What to Consider When Choosing a Screwdriver?

Since the screw appeared in pre-Christian times, the hand tools to handle them comfortably and quickly were surpassed to reach the standard screwdriver emerged in medieval times.

Even today, the function of the screwdriver in small household chores, as well as in work with wood, veneers and other soft materials is irreplaceable.

However, with the advent of power tools between the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, many types of drill also incorporated the function of a screwdriver, creating a versatile tool that now enjoys broad application among both professionals and amateurs.

Electric Screwdriver

First, we should not associate the term "electric" with the need for a power outlet, but rather with tools that run on energy, whether provided by electricity or a battery.

Once clarified, an electric screwdriver is a tool designed for the specific task of adjusting or loosening screws in a wide variety of applications. In a way, it is a specialized tool, as its high speed makes it impractical to use as a drill and its low torque makes it unsuitable for heavy work. Therefore, the use of an electric screwdriver is limited to:

  • Assembling and disassembling electronic equipment and various objects fixed by screws.
  • Embedding or extracting screws into pre-drilled holes in wood and other soft materials.

Screwdriver bits are held in a hexagonal tube of a ¼ inch that is often magnetized and is quickly interchanged by removing one and placing the other. In addition to screwdriver bits with different head types, other hexagonal profile tools, such as pipe wrenches for tightening and loosening nuts, can also be used.

The screwdriver can also be fitted with a push button or trigger which stops running when released, and most of these tools have a switch to activate the reversible function, i.e., screw or unscrew, as the case may be.

Cordless Screwdriver

The electric screwdrivers can be wireless or wired. Wireless screwdrivers have an internal battery installed in the handle. Using part of the inside of the housing for a battery reduces the space available for the engine. Therefore, the maximum torque that wireless screwdrivers can produce is generally lower than their wired counterparts, but they are still powerful.

Corded screwdrivers are plugged into an electrical outlet and are generally used on a workbench. These are industrial tools and are built as such, so they offer greater torque and are more expensive than wireless devices.

Read our Cordless Screwdrivers Buyers Guide to see your options!

Types of Electric Screwdrivers

Conventional

Most electric screwdrivers have an elongated design with elegant cylindrical cigar lines, so they can easily fit into tight spaces. They have no handle, as the intention is for the user to hold the device by the body. Frequently, wireless devices are articulated, allowing the tool to flex up to 60 degrees in the center forming a handle. Meanwhile, corded screwdrivers are not articulated.

Screw Guns

Screwdrivers that are gun-shaped can be wireless or wired and is used primarily for heavier, continuous tasks, such as drywall placement. These are high-speed devices designed to embed screws into drywall studs quickly and efficiently.

Another type of gun, usually with cable is designed to feed the screws contained in a tape automatically. These tools are for the quick installation of screws in a variety of applications. For example, the assembly of steel stud structures with this type of gun is much faster than with the kind used for drywall.

How to Make the Right Choice of an Electric Screwdriver?

If we are going to acquire one of these tools, we must ask ourselves a series of previous questions. Let's look at them in detail.

1.) What work are we going to do with the tool?

The choice of a screwdriver, wireless or wired, often depends on the type of work we will do.

Wireless screwdrivers are predominantly light duty tools, although they can also be used in electronic equipment repair shops. As these are more powerful than other screwdrivers, cordless screwdrivers are mainly for heavier and more frequent jobs.

So, for example, if we are installers of drywall, cement board, decking, gypsum boards, subfloors, carpeting, and various types of flooring, it will be convenient to look for screwdriver guns. If our need requires the extensive use of screwing, a screw gun with automatic feeding will be ideal, as it will allow us to place a whole row of screws quickly.

If on the other hand we work in tight spaces, the articulating ability of wireless screwdrivers can facilitate the task in areas where wired screwdrivers or even standard manual screwdrivers, may not work. This articulating handle can also reduce operator fatigue, especially when the screws must be arranged horizontally.

2.) What materials will we use?

If you choose a wireless screwdriver, the hardness of the material on which you are going to screw determines the battery voltage you should pick.

That is if we are mainly amateurs who want to mount the unassembled furniture we buy in a mall and screw in holes already made, a wireless screwdriver with 3.6-3.8 V battery will suffice.

Cordless screwdriver in action

If our intention is to introduce screws in harder materials or surfaces without holes, we will need a higher voltage, between 10 and 14 V. To do this, we must remember that the hardness of the material will condition the ability of the tool to make holes and that the electric screwdrivers cannot drill the concrete.

If the use of the wireless screwdriver is going to be professional and regular, then we have to decide which one offers not only the maximum voltage, i.e. 18 V, and a high screw-in force (tightening torque) but also includes two batteries, which allow you to continue working even if one of them is exhausted.

3.) What frequency of use do we intend to use?

Professional and intensive use will undoubtedly result in better use of cable screwdrivers. Not only do these tools eliminate concerns about battery life, but they offer higher torque and better control, as many have a "soft start" function that reduces the risk of losing control of the screw as soon as you start to adjust it.

If the user is not as intensive, wireless screwdrivers using nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) or lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries may be a better choice.

However, we must be careful with this, as many amateurs purchase screwdrivers for occasional use and it is not the best way to use them. All rechargeable batteries lose power when a long time goes by without use. Nor should they be left in the charger, unless it has been designed to provide a slow charge to keep the battery charged.

This problem is more severe with lithium batteries than with nickel-cadmium batteries. Not only because of the higher discharge rate of lithium batteries but also because the heat generated by leaving the lithium batteries in the charger can damage them.

However, compared to Ni-Cd, lithium batteries have a faster recharge cycle, are lighter and manageable, and have no memory effect.

Moreover, it is essential to know the charging time of the battery, measured in hours or minutes. It is evident that the shorter the charging time, the faster we can resume work with the tool.

4.) How many types of screws will we work with?

This question has to do with the speed of the tool. Some screwdrivers, especially those with cable, offer manual adjustments, allowing the motor speed to be increased or decreased. If we are going to work with several types of screws, the purchase of a screwdriver with speed adjustment is a good idea. Generally, the fastest tools tend to be those with the highest voltage.

Screws lined up

If we need control, then it is preferable to choose a screwdriver that has a low speed. In the case of drywall screw guns and other wired or wireless applications, motor speeds range from 2500 to over 5000 rpm.

Although it is already a common feature of all these tools, we must verify that all the motors are reversible to allow to extract a screw badly impelled or in angle.

Conclusion

Electric screwdrivers, whether wireless or wired, are useful tools when a large number of screws need to be installed or removed. They have low speed and are not intended for drilling. They do not have the necessary torque for very heavy work.

However, they offer an excellent service for the purpose which they were designed, and when used in conjunction with a drill/screwdriver, it saves a lot of time because there is no need to change the tips constantly.

The choice of a wireless or wired screwdriver will be given primarily by the amount and frequency of use of the tool as well as the availability of easily accessible electrical power and the type of material and screws to be used.

Corded screwdrivers are heavier to carry, but can be used all day without the operator having to worry about drained batteries in the middle of the job. They are fitted with speed control, the larger the motor size delivers.

Summary
What to Consider When Choosing a Screwdriver?
Article Name
What to Consider When Choosing a Screwdriver?
Description
Even today, the function of the screwdriver in small household chores, as well as in work with wood, veneers and other soft materials is irreplaceable.
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Jack Noelsson
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