I'm wondering when should we choose a screwdriver.
Can it be used to put screws in wood, concrete or metal without drilling a hole?
If we need to drill a pilot hole anyway, why don't we just use drills to put the screws in?

  • 1
    You'd have to be really strong to screw a drill into concrete with a screwdriver--even if you do predrill.
    – DA01
    Commented Apr 20, 2012 at 4:24

2 Answers 2


If you can use a drill with a screwdriver bit to drive a screw, then most of the time, use it.

Here's when you might be smarter to use a screwdriver:

  1. The screw is going into a pre-tapped (threaded) hole in metal, or plastic, or any soft material.
    Always at least start such screws by hand -- so that you can avoid cross-threading them.

  2. Putting screws into delicate assemblies: eyeglasses, electronics, medical prosthetics, etc.

  3. When working in cramped spaces, a drill/driver often can't fit. Screwdrivers come in flexible, stubby, right-angle, etc. varieties for such occasions.

  4. For emergencies or odd jobs. Multi-bit screwdriver tools are dirt-cheap now. I have one in all my vehicles. I keep one in my briefcase, one at my grandmother's house, etc. You'd be surprised how often something needs to get screwed ;) and I certainly don't have dozens of cordless drills and chargers.
    Multi-bit screwdriver tool

  5. When the environment is likely to damage an electric device -- working in the rain, or in the mud under a house, or in a very gritty environment, etc. (Note that this is one more reason to make employees buy their own tools.)

  6. When working with a material where finish is important. A driver is much more likely to strip the screw interface, or to slip and mar the material being screwed, or to drive the screw too deep and crack or warp the surface of the material.

  7. When driving slot-head screws. These are notoriously hard to drive with a drill; the bit flies out of the slot too easily.

  8. When a precise torque is needed. (NEVER trust the torque setting on a motorized driver unless it is one of the industrial models made for that purpose and it has been recently calibrated.)

  9. When the screw itself is delicate, such as plastic screws, soft metal screws, threaded wooden dowels, etc.

  10. When working around volatile chemicals or in an explosive environment.

  11. When working in a clean-room environment, screwdrivers are much less likely to contaminate and are easier to sanitize/sterilize.

  12. When chemical or radiological contamination is an issue. A plain screwdriver is much easier to decontaminate.

  13. When the power has failed and/or the battery is dead (batteries also stop taking a charge after a while and need to be replaced). Thanks to ratchet freak for the reminder.

  14. When you want a nice vodka "kick" to your orange juice.

  • 1
    13. when you don't have electricity (battery is dead, blackout) Commented Apr 20, 2012 at 13:18
  • Thanks, @ratchetfreak, I rolled your addition into the answer, if you don't mind. Commented Apr 20, 2012 at 20:58
  • 2
    I want to a see a regular sized screwdriver with a motor and just enough juice for 2-3 screws. A hip holster has a larger battery, so every time you put the driver in, it recharges in a few seconds.
    – Jay Bazuzi
    Commented Apr 20, 2012 at 21:13
  • @JayBazuzi; lazyman's screwdriver Sadly I do own one.
    – UNECS
    Commented Apr 21, 2012 at 6:52
  • 1
    Your answer is too comprehensive for me to add another, but here's one more case: when you need to unscrew something that's been in place for a long time; power drivers usually just rip the head up or (for adjustable torque) whine quietly.
    – kdgregory
    Commented Apr 21, 2012 at 12:36

I like driving a few screws by hand once in a while because it's an incredible forearm workout (in case you're seeking more purpose in your exercise regime). At least with wood; I've never tried concrete.

  • 3
    After years of screwdriver, wrench, and other hand tool use, it's not uncommon to develop Tennis Elbow or Arthritic type conditions. Hand tools are great, but if you are using them constantly throughout your career it might be beneficial to use a power tool from time to time.
    – Tester101
    Commented Apr 20, 2012 at 13:22
  • 1
    the screwdriver is perhaps one of the least ergonomic tools in the toolbox it seems.
    – DA01
    Commented Apr 20, 2012 at 16:32
  • Agreed; it's probably a terrible idea to do it all the time. Edited the answer to be a little more responsibly worded :)
    – kwakmunkee
    Commented May 8, 2012 at 23:42

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