10 Types of Screwdrivers and How to Choose

Screwdrivers are essential tools for construction, mechanical work, DIY projects, and more. With so many types available, choosing the right screwdriver for the job is important. This guide will outline 10 common types of screwdrivers and tips for selecting the best one.

Screwdriver Basics

Before diving into the different types, let’s review some screwdriver basics.

The key components of a screwdriver are:

  • Tip – This inserts into the screw head to turn it. The shape and size match the screw head.
  • Shaft – Connects the tip to the handle. Provides leverage when turning a screw.
  • Handle – Holds and turns the shaft. Provides grip and control.
  • Material – Steel provides strength. Softer metals like brass reduce stripping.

Now let’s look at 10 common screwdriver types.

1. Slotted/Flat Head

These have a single flat blade tip that fits into a single slot in the screw head. They are the most basic and common type.


  • General driving of slotted screws
  • Applications where screw must be flush or level with surface


  • Inexpensive and widely available
  • Thinner profiles can reach tight spaces


  • Not as effective at keeping driver engaged compared to newer designs
  • Can damage screw heads more easily

2. Phillips Head

Phillips feature a “+” shaped tip that fits into a cross-shaped screw slot. The angled edges provide more grip than a flat head.


  • Driving Phillips head screws, one of the most common types
  • Applications requiring more grip and torque than a slotted screw


  • Self-centering and stable engagement of bit
  • Reduced chance of stripping compared to flat head


  • Not as suitable for high-torque applications as newer options
  • Phillips bits can cam out under excessive torque

3. Pozidriv

Similar to Phillips, but with additional driving surfaces for increased grip and reduced cam out.


  • Driving Pozidriv screws instead of Phillips
  • Applications requiring enhanced torque transfer


  • Improved grip and torque transfer over Phillips
  • Reduced cam out issues


  • Not as common as Phillips in the US
  • Requires specific Pozidriv bits, not interchangeable with Phillips

4. Robertson/Square Drive

These have a square tip that inserts into a square-shaped screw head. Provides excellent grip and torque transfer.


  • Ideal for high-torque applications
  • Common in Canada but less so in the US


  • Superior torque transfer without cam out
  • Firm hold in the screw head


  • Specialized bits required
  • Less commonly available in some regions

5. Torx/Star Drive

Torx drivers have a star-shaped tip that matches the screw’s recess. Creates solid contact for driving without stripping.


  • Driving Torx screws, widely used for electronics and appliances
  • Applications requiring tamper-resistance and torque transfer


  • Allows high torque to be applied
  • Reduced risk of damaging fastener by cam out


  • Specialized bits required
  • Limited availability of bit sizes

6. Hex/Allen

These insert into hexagonal screw heads. Often used for small machine screws in metrics and SAE sizes.


  • Driving hex socket screws
  • Precision applications in electronics and machinery


  • Firm engagement into screw head
  • Allows use of ball-end hex keys for angled access


  • Only fits hex socket screws
  • Small sizes prone to being misplaced

7. Offset/Right Angle

These have the tip set at a 90-degree angle from the shaft. Allows driving in hard to reach areas.


  • Accessing recessed or obstructed fasteners
  • Driving screws in tight corners


  • Can drive screws not reachable with standard drivers
  • Shaft clearance from workpiece


  • Not as much torque transfer and control
  • Bit challenges accessing miniscule spaces

8. Ratcheting

Ratcheting drivers have a mechanism that rotates the bit in one direction when turned clockwise or counterclockwise.


  • Driving multiple screws efficiently
  • Convenient for repetitive driving tasks


  • Rapid driving without removing bit from screw
  • Reduced wrist strain


  • Larger handle less suitable for confined spaces
  • Not needed for one-off screw driving tasks

9. Powered Drivers

These have an electric, pneumatic, or hydraulic power source to automate turning of the bit.


  • High-torque fastening applications
  • Driving large numbers of screws quickly


  • Automates screw driving for efficiency
  • Provides added torque not achievable manually


  • Bulkier and less portable
  • Overdriving can damage workpiece or screws

10. Specialty Bits and Drivers

Beyond the basic types, there are specialty bits for unique applications:

  • Security – Tamper-resistant patterns like Torx
  • Power – For heavy-duty electrical and HVAC work
  • Precision – Tiny precision bits for electronics
  • Spanner – Multiple pin-like projections instead of a solid tip

With this overview of common screwdriver types, let’s look at how to select the right one.

Choosing the Right Screwdriver

Follow these tips for choosing an appropriate screwdriver:

Match the Tip to the Screw Head

  • Flat tip for slotted screws, Phillips for Phillips, etc. Proper fit prevents stripping.

Consider Size

  • The screwdriver tip should fit snugly into screw head grooves. Oversized risks damage.

Torque Required

  • Larger screws and certain materials need more turning force. Use larger, torque-focused drivers.


  • Bulky drivers won’t fit recessed screws. Offset or thin shank may be required.

Powered or Manual

  • Task duration and screw quantity determine if a powered driver is beneficial.


  • Softer chrome vanadium or brass reduces stripping in precision applications.


  • Larger handles with texturing aid grip for high torque.


  • For occasional DIY use, basic budget drivers are fine. Buy quality for frequent professional work.

Screwdriver Sets

For versatility, screwdriver sets provide a range of common tips. Here are typical options:

General Household Sets

  • Include a mix of flat, Phillips, and specialty bits
  • For basic around-the-house tasks
  • May lack Torx or precision bits for electronics

Mechanics Tool Sets

  • Variety of flat, Phillips, Torx, hex in SAE and metric
  • For automotive and engineering projects

Electronics Repair Kits

  • Tiny specialty precision bits
  • Common electronics heads like Torx

Power Tool Combo Kits

  • A drill/driver plus assorted bit tips
  • For convenient powered driving

Proper Care for Longevity

Follow these tips to maintain screwdrivers and maximize their lifespan:

  • Avoid using pliers on shank – Can damage shaft or handle
  • Don’t force mismatched bits into screws – Causes stripping
  • Lightly file deformed tips – Restores fit and finish
  • Don’t use drivers for prying – Will bend shaft or handle
  • Store properly – Protect tips and avoid losing small drivers
  • Clean periodically – Remove gunk, dirt, oil, etc. from surfaces


With this guide’s overview of common screwdriver types and selection advice, you can make an informed choice for your specific fastening needs. A quality matched screwdriver makes driving tasks easier, with reduced risk of slipping, stripping or damage. Investing in a comprehensive set provides a versatile array of tools for diverse applications. With proper maintenance and care, your screwdriver collection should provide years of reliable service. Let us know if you have any other screwdriver selection questions!

Frequently Asked Questions About 10 Types of Screwdrivers and How to Choose

  1. What are the most common types of screwdriver? The most common types are slotted/flat head, Phillips head, Pozidriv, Torx, Robertson, hex socket (Allen), and specialty precision drivers. Flat head and Phillips tend to be the most widely used for general purposes.
  2. Should I choose screwdrivers based on material? Yes, material affects performance. Chrome vanadium steel provides strength without being overly brittle. Softer brass or chromoly steel help prevent stripping in precision applications. Titanium also provides extra strength.
  3. What’s the difference between a Phillips and Pozidriv screwdriver? While similar in appearance, Pozidriv screwdrivers have additional “legs” on the tip for greater contact area in the screw. This provides more grip and torque transfer compared to a Phillips.
  4. When would I use an offset/right angle screwdriver? Choose an offset when you need to drive screws in extremely tight or hard to reach spots. The angled shaft allows the bit to access confined spaces not reachable with a standard straight screwdriver.
  5. Should I get separate screwdrivers for different screw types? It’s recommended to use screwdrivers with bits properly matched to the screw type. This achieves optimal grip and reduces the risk of slippage and stripping. A comprehensive set will have the range of tips for different fastener heads.
  6. What’s the difference between a powered and manual screwdriver? Powered screwdrivers use electricity, pneumatics, or hydraulics to automate and add torque to screw driving, making large tasks faster. Manual screwdrivers require elbow grease but allow more precision and control.
  7. How can I prevent damaging or stripping screwdriver tips? Avoid forcing mismatched bits into incompatible screws, which can strip, bend or snap tips. Proper alignment and fit between bit and fastener prevents slippage and damage during high torque tasks. Also, don’t use pliers on the shaft.
  8. Should I buy individual screwdrivers or a set? For DIY and home use, a screwdriver set allows versatility to handle different fasteners. Sets will have the range of flat head, Phillips, Torx and specialty bits. Buy individual drivers for infrequent professional jobs needing specific less common tips.
  9. How can I properly maintain and care for screwdrivers? Prevent rust by cleaning dirt and grime off regularly. Avoid using drivers roughly as pry bars, which damages shafts. Store securely to avoid losing small tips. Lightly file any deformed tips to restore proper geometry and fit.
  10. What size screwdriver should I purchase for electronics work? Look for precision screwdriver sets with very small Phillips and slotted tips, ideally with shaft widths around 1/8-inch diameter or less. Common electronics screws require tiny 000 and 00 size tips.

Key Takeaways: Choosing the Right Screwdriver

  • Match tip shape to fastener (flat, Phillips, Torx, etc.)
  • Proper tip fit – snug but not too big
  • Material affects grip and stripping
  • Larger handle size and ergonomics for torque tasks
  • Offset or thin shafts for accessibility
  • Powered options for automation benefits
  • Quality bits prevent stripping and damage
  • Comprehensive sets provide versatility
  • Proper care maintains functionality and longevity