The best screwdriver set
A screwdriver set just may be the most important tool set in your entire house, and owning a proper set prevents you from searching around for this simple tool when the need arises.
A screwdriver set should include a wide enough variety of tools to aid you in most repairs and projects. Before you buy, you should familiarize yourself with the types of screwdrivers available to find out which ones you will need.
To learn more about screwdriver sets, read our helpful buying guide below. We include breakdowns of our favorites, like the GearWrench 20-Piece Screwdriver Set. You won't be wanting for any size or shape screwdriver with this comprehensive set.
Considerations when choosing screwdriver sets
Types of screwdrivers
Slotted screwdrivers are what many have traditionally called a "flat-head" screwdriver. They've been in continuous use for a few centuries, and they're the most common household screwdrivers. One disadvantage of slotted screwdrivers is that they can easily slip out of a shallow slotted screw, damaging the screw head.
Phillips screwdrivers were created as a response to the difficulties that some people had with slotted screwdrivers. Phillips-head screws have a deeper slot, and because of the corresponding star shape on a Phillips screwdriver, they can be easier to remove.
Torx screwdrivers are a relatively recent invention, compared to the first two. First appearing in 1967, the Torx screwdriver engages the six-pointed slot in the screw head. Although it's a similar design to the Phillips, it's a tighter fit, allowing for more torque. They're not very common on household items, though you can find them on the occasional home appliance.
Most screwdriver sets come in quantities of between 6 and 20 screwdrivers. While more is generally better, you might not have a need for such an extensive set of tools. Think the variety of jobs you will need to use your set for to determine the right size.
There are a few different handle designs to choose from when it comes to screwdriver sets. Choose a design that fits easily in your hands and gives you the leverage and grip you need to be effective with the tool. The biggest choice between handles involves the difference between flexible rubber handles and hard plastic handles.
The shaft of a screwdriver needs to resist bending even under extreme stress. Some inexpensive screwdrivers have basic steel wire shafts, which are not very strong. If you spend more on your screwdriver set, you might get a shaft made of chrome vanadium, which is stronger and corrosion resistant.
Blades and tips
The blades and tips of a screwdriver must be strong enough to withstand heavy torque without becoming misshapen. Heavy-duty screwdrivers have tips have hardened blades that don't succumb to bending under pressure.
Anyone who has dropped a screw in a hard-to-reach spot knows the value of a magnetized screwdriver. When a screwdriver blade has been magnetized, metal screws cling to the blade when the two come into close contact. In addition to helping pick up errant screws in tight quarters, this also helps keep the two together when tightening the screw.
Some smaller screwdrivers have a built-in pocket clip, similar to what would be on a pen. This is convenient if you want to have a small screwdriver at your disposal at all times.
Insulated screwdrivers are primarily for people working with electricity. They have a sheath made from plastic or rubber that covers the shaft as well as the handle. These screwdrivers are recommended by OSHA for anyone working with electrical currents of higher than 50 volts. Although insulated screwdrivers aren't guaranteed to stop electrocution or shock, they greatly reduce the risk.
Most screwdriver sets cost between $20 and $100. For $20, you'll find screwdriver sets that have at least eight pieces and are useful for household DIY needs. For $50, you can get a set of Torx or insulated screwdrivers. Professional screwdriver sets, costing $100, include heavy-duty magnetized blades and a sturdy carrying case.
Q. Is it OK to fit a small flat-head screwdriver into a Phillips screw-head?
A. While it's possible to do this when in a pinch, it's not a great idea. Doing so can easily damage and "strip" the screw head, making it almost impossible to loosen, even with the proper Phillips-head screwdriver.
Q. Why does it matter if I have screwdrivers of different lengths?
A. It matters because larger screws require more torque in order to loosen them. Longer screwdrivers result in greater torque, which makes it easier to tighten and loosen large screws.
Screwdriver sets we recommend
Best of the best: GearWrench's 20-Piece Screwdriver Set
Our take: An "everything but the kitchen sink" set that beats the competition handily.
What we like: Twenty comfortable handles that make almost any job easier. The organizing tray is a nice added feature to keep everything in order.
What we dislike: A bit expensive compared to other sets.
Best bang for your buck: Craftsman's 17-Piece Set
Our take: A solid set at a reasonable price.
What we like: Nice variety of slotted and Phillips screwdrivers, and a lifetime replacement warranty to boot.
What we dislike: Not as durable as other options.
Choice 3: Wera's Six-Piece Kraftform Plus Torx Set
Our take: A great starter set for a Torx newbie.
What we like: Durable construction, easy to grip contoured handles, and the organizing rack make this a nice set.
What we dislike: Expensive for a mere six screwdrivers.
Adam Reeder is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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