You may find the odd history of the humble screwdriver here or there, but the truth is that a tool held by a human to tighten and untighten a fastener is probably as old as humanity itself. That’s because, whether Phillips or flat-head, Pozidriv or Robertson, Tri-Wing or Torx, the modern term ‘screwdriver’ refers to any shaft whatsoever that slots into a ‘screw’ and ‘drives’ it with a twisting motion. And, today, the list of screwdriver types is as long as the arm that holds them.
In fact, it’s a pretty sure bet that just about every single home in the developed and developing world, let alone the businesses and workplaces and industries that drive modern society, have more than just a single screwdriver type in the toolbox. For the manager or entity charged with the duty of getting the right screwdrivers in the right toolboxes, then, one of the simplest tools on earth suddenly becomes one of the most difficult tasks.
Sometimes, therefore, all you need is the simplest breakdown that will plough through the most complex of the technical jargon and the dozens of distinct screwdriver types and get your workplace the tools they need for the job. And for the humble and yet incredibly diverse screwdriver tool category, we think it can be broken down into the four most important features:
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After all, it’s the working end of your screwdriver – and there are many, including the familiar flat and Phillips heads but also square, triangular, double-hex, Resistorx – and many others. Mercifully, that tip needs to fit snugly into the head of the fastener, so once you know the fastener you can’t go wrong.
We say ‘material’, but that’s actually just a more specific way of talking about screwdriver quality. The better the material, the better the toughness and bit resistance, even though anything but the cheapest and nastiest will be made of a generally good alloy. Step it up a notch, though, with the impact resistance of chromium-molybdenum steel or chrome vanadium steel – or step it up a double-notch with a diamond or titanium nitride coating. Generally, though, it’s the material and the manufacturing process that will have the biggest influence on price.
Generally, long-handle screwdrivers are great for reaching into a deep and dark spot, but that will come at the expense of torque. The torque or twisting power of a short screwdriver is better, but poorer reach and control will be the payoff.
Then there’s the bit you hold in your hot little hand – the handle. It may seem like an insignificant feature, and perhaps simply the reserve of luxurious comfort versus cheaper and simpler, but there’s a lot more to it than that. A rounded end, for instance, is designed to comfortably dig into the palm of your hand to maximise torque, while a T-handle is even better for twisting force at the expense of space and turning speed.
But wait: there’s more! Don’t forget about ratchet screwdrivers, detachable bits, electrically insulated or precision screwdrivers – and much, much more. At the end of the day, the only important thing is perfectly matching your tool selections with your crucial workplace tasks, so if you still have questions, don’t be afraid to ask an expert.
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