It can be annoying when you’re working on a project that involves loosening multiple screws manually. More than that, doing this manual labor over and over can take a long time and put unnecessary stress on your wrists. However, a nifty power tool can solve this problem and make driving screws easy and quick. It’s called a cordless power screwdriver.
But choosing a cordless screwdriver is not as simple as it may sound. Before you buy a product that perfectly meets your needs, you need to learn about various parameters and features. This post covers all the basics you need to know when buying a cordless screwdriver and aims to help you make a more informed purchase decision.
What is a Cordless Screwdriver?
A cordless screwdriver is a battery-operated power tool that makes the job of removing and driving screws incredibly easy. It features a handle, a trigger, a battery pack, and a chuck that holds a screwdriver bit. As the name suggests, the cordless screwdriver is powered by a Lithium-ion battery.
A cordless screwdriver is a highly mobile and convenient tool that can be used for a wide range of applications, such as:
- Building furniture
- Fixing drywall
- Home maintenance
- DIY projects
- Electronics repair
- Assembling equipment
How Does a Cordless Screwdriver Work?
The rechargeable battery attached to a cordless screwdriver powers a small electric motor. This electric motor moves the gear train, which rotates the chuck in the desired direction. The chuck holds the screwdriver bit, which comes in contact with the screw being driven. The screwdriver is operated by pressing a trigger, usually featured on the handle. The battery is recharged with the help of a charging unit that comes with the screwdriver.
One thing to note is that a cordless screwdriver is best suited for light maintenance and DIY jobs. It is not an industrial-grade equipment because its torque is insufficient to move large or stuck nuts, bolts, and fasteners.
Key Benefits of Using a Cordless Screwdriver
Here are a few ways a cordless screwdriver benefits homeowners, hobbyists, and DIY users.
1. Mobility and Flexibility
Cordless screwdrivers are not limited by the length of a cord. This makes them highly mobile and flexible. They are also designed in such a way as to reach tight spaces and corners. Moreover, the lack of a wire makes them an excellent tool for jobs where you need to move frequently or change places.
2. Better Control and Precision
Cordless screwdrivers are lightweight and ergonomically designed. This allows for better control and precision, especially in tasks that require a steady hand, like attaching trims or installing hardware.
3. Reduced Fatigue
The ergonomic design of cordless screwdrivers and the automatic operation eliminates the need to apply manual force to drive a screw. This is particularly useful when you have to drive many screws, and repeated labor is likely to take a toll on your wrists. This feature also makes cordless screwdrivers convenient for younger adults and older homeowners.
4. Quick and Efficient
As an automatic power tool, cordless screwdrivers are designed to speed things up. They can cut down the time you spend on driving screws by half. Moreover, there’s little to no room for error or slips, unlike manual screwdrivers, resulting in improved efficiency.
Cordless screwdrivers come with different attachments, features, shapes, charging times, power, and accessories, making them versatile for various projects.
Types of Cordless Screwdrivers
Cordless drivers are classified into four major types based on shape, design, angle of chuck, and trigger placement.
Inline Cordless Screwdrivers
Inline screwdrivers have their handle, chuck, and trigger laid out along a single axis. Their orientation is like regular manual screwdrivers, and they are commonly used for tasks such as assembling electronics.
Pistol-grip Cordless Screwdrivers
They are the most recognizable shape, as it is common among different power tools like drill and impact drivers. These screwdrivers are shaped like a gun, featuring a trigger at the base of the handle. They are better for jobs that require more power and speed, such as driving larger screws.
Right-angle Cordless Screwdrivers
This is a unique and rarely used type of cordless screwdriver. The handle and the trigger are along the same axis, while the chuck is placed at a 90-degree angle to both of them. These screwdrivers are perfect for tight spaces and corners.
Dual-position Cordless Screwdrivers
Also known as two-position cordless screwdrivers, these are even more versatile as they can rotate into two positions, i.e., a pistol grip or an inline position.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Cordless Power Screwdriver
When buying a cordless power screwdriver, it is essential to take the following factors into consideration.
Voltage is the most important consideration when it comes to cordless screwdrivers. The voltage indicates how powerful a screwdriver is, and it ranges from 3.6 V to 18 V. Higher voltage cordless screwdrivers are more powerful, but they’re also more expensive and heavier. The voltage rating can be found on the battery or the side of the tool.
High-voltage cordless screwdrivers also tend to have a longer battery life, reducing the frequency of charging batteries. But the question is, how much voltage is enough for you? It all comes down to your desired uses.
For example, tasks such as assembling furniture, fixing electronics, hanging shelves, or light maintenance don’t require a lot of power. Anywhere between 3.6-5 volts will suffice for these projects.
However, if you know that you will be doing relatively tougher projects, like installing cabinetry, doing repairs, or driving screws in harder surfaces like oak, walnut, or ceramics, it is best to stay between 7-18 V.
Torque, also known as tightening torque, is the force with which a cordless power screwdriver turns the screw. Naturally, more torque is better, and higher voltage indicates higher torque.
Most cordless screwdrivers have a torque rating of 3-5 Nm (Newton-Meters). However, heavy-duty models can go up to 20 Nm. Choosing a higher-torque output will make it easier to drive screws in and out of harder surfaces.
But today, you can find cordless screwdrivers with a variable torque setting. This allows you to adjust the torque depending on the nature of the job. Choosing a variable torque screwdriver will bring more versatility, and you won’t have to buy multiple cordless screwdrivers for different jobs. If you want to go above 20 Nm, you should consider switching from cordless screwdrivers to impact drivers and impact drills.
3. Rotational Speed
Most cordless power screwdrivers are rated between 200-600 RPM (Rotations Per Minute). RPM is not as critical of a factor as voltage or torque, but since these tools come in variable and fixed speed options, it is important to learn about it. Ideally, you should go for a cordless screwdriver with a speed control feature. This will bring more versatility to your projects.
4. Battery and Charging Time
The battery’s capacity to sustain charge is represented as Ah(Ampere hour). The higher the Ah rating of your cordless screwdriver, the longer its battery will go without needing a charge.
The most common types of batteries used in cordless screwdrivers are Li-ion batteries. They are lightweight and quick to recharge. However, some brands still use Nickel-Cadmium(Ni-Cd) batteries. It is best to avoid these brands because Ni-Cd batteries are heavier and have a memory effect. It means that these batteries degrade in quality quickly compared to Li-ion batteries.
5. Ergonomics and Weight
If you’re interested in everyday home and DIY use, go for a lightweight cordless screwdriver that is also ergonomic in design. Usually, the pistol grip design is the most comfortable and suitable for most DIY applications.
6. Cordless Power Screwdriver Brand
Choosing name-brand cordless power screwdrivers is a safer decision. Some of the most well-known cordless screwdriver brands are:
- Black + Decker
7. Additional Features
Some cordless screwdrivers come with additional features such as built-in LED light, clutch settings, and different attachments and accessories. Choose the appropriate product based on these features for a more comfortable experience.
1. What is the difference between an impact driver and a cordless screwdriver?
Even though both are power tools designed to turn screws, there is a fundamental difference between them. Cordless screwdrivers are appropriate for light-duty tasks that involve driving screws. This can include assembling furniture or fixing electronics. On the other hand, an impact driver has a hammering feature that generates greater torque and power than a cordless screwdriver. This makes impact drivers suitable for heavy-duty tasks that involve turning larger nuts and bolts or driving screws in harder surfaces.
2. Can you use a cordless screwdriver as a drill?
No, cordless screwdrivers are purposely built to drive screws, not drill holes. Cordless screwdrivers, impact drivers, and impact drills are different power tools built for different purposes.
3. What are some of the most common cordless screwdriver bits?
Some of the most common bit attachments supported by the majority of cordless screwdriver products include:
- Philips heads
- Square heads
- Torx screws
- Slot screws
- Hex socket
Driving screws can be a time-consuming task, especially if there are many of them. Save your time and energy by investing in a high-quality cordless screwdriver, and make the best choice based on factors like design, torque, voltage, and charging time. In short, cordless screwdrivers are an excellent, if not essential, part of your home tool kit.