4, with #0 being the smallest. Flat head screwdrivers are measured by fractions of an inch. A size #2 screwdriver is the most commonly used.  Size #2 screwdrivers are used with decking screws, drywall screws and for general usage. When you’re shopping for a screwdriver, remember: the bigger handle, the more torque.

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