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15 Different Types of Screwdrivers and Their Uses

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Screwdrivers are popular due to their simplicity and wide use cases. With screwdrivers, there is no need for a manual or learning process since even a complete newbie can understand the tool in seconds. Simple and effective are two ways to describe this tool found in almost all toolboxes and used by professionals and DIY enthusiasts.

A screwdriver is a tool that turns a screw in a clockwise or anticlockwise direction. The aim is to tighten the screw and hold two or more parts together. One of the driving forces making screwdrivers simple tools is their specific solutions. Different screwdrivers are essential to keep solutions specific to a problem. There are different types of screwdrivers, all with their uses.

Generally, the screwdriver consists of a handle, a shank, and a tip. The handle will typically have grip features and be made from wood, plastic, and rubber insulators. The tip of a screwdriver is usually the focus as it carries the part that comes in contact with the screw head. This guide will consider the different screwdriver types with their uses.

Bonus Read: 5 Perfect Alternative To Pocket Hole Screws

Common Screwdriver Types and Uses

To better utilize your screwdriver, you’ll need to understand the different types and their major uses. Understanding their uses will let you know which types you need. Here is a list of common screwdrivers and their uses:

1. Flat Head Screwdriver

Flat Head Screwdriver

Flathead screwdrivers are some of the most popular screwdriver types, as most screw heads come in that style. The tip of a flat head screwdriver is flat, so they fit into linear-ledged screw heads. Flathead screwdrivers are sometimes called slotted heads due to how the tip slots into the screw head.

The screwdriver is mostly manually driven as it can slip out from the head when in use which may damage the screw head if power-driven. Newer flathead screws come with tapered parallel tips that prevent slip-outs from the screw heads.

Flathead screwdrivers are used for small projects like making cabinets, furniture, and stairs, among other materials. They were formerly prominent in the construction industry but have been replaced with other screws.

2. Torx Screwdriver

Torx Screwdriver

Torx screwdrivers have star-shaped tips and are sometimes called star screwdrivers. With tox screwdrivers, the six round lobes at the tip have a large area of contact with the screw head, which helps for improved torque application. In addition, the shape of the tip and number of lobes means accidentally slipping out when in use is difficult, and your screw head is protected.

Torx screws are used in engineering, appliances, and security features as they are durable and efficient. Torx screwdrivers are mainly power-driven since it does not slip out from the screw head, no matter the torque applied to them. Tor screws are needed based on the tip size, with larger top sizes having lather numbers.

3. Phillips Screwdriver

Phillips Screwdriver
Image source: istockphoto.com

The screwdriver was named after its inventor in the 19th century, Henry Phillips. It fits into and turns screws with a cross or plus heads. The extra area of contact helps keep the screwdriver in the head except when a certain torque level is exceeded, usually dependent on the strength of the screw. There are five different Phillips screwdriver sizes numbered from zero to four.

Philips screwdrivers are commonly used in the construction industry and woodworking purposes and can be power-driven safely if you stay within the proper torque.

The angled tips of a Phillips screwdriver allow you to apply more torque and move the screw deeper. However, stripping screw heads is common for Phillips heads, so you must be careful when using this screwdriver.

4. Hex Screwdriver

Hex Screwdriver

Hexagonal, hex, hex key, or Allen wrench screwdrivers come with a hexagonal recess rather than the usual tip at the end of a blade. The recess has six straight portions, like a hexagon that grabs the bolt when turning. The recess covers the bolt head, so there is no sliding-out effect when turning with even the most powerful driver.

Hex screwdrivers are used in bicycle repairs and furniture assembly to turn bolts rather than only screws due to their hexagonal recess. They are also effective in turning hex screws and bolts on appliances. In addition, they come with straight handles, so they don’t need much space to turn.

5. Pozidriv Screwdriver

Pozidriv Screwdriver

Pozidriv screwdrivers feature plus or cross-shaped tips similar to the Phillips screwdriver. However, they are seen as an upgrade as their tips are blunter, tinier, and have more surface contact with the screw head. Thus, reducing the risk of slipping out when used in a high-power driver. In addition, Pozidriv features two cross marks with offsets at 46 degrees, helping keep them firmly inside the screw head.

Pozidriv is common in European countries and is used to turn plus head screws that require more torque. Even though this screwdriver does not completely stop the cam-out effect, it significantly reduces it, making it more efficient than the Phillips screwdriver.

Bonus Read: How to Screw Into Concrete With a Hammer Drill?

6. Square Screwdriver

The square screwdriver, or Robertson as named after its Canadian inventor, features a square-tipped head with no chance of slipping off. The square screwdriver is designed to prevent cam-out and stripping.

Five square screwdriver sizes are available, with a slight taper shape in front to lock the screw. They sport one of the highest torque clearances among screwdrivers due to their recessed square socket.

The square screwdriver is mostly used in the automobile and furniture industries, with Ford Motor Company among the first to use it. It is reliable and fast as it speeds up production and reduces losses since stripping is impossible.

7. Watchmaker Screwdriver

Watchmaker Screwdriver

Watchmaker screwdriver usually comes in a set of six and are numbered zero to five, with the size of the bits increasing as the number increases. The structure of a watchmaker screwdriver is such that the head and shank can move independently of each other and the tip.

As its name implies, the watchmaker screwdriver is used by watchmakers or repairers to turn screws in the watch and other instruments with tiny screws. You’ll need to press the head with a finger and then rotate the shank with the other fingers to move the tip and, in turn, the screw.

8. Tri-Point Screwdriver

Tri-Point Screwdriver

Tri-point screwdriver has a three-point, U-shaped tip, set at 120 degrees from each other. It is sometimes called Y-tip or 3-prong screwdrivers because their blades do not lock in fully inside the screw head, leaving safety causes if a powerful driver is used.

Tri-point screwdrivers are common in the electronic industry, with large companies like Apple using them in their phones. Other gaming industries also use this screwdriver, with companies like Nintendo using the screws for their games.

9. Frearson Screwdriver

Frearson Screwdriver

Frearson is sometimes called a reed or prince screwdriver and is similar to a Phillips screwdriver in the number of blades. However, the top is sharp and set at 45 degrees, whereas the Phillips screwdriver’s tip is almost round. This style helps protect the screw head from shattering or wearing off.

You can use the Frearson screwdriver to turn any Frearson screw, no matter its size, due to the 45-degree angle of the tips. The screwdriver will also turn most Phillips screws. It is mostly used on nautical instruments where a larger torque is required.

10. Triangle Screwdriver

Triangle Screwdriver

Triangular screwdrivers or TA have triangular tips with straight sides. Screw heads with triangular-shaped depressions require an equally triangular-shaped tip to turn it. Unfortunately, TA screwdrivers are not common in DIY kits, so you may have to search for them separately. However, hex screwdrivers can hold some TA screws if you desperately need a fix.

Triangular screwdrivers are mostly used in security since it is difficult to turn without TA screwdrivers which are not found in every DIY kit. Instead, you’ll find TA screws in toys, electronics, and appliances.

11. Tri-Wing Screwdriver

Tri-Wing Screwdriver

Another similar screwdriver to the tri-point screwdriver with tri blades, but instead of a y shape, the angles are evenly spread. The tip resembles a pinwheel with a screwdriver capable of turning triangular-shaped depressions. These screwdrivers are not commonly found around, so they are one of the most expensive on this list.

Originally, the tri-wing screwdriver was made for the aerospace industry, hence the name, but it has found its way into the electronics and appliance industries. Tri-wing screws are also difficult to turn without an appropriate tri-wing screwdriver, which makes it good for security.

12. Spanner Screwdriver

Spanner Screwdriver

The spanner driver is sometimes called a pig-nose or snake-eye driver due to the shape of the tip, looking like a barbecue fork with a flat head having two protruding tips.

The screwdriver is not as common, which makes their screw perfect for security, especially as turning these screws without the spanner driver is difficult.

It turns flat head screws with depressed sides and wouldn’t bulge without a fitting screwdriver. The unique nature of this screwdriver makes it ideal for places like elevators and bus terminals.

13. Bolster Screwdriver

Bolster Screwdriver

Bolster screwdrivers can feature different tips, including flat, hex, and crossheads. The main feature of a bolster screwdriver is a nut welded below the handle.

When nuts are stuck to the surface, you can loosen them using a bolster screwdriver with a tip that matches the head of the screw or nut. In addition, the shaft can turn independently of the handle, making it possible to utilize the nut to loosen tight screws.

You’ll need a spanner to grab and turn the bolt attached to the shank, which will loosen the screw or nut. The bolster screwdriver allows you to apply even greater torque than possible with the driver’s handle.

14. Japanese Industrial Standard Screwdriver

Japanese Industrial Standard Screwdriver

Japanese Industrial Standard screwdriver (JIS) is similar to Phillips. However, it comes with a cruciform tip, so you can apply greater torque without cramming out the screw head. In addition, JIS is a self-centering tool, so you don’t have to waste time looking for the center.

JIS is a popular screwdriver in the toolbox for fastening screws with cross-point heads. You’ll find the screws in imports from Japan. Other alternatives to the JIS are Frearson and Phillips; however, you’ll need to put in a lot of effort. You get a lot of control when using this screwdriver over factors like the torque.

15. Clutch Head Screwdriver

Clutch Head Screwdriver

Clutch Head or bolt tie screwdriver, whichever name you choose to call it, the overall feel of the screwdriver is that it focuses on turning screws with clutch heads or heads similar to a bolt tie. This screwdriver can apply great torque, but it will resist a greater turning force.

Clutch head screws are common in the automobile industry, with old GM models extensively using this screw type. However, a security variant of the clutch head makes it harder to remove. This variant is slotted one way in places like prisons and bus stations.

Also Read: How to Tighten a Chainsaw Chain? (+ How Tight Should it Be)


Screwdrivers are simple and efficient as they help turn screws; however, choosing the right screwdriver for your task may be a little confusing because there are so many different types available. Luckily, the confusion about knowing what each screwdriver can do is long gone with this concise guide.