It does not matter whether you are a DIYer or a professional, the chances are you might need a screwdriver at some point.
Screwdrivers are essential for woodworking, metalwork, and electrical work. The applications can also be many, depending on the use you might have in mind. What is important is that you use the right type of screwdriver for the job.
This guide talks about the different types of screwdrivers and where best to use them. Let us dig in to learn more.
30 Different Types of Screwdrivers: Everything You Need To Know
In the past, there were only a few screwdriver designs. So far, there are multiple options that sometimes you might get confused about where one applies best.
Do not worry if sometimes you have to use a screwdriver and you have no idea where to start. Below, we look at the top 30 types of screwdrivers and their applications to help you understand more about them.
1. Flat Head
Also known as: Slotted flat blade, flathead, Straight Head
This is probably the most used type of screwdriver because of its design.
The screwdriver is characterized by having a flat, flared, or slotted head that makes it fit into nearly most screw tops. As such, it ends up being quite a versatile screwdriver to own today.
The flat head screwdriver comes in different sizes. Some might be large for opening the paint tins while others small to open the tiny watch screws. Some can be huge for industrial applications.
For any DIYer, the most common sizes of the flathead include 5.5mm and 8mm wide.
Always take caution when using the flathead. When misused, it can easily slip out of the slot and scratch the surface. Also, it might hurt your hand or finger.
Cabinet makers also enjoy using this screwdriver for joining the different parts of a cabinet. The same applies to mechanics who might use it to unscrew some tight screws in different spaces.
It is crucial to keep in mind that the flat head needs more care when using an electric screwdriver. They are mostly not designed for power driving. So, it is best to consider other options.
Also known as: Torx plus version, star
The Torx screwdriver is known for its efficient design. You can easily tell it apart from the others due to its flower-shaped design.
Its efficiency has made the screwdriver popular in commercial and electrical fields. However, the same can still be a nice choice for DIY projects too.
If you want to get the best Torx drivers, consider the size options from 0.03 inches to 0.81 inches. They will have a wide range of applications generally.
The Torx screwdriver design helps it have more contact space between its tip and the screw head. As such, you can apply more torque without necessarily damaging the screwdriver head or tip.
A good example is when you want to open an Xbox one controller. You will have to undo a lot of such Torx screws.
3. Torx Security Screwdriver
This is a type of Torx screwdriver; however, it is specialized for specific applications.
This type of screwdriver is not generally available to everyone as it is used in products not everyone can be unscrewing at home.
You will notice that the screws for this screwdriver have metal centerpieces. This is to prevent tampering by using the regular Torx screwdriver.
From the screw heads’ design, you will find the Torx Security screwdrivers having a hole to accommodate the special screws.
4. Phillips Screwdriver
Also known as crosshead
The Phillips screwdriver is another option for many applications you might have to handle. It is also called a crosshead because of its angled tip design.
You can say that it is a more advanced form of the slotted screwdriver. The chances are you will mostly use it on products from European countries.
People like such a screwdriver as it offers more grip compared to some other options. You can also apply more pressure without worrying it might slip out of the slot as the slotted screwdriver.
Due to its overall efficiency, the screwdriver has rapidly replaced the use of slotted screwdrivers in different devices.
5. Allen Wrench
Also known as a hex wrench, hex key, hexagon(Ikea loves this one)
The Allen wrench or hex drivers are also the most common screwdrivers in the market. They are known for being bold and thick. This is because these drivers have to unbolt tight nuts all the time.
The design of the Allen wrench is different. It makes it unique to its application. As such, you might not find any other place to use an Allen wrench other than handling the recommended screws and bolts.
People who own cars or a motorcycle would tell you how important it is to own an Allen wrench. You never know when you might need it.
Its cylindrical hexagonal shape makes it easier for it to hold the bolt firmly. As such, it should be good for those who need to apply more force to release a hex bolt or screw.
6. Allen Security
Also known as Hex Security Screwdriver
The Allen Security Screwdriver is a special type of Allen screwdriver with a tamper-resistant feature. Most of the time, the compatible screws are used by manufacturers who want to secure some goods they do not want the general public to access. Well, even the Allen security screwdrivers are not readily available on the market.
The complimenting screws will have small metal posts at the center to keep the regular Allen screwdrivers from opening them. To open them, you always have to gain access to these restrictive screwdrivers. There are several sizes available, so get the right one for the job.
7. Clutch Head
Also known as bow tie
A Clutch head is among the precision screwdrivers designed to handle specific applications. The design leaves it with a bow-tie like shape. Due to its design, this type of screwdriver will be ideal for offering a good grip and will not take up much space when you have to carry it around.
The clutch head driver is suitable for those working in prisons or on security lockers. Having a good torque level makes it possible to apply more pressure without the screwdriver slipping.
The design also makes it possible to work easier and faster. It is why most industries would use it as an alternative to a slotted head screwdriver.
Other than being used for security locker applications, the same can be suitable for the automobile industry. This is where the mechanics can use the driver to fix different parts of the vehicle.
8. Schrader Valve Bit/Driver
The Schrader Valve bits and drivers are common for installing the Schrader valves. Such valves are found in HVAC systems, tires, and engines.
Most of the time, you will find them in kits containing interchangeable bits. The best part about having the interchangeable bits is that they make the kit versatile for various applications.
The same bits can be great when dealing with pneumatic valves. Since they will remain under pressure for long, they need to be installed correctly. This will help prevent injuries or malfunctions.
Also known as: square head (Canada’s most common)
Looking at the Roberson screwdriver’s design, you will notice that it has a recessed squared socket on its tip. This recessed socket is essential so that you can apply a very high turning force to the screw head without it slipping.
The screwdriver lacks a tip. It is then best for unbolting hard nuts or screws without worrying that your screwdriver would bend its tip.
The screwdriver is common in Canada, as pointed out in the heading. The biggest reason it is a preferred screwdriver is because of the maximum torque tolerance it can handle.
You will likely find it common with mechanics or carpenters living in Canada.
Also known as: pozi, pozidrive
The Pozidriv screwdriver was invented to solve the camming-out problem. This is where the screwdriver tends to slip out of the target screw head each time you apply more torque. It often leads to injuries or scratching of the surface.
Some find the Pozidriv screwdriver as an improved version of the Philips screwdriver. This is because it has four additional lines from its center, important for improving its grip.
The tip of this screwdriver is, however, a bit blunt because of the design. This means you have to apply more torque if you want the screwdriver to work smoothly.
The design makes it an ideal choice if you want to improve the speed at which you complete the tasks.
You are likely to find this type of screwdriver common in Western countries. It helps the user work more accurately and waste less time.
The Bolster screwdrivers do not have much use in different industries. As much as that is the case, the driver is good for working in tight spaces and can also handle more torque without a problem.
The bolster driver is also known for being good at durability. This is because it is often reinforced to handle more torque and pressure.
The screwdriver might not be a mandatory option in your toolbox. You will not need it unless you are working in small spaces.
It is why such a screwdriver would be ideal for technicians or mechanics who have to work in tight spaces. You do not have to worry about applying pressure to the screw heads as they can handle it.
12. Frearson Screwdriver
Also known as Reed and Prince
This type of Screwdriver has a tip angled at 45 degrees. This will allow the user to apply a lot more force to loosen a tight screw with ease. These screwdrivers are often designed to handle high pressure and will not damage easily.
Such a screwdriver will be common in nautical equipment applications. This is because they need high precision.
The screwdriver is available in different sizes so that you can find the right one for the job. Since its design is similar to screws meant for a Philips driver, you can use the same for tightening or loosening the Philips screws.
Due to its versatility, it will be a nice screwdriver to own right now for your workplace. Just keep it as part of the tool kit as it can come in handy whenever you need it.
13. JIS (Japanese Industrial Standard) Screwdrivers
Always consider the Japanese Industrial Standard screwdriver if you do not want to compromise the screwdriver quality. The Japanese rules dictate that electronic equipment and related devices should always be high-quality.
The JIS driver has the same cruciform shape as the Phillips screwdriver. It is then a great choice to deal with the camming-out of screws whenever you use it more often.
The driver is suitable for opening the JIS-compatible screws. The best part is that such screwdrivers are highly durable and will not damage easily. As such, you will always like the value of money you get with the screwdrivers.
As much as the JIS screw heads look like the Philips screws, it is best to stick to the JIS screwdriver. The last thing you want is to damage your screw heads.
Also known as Drilled Head, Pig-nose, Snake-Eyes
Some call it a barbecue fork simply because of its looks. Well, that should tell you something about how the screwdriver looks.
The screwdriver is available in different types of sizes. The size options range from 4 to 12. So, depending on your needs, you can always pick the right one.
Where do you use such a type of screwdriver? If you notice two dots on the opposite sides of a flat head screw, this is the right driver for the job. It has two prongs that fit into the opposite holes for you to tighten or untighten the screws.
The driver is common with people involved with elevator maintenance. The same applies to the bus door technicians.
15. Nut Driver
Also known as Hex Screw Drive
This is a special screwdriver for bolts and nuts. It comes with a cylindrical shaft attached to a socket, which can slide over the bolt or nut to undo it.
Keep in mind that these screwdrivers come in fixed sizes. So, buy the right size depending on where you will be using the screwdriver more often.
It is common to find people buying them as a set. This makes them versatile as you can choose the right screwdriver for the job.
When buying the kit, pay attention to the case in which they come in. It would be nice to have them organized well in a case so that you do not lose any of the sockets.
Also known as 3-Prong, Y-type, Y-tip
Do not confuse this one with the Tri-Wing screwdriver. This one comes with a tip having three Y-shaped blades placed at 120 degrees apart. Unlike the tri-angle screwdriver, it is impossible to open a tri-point screwdriver using a hex driver. You simply need a tri-point driver for the job.
You will likely notice that this screwdriver is common in the tech industry. This is for people who work on electronic appliances all the time. The same can be great for those in the aerospace field too.
Mobile repair shops would invest a lot in such screwdrivers as the tri-point screws are common in smartphones.
17. Tri-Wing Screwdriver
The name gives away what you can expect with this screwdriver type.
The screwdriver has a tri-wing shape important for getting into the triangular sockets and screws. This type of screwdriver has many industrial applications, especially in the aerospace industry. This is because a lot of precision work is required in such industries.
It is hard to use any other type of screwdriver to remove a tri-wing screw. If you have home appliances with such screw types, then there is the need to get yourself a tri-wing screwdriver.
Because of their design and applications, the tri-wing drivers can be expensive. Also, they do not have many applications in different industries. As such, they are considered precision screwdrivers that you only get if necessary.
We must point out that the use of tri-wing drivers has increased in the electronic industry. Most buyers would opt for sizes 1 to 3 for various applications.
Also known as TA
From the Tri-wing driver above, now onto the Tri-angle screwdriver.
This type of screwdriver is seen as an alternative to the hex drivers and also more precise. You are now likely to use this type of screwdriver for domestic work mostly.
Having the triangle-shaped tips generally lets you untighten and tighten the screws faster and easily. Also, you can apply more torque without worrying you might strip the screw head.
As for applications, this screwdriver will come in handy in opening electronics and appliances at home. It will make your work easier and enjoyable. Most manufacturers also rate it for having excellent results and good for toy assembly applications.
19. Ratchet Screwdriver
The ratchet screwdriver will let you get maximum torque in a single direction. For this reason, the ratcheting screwdriver will be ideal for loosening or tightening a screw faster.
The screwdriver can move only in one direction at any given time. Once you change direction, it will now send maximum torque to the new direction.
If you need to complete your work faster, then this is the screwdriver that you pick. It is a common choice for those who need to handle larger projects faster.
Its performance and operation make it popular among professional mechanics and automobile manufacturers. Also, carpenters are increasingly finding new ways of using this type of screwdriver. The same applies to the electronic industry, aerospace industry, and the medical equipment field.
20. Torque Screwdrivers
Each material has a breaking point depending on how much force you apply to it. To prevent the different screws from snapping, you need to use the torque screwdriver.
You will simply have to set the required torque on your screwdriver and start using it. Once the screw reaches the set torque, no more torque will be applied to it. As such, you should end up with the screwdriver torqued to the right level.
Look at the torque range you can get with the screwdriver before buying. Also, look at how easy it will be to set the toque. This helps you to get it right always.
21. Magnetic Screwdrivers
Screws camming-out is a common problem when working with different types of screwdrivers. If you have been experiencing such a problem, it is best to consider getting a magnetic screwdriver.
Its tip is magnetic so that you do not lose the screw if you get it out of its hole or trying to get it in.
The magnetic tip operation makes it an ideal choice when working on electronics and watches having small screws that are easy to get lost.
Keep in mind that watches will not function correctly if one of the screws is missing. As such, those who work on luxurious watches should consider investing in such a type of screwdriver.
22. Electric Screwdrivers and Impact Drivers
As the name suggests, this type of screwdriver needs electricity to power its operation. Many people enjoy using them since they are easy to use and faster in operation.
The impact drivers are best suited for driving the long screws. This makes your job easier when handling tough and bigger projects. They can also do basic drilling tasks you might have in mind.
Newer models now come with LED light for illuminating your work area so that you work easily. The electric screwdrivers and impact drivers come in different forms. The most common options are listed below.
Cordless– The cordless screwdrivers are a top choice for professionals who do not have much time to work on a project. Also, DIYers would enjoy the use of cordless screwdrivers as they stand out as a handy tool. With this one, you will enjoy the freedom of being portable while at the same time recharge the battery when it gets low.
Corded– if you want more torque, you should consider the corded type of electric screwdriver. This will make such a model great for tough and industrial applications. You will always be limited to the length of the power cord.
23. Tethered Screwdrivers
This is a combination of several screwdrivers joined with the use of a strap. The extra strap is necessary for safety and keeps them from easily getting lost during transportation or storage.
So, why would you need such screwdrivers? The strap is important for extra protection and durability. You will notice that such screwdrivers will have more reinforcement as a way of keeping them strong.
The durability of these screwdrivers makes them good for professionals who might have to work at heights. It is why you will find them common with technicians working on tall buildings.
24. Insulated Screwdrivers
The insulated screwdrivers are ideal for keeping you safe from electric shocks. It is best if you get yourself such a screwdriver if you are an electrician. You will at least know you have some level of protection from the electric shocks.
Always look at the level of electrical shock protection you get with each model before buying. Yes, the protection varies from one to another. Expect to spend more to get one that protects you better when working with high voltage wires.
The signature design of the insulated screwdrivers is that they will have rubber handles to prevent electrical conductivity.
25. Precision Screwdrivers
Precision screwdrivers have numerous uses, making them a versatile bunch to own. Depending on the model that you get, some might be magnetic too. As such, they will be great when working on electronics or any applications involving small screws.
These screwdrivers are also lightweight and will offer good torque for handling the different applications without stripping the screw heads.
26. Multi-Bit Screwdrivers
The multi-bit screwdrivers will have several interchangeable tips as part of a set. Such screwdrivers are small-sized, making them ideal for electronic work.
The best part about the multi-bit screwdrivers is that they can be highly versatile. All you have to do is change the bits, and you should be good to work on something else.
If you work in the electrical or mechanical sector, you should find the multi-bit screwdrivers quite important.
We must point out that such screwdrivers cannot withstand excess pressure because of their size. Such a feature makes them have limited applications.
27. Right Angle Screwdriver
The name should give you an idea of what you will be getting as the screwdriver. This type of screwdriver is very common since it is quite versatile. The right-angle design makes it possible to handle screws in tight spaces. If you find the normal screwdrivers having a hard time fitting in such a space, this is what you consider.
The design makes it a good choice for those working in the automotive industry. This allows the mechanics to reach and repair different parts of the car.
It does not have to be the automotive industry alone as the same can be used for furniture assembly purposes.
28. Jeweler’s Screwdriver Also known as eyeglass, watch
Jewelry Screwdrivers are the smallest drivers you will ever have to buy. These screwdrivers are available in different sizes and shapes. Some of the common shapes you get with such drivers include flathead, round, square, star, and more.
These screwdrivers are lightweight and small. This makes them ideal for those with light-duty applications. Such can include repairing of watches and related electronic equipment.
If you have to handle the tough jobs, it is best to opt for the large screwdrivers.
Also, use these screwdrivers for the recommended application areas. This is because the large screwdrivers might damage the delicate small screws in watches and jewelry.
29. Computer Screwdrivers
They have the same design and construction as the jeweler’s screwdrivers. These screwdrivers are majorly designed to be great for precision work, such as when working on computers.
Most of the time, they will come as a set so that you can get every screwdriver to get deep into the computer parts.
Make sure that you only use them for precision work. This is because they are not built to handle tough applications. For the bigger projects, go for the larger and stronger screwdriver types.
30. Left-Handed Screwdrivers
Yes, left-handed screwdrivers exist. You can get them in your local hardware store.
So, how are they designed to be suitable for left-handed people? Such screwdrivers will have a special grip designed to help the left-handers have an easy time turning the screwdriver.
They do come in different formats such as the ratchet type. The store owner would be able to explain further if there are many other options for left-handers.
One of the biggest problems workers face is to find the best screwdriver for the left-handers. Luckily, more manufacturers are now coming up with screwdrivers meant for left-handed people. It might take more time to find them, but they are now available.
When you get such a tool for a left-hander, then it would be easier to achieve better precision. Check out different manufacturers to see who offers the best screwdrivers for left-handers for the money.
How to Choose the Right Screwdriver Bit to Fit Your Screw Head (With Sizes Chart)
You must always consider using the right type of tools for the job at hand. That is why you also have to consider choosing the right screwdriver bit for fitting in your screw head.
Below are some considerations to keep in mind for finding the right bit for the screw head.
Screwdrivers work by transferring force or torque to the screw head by using a screwdriver bit. So, the shape of the bit should correspond perfectly to your screw head. This will reduce the chances of damaging the screw and also make your work easier.
We have already mentioned the various screwdriver types above. You should now be in a position to know where best to use them from the descriptions above.
Other than the bit type, another consideration is the screwdriver bit material.
The bits are likely to be made of different materials, ultimately affecting their durability and where best to use them.
The most common material is steel. Steel is commonly used to make a wide range of bits since it is affordable and will offer good durability. Keep in mind durability mostly depends on how well you use the screwdriver.
For those that might use impact drivers, then you need impact-rated bits. They are bits reinforced to work with an impact driver. Other bits are likely to break under the force of an impact driver.
If you want more durability, then you go for the titanium-coated bits. These bits are more durable compared to using steel bits. However, make sure you are getting from a top-rated brand to ensure that you never have to deal with poor quality bits.
On the other hand, the diamond-tipped bits are good for those who want more grip from a bit. This is where fine diamond particles are deposited to the bit’s tip to improve its overall grip.
Another thing to consider is the bit length. It often determines how easy it will be to operate the screwdriver.
A shorter screwdriver bit will help in differing the maximum amount of torque to the screw head. Depending on the type of bit, sometimes you can get extensions or longer bits designed to retrieve bits in deep cavities.
It is worth noting that having a longer screwdriver bit can sometimes increase the chances of slippage. So, consider keeping it within the recommended length. You only have to use a longer bit when necessary.
If you are using an electric screwdriver, ensure that you adjust the speed to suit the application. Sometimes the screw heads could use a lower speed and sometimes higher speeds. The surface also determines the kind of speed to use to avoid damaging it.
Below is a chart showcasing the bit type and the common sizes available for you to consider.
Which Screwdrivers Do You Need? Pick the Right Tool for the Job
We have looked at 30 different types of screwdrivers in this guide alone. As such, sometimes, it can be confusing to pick the right tool for the job. Keep in mind that there are many other types of screwdrivers in the market you can buy today.
So, we have to guide you further to pick the best screwdrivers depending on various scenarios. We will look at them below, and hopefully, you will have an idea of what will be the best screwdriver to pick.
1. People who want something to handle multiple applications
Consider getting a model with interchangeable bits for such a case. This means that you can easily swap out the bits from the handle depending on the screw head.
The best part is that such sets would have mostly a minimum of five bits. This allows you to handle several applications at any given time.
Getting a set with a ratcheting screwdriver is also highly recommended. This will help you tighten and loosen the screws faster and more efficiently.
2. If you have the patience and space
Consider using flathead screwdrivers in this scenario. These screwdrivers are iconic, but they tend to have their drawbacks.
One of the drawbacks is that it can easily slip out of the slot when you apply more force. As such, it is easy to see that it would be best for someone who is more patient and has enough space to get the bit into position.
Also, you need to line up the tip into the slot. If you do not have room to do so, it would be tough to effectively use the screwdriver.
3. For IKEA furniture assembly or bicycle enthusiasts
There are people who enjoy assembling IKEA furniture. It can be satisfying when you finally have the furniture ready for use. To make the process smooth and fast, you need the right tools.
Anyone who has assembled such a type of furniture before understands the need for owning Allen wrenches. They are also known as Hex Keys.
At this point, you have to get the whole set. This ensures that you never have to worry about buying different hex keys one by one.
The same hex keys can be used for bicycle assembly and repairs. You just have to own a durable set to avoid stripping on the corners.
4. For those who wear glasses or have kids
The chances are that sometimes you might have to repair your glasses. Since the screws are small, you need precision screwdrivers. They are usually sold as a kit so that you can pick the right size for the screw head.
The tiny screw heads can also be found in the kids’ toys. If you ever want to repair their toys, then consider these mini screwdrivers.
5. For handling woodworking projects
The flathead screwdriver has the cam-out problem; thus, it is best to opt for Torx and Robertson screwdrivers for woodworking. These two types of screwdrivers are designed to resist the cam-out activity, therefore you should enjoy using them more often.
There is no doubt that when handling fine wood, the last thing you need is for a screwdriver to slip out and scar the finish.
The Torx and Robertson screwdrivers are also good for offering the best grip you need.
6. For those who want to use as little effort as possible
When we get to this part, all you need is to have a drill. For those who already own one, the next thing is to get a set of bits. Make sure that you get bits meant to be used in a drill or impact driver. Most of the time, they will be reinforced to handle more pressure.
Also, drills can easily strip the screw head. It is best if you adjust the speed to match the application.
It is easy to see how a drill will make your job a lot easier, and you will not have to do much.
7. If you strip the screw head accidentally
Whenever you over tighten or use the wrong type or size of the screwdriver, sometimes you risk stripping the screw head. Guess what? It now becomes hard to remove the screw from its position as the bit can longer catch the screw head.
The best way to deal with this problem is to avoid making it happen in the first place. You can always use the right size of the bit and avoid over tightening it.
If it is too late, then try a larger screwdriver to see if it will bite into the screw head and remove it.
For those dealing with a Phillips screw, then consider using a larger flathead bit. Do not use a Torx bit to remove the stripped Phillips screw. This is because it will strip it, even more, making it worse.
Another option would be investing in a screw extractor. This will make it easier to get the screw from its position.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who Invented the Screwdriver
It is not clear when screwdrivers were first invented. However, there are many claims that they were invented in the first century when metal was now more accessible for different uses.
What we know right now is the popular Phillips screwdriver. In the 1930s, Henry Phillips invented this type of screwdriver together with the Phillips screws. Anything earlier than that does not have a clear history.
Why are there no Robertson screws in America?
Some shady European licensees nearly bankrupted the inventor, Robertson. As such, it became hard for him to give Henry Ford exclusive patent rights. At this point, Ford opted to go for the Phillips screws. That is how the Phillips screws cemented their dominance in the American industry until now.
As much as the Roberson screws are slowly gaining popularity in America, they still have a long way to go.
Who is the Phillips Head Screwdriver Named After?
The screwdriver is named after Henry Phillips, who invented the screwdriver in the 1930s.
Can a screwdriver also be used as a chisel?
It is not advisable to do so. This is because the screw head is not designed to be hit repeatedly with a chisel. It can also be unsafe to use a chisel as it can lead to injuries when it slips. A chisel is sharper than screwdrivers. So, only use it when it is an emergency, and you have no access to your tools.
How To Store Your Screwdriver?
The best way would be to buy screwdrivers that come in a case. Such cases would provide for better storage for each bit. As such, it would be hard to lose any of the screwdrivers.
If it does not come in a case, you can always use a tool foam for organizing the screwdriver. Several companies offer such types of organization foams. Buy them today to organize your tools better.
Are screwdriver handles insulated?
To learn if the screwdriver’s handle is insulated, it is best to check the product description. This is an important feature, so any manufacturer would gladly talk about how their screwdriver has the insulation.
The insulated screwdriver handles are ideal for electricians. This will help protect them from possible electrocution.
Right now, you have an idea about which screwdriver to buy and for which purpose. The moment you get the right screwdriver, you will have an easier time completing the tasks.
Another big factor about which screwdriver to choose is the price. The cheap screwdrivers might not always be worth buying. This is because they can easily have their tips stripped within a couple of uses. Also, they do not fit in the screw heads correctly.
When shopping for your next screwdriver, consider buying from a top brand. This will ensure you always have the right tools to handle the tasks better.