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Tools

Best Screwdriver

There is a wider range of fasteners available nowadays than there were on the market when I first started working in a shop, but those square head screws aren't much use if you don't have the right driver. The following lists cover all of the basics and a few specialty drivers that I think need a place in your shop. No matter the style of driver I can guarantee that each of these lists is populated by high quality tools that are built to last. It may be "just a screwdriver," but buying a quality driver is just as important as any other tool in the shop and you'll thank me 20 years down the line when they are still going strong.

SK Keystone Slotted Cushion Grip Screwdriver - 79102

Picking a best screwdriver was a bit difficult, as there aren't a lot of different features one can point to, when choosing between one and other. I've decided on this screwdriver from SK Tools. I particularly like their handle, which is "dual durometer" (meaning partially hard and partially soft) for maximum grip and comfort. The handle cross section is square, giving a very good grip and the end rounded to prevent tearing up the palm of your hand when putting pressure on it. The end is also stamped for quick screwdriver identification. Small indents at the front end of the handle are convenient for your fingertips when doing detailed work. The blade of the screwdriver is a little longer than normal and covered in nickel chrome plated and hardened at the tip for longer life. It also has a hex boss just above the handle which can be used with a wrench or pliers for greater torque.

Matco SPg84C, 1/4" x 4" Slotted Screwdriver

Matco SPg84C, 1/4" x 4" Slotted Screwdriver

Matco could very well have the nicest screwdriver handle on the market. The triangular cross-section handle is made of three separate materials, creating the softest handle with the softest material in contact with the hand. A patented flocking surface provides sure, non-slip grip, even with oily hands. The end of the handle is fully rounded for those times when you have to put pressure on it. A bolster hole allows you to put a second screwdriver through the handle of the one you are using, in order to have extra torque. The tool's blade has a hardened tip and is molded into the handle via a butterfly shank for greater strength and durability.

Klein Tools Keystone-Tip Screwdriver with 4" Heavy-Duty Round-Shank

Klein's screwdriver might look a little bit old-fashioned, but it's not. While this design has been for sale for many years, it's stood the test of time, being a favorite that has outlasted some newer designs and innovations. What makes it so good is that the handle is totally surrounded in a rubber sleeve, providing maximum comfort and grip. The end of the handle has the tip identified y size, type and orientation, so that you can know exactly what your screwdriver is doing, even when you can't see the tip. Internal flanges provide a solid, twist-proof blade anchor. The blade itself is precision machined and heat treated along its entire length for maximum strength. A hex bolster just forward of the handle allows wrenches to be attached to increase torque.

Snap-On SGD424BR, Extra Long 1/4" Screwdriver

Snap-On SGD424BR, Extra Long 1/4" Screwdriver

Every once in a while you need something unusual in a screwdriver. That's when it's especially nice to turn to Snap-On. While they are mostly known for the quality of their tools, they also have an extremely extensive line. This 28 and 3/4 inch long screwdriver is probably the longest one that anyone makes. It's ideal for reaching hose clamps that are otherwise impossible to get to, as well as other hard-to-reach items. While extremely long, I wouldn't try using it as a pry bar; even with Snap-On's reputation for quality, I don't think it would last in that role. The handle is a plastic and rubber combination, ergonomically shaped for maximum comfort and grip. You may not need it all the time, but when you do, this one will be nice to have. Snap-On doesn't say that the handle of this screwdriver is marked for easy identification; but then, at this length what else could it be?

Greenlee 0153-13C, 1/4" x 8" Flat Keystone Screwdriver

Like the Klein screwdrivers, Greenlee makes theirs with a full rubber wrap around handle. This provides the most possible comfort and a lot of grip. However, you can't put quite as much torque on the screwdriver as you can with a square or triangular handle cross-section. To make up for that, this screwdriver has a square shank, making it possible to attach a wrench or pair of pliers to it when more torque is needed. The handle of this screwdriver is marked for easy identification.

MAXCRAFT 60601 Flex Ratchet Screwdriver

I've picked this ratchet screwdriver from Maxcraft, mostly because of its flexible handle. Having worked in enough tight places, repairing equipment or playing mechanic, I can appreciate the ability that a flex handle provides. It also offers more torque when turning than you would have in other situations. Essentially, by flexing the screwdriver handle 90 degrees, you have a normal ratchet with a screwdriver tip. How's that for the next time you have a stubborn hose clamp to remove? The flex action is controlled by a one-touch button to make it quick and easy to work with. Being made of drop-forged vanadium steel, the tool should last a lifetime while the soft handle is made for non-slip handling.

Snap-On SGDMRCE44, Ratcheting Screwdriver with 5 Position Handle

Snap-On SGDMRCE44, Ratcheting Screwdriver with 5 Position Handle

Snap-On also provides a flexible handle ratcheting screwdriver like the Maxcraft. While I'm sure that this is a better quality, longer-lasting tool than the Maxcraft, it didn’t get first place due to the high price. Nevertheless, this is a top quality tool that will handle lots of abuse. The flexible, five-position handle is ergonomically designed, giving you a good grip and plenty of torque. The ratcheting handle comes with a hex shank extender and both flat and Philips bits, so you can start using it right out of the box.

Matco RSD5A Right Angle Ratcheting Screwdriver

Matco RSD5A Right Angle Ratcheting Screwdriver

This ratcheting screwdriver from Matco is a bit different, being designed as a purely right-angle screwdriver. I've used some right-angle screwdrivers before, and can tell you that this one is far superior. The knob style handle on the bits makes it possible to use both hands when dealing with a stubborn fastener that the bit falls out of. By switching the bit to the other side of the ratchet handle it reverses direction so the ratchet mechanism is much simpler and reduces likelihood of it breaking. The drive knobs can be used with other bits as well, making bit selection limitless. When you need to get into a really tight spot (such as with auto bodywork) this is a great tool to have at hand.

Channellock 131CB 13 in 1 Multi Bit Ratcheting Driver

Channel lock has done it again, providing an excellent quality ratcheting screwdriver. This one comes with an assortment of dual-ended replacement bits (including flat head, Phillips, Torx and square) all stored away in the tool's handle where you'll always have them in reach. The ratchet on this tool has 28 teeth, making it much finer and allows for a maximum 225 pounds per inch of torque. The ratchet selector is at the front end of the handle, making it easy to see and access while you are working. While not flexible, this is an all-around great driver.

Craftsman LED Lighted Ratcheting Screwdriver

I've long been a big fan of tools which have their own work lights, having actually built some of my own before they became standard pieces of equipment. With this tool, Craftsman combines a ratcheting screwdriver and a tactical light, putting the light in the handle of the driver. With the LEDs surrounding the shank there’s no real shadow, so you can see what you’re working on even in the darkest places. The handle is anodized aluminum like most tactical lights but covered with a rubber grip while the shank is made of durable carbon steel for long life. My only concern might be if the shank could pull out of the handle if too much torque is applied but since it has the Craftsman lifetime warranty, that's not really much of a problem. This ratcheting screwdriver also comes with 12 bits.

Megapro 151NAS 15-In-1 Original NAS Driver, Blue/Yellow

If this multi-bit screwdriver from Megapro isn't the best around, I don't know what is. The tool comes with seven double-ended high quality bits, providing you with a total of 15 different configurations (including a 1/4 inch nut driver). That includes slotted, Phillips, square and Torx drive, the most common types. You can store six of the bits in the handle, in a slide out magazine, which comes out of the back of the handle. The handle end itself is rounded and padded, helping prevent blistering of the palm of your hand. Screwdriver shaft is insulated, making this a great tool for use with electronic devices.

Klein Magnetic Multi-Bit Screwdriver With 32-Piece Tamperproof Bit Set

I have to say, I picked this multi-bit more for the bit set, than for the handle. This one comes with a 32 bit, tamper-proof bit set; giving you Torx, square, and hex tamper proof bits, as well as special slotted bits for spanning screws and tri-wing tips. You won't find a better selection of tamper-resistant bits anywhere around. The price is a bit higher than you might expect, but that's due to the cost of the bits. The handle itself is Klein's usual high quality, with a rubber sleeve over it, to provide you with a sure, comfortable grip. The bit holder is magnetized, to ensure that the bits can't fall out and chrome plated to prevent rust.

CHANNELLOCK INC 61A 6NI Professional Multi-Bit Screwdriver

Channellock provides a nice, simple multi-bit screwdriver to meet most common needs. This one uses double-ended bits, providing the most common straight and Phillips sizes. The bits fit into the same handle and are held in place by a ball indent. The handle is molded plastic and while not as comfortable to handle as some, it's very rugged and certainly won't fall apart on you. The heat-treated screwdriver shank is short, giving this screwdriver somewhat of a stubby appearance; that's nice when you've got to get into a tight place because there are times when a full-length screwdriver just won't fit. Although this pick doesn't have a lot of bits, it's definitely designed and manufactured to be high quality.

Craftsman Auto-loading Multi-bit Screwdriver

Some people might see this as a bit hokey, but I like the idea of this auto-loading screwdriver from Craftsman. The handle contains six different bits, any of which can be selected and loaded into the shank of the driver, with a simple pumping action. This gives you the three most common flat blade sizes and Phillips bit sizes to work with so you can customize the tool for your exact needs. They're also all magnetic, so the tool will hold your screws for you and making it easier to get them started in those tight places.

Klein 32535 10-Fold 10-in-1 Screwdriver/Nut Driver

One of the advantages of multi-bit screwdrivers is the ability to carry many different screwdrivers along with you without having them take up a lot of space. That can be useful for those who have to carry their tools with them, whether on the road making service calls or on the roof fixing an antenna. This tool epitomizes that idea, giving you a compact screwdriver that you can carry in your pocket. The two shanks fold out of the handle like a pocket knife, providing two nut driver sizes as well as the sockets for the bits. A set of bits gives you tools for the most common sizes of slotted, Phillips, Torx and square recess screws. Using the tool with the shank at 90 degrees gives you more torque.

Matco SPO87P2C, 1/4 x 7 P2 Phillips Screwdriver

Matco SPO87P2C, 1/4 x 7 P2 Phillips Screwdriver

Matco could very well have come up with the best possible handle design with their rounded triangle cross-section handles. These are extremely easy to grip, providing very positive contact with your hand so that you can maintain high torque throughout tightening. The handle has a bolster hole through it, allowing insertion of a second screwdriver at a 90 degree angle to provide more torque. The shaft on this particular screwdriver is longer, at seven inches and is attached to the handle via "butterfly" wings stamped into the end of the shaft. A high percentage of soft material area on the handle helps ensure a good grip and the patented flocking provides a non-slip grip in case your hands are wet or oily. A precision ground, heat treated tip finishes off this excellent screwdriver.

SK Hand Tool 8" P2 Phillips Cushion Grip Screwdriver - 79115

SK makes an excellent quality screwdriver, with a handle that I really like. They call the handle design "dual durometer" meaning it has two different hardnesses of material, much like the Matco, except this one is square rather than triangular. Indents around the front of the handle provide a convenient thumb rest for a good grip and a rounded, stamped back end is a perfect place to lean into the screwdriver for high torque applications. There is also a hex bolster molded to the shaft which is right in front of the handle for attaching a wrench of pair of pliers fro added torque. A hardened tip holds up under the worst of conditions.

Snap-On SGDP242BR, Phillips Screwdriver, #P2 Tip, 28 3/4" Long

Snap-On SGDP242BR, Phillips Screwdriver, #P2 Tip, 28 3/4" Long

If you're looking for something special, Snap-On is a great place to look. Not only do they have some of the best made tools around, they are constantly innovating, coming up with new and useful additions to their product lineup. This screwdriver is a perfect example of that, coming with a 28 3/4 inch long shaft. That makes it ideal for getting to screws that you otherwise can't reach, like that hidden hose clamp in the depths of your engine compartment. The handle is dual-material, mixing plastic and an elastomeric material for better grip. Like the SK Tools screwdriver, this one has a square cross-section as well. A hardened tip ensures long life.

Klein Tools 603-10 No.2 Profilated Phillips-Tip Screwdriver

This screwdriver from Klein provides a medium length, between the shorter screwdrivers we've looked at and the 28 3/4 inch monster from Snap-On. With a 10" shaft, this one will reach into lots of deep, dark places for you. The handle is two-piece, with a full rubber sleeve, over a plastic handle. This provides a very comfortable grip and one that won't slip in your hand. The tip is precision machined, the entire shaft is heat treated for strength, and there's am identification mark, The tip is precision machined, the entire shaft is heat treated for strength, and there's am identification mark molded into the end of the handle showing this is a Phillips driver.

Greenlee 0153-33-INS 2" x 4" Insulated Screwdriver

When working with electronics, it's a good idea to use an insulated screwdriver. While all of the screwdrivers we've looked at have insulated handles, to protect you from electrical shock, this one is insulated to 1000 volts, all the way down the shaft. That protects you, as well as whatever equipment you are working on. The handle is rubber sleeved, much like the Klein tools screwdriver is. The tip is precision machined and phosphate-plated for accurate, fast contact.

Craftsman 41 Piece Screwdriver Set 9-31798

I had to pick this screwdriver set from Craftsman for my number one pick due to the massive number of screwdrivers that it contains. As it was on sale at the time of this writing, they were just a little more than a dollar a piece. Even at regular price, we're talking less that a buck and a half, an excellent price when you consider Craftsman's quality and lifetime guarantee. While advertised as a 41 piece set, if you count it as some other manufacturers do, counting every bit, it's a 51 piece set.

This set contains 11 flat blade screwdrivers, 99 Phillips screwdrivers and 6 Torx screwdrivers, plus miscellaneous other screwdrivers such as a #4 Phillips, which is a rare screwdriver to find. Most of the time, you have to buy the Torx screwdrivers separately, but not with this set. The flat blade ones are square shafted, so a wrench can be attached to them for additional torque. Unfortunately, the Phillips and Torx head screwdrivers have round shafts, so it isn't possible to attach other tools to them so if you need more torque, you're going to have to go for other options. All handles are clear acrylic, molded with deep grooves to have you a firm grip. These screwdrivers are ball ended, making them more comfortable on the palm for those situations where you need to apply a lot of pressure. For sheer flexibility, this screwdriver set has everyone else beat.

SK Hand Tool (SK 86006) 9 Piece SureGrip Combination Screwdriver

The SK Tools set isn't anywhere near as big as the Craftsman set, but it provides SK Tools's legendary quality. The shafts of all the larger screwdrivers have a hex boss, right before the handle, allowing you to attach a wrench or pliers for extra torque. Smaller sized screwdrivers, especially the smaller sized Phillips do not have this feature, as it would probably cause the screw head to strip out. Tips are all precision ground and hardened while the square handles provide superior grip, which won't slip in your hands, even if they're oily. The kit comes packed in a plastic tray, making it easy to keep organized in your toolbox.

Stanley 60-220, 20 Piece Versatile Screwdriver Set

Stanley, a household name in hand tools, has a very nice 20 piece screwdriver set, which should meet most people's needs. This one includes 7 flat blade and 5 Phillips head, plus two offset screwdrivers and a six piece precision set. Typically, precision sets have to be bought separate, so that's a nice addition. Another interesting thing they've done is to provide two of each of the most common sizes of both flat blade and Phillips screwdrivers. Since those are ones you'll beat up the fastest, that helps keep your screwdriver set in good shape the longest. The handles are ergonomically shaped for comfort and excellent grip, with color coding to make it clear which ones are the flat blade and which ones are the Phillips.

DEWALT DWHT62513 10 Piece Screwdriver Set

DeWalt is actually better known for their power tools, which are designed for professionals; however, they do offer some hand tools as well. This 10 piece set offers a nice selection of both flat blade and Phillips drivers, including stubby ones and fine point screwdrivers for small screws. All of the screwdrivers have magnetic tips, making it easier to keep from losing screws, especially when taking equipment apart. The handles are quad-lobed and bi-material, probably providing about the best grip of any of the ones we've put on this list. A color-coded end cap clearly identifies which ones are flat blade and which ones are Phillips. All tips are precision ground and precision sand-blasted to ensure excellent fit into fasteners.

Snap-On SGDXL80BR, 8 Piece Combination Cabinet Screwdrivers

Snap-On SGDXL80BR, 8 Piece Combination Cabinet Screwdrivers

Normally, I'd give Snap-On a much higher place on any hand tool list, but the price of the others made them too attractive. As usual, Snap-On provides excellent quality, but they charge for that perk too. Oh well, as we all know, you get what you pay for. Of course, if you buy these, you'll never need to replace these screwdrivers unless you lose one. The unique thing about this set is they're cabinet screwdrivers, which means the flat blade ones are not keystone shaped. That allows them to fit into those tight spots, where many screwdrivers just can't fit. Shafts on many of the screwdrivers are long, making it easier to reach hard to access screws without having to bend so much. The handles are nicely padded and feature large lobes to make it easy to maintain your grip, even with oily hands.

Rich the Tool Man

Before embarking on the current stage of my life, I spent 15 years as a Manufacturing Engineer in both the medical equipment field (medical electronics) and automotive engineering (city transit buses). After that, I owned a small construction company, mostly doing residential remodeling and commercial tenant finishes. I am no longer in either of these fields, but still get my hands plenty dirty as a consummate do-it-yourselfer; working on everything from remodeling my own home to rebuilding my car’s engines. My hobby (when I can find the time) is woodworking; making everything from toilet paper holders, to shelves, to music stands for my own home. My wife long ago gave up the idea that a two car garage is for parking two cars; it is my workshop.

While I cannot claim to having worked professionally with all types of tools, I have worked professionally with some. This comes from my previous careers, where I had to specify, buy and at times live with those decisions. Additionally, I would have to say that my engineering background has given me a thorough understanding of the construction of such tools. So, while I may not have used a particular type of tool personally, I have the knowledge to cut through all the advertising hype and statistics; in order to get at the truth of how well a tool will operate and last.

In my current career as a writer, I've written over 90 books. This includes my own titles and those I've written on contract. I've also written a complete website on how to build your own home.

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