Rick's Free Auto Repair Advice

Best screwdriver set — screwdriver features to look for

What to look for when shopping for the best screwdriver set

GearWrench 80051 12 Piece Combination Dual Material Screwdriver Set

GearWrench 80051 12 Piece Combination Dual Material Screwdriver Set

Everybody owns a set of screwdrivers, right? But most of those screwdrivers are worthless when you run into a really tough fastener. That’s when a gearhead or handyman needs a professional grade screwdriver set. I’ll show you what features to look for when buying a set of screwdrivers; the features that separate the best screwdriver set from the ones that will let you down when you need them most.

What makes it a professional grade screwdriver?

Hex bolsters
Hardened tips
Comfortable handle

What’s a bolster?

A bolster is a hex shaped extension located on the screwdriver shaft near the handle that allow you to use a wrench to apply extra torque to the screw head. To use a bolster, just slip a box end wrench onto the bolster, then push the screwdriver into the stuck fastener. The advantage is that you can push and turn at the same time. Without a bolster, a Philips screwdriver tries to “cam out” the screw head. You simply can’t apply enough pressure while turning. A bolstered screwdriver changes all that. So if you’re looking to get a gift for the gearhead or handyman that he probably wouldn’t go out and buy for himself, take a look at these pro sets.

sunnex bolster screwdriver

Sunnex bolstered screwdriver

The best screwdriver sets have hardened black oxide tips

Pro quality screwdrivers have black oxide coated tips to prevent slip and provide extra hardness.

black oxide tipped screwdriver

Black oxide tipped screwdriver

Comfortable Handle Shape

The handle is where comfort and control comes into play. Look for screwdrivers with ergonomic, non-slip handles that conform to the natural shape of your hand. Rubber, soft-grip plastic, or textured metal will provide more friction and torque than slick plastic. Some prefer handles with finger grooves or palm swells for a secure grip. Consider handles with a gentle bend or angle that allows you to apply downward force more naturally.

Other screwdriver features to look for

Shaft Type
Shafts are typically made of chrome-vanadium steel, impact-resistant steel, or alloy steel for strength. More expensive options may include stainless steel. Look for shafts labeled as heat-treated for added hardness and corrosion resistance. Hex-shaped shafts better distribute torque along the full shaft than rounded shafts. Magnetic tips are also advantageous for starting screws hands-free.

Tip Type and Fit
For maximum grip and minimal stripping, the screwdriver tip needs to perfectly match the screw’s drive type. The most common are slotted, Phillips, square, Torx, and nut drivers. Make sure the tip fits tightly into the screw head without wobbling. Check the tip for wear regularly and replace screwdrivers if tips become rounded or damaged. Precision-machined tips, black-oxide treatment, and hardened tips all increase durability.

© 2012 Rick Muscoplat



Posted on by Rick Muscoplat

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