Ultimate Guide to Screw Drivers

Screwdrivers are hand tools that are used to insert and remove screws. They are available in a variety of configurations to correspond to the appropriate screw drive.

A screwdriver’s drive or head has a formed cavity and protrusion that fits the screwdriver tip. Torque is a turning force that can be delivered in either a clockwise or counterclockwise direction.

History of Screwdrivers

Screwdrivers were first documented in Europe in the late Middle Ages. They were most likely invented in the late 15th century in Germany or France. The original German and French names for the tool were Schraubendreher (screwturner) and tournevis (turnscrew), respectively. The tool was originally documented in the medieval Housebook of Wolfegg Castle, a manuscript published between 1475 and 1490. These early screwdrivers had pear-shaped handles and were designed for slotted screws (diversification of screwdriver kinds did not occur until the Gilded Age). 

The screwdriver, on the other hand, remained unnoticed, as evidence of its existence for the next 300 years is based solely on the presence of screws.

Screws were employed in the 15th century to build screw-cutting lathes, to secure breastplates, backplates, and helmets on medieval jousting armor, and later for many elements of new guns, including the matchlock. Screws, and hence screwdrivers, were not utilized in complete combat armor, most likely to allow the wearer to move freely.

The jaws that held the pyrites within medieval cannons were secured by screws, and the need to continuously replace the pyrites resulted in significant screwdriver refinement. In France, the tool is well documented, and it came in a variety of shapes and sizes, all for slotted screws. There were enormous, heavy-duty screwdrivers for building and maintaining large equipment, as well as smaller screwdrivers for exquisite cabinet work.

The screwdriver was wholly dependent on the screw, and it took several breakthroughs to make the screw simple enough to manufacture that it could become popular and widespread. The butt hinge was the most popular door hinge at the time, but it was considered a luxury. The butt hinge was handcrafted, and its constant motion necessitated the use of a screw for security.

Screws were extremely difficult to manufacture prior to the First Industrial Revolution, necessitating the creation of a conical helix. Job and William Wyatt invented the machine that first cut the slotted head and then cut the helix to create screws. 

Though their firm eventually failed, their contribution to low-cost screw manufacture resulted in a significant increase in the screw and screwdriver’s popularity. The screwdriver’s popularity subsequently led to its development and diversification. Screw precision refinement also contributed greatly to the increase in production, primarily by boosting efficiency and standardizing sizes, both of which are crucial antecedents to industrial manufacture.

Although Canadian P.L. Robertson was not the first to patent the notion of socket-head screws, he was the first to effectively commercialize them, beginning in 1908. Socket screws gained popularity quickly and are a favorite among mechanics today due to their resistance to wear and tear, compatibility with hex keys, and ability to stop a power tool when set. Despite his enormous popularity, Robertson had difficulty promoting his invention to the rapidly burgeoning auto industry because he was hesitant to cede his patents.

Meanwhile, Henry F. Phillips patented his own invention in Portland, Oregon: an improved version of a deep socket with a cruciform slot, now known as the Phillips Screw. Phillips offered his screw to the American Screw Company, and it swiftly spread through the American auto industry after a successful trial on the 1936 Cadillac. With the end of the Great Depression and the turmoil of World War II, the Phillips screw swiftly became and continues to be the most popular screw in the world. The screw’s key selling point was that it could be used with standard slotted screwdrivers, while the Robertson Screw could not.

A screwdriver is still referred to as a turnscrew by gunsmiths, and it is an essential component of a pistol set. Earlier ages saw the word used by cabinetmakers, shipwrights, and possibly other trades. One of the most well-known handle shapes is the cabinetmaker’s screwdriver, which has an oval or ellipsoid cross-section. This is thought to improve grip or keep the instrument from rolling off the bench. For several hundred years, the shape has been popular. It is commonly linked with a plain head for slotted screws, but it has been used with a variety of head types. Modern plastic screwdrivers achieve these same two goals using a handle with an approximately hexagonal cross-section, a far cry from the original’s pear-shaped handle.

Uses and Applications

There are many different types of screw fasteners for a wide range of applications, and each one requires a certain screwdriver.

The screwdriver is one of the most important hand tools in every toolbox. A screwdriver is essential in many situations and professions that involve loosening or tightening screws.

Screwdrivers are commonly used for a variety of tasks, including:

  • Electronics and electrical equipment
  • Unlocking mobile phones
  • Booting up computers
  • Mechanical and industrial production
  • Woodworking and carpentry
  • Metalwork and attaching wood to metal
  • Flammable environments

It should also be mentioned that various screwdrivers are better suited to specific applications. The best electrician’s screwdrivers, for example, will be insulated to protect the user. Phillips screwdriver applications, on the other hand, are more diverse because these tools are ideal for a wide range of general-purpose applications.

Types of Screwdrivers

The driving tip shape, which correlates with the unique head type of a given screw, often determines the distinct sorts of screwdrivers. Other screwdriver kinds, on the other hand, are application-specific or are designed for specific sectors.

The sections that follow go through some of the most prevalent varieties of screwdrivers.

Phillips Screwdriver

Phillips screwdrivers, often known as cross-head screwdrivers, are one of the most prevalent varieties. What, though, is a Phillips head screwdriver? These tools are made to accommodate screws with Phillips heads that include a cross-shaped recess, therefore the alternative name of cross screwdriver. They were created to deal with greater torsion.

Torx Screwdriver 

These screwdrivers, also known as star head screwdrivers, pointed screwdrivers, six-point screwdrivers, and torx screwdrivers, are all the same type. Torx is a trademark for a screw head having a six-point star-shaped protrusion, therefore the generic name star screwdriver. These exist to ensure that even greater torque may be delivered, for example, in mechanical production.

Insulated Screwdrivers

Insulated screwdrivers, often known as safety screwdrivers, are essential for adopting safety precautions in potentially hazardous situations. They are made of non-conductive materials like rubber. VDE screwdrivers are also designed to be safe. VDE is a globally recognized organization that examines tools to ensure they fulfill safety standards. These are excellent tools for electricians.

Torque Screwdrivers

A screwdriver with torque, not to be confused with Torx, is similar to a torque wrench. Both are used to provide a specific torque that is designed to be sufficient but not excessive. They are great for tightening screws sufficiently without damaging the material to which they are fastened, but not so tightly that they fall out. A torque-limiting clutch on a torquing screwdriver limits the amount of force delivered above a given threshold.

Flathead Screwdriver

The most popular type of hand tool is the slot or flat-headed screwdriver. It has a flattened tip and a straight linear incursion across the head for screws. Flat blade screwdrivers are versatile and can be used for a variety of tasks.

Tri-Wing Screwdriver

These are utilized for specialized devices such as gaming consoles, cell phones, and cameras. They frequently have very small tips to allow them to be used with smaller screws and components.

Pozidriv Screwdriver

Pozidriv screwdrivers are essentially enhanced versions of Philips screwdrivers. They were created to reduce cam-out, which occurs when a screwdriver slides out of the screw head as more torque is applied.

Hex Screwdriver

Allen keys or wrenches are more commonly used to loosen or tighten hex screws. Hexagon screwdrivers, on the other hand, exist to serve the same purpose, and hex-head tools are frequently included in sets.

Square Screwdriver

The square-headed screwdriver is designed to accommodate screws with square recesses. It was created in order to eliminate the cam-out issue of slotted screws and thereby speed up the fastening process.

Electronic Screwdrivers and Impact Drivers

Electric or cordless screwdrivers are small power tools that are useful for a variety of tasks such as furniture assembly or screwing into softwood or other comparable materials. Impact drivers, on the other hand, are simply a more heavy-duty screwdriver type, designed for operations such as tightening or loosening screws by driving into or removing from harder, denser materials with rapid force.

Precision Screwdrivers 

These screwdrivers are used on very small gadgets that require incredibly little screws. Precision work on watches and mobile phones is one example of this.

Other Screwdriver Types

The appropriate screwdriver for the job can save time, effort, and aggravation

Triangle Screwdriver

Triangle screwdriver heads are less frequent, although they are suitable for several tasks. The triangle screwdriver head is advantageous because it is more secure and tamper-proof than alternatives. These tools are frequently used in conjunction with appliances, toys, and electronics. If there are any loose screws in your child’s Chic Hoverboard, you can easily use a triangle screwdriver to tighten those screws.

Magnetic Screwdrivers

Screwdrivers with magnetic tips attract screws using magnetic force. This decreases the possibility of them being dropped accidentally. Magnetized tools are useful while working on electronics because screws are small and easily dropped into difficult-to-reach areas.

Ratchet Screwdrivers

Ratcheting screwdrivers contain an internal system that allows force to be applied solely in one direction while permitting free movement in the other. These hand tools work in the same way that ratchet spanners do.

Screwdriver Sizes

Screwdrivers come in a variety of sizes. In addition to the typical large, medium, and tiny screwdrivers, there are stubby screwdrivers that are perfect for usage in tight or constricted locations. Millimetres (mm) are commonly used to measure the tip width and length of both the blade and the overall tool.

It should be noted that some types and brands may have different sizing alternatives than others. There are four standard Phillips screwdriver sizes, for example. Screwdriver sizes range from #0 to #4, with #0 being the smallest.

Torx size is another way to categorize some tools. This is represented by the letter T followed by a number, such as T10 screwdrivers. It has everything from little screwdrivers to T45 and beyond. This technique can also be used to screws, assisting you in selecting the appropriate screwdriver for a specific screw size.

Parts of a Screwdriver

The three primary components of a screwdriver are as follows:


Screwdriver handles are designed to prevent rolling on flat surfaces and are utilized for gripping. They can also be ergonomically constructed to improve grip comfort. Materials used in the manufacturing process have evolved over time, and there is now a greater variety of tools designed for specialized tasks. The handles are typically ergonomic and constructed of a mix of hard plastics such as cellulose acetate and rubber. To improve grip, they can also be wrapped in a non-slip, soft substance such as thermoplastic rubber.

The shaft or shank

The shaft or shank is often composed of robust steel to prevent bending or twisting distortion while applying force. The shaft will be rounded or hexagonal to allow increased torque to be applied using a spanner or wrench. The shaft is usually a different color and material than the driving tip, which can be interchanged.

Bit or drive tip

If the drive tip is not detachable, it can be integrated into the shank. It could also be a replaceable item known as a driver, which is comparable to drill bits. These are intended to be used with multi-bit tools. The screwdriver head is another name for the tip.

Which Screwdrivers Are the Best?

A variety of renowned brands and manufacturers offer high-quality, good screwdrivers. However, the best screwdrivers will be determined by your specific requirements. An electrician, for example, will have different requirements than a hobbyist.

Screwdriver Bits are Made of What Materials?

Drive tips are available in a range of metals and alloys, including:

  • Titanium
  • Made of stainless steel
  • S2 or tool grade steel
  • HSS (high-speed steel)
  • CVM (chromium-vanadium-molybdenum) tool steel
  • Other non-sparking metals to lessen the risk of fire

Each has its own set of advantages and applications.


Screwdrivers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and there is no one-size-fits-all tool for every project (though an 11-in-1 might come close). Because there is no universal fastener for home improvement projects, no portable DIY tool set would be complete without a selection of screwdrivers. Fortunately, adding a screwdriver or two to the set shouldn’t be too expensive.