Screwdriver Buying Guide

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Screwdriver Buying Guide

Screwdrivers have been used by craftsman and inventors for hundreds of years and they continue to be one of the most useful tools one can have today. However, buying the best screwdriver for a job can be a little more complicated than it seems because of the variety of blade types and sizes. The wrong screwdriver can cause irreparable damage to building materials or critical components, for example if the screw head is stripped by a screwdriver blade that is too small. When buying a screwdriver for a particular job or looking for useful screwdrivers to add to the toolbox, it is important to know about the options available. These options range from simple hand tools to powerful electric screwdrivers. In addition, there are different blade types, different shank materials and lengths, and different handle shapes. Before shopping for screwdrivers, one should know the basic parts of a screwdriver, the different varieties of screwdrivers, how to choose the best screwdriver, and how to purchase screwdrivers online.

Basic Parts of a Screwdriver

All handheld screwdrivers have a handle grip, shank, and blade tip. Each of these comes in many variations for different reasons. Comfort, durability, and function are all reasons for the variations in screwdriver models. Here is what a buyer should look for in a screwdriver.

Handle Grip

Handle grips can either be metal, plastic, rubber, or wood and come in a variety of shapes. The shape of a screwdriver handle is basically designed so that one can exert as much torque as possible without the hand slipping. This is usually a hexagonal shape but some brands offer comfort grips that are differently shaped. Plastic handles are generally the most durable, but rubber grips are often added for comfort. The length and general shape of the handle grip depends upon the screwdriver's manufacturer.

Screwdriver Shank

The shank of a screwdriver is the metal bar that runs from the blade tip to the handle. Although it is often overlooked, the shank is as important as the handle and blade tip. The material it is made of, whether it is chrome, steel, or another metal, needs to withstand the force that will be applied to a screwdriver. Also, the connection between the shank and the handle needs to be strong so that the shank will not fall off the handle at an inopportune moment. Some special screwdrivers have shanks that run all the way through the handle, which is usually shatterproof. These are used in special circumstances when a hammer will be used on the screwdriver. Note that a hammer should never be used on a regular screwdriver.

Screwdriver Blade Tip

The blade tip of the screwdriver is the part that most people pay attention to when buying a screwdriver. The most commonly used blade tip shapes are:

  • Phillips head
  • Flat-head
  • Torx or Star
  • Hexagon
  • Square or Robertson
There are also other shapes used for specialized applications, such as the tri-wing, the Allen, and the clutch screwdriver. However, these are rarely necessary for regular household applications. All of these blade tips come in various sizes, from tiny jeweler's screwdrivers to large blades used in automotive work.

Types of Screwdrivers

Screwdrivers fall into two broad categories: standard screwdrivers and power screwdrivers. Within these categories, there are several types of screwdrivers which are commonly used. Here are the main kinds of standard and power screwdrivers.

Offset Screwdrivers

Offset screwdrivers are "L"-shaped or "Z"-shaped and work well in tight spaces. Manufacturers categorize offset screwdrivers based on the length of the shank as well as the width of the blade tip. These screwdrivers often appear in larger sets of screwdrivers, but individual offset screwdrivers are easy to find, too. They can also be called "right-angle" screwdrivers.

Ratchet Screwdrivers

Ratchet screwdrivers are made to eliminate the need to remove the screwdriver tip from the screw head or twist the wrist awkwardly. They use interchangeable blade tips that fit onto a ratcheting mechanism. The benefits of using a ratchet screwdriver are speed and easy-of-use. They are used by anyone who has to drive a lot of screws because they do not stress the wrist like regular screwdrivers do.

Electric Screwdrivers

Electric screwdrivers and power drill screwdrivers are often confused. Electric handheld screwdrivers are different from power drill screwdrivers in terms of voltage, RPMs (rotations per minute), and torque (the turning force of the shank). These screwdrivers have small battery-powered motors inside of the handle grip that spin the shank. They include a reversible action of the shank too, which works well for unscrewing. Still, the strength of a battery-powered screwdriver pales in comparison to the strength of a power drill screwdriver. However, electric screwdrivers are more portable.

Power Drill Screwdriver Bits

Power drill screwdrivers are the most versatile and powerful of all screwdriver types. A power drill screwdriver is just a special screwdriver bit used in a regular power drill. Screwdriver bits may not always be interchangeable between different brands of drills. When buying screwdriver bits for a power drill, it is necessary to check the length, point size, and body diameter and make sure that these will be compatible with the drill. The most foolproof method is to buy screwdriver bits of the same brand as the drill itself. Using a blade tip of the correct size is much more important when using a power drill than it is when using other screwdrivers because the torque of any power drill is many times stronger than the torque of an ordinary battery-powered electric screwdriver. Having a variety of screwdriver bits on hand when starting any job is a good way to ensure that one will have the right size within reach.

How to Choose the Correct Screwdriver

With so many blade shapes and sizes, not to mention handle shapes and shank lengths, it can be difficult to find the right screwdriver for a particular job. It might also be unclear if a set of screwdriver bits for a power drill is worth the expense, or is a couple of standard screwdrivers will be enough. Here are some things to consider when searching for the perfect tool.

Matching the Screwdriver to the Screw

Using the incorrect head (even when the shape seems compatible, like a flat-head screwdriver with a  Phillips-head screw) can strip the screw or damage the blade, both of which could be costly mistakes. In the worst case scenario, the screw will be embedded permanently with no way to remove the screw without damaging the surrounding material. Even when the screwdriver and the screw have the same shape, the size of the screw can be a determining factor. Most blade tips fit a small range of screw sizes, but using a tip that is too big or too small will cause problems. The correct screwdriver will fill the slot on the screw completely.

Consider the Scope of the Job

Those who need screwdrivers for occasional repairs around the house will be fine with one or two flat-head screwdrivers and one or two Phillips-head screwdrivers. Some screwdrivers, often called "multi-bit" screwdrivers, use reversible tips and a reversible shank to include the four most commonly used screwdriver tips into one handle. A homeowner who frequently does repairs would do well to buy an electric screwdriver or a ratcheting screwdriver with a set of bits. Those who do many DIY projects or construction work should buy a set of screwdriver bits that is compatible with their power drill.

Buying Screwdrivers on eBay

Screwdrivers can be found at a number of hardware stores and department stores as well as online. eBay carries many varieties of handheld screwdrivers and power screwdrivers for every possible application. To find screwdrivers on eBay, enter eBay's home page and click on the Home and Garden category. Next, choose Tools. Standard screwdrivers are located under the subcategory Hand Tools, while power screwdrivers are generally under Power Tools. You can either browse through the listings in the appropriate category or enter a search term in the search box to quickly see all the relevant listings across categories.

eBay's advanced search options make it easy to find a screwdriver within your price range. Simply enter the maximum amount you would be willing to pay in the search menu under "Price" to see listings at or under that price. You can also click on "Top-rated seller" to see only listings by sellers with an established history of excellent service on eBay. These listings are shown with a small award icon. Following these practices is a great way to find the screwdriver you need quickly.


Buying the right screwdriver can be a daunting task, but it is made much simpler with a little knowledge about screwdrivers. One should know one's options when it comes to screwdriver handles, shanks, and blade tips. Rubber grips, long shanks, and blade tips of various shapes and sizes are all useful in different situations. There are also specialized screwdrivers like ratcheting screwdrivers and offset screwdrivers as well as electric drivers. These make it easier to drive screws by reducing the amount of manpower needed. Those who need to drive many screws quickly should look at screwdriver bits for power drills. These offer the maximum ease although they should be used with caution in order to doing damage. Any of the screwdrivers in this guide can be found online at bargain prices. By following the suggestions in this guide, anyone can find and buy just the right screwdriver easily and quickly, making any home improvement or construction project a breeze.

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