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Types of Screwdrivers

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A screwdriver is one tool you’ll find helpful whether you’re a DIYer who likes to fix stuff around the house or a professional who deals with electrical work or carpentry.

While most people are familiar with the basic screwdriver, over twenty types of screwdrivers are designed for various uses. These screwdrivers have different blades and heads, which also vary in compatibility with screws and design. 

Our detailed guide lists the various types of screwdrivers and their uses.

21 Types of Screwdrivers

Some of the standard screwdrivers include:

1. Slotted or Flat Head Screwdriver

Screwdriver ready to turn flat head screw in finished board

The slotted or flat head screwdriver is a popular tool in most homes.

It’s manually operated, and you can identify the flathead screwdriver due to its flat-shaped head and chisel-shaped blade. It’s a versatile screwdriver as it fits most screw tops. 

The size you choose depends on the width of the screw you plan on installing or removing.

Some can have small heads to open watch screws, while others are bigger to open huge tins. 

Standard flathead sizes are 8mm and 5mm wide.

Apart from being widely used at home, the slotted screwdriver is also used in carpentry to join furniture or tighten screws and by mechanics who need to reach different fasteners. 

Although slotted screwdrivers were once a popular option, most professionals don’t use them as they tend to slip sideways when you apply a lot of pressure. 

2. Phillips Screwdriver

Philips screwdriver with yellow and black handle

The Phillips screwdriver shares a similar design with a slotted screwdriver, but the former has a tip with protruding arcs at the joint’s right angle.

It’s best to use the Phillips screwdriver when dealing with crosshead screws. These screwdrivers also deliver more torque than flathead screwdrivers.

You’ll find this screwdriver in different industries like electronics and carpentry. 

When using this type of screwdriver, you need to note that it tends to round out the screw head if you insert the wrong size driver. 

You must choose the proper size screw head to avoid damaging the screw. 

3. Torx Screwdriver

The screwdriver lies on a wooden background

The Torx screwdriver is famous in different industries, including security and manufacturing. 

These screwdrivers have a blade with a six-point star shape. It also has rounded-off sharp angles.

This shape increases the contact area between the screwdriver’s top and the screw head to improve torque. Furthermore, the shape prevents damage to the items being screwed in. 

You don’t have to worry about the screws breaking or slipping out when using the Torx screwdriver. 

There are different-sized Torx screwdrivers ranging from 0.03-0.81 inches. 

4. Robertson Screwdriver

 a square drive robertson style screwdriver and square drive socket wood screw

The Robertson screwdriver features a recessed squared socket on the tip. That allows you to apply a high turning force and keep the screw in place.

Unlike most screwdrivers with a tip, the Robertson screwdriver lacks one, making it ideal for undoing screws or nuts. There’s a square-like socket in place of a typical tip. 

Most carpenters and mechanics use the Robertson screwdriver due to its maximum torque. 

5. Hex Screwdriver

hex bolt screw hex bit in wooden oaks plate

The hex or hexagon screwdriver has six straight edges. They loosen or tighten hex screws, bolts, and nuts.

Hex screwdrivers are used in bicycle repair and furniture assembly. 

6. Frearson Screwdriver

screwdriver and measure tape on wooden background

A Frearson screwdriver has a similar design to a Phillips head. The only difference is that the Frearson driver has a sharp point, while the Phillips has a blunt, rounded tip.

Its tip has an angle close to a 45-degree angle. You get high torque with the Frearson screwdriver due to its shape. 

This screwdriver is mainly used in nautical equipment where precision is required. 

7. Electric Screwdriver

 caucasian male worker using electric screwdriver instrument in hand and repairing new wooden desk

Electric screwdrivers are either electrically or manually operated. 

With an electric screwdriver, you need to fix the driver’s head into the screw and press a button to screw and unscrew bolts. 

Furthermore, electric screwdrivers are categorized into:

  • Corded screwdrivers – It’s one of the most powerful screwdrivers, although it’s less popular as you need to plug it into an electrical outlet to use it.
  • Cordless screwdrivers – These screwdrivers have a rechargeable battery that makes the unit bulky.  You need to recharge the battery to maximum charge to get more torque.
  • Battery-operated screwdrivers – This screwdriver is compact and runs on batteries. Although you won’t get much torque, you can enjoy the convenience and portability of this unit. 

8. Right Angle Screwdriver

Steel tap and drill bit in power screwdriver right angle head on a gray background

The right-angle screwdriver works when a basic screwdriver doesn’t fit. Its shape allows it to fit into tight spaces like when installing a dishwasher. 

9. Magnetic Screwdriver

Magnet Screwdriver with Black Screws

A magnetic screwdriver has magnetic tips that attract screws by magnetic force

If you struggle with screws camming out and need a better way to fix them, you should get this type of screwdriver. 

These screwdrivers are often used when dealing with watches and other electronics. 

10. Torque Screwdriver

screw drive adjustable torque screwdriver

The torque screwdriver allows you to set your preferred torque and use it. That means it won’t go further if the screw reaches the set torque. 

Before buying, you must check the screwdriver’s torque range and always set the torque to the right level. 

A torque screwdriver is a must-have If you struggle with screws that break after applying too much force.

The driver limits the amount of energy used beyond a specific threshold. They tighten the screw without damaging the material and ensure screws don’t fall out. 

11. Ratchet Screwdriver

man tightening a brass screw into a plywood workbench using a quarter inch ratchet socket screwdriver with phillips bit

A ratchet screwdriver has an internal ball-bearing mechanism that enables you to make several screw turns

Switching a button on the screwdriver changes the ratcheting action in different directions. That allows you to screw bolts in a clockwise direction and remove them in a counterclockwise direction.

The screwdriver gives you maximum torque in any direction. 

One thing to note is that the screwdriver can only move in one direction at a given time. 

The screwdriver is perfect if you’re handling a big project and need to complete it fast. That’s why it’s common in the automobile and mechanics industry. 

12. Tri-Wing Screwdriver

The tri-wing screwdriver gets its name from its design.

You can quickly identify the screwdriver as it has a triangle in the middle and three sides that stretch clockwise. It comes in handy when dealing with triangular screws and sockets.

You’ll find the tri-wing screwdriver in the aerospace industry as it’s considered a precision screwdriver, and it has high torque.

It’s also common in the electronics industry. 

13. Tri-Angle Screwdriver

The tri-angle screwdriver has a triangular tip and is often used in the toy and electric industry to tighten or open triangular screws. 

However, you can also use it as an alternative to hex drivers for domestic work. With this screwdriver, you can tighten and loosen screws easily.

Another variation of the tri-angle screwdriver is the tripoint 3, which has extra rounded edges. 

14. Tri-Groove Screwdriver

The tri-groove screwdriver has a fastener with a three-pointed tip. Its edges are set at 120 degrees on a circular head. 

You’ll find this screwdriver in security settings. 

15. Tri-Point Screwdriver

macro photo of tri-point head replaceable screw driver

The tri-point screwdriver or the Y-tip driver has three edges 120 degrees apart on the tip. The screwdrivers have a Y-groove on the heads.

These screwdrivers are often used on electrical products and in the tech industry. You’ll also find this screwdriver on smartphones and consoles. 

16. Nut Driver

nut driver hand tool on work bench

The nut driver or the hex nut driver is designed for nuts and bolts. It has a cylindrical shaft fitted to a socket, which slides over the nut/bolt to undo it. 

The nut screwdriver is used in electronics and appliance repairs. 

Unlike basic screwdrivers that come in varied sizes, the nut driver is available in fixed sizes. 

Some people prefer buying nut drivers as a set since it makes it easy to select the right screwdriver for the job. 

You’ll find these screwdrivers helpful when there’s little clearance for installation. 

17. Japanese Industrial Standard

screwdriver bits

JIS or Japanese Industrial Standard screwdrivers work with most equipment made in Japan. 

While it’s an improved Phillips screwdriver, the JIS has extra vertical and narrower slots. The recess has a flat bottom, and the driver point is blunt. 

You can quickly identify a JIS head as it’s marked as an X or a single dot on the cross-slot side. 

18. Pozidriv Screwdriver

Close-up of a Pozidriv type screwdriver bit in a yellow bit holder

The Pozidriv screwdriver is an updated version of the Phillips screwdriver. The only difference is that the Pozidriv screws have four extra lines from the center.

The screwdriver has small ribs along the blade between the edges and a blunt tip. That helps to improve torque.

Pozidriv screwdrivers have anti-slip features that reduce the chances of camming out. Their screw system is also efficient, with fewer chances of breaking the screw tip or head. 

On the downside, these screwdrivers undergo a longer manufacturing process than the Phillips screwdriver.

Although you can use the Phillips and Pozidriv screwdrivers interchangeably, Pozidrivs can damage Phillips screws. 

19. Spanner

A spanner or a drilled head has a pig-nose type of head protrusion. You can use the spanner on flat screws with round holes on opposite ends.

These screwdrivers are primarily used in subways, terminals, and elevators as they can work where a regular screwdriver can’t. 

20. Jeweler’s Screwdriver

Tools and equipment for jewelry work on an antique wooden desktop

The jeweler’s screwdriver is another lesser-known screwdriver used in the jewelry industry. 

It has small tips, which allow you to work with the tiny screws in jewelry. 

21. Bolster Screwdriver

A bolster screwdriver is not as well-known as it’s only reserved for tight spaces that mechanics or technicians use.

screwdriver with a bunch of self tapping screw

The screwdriver can handle extra torque without breaking.

Final Thoughts

Different types of screwdrivers have varied functions.

While you may be familiar with slotted screwdrivers, and other basic types of screwdrivers, it’s essential to learn about other screwdrivers that can come in handy when needed.

Our list above has the most common types of screwdrivers and their uses to help you whether you are a DIYer or a professional in the carpentry, automotive, or metalworks industry.


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