Tested: Power Screwdrivers

by Michael Springer
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by Michael Springer

The full-size cordless drill/driver is a toolbox mainstay—but it’s not the best tool for the smallest jobs around the house. Common cordless drills are often too strong and unwieldy for tasks that require a light touch, such as installing switchplates, attaching cabinet pulls, and screwing electrical devices into their boxes. That’s where the cordless “stick” driver comes in.

DeWalt gyroscopic screwdriver

All of these one-pound wonders have similar basic features and functionality, like bit holders that fit ¼" hex-shank screwdriver and drill bits, and removable lithium-ion battery packs. And all can be used in either pistol-grip or inline configuration for maximum versatility in tight spaces. Other common features include clutch rings that can be set to regulate torque output and switch lock-outs that prevent unintentional operation.

Premium features to look for in a stick driver include a precision action clutch that shuts the motor off at a preset torque instead of a friction clutch that slips, a one-handed snap-in bit holder, a battery fuel gauge, and a built-in headlight.

None of these diminutive drivers will replace your full-size cordless drill/driver, but they’re a great way to bring finesse to your toolbox.

Head to Head Test

Pro Tip

For most of the tools tested here, high gear may be best for quickly backing out fasteners, but low gear provides the best control and highest torque for driving them. You’ll have to use low gear to muscle screws into wood with these tools. The variable-speed DeWalt, however, has the most torque at its highest rpm. Use the clutch to dial in your desired torque, but beware—even the lowest setting can crack plastic switchplates. Built-in spindle locks let stick drivers be used like manual screwdrivers to finish off fasteners by hand.

How To Use It