Do you know all the functions of the items in your screwdriver set?
Many hand tools have been introduced to us while growing up, but the screwdriver is one of the firsts we have come to understand.
You will find a lot of household items have screws that require tightening or loosening now and again, so it pays to have a screwdriver handy all the time.
It doesn’t matter which type of screwdriver you have at home, but it matters that almost every household has at least one of these standard hand tools.
Different screw heads require corresponding screwdriver tips, and knowing the type of screw takes you a step closer to using the correct hand tool.
In this article, we have compiled a list of the different types of screwdrivers. Read along and learn the functions, history, and ubiquity attributed to each type.
Parts of a Screwdriver
Before learning the different variations of screwdrivers, you must understand what comprises one. Knowing its parts can help you determine each type as easy as 1-2-3.
A screwdriver has a handle, a shank, a blade, and a tip.
A manual screwdriver has a handle that houses a large portion of the shank and holds the rest of the screwdriver together.
It can be made of plastics, rubber, metal, or a combination of any of these three materials.
Screwdriver handles can have either a stout diameter for maximum torque or a narrow diameter for precision work.
The best screwdrivers come with handles that support ergonomics and minimal hand slippage.
Things like rubber coating and surface texture can improve the grip on the handle of a screwdriver.
Also called the shaft, the shank is the extended metal portion of the screwdriver that connects the blade to the handle.
Sometimes, the shank runs the whole length of the handle for durability and maximum torque.
Variations in the shank include the length and cross-sectional profile.
Screwdrivers with short shanks are needed for tight spaces, while long-shafted drivers are commonly used for hard-to-reach screw heads.
Most screwdriver shanks have symmetric cross-sectional profiles, but they can vary in shape. These can include round, square, or hexagonal shapes.
The blade is the profile transition from the shank to the tip of the screwdriver. Its flat, wedged, or conical profile depends on the function of the tip.
Blades can either add stability and increase the torque applied by the tip or create the transitional tip profile.
The tip sets the primary function of a screwdriver.
Each tip fits a corresponding specific screw head, and it determines if a screwdriver can drive a particular screw or not.
Screwdriver tips vary in size, which means using an incorrectly sized end can damage incompatible screw heads.
Damaging the screw heads can make them very difficult to tighten or loosen.
Different Types of Screwdrivers
Now that you know the parts of a screwdriver, continue reading to understand how to handle each common type.
Flat Head Screwdriver
The flat head screwdriver is also known as the slotted screwdriver because it is the type you use on slotted screws.
This type, along with its corresponding screws, is considered the oldest form as it is relatively easy to make.
Slotted screws should not be mistaken with flat head screws because flat head screws are just screws with flat heads, and they can have various types of slots.
Like the flat head screwdriver, the Phillips screwdriver is also a very common type.
Although it is widely used, misspellings have occurred with the name, and people tend to drop an “L” or add a “P.”
Because of its cruciform tip, it is also called the crosshead screwdriver.
Phillips screwdrivers have slightly tapered flanks, rounded corners, and a pointed tip.
PoziDriv is an abbreviation for “positive drive.” The term is used to describe a type of driver that is an improved version of the Phillips.
Compared to the Phillips, a PoziDriv screwdriver has a blunt tip and parallel flanks with additional smaller ribs angled at 45 degrees to the main slots.
PoziDriv screwdrivers allow more torque and provide more engagement than Phillips screwdrivers.
A Phillips and a PoziDriv can be broadly used interchangeably, but a PoziDriv can easily damage Phillips screws.
Hex or Hexagonal Screwdriver
A hexagonal or hex screwdriver has a tip with six sides, and it is used for driving hex socket screws.
A more common version is the hex key or the Allen wrench, which often do not have a handle or a tapering tip.
Allen wrenches, or hex keys, are six-sided shanks that are usually bent into an L-shape.
Robertson or Square Screwdriver
Although they are the least common of all the common types, Robertson screwdrivers are continuously growing in popularity in the country of origin.
Canadians developed Robertson screwdrivers because they have the highest torque tolerance of all the types.
Squarehead drivers have a tapered squared tip, and the corresponding screw heads are recessed square slots.
The Torx screwdriver is also known as the star-driver.
Camcar Textron invented the Torx drive system to permit increased torque transfer from the handle to the tip and eventually into a socket with a star shape.
Frearson screwdrivers are also known as Reed and Prince screwdrivers, after the company that produced them.
A Frearson driver is much like a Phillips driver, but a Frearson has a sharp tip. Its blades taper towards the pointed end and at a wider angle forming the V shape.
The advantage of the Frearson over the Phillips is that one driver fits all sizes of screw heads.
Types by Blade, Shaft, and Handle
You can also categorize screwdrivers by the uniqueness of their parts.
A ratchet screwdriver can have any tip, but with the addition of a locking mechanism on its shaft.
Depending on the locking mechanism setting, you can either rotate the driver clockwise or counterclockwise to tighten or loosen a screw.
The locking mechanism allows you to keep the shaft and tip moving in only one direction, which means you won’t have to remove the driver tip from the screw slot.
Multipurpose screwdrivers usually come in sets containing a universal handle and interchangeable screw shafts with varying tips.
The screwdriver bits can have varying lengths, but their shafts have a common size that fits the universal handle slot.
Bolster screwdrivers are heavy-duty screwdrivers with hex bolsters.
The hex bolsters allow you to slide a wrench onto the hex portion of the screwdriver so you can drive it with more torque.
Bolster screwdrivers are excellent for tough applications where the screws won’t easily budge.
Offset screwdrivers have angled shafts or handles that allow driving operations where straight drivers cannot reach some screw heads.
They are great tools for situations where there are a lot of obstructions.
Watchmaker screwdrivers are often called precision kits.
These screwdrivers have fine tips and very narrow handles with revolving butts.
They are called kits because they combine various tips and sizes in one set.
Today, precision kits have many more applications that are much different than watchmaking.
All computer chips, mobile phones, gadgets with small components, and jewelry also use precision screwdrivers.
Some screws are intended only for joinery applications.
As different types of wood have varying hardness, the type of screw should also be highly specialized.
Special wood screws require corresponding specialized screwdrivers to pierce the wood without causing any damage successfully.
Special Types of Screwdrivers
Some screwdrivers have specialized uses and are uncommonly found in your tool shed or garage.
If you come across an item, machine, appliance, or vehicle that uses such drivers, it is highly recommended that you stock on these types as well.
Clutch Head Screwdriver
The most common clutch screw heads still in circulation are either type A or type G.
Type A clutch head screwdrivers have tips in the shape of a bowtie with a knot, while Type G drivers have butterfly-shaped ends without the knot.
Clutch slotted screws are commonly found on mobile homes and recreational vehicles.
A tri-point screwdriver is similar to a Phillips screwdriver, but it only has three points rather than four.
The tip is a Y-shape, but the lines diverging to form the Y have equal lengths and are equally distanced.
The tip of a tri-angle driver is in the shape of a triangle, and the screw heads corresponding to it have an equilateral triangle for a slot.
Smaller tri-angle drivers cannot drive larger triangular slots because the tip just won´t bite.
Tri-wing screwdrivers have tips that combine a tri-angle and tri-point screwdriver.
The central triangular tip has protruding corners that look like wings.
Corresponding screw heads are also known as triangular slotted screws with three slotted wings and a triangular center.
Unlike the tri-point drive set, the wings or slots are offset and do not meet at the center of the screw heads.
Other classifications of screwdrivers include the source of the drive.
They can be manually driven with fixed or replaceable shanks, or they can be powered screwdrivers with interchangeable screwdriver bits.
The most common type of screwdrivers you should have at home are the Phillips and slotted screwdrivers.
They are the most universal, and the Phillips screwdrivers can even be used for the Frearson and the PoziDriv.
Sometimes, Phillips screws will even budge with a slotted screwdriver.