17 Different Types of Screwdrivers and Their Functions

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Types of Screwdrivers

Screwdrivers come in various shapes and sizes, each designed to serve a specific purpose. Screwdrivers are among the most widely used and simple-to-use tools in existence.

These tools are said to have originated in the Middle Ages when they were employed to tighten screws on armor suits. 

While the majority of the original shape and design of this instrument has remained, it had to change to fit the demands of the modern world.

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Below are the guides to the different types of screwdrivers and their functions to help you select the right tool for your requirements.

Table of Contents

1. Flathead or slotted head screwdriver

This is among one of the oldest types of screwdriver. It is one of the most popular screwdrivers, having been created in Europe in the 15th century.

As the name implies, it features a flat shaft tip with a single slot that only connects with slotted screw heads.

It can be powered or manually driven; however, the latter is less common due to the ‘cam-out effect’ of the slotted head.

The cam-out effect occurs when the screwdriver tends to slip away from the surface of the screw head. This happens when the torque applied to the surface of the screw reaches a particular limit.

This can also happen occasionally due to a lack of centering, resulting in damage to the screw head or screwdriver tip.

They are divided into two categories according to their intended application: keystone and cabinet.

Keystone screwdrivers feature a slightly broader shaft tip than cabinet screwdrivers, making them more suitable for tasks such as carpentry.

In contrast, cabinet screwdrivers are used for jewelry manufacturing, watchmaking, and other similar tasks.

2. Robertson or square screwdriver

The square screwdriver, named after a Canadian inventor, is a screwdriver with a square head. The engagement of a relatively tapered square shape opening screw with the square protrusion, with no angle involved, neglects the cam-out effect, thus enhance centering.

The tool’s slight taper form at the front ensures effective screw locking, making it more pleasant to use. Ford Motor Company was the first to use these screwdrivers for industrial use because they speed up production, prevent damage, and are incredibly dependable. These are well-known in the United States and Canada but not in Europe.

3. Hex screwdriver or hexagon screwdriver

This is among the types of screwdrivers that are hexagonal and contain six straight lobes. Instead of screws, they are frequently used to fasten bolts. These bits for tightening or loosening hex bolts, nuts, and screws are usually in ratchet boxes. Since there is no sliding or cam-out effect while driving this, most power-driven tools can be equipped with hex arrangement bits, making manufacturing quick with infrequent errors.

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4. Phillips screwdriver

As the world shifts from manual to power or motor-driven, these screwdrivers were the initial step toward power-driven screwdrivers. These types of screwdrivers save time and allow for more precise and accurate work. Henry Phillips created them in the 19th century, intending to introduce power-driven screwdrivers into many industries.

The tip of these screwdrivers resembles a cross when viewed from the front. These screwdrivers also have a cam-out effect. Although, it is purposely designed this way. The torque reaches a specific limit when tightening the screw, preventing damage to the screwdriver profile and screw, and extending the tool’s life.

5. Torx screwdriver

The Torx screwdriver is becoming very popular among automobile mechanics. Technicians frequently refer to them as “star tips.” The tip of this driver is star-shaped and has six rounded lobes. A Torx screwdriver has a low radial force due to the circular shape of the lobes, which extends the life of the screw and screwdriver bit.

Unlike Phillips or pozidriv screwdrivers, higher torque can be delivered with the same amount of force without the tool sliding, even with high-speed power tools. This makes it more dependable to use. Torx screwdrivers exist in a range of sizes and utilize a numbering system to indicate the tip size. The measures include T8, T10, T15, T25, and so on. The size of the tooltip grows in proportion to the number.

6. Clutch head screwdriver

Over the years, clutch head screws have undergone a few design changes. The slots bear a resemblance to a bow tie, with a circular recess in the center on the earlier version. These screwdrivers are commonly used in the automobile sector and are particularly popular in recreational vehicles and older GM cars.

With these heads, a clutch head screwdriver will provide a good torque, even though they are designed to work with slotted drives as well. A security version is also available, which can be fastened in one direction with a slotted screwdriver but cannot be easily removed. They’re typically found in locations where maintenance isn’t done often, such as bus stops or jails.

7. Frearson screwdriver

At first look, this cruciform variant appears to be quite similar to a Phillips screwdriver, but there are some key differences. The tip of Frearson is sharp, whereas the tip of a Phillips is rounded. Furthermore, the tip angle is closer to a 45-degree angle than a Phillips. This allows you to use a single Frearson screwdriver on any Frearson screw size (as well as many Phillips screws).

Frearson screwdrivers are helpful for nautical equipment and other areas where accuracy and small sets of tools are necessary. This is because of its unique form, which allows for higher torque than a Phillips screwdriver and the flexibility to carry only one drive.

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8. Pozidriv screwdriver

Pozidriv screwdrivers are identified by four extra lines radiating from the center, which were designed to upgrade the Phillips design. The blade between the primary blades of these types of screwdrivers has tiny ribs and a blunt tip. These boost torque while lowering the chance of cam-out. 

While the designs of Pozidriv and Phillips are pretty similar, their cross compatibility comes with a greater risk of breaking the screw head. Pozidriv screwdrivers are less likely to cam out, but the production process for screws is twice as long, preventing them from displacing Phillips as the industry standard.

9. JIS (Japanese Industrial Standard) screwdriver

Being one of the world’s technological leaders necessitates consistency and high standards. As a result, criteria defined by a specific committee apply to every major industrial industry. JIS screwdrivers are cruciform screwdrivers that are similar to Phillips but are designed to avoid camming out. JIS screws are included in the majority of high-quality Japanese goods.

This screwdriver can be driven with a Phillips or Frearson drive, although this increases the risk of destroying the head. To make it easier to recognize JIS screws, they frequently include a tiny mark or dot near the slot.

10. Spanner screwdrivers

These unique drivers, which are not to be confused with the British word, are developed for tamper-proof functions. The flat-headed screwdrivers feature two circular holes on opposing sides of the head, making removal difficult without the right equipment.

Maintenance personnel will most likely use these screwdrivers in subways, bus terminals, elevators, or public bathrooms due to their highly secure nature. The flat blade of a spanner screwdriver has two-prong tips projecting from the end.

11. Tri-wing screwdrivers

Tri-wing screwdrivers, also known as triangular slotted screwdrivers, are sometimes mistaken with tri-tip screwdrivers, even though they aren’t the same. The tri-wing, unlike the tri-tip, has an offset center. A triangle with three “wings” protruding from each point is the tri-wing fastener.

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These types of screwdrivers aren’t widely available for general usage. These were initially designed for use in the aircraft sector. They’re currently used in mobile phones and gaming consoles. Tri-wing screwdrivers are expensive and hard to come by compared to other types of screwdrivers. These drivers were initially designed for aerospace engineering, but they are now widely used in consumer electronics.

12. Schrader valve bit/screwdriver

The drivers for Schrader valves are frequently sold in packages that include interchangeable Schrader valve bits. Schrader valves are commonly used in HVAC systems, motors, and tires, and the driver and bits make it easy to install them. 

These tiny valves frequently stick out from the unit to which they are connected. They are the valves that are used to put air in your tires, for example. These pneumatic valves are under pressure, and they need to be placed correctly to avoid failure and damage. As a result, high-quality bits and drivers are required.

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13. Watchmaker screwdriver

Sets of watchmaker screwdrivers are available. Six screwdrivers are included in each set, with numbers ranging from 0 to 5. The screwdriver’s bit gets smaller and thinner as the number decreases. A cap is attached to the shank in place of the handle. The cap is attached to the shank so that it may be moved independently of the shank.

The tip is positioned at the head of the screw, and the cap is pushed with one finger. The shank is twisted with the other fingers to tighten or loosen the screw. The watchmaker screwdriver works on various instruments.

14. Tri-angle screwdriver

Screwdrivers with three angles are sometimes known as three-angle screwdrivers. It features a triangle-shaped tip for slotting on triangle-shaped screw heads. The screw heads feature a triangle socket with three straight “wing” extensions that follow each edge clockwise, like a pinwheel.

Designed initially for aerospace engineering, they are today most often seen in home electronics. Left-handed threads are used in one variant of the screw. However, the same driver may be used for either thread direction.

15. Tri-point screwdriver

The blade of the tri-point is three-edged and shaped like a Y with equal 120-degree angles. These screws are widely used in portable electronics, but they are challenging to operate without the right driver. These screws are commonly found in Apple goods, Nintendo handheld gaming systems, and other comparable gadgets. They are also rarely seen in more extensive electronics or non-electronic industries. Only tri-angle drivers are compatible with hex drivers; thus, they have their own set of safety problems.

16. Allen wrench screwdriver

Allen wrenches are tiny, L-shaped wrenches with a hexagonal-shaped end, often known as hex wrenches, hex keys, or Allen keys. Allen wrenches and their associated fasteners are becoming increasingly popular with consumers who want to build furniture at home using tiny ratchets.

Since this item is so small and inexpensive to make, it is frequently included in the furniture box. They are available in a variety of sizes (diameters). The 5/32-inch, 3/16-inch, and 1/4-inch are the three most common sizes. Bicycles and motorbike engines frequently utilize these fasteners and wrenches.

17. Allen security screwdriver

The Allen security screwdriver is also known as a hex security screwdriver or a tamper-resistant hex screwdriver. This was designed to protect items that producers don’t want the general public to see. However, these screwdrivers aren’t readily accessible in the marketplace. 

A tiny metal post in the middle of the complementary screw prevents conventional Allen screwdrivers from operating on it. Allen security tools (together with the accompanying screws) are available in the following sizes: 1/8, 3/32, 3/16, 1/4, and 5/16.

There will always be the perfect screwdriver for any project you’re working on. As a result, don’t waste your time with the wrong tool. Using the wrong screwdriver can be stressful and can cause damage to your job.

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