Types of Screwdrivers and Their Uses

Do you remember the time you desperately needed to repair your computer only to realize that your handy screwdriver could not fit some screw slots? Unfortunately, even after ringing your best tool shop, they failed you citing unclear description. Forget about  experiencing the same because you are about to learn and strike up a friendship with different types of screwdrivers and their uses.

You can differentiate screwdrivers by identifying the shape of the screwdriver tip, also called the bit or head. A bit’s shape must align with a screw’s notch or slot for you to tighten or loosen the screw. Note the terminologies used to describe the shapes of the tips to save time when ordering for a new set of screwdrivers. Here is a curated list of common types of screwdrivers to bring you up to speed.

parts of a screwdriver

12 Types of screwdrivers and their uses

1.      Flathead screwdriver

When working with a linear slotted screw, you use a flathead screwdriver to drive the screws. A flathead screwdriver has a wedged tip or head that fits finely into a linear notch. The flattened or wedged tip may be rectangular in shape or wider than the shank. A flathead screwdriver whose tip is broader than the shank is referred to as a flared screwdriver.

Flatheads come in variant sizes and lengths for lightweight and heavy-duty tasks. If you are upgrading or repairing electronics like a laptop, you use a precision flathead. Also, if you are handling carpentry tasks, you get a standard-sized flathead, and when heavy duty tasks such as repairing your car come along, you use an oversized screwdriver.

Flathead screwdriver

2.      Torx Screwdriver

Torx screwdrivers are used to screw and unscrew Torx fasteners. Torx fasteners resemble the shape of a star with 6 slots. Torx screwdrivers’ heads have flat blunt ends shaped like a star to fit precise-sized Torx screws.

If you have electronic appliances, you must keep Torx screwdrivers around. Numerous electronic components in the appliances are fitted using Torx screwdrivers. With a Torx screwdriver, you can fasten and loosen them regularly without damaging the screws because the 6 lobes on the tip reduce the radial force. The screwdriver and screws last longer due to decreased radial force.

Torx Screwdriver

3.      Philips screwdriver

Philips screw drivers have X-shaped tips or heads. The tips fit into screws with X-shaped notches, sometimes referred to as T cross-shaped grooves. Philips screwdrivers and screws are not necessarily made by Philips. Funny enough, Philips currently focuses on the health technology industry.

These screwdrivers come in different sizes and are popular among electricians. The X-shape of Phillips screwdrivers provides you with a stronger grip or traction. Despite the merit, you must watch the amount of force you use to avoid scraping the screw or screwdriver due to slipping.

 Philips screwdriver



4.      Offset screwdriver

At some point, you may have to reach for screws under a heavy appliance or behind a wall only to find it hard because your long screwdriver does not fit the space. This no longer counts as a tip-size issue but a spacing problem. To avoid failing to undertake such repairs, you must get an offset screwdriver to reach into those tight spaces.

An offset screwdriver is Z-shaped and has varied-sized tips on both ends. The tips can be of different types too. The Z-shape makes the use of an offset screwdriver ergonomic and efficient, but you still have to minimize the driving force to avoid stripping the screwdriver or screws.

Offset screwdriver

5.      Hex screwdriver

If you have furniture pieces made from wood and fastened to metal frames, check whether the screws have a hexagonal grove. Hex screwdrivers are used to drive hexagon-slotted screws.

Carpenters prefer using hexagonal fasteners because they can drive the screws at higher speeds without slipping. The hexagon sides fit tightly into the hexagon groves reducing the chances of stripping even when you apply too much force. Always check the size of screw groves before getting a hex screwdriver for effective and quick removal and installation.

Hex screwdriver

6.      Multi-bit screwdriver

Rather than purchasing multiple manual screwdrivers for lightweight work such as repairing your ring doorbell or Xbox 360 controller, you should get a multi-bit screwdriver. The shank of a multi-bit screwdriver has a hollow hex-shape for holding different bits. A multi-bit screw saves you money and time because you purchase the screwdriver with interchangeable bits.

Most multi-bit screwdrivers are magnetic to hold the bits in place. Popular bits for these screwdrivers include Torx, Philips, Robertson, and flathead bits. Avoid using a multi-bit screwdriver for heavy duty tasks because the tips are loosely fitted into the shank’s opening and can slip when you exert too much force.

Multi-bit screwdriver

7.      Ratcheting screwdriver

With a ratcheting screwdriver, you never have to reposition the screwdriver because it only allows you to undertake either of the two actions only, tighten or loosen. You cannot tighten or loosen a screwdriver at the same time.

Ratcheting screwdrivers have a form factor that allows you to fit the tip into the screw grove, adjust the settings to either tightening or loosening, and proceed to undertake the selected action until you are done. The screwdriver is manual and you can also buy one that holds several bits. They are best used when driving long screwdrivers.  

Ratcheting screwdriver


8.      Square or Robertson screwdriver

Robertson screwdrivers are used with square-notched screws. They are much more efficient because the square shape reduces slipping and grips to the screw tightly. Also, you can use more torque or force without worrying about damaging the screw or screw driver.

These screwdrivers were invented by a Canadian inventor known as Robertson. They are common in the furniture and automotive industry. Therefore, if you are a DIYer or have a car, you should buy a spare square screwdriver.

Square or Robertson screwdriver

9.      Pozidriv screwdriver

As a better alternative to the Philips screws, Pozidriv screws have incisions at a 45-degree angle within the T cross-shaped hollows. The incisions increase grip and efficiency, reducing slipping and increasing the screw’s lifespan.

You can replace Philips screw drivers with Pozidriv screws of the same size in case you want to use more torque when tightening the screws.

Pozidriv screwdriver

10.  Tri-point screwdriver

Tri-point screwdriver tips are Y-shaped. The tips have three blades modeled and spaced at 120 degrees. The three blades fit into a Y-shaped fastener also known as a Y-tip or 3-prong screw.

These screwdrivers are popularly used by electronic manufacturers such as Apple and Nintendo when assembling components for phones, gaming consoles, and more devices. Therefore, if you have a gaming console such as the PS4 or Xbox 360, you should keep a tri-point screwdriver around.

11.  Tri-angle screwdriver

You kids would not be frustrated about not being able to play with their toys once you get a tri-angle screwdriver. This screwdriver is built to drive triangle-slotted screws mostly used to put together toy parts and other electronic appliances.

A tri-angle screwdriver serves as an improvement to the tri-point screwdriver as it does not easily slip. The tri-angle screw module was made to enhance safety when working with electronics assembling screws. Due to the assembling process being repetitive and requiring one to work at a faster pace, tri-angle screwdrivers were created to allow workers to use more torque and work efficiently.  

12.  Electric screwdriver

Sometimes referred to as cordless screwdrivers, electric screwdrivers make work easier because they use electric power to drive the screws. Different types of these screwdrivers include:

  • Variable cordless screwdrivers: Combine the form factor of a simple electric screwdriver and a pistol cordless screwdriver. You can use the screwdriver in a straight position or bend it when needed.  
  • Simple electric screwdrivers: They are more powerful than a straight cordless screwdriver. 
  • Straight cordless screwdrivers: Resemble a manual screwdriver due to their straight form factor. They are the least powerful.
  •  Pistol cordless screwdrivers: Much more powerful than a simple electric screwdriver and resembles a cordless drill. Cordless drills are powerful types of drills used to drive drill bits into surfaces such as walls.  
  • Impact screwdrivers: More powerful than the rest other than the drill driver. The power difference between a drill driver and an impact driver is minimal. Impact screwdrivers are suitable when working with huge screws and unscrewing damaged or rusty screws.  
  • Drill drivers: Works with both drill and screw bits. Getting a drill driver saves you money because you can use it with both bits.
electric screwdriver

When purchasing an electric screwdriver, assess whether the battery or electric power it requires would suit your task. Heavy-duty tasks are more power demanding than light-duty tasks. Also, review the controls you get because using more than the required force to drive flathead or Phillips bits might damage the screws.

Let us help you find the right screwdriver and more  

Different use cases call for the utilization of a precise type of screw driver with distinct traits. At times, you might have an idea of the screw type you need but do not know the suitable length, size, and hand grip configuration. You must rely on a team of experienced personnel to guide you through the process.

MTN shop hosts a team of experts ready to help you find the right screwdriver and more tools. The team takes you through the process of tool selection and ensures ordered tools get to you in time. As a starter pack, MTN offers you 5% off your first order for subscribing to our newsletter. Subscribe now for regular product and service updates, and exclusive offer updates.