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Choose the right screwdriver

Spring is on its way and it is time to reactivate the building projects that have been in hibernation. A good power screwdriver and drill is key to getting these projects done.

25/02/2013Print article

How to choose screwdrivers. There is a range of screwdrivers that a general DIYer should have in their toolbox.

By Elina Blom

Nothing is so irritating as when your newly-charged screwdriver starts to give up after driving in a bolt or two. A good one will obviously manage more than this. The battery is one of the most important things to consider when you are buying a power screwdriver.
Often the capacity is written on the battery, which will give you a guide. If the battery has high capacity it will last longer and be able to drive bigger screws in the same time a machine with a lesser battery takes to drive an easier screw.
A common belief is that the higher the wattage, the better the machine. There is some truth in this, but operating speed and torque are more important, relating to how much energy can be expended in the allotted time.
You should even check how many batteries accompany the driver. Batteries cost a lot if you have to buy them afterwards and if you can find a reasonably priced machine with two batteries you can always have one charging, ready for when the other runs out.

Hybrid alternative

Today there are many two-geared screwdrivers available so you can drive a bigger screw with a low gear and change gear to drill or drive smaller screws faster. With the lower gear you can, as well as driving screws, also drill large diameter holes – for example if you want to drill a hole for a junction box or similar. With the high gear you can instead drill small and medium sized holes quickly and efficiently.
A single-gear machine has an ideal rotation for driving decking screws, for example, and in some cases could drive more screws of that type than a two-geared machine. It is generally the battery which distinguishes an expensive machine from a cheap one.
If you are doing a lot of drilling you should choose a two-gear machine. Don’t forget to check that the machine includes more than one battery, so you can charge one at the same time you are working with the other.

Apartments with concrete walls

Anyone living in an apartment and needing to do a lot of drilling should choose a rotary hammer drill or a hammer drill. Both are designed to deal with concrete in walls and ceilings. The thing distinguishing a hammer drill from a rotary hammer drill is that the frequency of the hammer is slower, and it has more power and therefore hits harder.
If the walls of the house and ceiling are hard there is a risk that you damage the rotary hammer drill if you use that instead of a hammer drill. An ordinary rotary hammer works well if your walls are made of softer concrete. On a slightly more expensive rotary hammer you can disconnect the rotation and just use the hammer function. That means that you can also use it to slam – a useful function if you want to example to knock off old tiles or replace an old floor well.
Look at the impact energy measured in joules (J), when gauging the quality of the hammer drill. If you are investing in a hammer drill it should be labelled more than 2 joules.
Note that the drill and screwdriver for the hammer drill are not screwed in but are instead held in place with a chuck. Don’t forget to check for the SDS+ label when you purchase accessories.

Purchasing tips
Think about what function you require.
If you are drilling a lot and already own a power screwdriver, a net connected drill is the right way to go.
If you want to both drill and use the screwdriver function, a two-geared machine is a good alternative.
If you are only going to use it as a screwdriver the batteries will last longer if you invest in a single-gear screwdriver.


For the DIYer

Cotech screwdriver.
Compact screwdriver with swivel handle and built-in bit storage.
Torque: 3.50 Nm, 10 stage
Speed: 200 rpm
Battery capacity: 1.3 Ah
Voltage: 3.6 V
Weight: 0.45 kilo
Other: 5 year guarantee, 6 bits


For the professional

Black & Decker Gyro Driver BDCS36G.
Motion activated one handed machine with LED light and 1/4″ bit holder.
Torque: 3 Nm (only setting).
Speed: 0–180 rpm
Battery capacity: No information
Voltage: 3.6 V
Weight: 0.3 kilo
Other: 10 bits




For the DIYer

Black & Decker EGBL148K drill machine/screwdriver
Nifty machine with LED light and hammer action function.
Torque: 36 Nm, 11 steg
Low/High RPM: 0–450 rpm, 0–1500 rpm
Battery capacity: 1.3 Ah
Voltage: 14.4 V
Weight: 1.3 kilo
Other: Keyless, hammer action function


For the professional

Bosch PSB 18 LI-2 Hammer Drill/Driver
Powerful, lightweight combi drill for the home DIYer.
Torque: 48 Nm
Low/High RPM: 0–400 rpm, 0– 1650rpm
Battery capacity: 1.5 Ah
Voltage: 18 V
Weight: 1.8 kilo
Other: Battery charge indicator, work light and rotation indicators for total control.




For the DIYer

Cotech Drill Driver with rotation stop and 5 year guarantee.
Work modes: 3
Stroke rate: 5,200 blows/minute
Impact: 2.5 J
Speed: 0–1100 rpm
Power source: 230 V
Weight: 3.5 kilo
Accessories: Side handle, deep impact, SDS-plus-fixture


For the professional

Drill Driver Black & Decker KD990KA
Low weight with drilling with or without hammer, same strength in forward and reverse operation.
Work modes: 3
Stroke rate: 5180 blows/minute
Impact: 2.4 J
Speed: 0–980 rpm/0–5180 rpm
Power source: 230 V
Weight: 3.2 kilo
Accessories: Side handles, depth stop, 3 SDS-drills, 2 SDS-screwdrivers


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