Cheap screwdrivers will generally cause you an issue somewhere – at best, it could be them breaking while you’re undoing a fastener, at worse, you’re going to end up with blood quite literally on your hands; when it snaps under load and catches your hand with the sharp end.
It’s worth pointing out that most of the larger screwdriver sets usually compromise of regular slotted or flat head drivers, phillips, pozidrive and the numerous different fastener styles like Torx. If you need something more specialist, then you’re going to be better off buying a kit of ‘bits’ that fit in to a single handle.
Most vehicles now use a mixture of screw heads, including anti-tamper Torx, especially when they’re located on sensitive (or expensive) engine components and sensors – they’ve been put there for a reason, so unless you really know what you’re doing, you should leave well alone.
So what should you be looking for when purchasing a new screwdriver set?
Personally, I want a handle that isn’t too soft, but that doesn’t feel like a stone in my hand, something that won’t absorb oil and grease is useful, perhaps a knurling on the blade for ‘spinning’ fasteners out, or an indent on top of the handle to place a finger tip for the same purpose.
Some screwdrivers use a hex portion that you can fit a wrench on for an extra bit of leverage. But in my opinion, if you’re needing a wrench on the end of the screwdriver, you’ve chosen the wrong tool for the job.
The Best Screwdriver Set
1. GEARWRENCH 80066 20 Pc. Phillips/Slotted/Torx Dual Material Screwdriver Set
This set has 3 x mini phillips drivers, 6 x phillips drivers, 3 x slotted mini, 6 x slotted drivers and 2 x Torx (T15 & T20), all held snug in a plastic storage tray which works great if they’re in a roll cab or top box, not quite so handy if they’re to be stored in a tool bag.
The handles are a ‘tri-lobe’ design, which means they offer comfort with a good secure grip for particularly tight fasteners, and there’s a ‘speed zone’ for faster rotation – when your spinning screws in or out – basically when you’re not really needing to apply any torque to the fastener. The handles are also dual material, which means you have some soft grippy bits, and some harder bits for when you really need to lean on them, and they won’t absorb oil – a quick wipe down with some brake cleaner is all you need to keep them looking nice.
The drivers blades themselves are made from an alloy steel that’s been chromed and polished, so rust and corrosion will never be an issue. The only thing that I think is a bit … unnecessary … is the laser etched sizes on the blades – you instantly know what size you need when you’ve been doing this for a while, but I guess for those of us with less experience, it may be a handy feature for a week or two.
The tips are non-slip (a handy feature for that extra bit of torque) and the kit has a lifetime warranty. Just for reference, the storage tray is 14” x 14 3/8”.
2. Klein Tools 85078 Screwdriver Set 8 Piece
The kit consists of 4 x phillips blades and 4 x flat or slotted blades, designed to be a small-ish selection of the most regular screwdrivers – you’re not getting a hundred different choices with a mixture of Torx bits, pozidrive or anything specialist.
The quality steel blades have been precision machined for the perfect fit. The premium steel has been chrome plated for corrosion resistance and that super slippery-smooth feel, and as part of the manufacturing process, tangs are formed on the steel that are then molded in to the handle, meaning that no amount of regular force that can be applied by hand will loosen the handle to the shaft.
One thing that I really like with this set is the identification marks. Each screwdriver has a ‘tip ident’ on the end of the handle, which not only shows you what type of screwdriver it is (doesn’t sound that useful when you can just look at the tip, but if you have a drawer full of drivers, it’s neat), and the alignment of the tip – so when you’re struggling in an enclosed space like the footwell of a rally car, you don’t need to see the end of the driver to know where the tip is aligned to – just the end of the handle.
Yeah, the tip ident sounds like a gimmick that you’ll never use, but trust me … you will.
A complete lifetime warranty finishes off the set, and all in, they’re a great set of screwdrivers. My only real complaint is that there aren’t more of them for the money.
3. Craftsman 9-31794 Slotted Phillips Screwdriver Set, 17 Piece
This kit has 9 x slotted drivers, 7 x phillips tipped and a 4 in 1 pocket screwdriver thingamajig to fit on your keychain (that’s actually genuinely useful).
Craftsman say that these are professional quality, and for me, the jury is still out – the handles in particular remind me of the kind of tools I bought as a teenager, just starting to play with cars and didn’t care less for ‘quality’. That’s just me personally though – some people prefer hard handles like this, and the butyrate plastic used is hard wearing and won’t get contaminated with oils and dirt.
The tips of the blades have been machined to be a great fit in the fasteners, although one or two people have complained of receiving sets that haven’t been finished … with at least one screwdriver just having a plain piece of metal in the handle, rather than a slotted or phillips tip.
Being honest, this set of screwdrivers isn’t going to match the likes of Snap On, but then they’re a fraction of the price, and they’re great just to keep handy for small jobs.