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Types of Screwdrivers and Their Uses

12/31/17
Revised: 2/3/22
Grainger Editorial Staff

There are many types of screw fasteners to fit a wide variety of purposes, and there's a proper screwdriver for each of them. Using the wrong tool can strip and damage the screw as well as whatever it's being used to fasten.

Matching the right screwdriver to the screw can save time, effort and frustration. Here's a quick overview of some of the more common screwdrivers available and how they are used.

Power Screwdrivers


Screwdriver bits are interchangeable for every device. Check length, point size and diameter of each to ensure compatibility.

Interchangeable Head (Multi-Bit)


Like power screwdrivers, these have interchangeable heads but are manually operated. The main benefits are flexibility and less clutter in your toolbox. Some models offer accessories to organize and store the bits so you don’t lose any pieces.

Flat-Head


The flat head is one of the most common screwdrivers. Slotted screws come in a number of different shapes and sizes, often requiring differently sized heads despite the same general shape. If your screwdriver is too small, it will require more torque and effort to turn the screw just a little; too large and it won’t fit in the screw.

Phillips


A Phillips screwdriver has a head with pointed edges in the shape of a cross, which fits neatly into the cross slots of a Phillips screw. Phillips screwdrivers are available in five different sizes, from zero to four. If you don’t use the right size, you can easily strip a Phillips screw, making it difficult to remove.

Square


Also known as a Robertson tip, the square tipped head was designed to prevent stripping or damaging the screw. Square screws are commonly used in Canada. There are five different sizes of square screwdrivers available.

Hex Key/Screwdriver


The hex key or hex wrench, is an L-shaped tool with a hexagonal cross section. These are commonly included with DIY furniture pieces. Hex Keys are commonly sold in sets.
Precision hex screwdrivers are great for turning small screws on sensitive electronic components. Drivers have handles with a rotating cap that allows the user to hold the shaft of the screwdriver steady while only rotating the cap at the back.

Torx Key/Screwdriver


Torx keys are similar to hex keys and have the same L-shape, except this tool has a six-point, star-shaped cross section. Torx screwdrivers provide a secure grip on the fastener head.

Frearson Bits


Also known as the Reed and Prince, this screwdriver is similar to a Phillips but with a cross shape.
Frearson bits  accommodate all Frearson screws, regardless of size. The Frearson head is tapered to a sharp point, which allows for higher applied torque than the rounded-tip Phillips.

Triangle (TA)


The triangle or TA screwdriver has a triangular head with straight sides. Triangle screws are used for security reasons because they're difficult to remove without a TA screwdriver.

Tri Wing


Tri-wing screwdrivers are only compatible with a fastener head that has three slotted "wings" and a small triangular hole in the center. Also known as triangular slotted, the slots are offset and do not intersect in the center of the fastener.

Pozidriv


These screwdrivers are a variant of the Phillips and can be identified by four additional notches in the screw head. Pozidriv was designed to provide increased torque over the Phillips.

No toolbox is complete without a variety of screwdrivers. Find the right screwdriver for the the many jobs you do here.

The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.

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