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For some time now my corded 3/8″ drill doubled as a screwdriver when I had too many screws ahead of me.

This works just fine. I just needed to stop before a screw was seated, and used a manual screwdriver to adjust by feel the pressure (torque) until the head of the screw was at just the right depth.

I would now like to spare my wrist and go for the convenience of a cordless screwdriver. I realize that the nicer models have a torque setting. But since I will anyway complete my tool collection with a precise torque wrench for bicycle work, I'm now aiming for the most simple electric screwdriver, one that does not have a torque setting.

Since it lacks the VSR designation, does this mean that I will still need to worry about stripping the head of a screw or of driving a screw far too much into the wood? Doesn't the mere fact that it's labeled a "screwdriver" mean that it must have a clutch?

Another important feature that I might be losing when going from a drill to a simple screwdriver is that even the simplest electric drills have a variable-speed bit, through a pressure-sensitive trigger. Do simple screwdrivers suddenly jump from zero to their max rpm? This jump is alright (and expected) on a drill, but lacking vari-speed means that using such a tool as a screwdriver would be rather tricky. I would still need to turn manually the beginning and end of each screw.

It's easy to say "Drills are for drilling, drivers are for driving." In practice there are models on the market labeled "drill driver", which suggests that the line is quite blurry. If anything, a "driver" must by definition have variable speed; no?

This is a comment to the answer by "manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact"

But making the jump from a power screwdriver to a full-blown drill/driver requires understanding another issue.

With an ordinary (non-powered) screwdriver, we're used to a format like this.

pen-like power screwdriver

There are on the market power screwdriver that accommodate both styles of holding the tool. They switch from L-shape to I-shape.

power screwdriver that changes from I-shape to L-shape

The more serious drill/drivers seem to be made in just the L-shape format. They cannot be held like a pen-screwdriver.

drill-like power screwdriver

Are you then saying that someone who "makes the jump" will not end up missing the pen-like (or I-shape format) for some usage scenarios?

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    Do you have budget for an impact driver? They are far and away better than any drill for driving screws. Aug 28 at 16:37
  • The 'screwdriver' has a very low no load RPM, almost slower than a very slow turning drill.
    – crip659
    Aug 28 at 16:40
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    @AloysiusDefenestrate I see. The most revealing part is this: "you’ll find using an impact driver is easier on your hand and wrist". Whenever the cordless screwdriver encounters resistance, my wrist would still take a beating. But an impact driver would apply sudden torque and use the inertia of the driver/drill to counter the rotation, sparing my wrist.
    – Sam
    Aug 28 at 17:20
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    You won't miss the "pen" shape. At all. Aug 30 at 15:38
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    @manassehkatz-Moving2Codidact That's also my hunch. We like the pen-shape because all screwdrivers are manufactured that way, but when we really have the option—say with a T-handle over a hex/Allen wrench—we don't think twice and we enjoy the ease of applying pressure and torque.
    – Sam
    Aug 30 at 16:52
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I'd seriously consider making the jump from "just a power screwdriver" to a full-blown drill/driver. There are a lot of them out there. My recommendation is to pick one of the major house brands (e.g., Ryobi from Home Depot) or a major brand (e.g., Dewalt) so that you can start with a drill/driver, one battery and charger (that's the typical starter pack) and then later when you need other tools you can add them without needing additional batteries or chargers.

The sweet spot for the last few years has been 18V - 20V. Lower voltage doesn't give you as much power and higher is, IMHO, overkill for "ordinary users". A decent drill/driver is going to be a bit heavier than a simple power screwdriver, but a lot more powerful, and of course usable as a drill as well. All the ones I am familiar with have decent variable speed & torque.

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  • Instead of adding a comment here with a clarification, I updated the body of the question. Please read under comment to the answer by "manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact".
    – Sam
    Aug 30 at 14:36
  • @Sam unfortunately, your quest for clarification should have been here as a comment, and your update to the question makes it too broad and opinionated. Some people may miss the "pen" shape, while others may not.
    – FreeMan
    Aug 30 at 15:21
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When navigating the cordless drivers/drills on the market, there are a several factors to consider.

We assume that, in this day and age, not to mention COVID, you're shopping online and don't actually see the tool until it's delivered and you opened the box.

  • The voltage Is it a 4V unit, a 12V unit, or a 20V unit? The torque you obtain from the first (<50 in.lb, say) will be in a completely different range than the torque you get from the last (1800 in.lb is not unusual).
  • The weight Does it weight 400g/0.5lbs or 1.8kg/4lbs? The first will be very easy to manipulate with one hand.
  • The size Is it small enough to fit into the space you need?
  • Impact If it carries that label, it means that it can apply a sudden torque—helpful for tougher materials.
  • Hammer That label indicates that it can apply a sudden pressure (and produces a very loud noise). Only use this if you're driving into concrete. You will need a properly labeled bit.
  • RPM If listed, an rpm of 300 qualifies the unit as a driver (a screwdriver). An rpm of 1200 or more makes it a drill. Some units function as both.
  • Clutch If a ring with markings indicating numbers (say from 1 to 12) is present, then it's a proper driver and will be less likely to strip your screws/bolts, not to mention that it will be less likely to damage your wood or other material.
  • Brushless Motor The lifetime of this type of motor far exceeds the classical motor design. If you're an amateur, not a professional, this is way beyond what you need. If you use a brushed-motor tool every other weekend, it will still last you a lifetime.
  • Ball bearings This is one part of what you pay for if you buy "pro" labeled tools. You can abuse the unit knowing that the ball bearing will take the load just fine. Again, this is an overkill feature if you're an amateur.
  • Energy stored in battery Does the unit come with a 1.0 A⋅h battery or a 5.0 A⋅h battery? You will be able to use the latter longer before running out of charge.

The line between a driver and a drill is (no longer) very well defined. The factors above will determine whether the tool is one or the other. But the short version is that a (screw)driver does not necessarily mean that it has either a clutch or variable speed. It may simply mean that it is light (one-hand usage) and small (fits into tight spaces).

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  • When buying online, the #1 thing is to make sure you're not buying cheap Chinesium or counterfeits of the real McCoy. Even "sold by: Amazon" is no longer reliable due to commingling. Aug 28 at 21:19
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This is what I use: A speed wrench and a bit holder. You can press as hard as needed, you get crazy leverage, and it doesn't wear out your wrists. Tremendous torque and you can stop on a dime.

Also, it lets me hold the drill back for use as a drill for pre-drilling holes.

enter image description here source

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  • Lol... You're right. No fear I'd hurt my wrists after a few dozen screws using this tool. I'm just worried that, with both hands occupied, I'd need to apply a bit of pressure and would end up with blisters on my chin.
    – Sam
    Aug 28 at 21:08
  • @Sam Oh well, they make them with different handles. My downforce mostly comes from the hand on the end handle, but I have been known to use my chin :) Aug 28 at 21:17
  • @Sam If you get problems with the bit camming out, you might want to consider using Torx-head screws. Aug 30 at 14:44

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