How to Choose the Best Screwdriver - a Toolstop Buying Guide

There are jobs that are simply not suited to power tools. At times there's nothing better than the poise and finesse of a screwdriver expertly gripped in a human hand.

This is the Toolstop guide to help you make your screwdriver work harder for you.

what's the best screwdriver - buying guide

Check out the short guide to the importance of choosing the correct screwdriveron Toolstop TV for the job you're undertaking we produced with Stanley.

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Ratchet It Up and Add Multi-Bits

You will face jobs that require the use of a "hand-powered" screwdriver, but also demand speed and torque. How do you get as much speed and torque from your screwdriver without resorting to battery power?

The simple answer is to use a ratchet screwdriver that uses multi-bits.

A ratchet screwdriver with a good, solid mechanism will allow you to turn screws with greater speed and higher torque while still giving you hand-control over the application. Look out for mechanisms in the ratchet screwdriver that allow you plenty of control over the torque as you tighten or loosen.

Pay attention to the manufacturing of bar and tip of your screwdriver. Look for chrome vanadium steel as this is both strong and corrosion resistant. Sand blasted tips provide a secure grip in the slot or recess of the screw head.

Bits are important to consider also.

Rather than fiddling around with several different screwdrivers according to the sort of head fitted on them, a multi-bit screwdriver is supplied with interchangeable adaptors that magnetically hold a variety of bits, from standard 1/4" hex drive Phillips to 1/4" hex drive torx.

Keeping track of your multi-bits while on site may be tricky, so look for a ratchet screwdriver that has some sort of internal, or adequate, safe external, storage.

Here's a great example of a multibit ratchet screwdriver to consider:

Stanley 0-69-214 FatMax Xtreme Multibit Ratchet Screwdriver

Ideal for both DIY and professional construction, this FatMax Xtreme set contains a ratchet screwdriver and 10 bits. It's all "easy change" and includes an extension bar for more flexibility when working in tight or hard to reach spaces and offers you loads of control in the palm of your hand.

The better you can grip the handle, the more control you'll have.

It's the perfect set for electrical work through to the installation of kitchen units, and much more.

Insulated Screwdrivers - click to see the range in stock

Stanley 5-62-573 FatMax 10 Piece Insulated VDE Screwdriver Set

Stanley 5-62-573 FatMax
This 10-piece screwdriver set is ideal for when you're working in an enviroment where you need to be protected from electrical shocks. Each screwdriver in the set is from the FatMax VDE family and the insulation is tested up to 1,000 volts.

The handles are soft gripand Stanley has developed them to give you fantastic amounts of grip while you work while reducing fatigue in your hand. The handles also benefit from a broad "stubby-like" diameter which is ideal for when you're driving wood screws where typically more torque is required.

The handles are moulded onto the bar giving you an almost unbreakable bond, and the the ends are colour coded to help you, at a glance, select the correct bit.

In the 10-piece set you get bundled in the carry case:

  • Parallel : 2.5mm x 50mm, 3.5mm x 75mm, 5.5mm x 150mm
  • Phillips: PH.0 x 75mm , PH.1 x 100mm, PH.2 x 125mm
  • Pozidriv: PZ.0 x 75mm, PZ.1 x 100mm, PZ.2 x 125ofmm
  • Voltage Tester

Bahco B220.015 Screwdriver Set

Bahco B220.015 Screwdriver Set
Designed for working on "live equipment", this ISO 2380/DIN 5264 set of screwdrivers consists of:

  • B196: 0.6 x 3.5 x 100
  • B196: 0.8 x 4.0 x 100
  • B196: 1.2 x 6.5 x 150
  • B142PZ: PZ1 x 80
  • B142PZ: PZ2 x 100

Each screwdriver benefits from insulation to protect you from up to 1000v and features Bahco's typical comfortable rubberised handles which afford excellent grip.

The handles also display the identification of the tip to make it quick and easy to choose the right screwdriver for the screw you're working on. The tips are finished in black which Bahco says aids in accuracy.

The insulated blades are made from high performance alloy steel and chrome plated to resist corrosion.

Comfort and Torque - click to see the range

Stanley 5-98-001 Cushion Grip Screwdriver Set

Stanley 5-98-001 Cushion Grip
In this set we have 6 screwdrivers, each carrying tip identification to make it easy to match the right screwdriver to the screw type. The tips are magnetic for easy screw pickup, and the grips are large diameter and cushioned for better grip. Better grip means more torque and a fast spinning action.

The bars are made out of chrome plated steel and are highly corrosion resistant. The overal toughness of each screwdriver falls into Stanley's philosophy of only producing the hardest working tools available. This kit is perfect for DIY and profesionnal use.

The range of screwdrivers in this kit comes in a handy plastic carry case.

OX Screwdriver Set Pro Series

OX Screwdriver Set Pro Series
Could this be the most visually striking looking set of screwdrivers on the planet?

Using OX's 40 years of designing hand tools, this 7 piece set comes in a tough carry case and has all the Pro features you'd expect including chrome vanadium steel bars inserted into soft grip handles for lots of control and torque.

The handles are colour coded to aid you in quickly identifying the right screwdriver for the job, and the set includes:

  • Flared 6.5 x 150mm
  • Parallel 3.5 x 75mm & 5.5 x 125mm
  • Phillips PH1 x 100mm, PH2 x 125mm
  • Pozi PZ1 x 100mm, PZ2 x 125mm

Bahco BE-9881 Ergo Screwdriver Set

Bahco BE-9881 Ergo Screwdriver Set
Part of Bahco's ERGO™range, this 6 piece set of tough screwdrivers is all about ergonomics; user comfort and ease of use.

Again, we find colour coded handles to make identification of the type of screwdriver easy and fast. The handles themselves and made from 3 components to guarantee toughness along with comfortable grip.

In the set you have:

  • Slotted:
    • 0.5x3x60mm
    • 0.8x4x100mm
    • 1.0x5.5x100mm
    • 1.2x6.5x125mm
  • Phillips:
    • PH1x75
    • PH2x100

Top Tips for Screwdriving

When driving screws into soft wood without first drilling a pilot, use a bradawl to mark a small indent. The screw will now be much easier to drive into the exact spot where you need it to go.

What Bits for What Job?

You've chosen your ratchet screwdriver with assorted multi-bits. The question now is, what bits are intended for which jobs?

Usually this question is best answered by considering another: what application are you undertaking?

Below we've got a list of typical applications where you'll be using a screwdriver and we've outlined the bit multi-bits for each, based around the type of screw you'll encounter.

  • maintenance and service engineers: use a Torx bit. These are the strongest and most wear-resistent screw types usually found in cars, machinery and domestic appliances. You'll also find torx screws in decking and other timber construction
  • cabinet making: use a Slotted bit. Slotted screws are about looks and appearance, hence you'll find them most often in wooden furniture. Select a flared tip screwdriver bit that is the same width - not smaller - than the slot in the screw head. Too wide and your bit will damage the workpiece, too narrow and it will damage the screw head
  • general joinery and construction: use a Phillips or Pozi bit. These screws are most commonly used in general construction and joinery applications and range in size from 1-4 PT.

Which ratchet screwdriver and multi-bit set is right for you?

Use the above guide and visit our website where you can compare and contrast features, benefits and prizes to find the best for your applications.

What screwdrivers and bits can't you live without? Tell us in the comments sections below, and let us know if you've got any questions about screwdrivers and bits and we'll help you out.


Mateusz Mysiak on Sat, 26 Dec 2015 01:14:55 +0000 (Likes: 0 / Dislikes: 0

How is the length of a handle relevant to the torque?

The distance perpendicular to the screw affects the torque required (knowledge mostly utilized while changing car wheels with wrenches), however the distance parallel to the screw doesn't affect the torque at all. I've stumbled upon that theory a couple of times at my previous jobs and lots of it in the forums and articles like that one and it seems like the biggest urban myth amongst craftsmen.

Amanda Letch on Sat, 01 Jun 2013 12:50:06 +0100 (Likes: 1 / Dislikes: 0

There was me thinking a screwdriver was just a screwdriver ! lol

Nix on Wed, 11 Jul 2012 06:35:30 +0100 (Likes: 1 / Dislikes: 0

"What Bits for What Job?"
right answer: torx (or improved versions) for everything, maybe pozidriv for automated/line assembly.slotted screws don't look better, just very old fashioned and are the absolute worst to work with

Kat Helms on Wed, 28 Mar 2012 03:36:27 +0100 (Likes: 0 / Dislikes: 0

Nice guide. I never thought about the details of a ratcheting screwdriver before - I recently bought one of the cheapest kits I could find, and now I'm wishing I had waited and gotten something a little more substantial.

Not too late I guess, but still!


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