Simply Screwdrivers

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Established Member
16 Aug 2004
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Crowthorne, Berkshire
Looking at my motley collection of screwdrivers I think its time to buy new.

What do you guys have/ recommend and what works well. A large number of the "sets" that can be bought seem to be Chaiwanese plastic disguised as a tool but which distort at every opportunity.

I'm looking for something that might be the premier screwdrivers for cabinetmakers.

Why not make your own. There not that hard to make and should last a lifetime. :)

I had'nt thought about making my own. I could make slots but Pozi or Phillips would be more difficult.

What type of steel did you use. How did you harden them and to about what level. I assume a standard type of tang.

Also do they get a bit large for use in cabinets; size is hard to tell from the pics.

beech1948":2dab92sv said:
I'm looking for something that might be the premier screwdrivers for cabinetmakers.

Increasingly though, the Pozidrive head seems to be becoming far more popular than the traditional slot headed screw :( which does limit your choice if you want to make your own. For Pozi's I stick to the blue handled Stanley's which I've used for years and for slot heads I use a set of three boxwood handled Marples that I bought in the 70's.
Crown make decent screwdrivers though, which look very similar to my Marples - Rob
Whia make the best screwdrivers going. Very comfortable to use, solid construction. I think axminster stock them.
I have tried the Crown slot screwdrivers with wooden handles and found them to be only poor to moderate in performance. Slot blades were weak and twisted during use and I mean use not abuse. Set returned for refund. So did'nt work for me.

The idea of using Stanley is quite a good one if I could find some older Stanley screwdrivers in good nick. Again I have used the modern Fat Max ones and don't think they are as good as the marketing. Thats part of the collection I want to replace. I had an excellent Stanley with a wooden handle bought when I was 18 ( I'm now 63) and it was an excellent tool. Unfortunately the wooden handle eventually split on me last year and loose blade rolled into a drain.

I quite like the Wiha ones and they have some with wooden handles. Will investigate and compare wood versus plastic handles.

Witte make some very comfy versions, good grip, different lengths, made in Germany. They also do bit holders so you can put insert bits in.
I am pretty sure I read that Halfords sell good quality screwdrivers.

I personally have sets of blue and red handles Stanleys which are good, plus lots of old boxwood handled types that are even better for slot screws.

I know they are not traditionally used by woodworkers but I think you have to go a long way to beat the quality and performance
of Snap-On screwdrivers. They are a bit pricey but guaranteed for life.
PB swiss make good slotted screwdrivers
They have a parallel tip and docked corners to VSM standards, this solves the problems you get with normal tapered type drivers
I've replaced my wiha wera snap-on etc
The japanese brands Vessel, Anex and Sunflag are worth a look too(Japanese philips is JIS standard so western tools don't fit well)
beech1948":15fy47yr said:
I have tried the Crown slot screwdrivers with wooden handles and found them to be only poor to moderate in performance. Slot blades were weak and twisted during use and I mean use not abuse. Set returned for refund. So did'nt work for me.

Sorry to hear that Alan. I've not tried them personally, but I have used their chisels, which aren't too bad (apart from poor side grinding) so I thought that the screwdrivers might be usable...apparently not :( - Rob
Some modernist notes:

For cross-headed screws, it's well worth taking a moment to understand them:

The Phillips ones were the first, but not tne omst useful for general use. There's a really useful series of Wikipedia pages that this link will get you into:

Coupla practical points (pun alert!):

In my experience, Phillips heads are the most fragile of all the 'special' ones. They're used a lot in manufacturing because of their ability to centre and torque-up nicely. The Pozi- ones take more abuse, which is probably why they dominate DIY and construction.

For some reason (probably for auto-feed screwdrivers, for which they work best), plasterboard screws (the ones that have a trumpet-bell-shaped head) are Phillips, not Pozidrive. Use the wrong screwdriver and you'll regret it!

I can't see any reason to use straight slotted, apart from aesthetics. They're easily damaged, and, whilst having the slots aligned looks good in cabinet work, it doesn't necessarily mean all the screws are tightened to the same amount. So, for me 'yes' for fine work, 'no' for practical strong construction. You also have to fettle the screwdrivers more often - blades must finish square to the shaft and have sharp corners. Pozidrive seems slightly more tolerant of wear.

For twenty years and more I've used diamond-tipped screwdriver bits in a rechargeable drill/driver. I hardly ever use ordinary screwdriver bits now (crosshead, that is). They really do make a huge difference to performance, especially in awkward places where you can't get a lot of weight behind the drill, and especially when unscrewing, as they don't cam-out (slip). Because they don't slip, they damage the head far less. This means the screw can be removed later if necessary - always a horrid job if the head is chewed up. They're worth every penny for day to day use.

I prefer the longer-shafted diamond bits, as they're held better in the chuck and wobble less. If you buy the shorter ones, they're still better than plain steel, but you won't see the real benefit of a diamond bit (those quick-change magnetized things are a complete waste of time, IMHO). Generally with manual screwdrivers it also holds true: the longer the screwdriver, the better it will work. This is because you can see more easily that you're addressing the screw square on, and, if you wobble, it has less effect on the business end.

Finally, I've learned to my cost not to use double-start threads on door hinges! They work loose over time. Since almost all my general-purpose screws are double-start and toughened, I keep some ordinary #8 and #10 just for door hinges.

Sorry - drifted off topic as usual. Need more coffee...


PS: I'm just starting to use square-socket screws ("Robertson"?) for pocket-hole joinery. I don't have much experience of them yet and will be interested to see how the drivers perform with a lot of use.
Eric the Viking,
I agree on the cross heads. Mostly Pozi out there. I still see a few Phillips.

The slotted screwdrivers I use when refurbing/restoring old furniture or at least made created upto say 1988. After that time the makers mostly use cross heads or supply rubbish slot screws which chew up easily. Its just that 40% of my work is becoming restoration instead of new constructions ( hey it pays quite well or I'm expensive) so I encounter older slot head screws all the time. Just don't mention that its getting hard to find quality new slot heads screws these days.

I'm not sure what to do next. But for slot heads I have fixed up a visit to a friends London based restoration workshop where he has both Witte and Wiha and I will have a look see.

Thanks for all the feedback and information.
You can always make your own using the magnetic or spring loaded "shafts" from say Axminster and what ever heads you like:


Nice work and very well made.
I've thought about making my own. I don't like the type of screwdriver which takes small bits I much prefer a screwdriver to be the right size. I have considered making my own turnscrews for slot heads as someone else has suggested.

I'm used to wera as well... Guess there is better, but you know when you get used to something, you can't just change it...
well visit to friend in London to see Witte and Wiha screwdrivers seems to show that there is not too much to choose between them. So I've measured my screwheads, estimated the slot sizes and I'm going to make some Turnscrew style screwdrivers.

A2 steel, tang, brass ferule and probably beech handles as I have a lot to offcuts that I can use. I'll show them here when done. Thanks for all suggestions.