Time was when you needed some elbow grease to use a screwdriver. Then you needed an electrical point. Now you need neither: just hold a cordless screwdriver to the bolt, press the trigger, and presto! you’re done.
Considering that just about every furniture or other home purchase one makes these days requires assembly to some extent, and given that the supplied screws come in all shapes and sizes, a cordless screwdriver with a set of screw bits is an indispensable machine tool, and not just for the DIYer or hobbyist, but, for the everyman.
Rechargeable cordless constant-speed screwdrivers in the 3.6-Volt, 3 to 6 Newton-metres, range are affordable, compact, light, and portable. These qualities are common across the board but other attributes and features are not. Therefore, in order to make an informed choice, you would need to anticipate your usage patterns and also try to determine which attributes are important to you.
Consider— Some models may lack power or features but feel good in hand and exhibit excellent finishing while, conversely, others may be uncomfortable, betray poor finishing, and be rough around the edges but have useful features or pack serious power. Which of these two suits you and your needs better?
Also, look into the design. For example, some screwdrivers have a magnetised bit holder in which you pop the bit in and out, while others have a collet that can be twisted to lock and unlock the bit. Some models are easy to use and ergonomic, others can double up as manual screwdrivers.
Then there are specs and features that you would need to look into. The specifications that are ‘musts’ to consider, besides voltage, are speed in RPMs, and torque which can range from a feeble 3 Nm to an impressive 6 Nm (in budget-priced cordless screwdrivers). And while nearly all models are equipped with an LED spotlight in the front, one model has a proper torch in the base of the handle. But another kit may be so smartly designed that its spindle is near the top of the barrel so that you can loosen or tighten screws right at the edge of a right-angled piece of furniture. Yet another model may have several different clutch settings so that you can adjust the torque – so important when you’re screwing into very softwoods or are worried about over-tightening or head-stripping or are dealing with a jammed screw.
Last update on 2021-04-17 / All Pricing & Imagery from Amazon Product Advertising API
Underneath we evaluate five carefully-chosen cordless screwdrivers, running through their attributes, specs, and features so that you can decide which is the best one for you.
Rather than any particular strength or feature, Bosch’s IXO nails top spot, being free of any defect and for the sheer quality of the overall package.
Bosch’s IXO cordless screwdriver is available in Generation 5 and Generation 6 models. The more affordable former model is under review here. It has a 3.6-Volt Li-Ion battery and has a constant speed of 215 RPMs driven by a torque of 4.5 Nm. A torque setting attachment can be purchased separately.
A red switch at the top sets the forward/reverse rotation.
The LED torch is particularly good. It is very bright but the reason that it is a cut above is that it can be switched between spot setting and diffused flood. Be mindful that the torch is lost if you use the optional torque setting attachment, which covers it up. To torque or to torch, that is the question.
Talking of torque, over-torque protection sometimes kicks in unnecessarily on harder materials and reduces the torque, making the tool appear weaker than it is.
Battery life and performance are excellent and the charge is held for ages. Apart from everything else the tool is very sharply designed, almost like a fashion accessory. Hollywood gossip has it that Emma Watson and Jennifer Garner have been seen flaunting their Bosch IXOs – indeed, the Generation 6 model is a hot pink colour to match Garner and Watson’s designer shoes. Even the not-so-tough moulded plastic case looks like something these svelte ladies might get for their kids – as school lunch boxes.
Bosch IXO is not a pro work tool. It is geared for light DIY jobs – flatpacks, electronics, drywall. It is very light, compact, and ergonomic.
Apart from mains, this kit can be charged from any standard 5-Volt Micro-USB charger.
Included in the package are 10 of the most commonly used screwdriver bits.
The sleek stylish appearance and the reliability associated with the Bosch brand wins this candidate bonus points.
Bosch provides a two-year warranty which is extendable to three years if the unit is registered within 28 days of purchase. However, locating all the right details is a head-scratcher and registration is a tedious process.
If “50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong,” many thousands of Bosch IXO fans – and count us among them – can’t be wrong either. The top-seller in Amazon’s Drills & Screwdrivers category, this Bosch kit is also our top pick.
- The overall quality, design, styling, and finishing – simply excellent.
- Has absolutely no weakness or defect in the screwdriver itself.
- The torch is one of the best in this class of cordless screwdrivers.
- Comes with 10 bits, and that is 20 to 25 fewer than the competition.
- Registering the purchase is a real drag.
Spindle positioning and locking, the torque-speed balance, the 30 screw bits – how Meterk has pulled this off at the low-low price-point is just amazing.
Cost: Price not available
Meterk’s set has a 3.6-Volt 2000mAh Li-Ion battery and its constant speed of 250 RPMs are powered by an impressive 5 Nms of torque. This means there is a very good balance between the speed and torque.
On a full charge, you can use this kit for some hours and it holds a (full) charge for even up to two months.
The forward/reverse direction is set by a three-position switch on the left side of the body. The centre position locks the tool so that if the trigger is inadvertently depressed the screwdriver will not start. An LED near the rear (toward the user’s side) even indicates the rotation setting.
When the unit is not in use the spindle is locked – it is immoveable. The bit holder is magnetised – push in and pull out the bit.
Meterk’s screwdriver’s spindle is not centred at the barrel-like almost all other cordless screwdrivers; rather, it is positioned to be close to the top of the barrel. Thus, you can use it on screws that are along an edge where there is next to no clearance between the screw and the other surface.
It has an LED torch and a traffic-light style battery-charge indicator.
Even though it is inexpensive, this rig is good enough for somewhat more than light-duty work. It feels solid in hand, has sturdy build quality, and the bits are of quite good quality too, all of which is especially praiseworthy for such a low-priced set.
It is fairly compact and is on the lighter side. It can be charged via any standard Mini-USB charger.
On top of everything else, it comes with 30 screw bits, including hex and torx bits, and a 6-centimetre holder extender. These come in a proper box with slots for the bits and a belt clip.
ECMall provides very good customer service on behalf of the manufacturer.
Meterk has come up with a top design that incorporates some excellent features. The quality and accessories and the price-point are just unbelievable. In a field packed with excellent value-pick options, this kit is a clear winner as our Value Pick and can even give our Best Pick some competition!
- The positioning of the spindle right at the top of the barrel sets it apart from all other cordless screwdrivers.
- Excellent engineering choice on the mutual suitability of torque and speed.
- Too many ‘pros’ to list, and to get all this at such a rock-bottom price is just unbelievable.
- No carry case, but then, at its price you can hardly expect one on top of all the bits.
This TECCPO set is about power and ruggedness, on top of which high-end features like handle orientation and adjustable torque make it a semi-pro rig.
Cost: Price not available
TECCPO’s screwdriver set has a 3.6-Volt 2000mAh Li-Ion battery. Its constant speed of 180 RPMs is driven by an impressive 6 Nms of torque. In its class of budget-priced, light-duty cordless screwdrivers, this one’s a powerhouse. It is even suitable for light-duty drilling in softer materials.
This kit’s handle can be changed-up between the usual pistol grip of power tools (TECCPO’s has a 135-degree angle) and straight or in-line like a manual screwdriver. Press the yellow release on the top and rotate the rubberised barrel against the handle to change the styling.
When the tool is off, the bit and spindle are locked. Factor in the feature of the handle aligning with the barrel, and this smartly-designed kit doubles as an excellent manual screwdriver set.
Forward/reverse rotation is set via a yellow transverse pushbutton across the tool behind and above the trigger.
Bits are locked and unlocked from the holder by moving the collet (often erroneously called a ‘chuck’). The mechanism is a bit rough and ready; the collet does not rotate evenly or smoothly but it does the job.
Another excellent feature is the 9-position adjustable clutch setting, which indirectly provides different levels of torque. This is controlled by rotating the ring at the front of the barrel.
Like most cordless screwdrivers it has the usual LED torch beside the spindle but TECCPO’s kit also boasts a proper, powerful torch at the base of the handle.
It charges off standard USB outlets and a single charge lasts for hours. A USB cable is supplied.
The build quality is tops and it feels quite rugged and robust.
TECCPO has gone whole hog with accessories which total 45 pieces. These comprise 34 screwdriver bits including torx, hex, and square, 8 sockets, a holder extender, and a socket connector. Everything is packed in a suitably pro-style carry box with recesses for the screwdriver, slots for the bits, and a pocket for the sockets.
The quality of the hex and some other bits is not up to snuff – they are neither well-finished nor sufficiently hardened. Then again, for all that one gets at the price-point, it is hard to complain about the bits. Far from complaining, we think that this set is an excellent value and ideal for the weekend semi-pro.
TECCPO’s customer support is simply superb, matching its product. They provide a two-year warranty.
- Raw turning power to the extent that it can be used as a backup drill for soft materials.
- Clutch setting adjustable in 9 positions indirectly controls the torque.
- Smart design of interchangeability between the pistol grip and in-line (straight) orientation.
- Some of the screw bits are of sub-standard quality.
- Collet mechanism is not smooth or damped; it is uneven and rough.
Belying appearances TACKLIFE’s kit is robust and durable, yet also easy-to-use and ergonomic; factor in the accessories and it’s a top choice for novices.
Cost: Price not available
TACKLIFE’s cordless screwdriver has a 3.6-volt 2000mAh Li-Ion battery and it delivers a torque of 4 Nms that drive the spindle at a constant speed of 200 rpm.
TACKLIFE sells somewhat varying models of this same basic cordless kit. These models differ primarily in torque and number of bits supplied, with their top-of-the-line model offering 6 clutch settings (to indirectly control torque) and a three-position adjustable handle. The model under review is the ‘intermediate’ one.
This kit is excellent for light-duty work like flat-packs and electronics. It can drive screws blind through softwoods but that is about its limit.
The bit holder is magnetised, though weakly so. It is easy to push in and pull out bits. The forward/reverse rotation is set by a black switch at the top.
The LED torch is useful but its beam is not aimed correctly – it does not fall on and around the screw you are working on.
This cordless screwdriver feels very good in hand, is easy to use, and is ergonomic but does not seem exactly robust or durable – except that it is. Perhaps it is the exterior design or finishing that belie its robustness.
The battery, which charges in about 3 hours, lasts through hours and hours of use. Battery life is simply excellent. The charge level is indicated by a traffic-light style LED at the top.
Charging is via a Micro-USB through any 2.0-ampere charger. A USB cable is supplied; it is not of good quality and does not seem long-lasting.
This set comes with 30 bits of six different kinds and a holder extender. The bits are supplied in a proper box with labelled slots for the bits. The box fastens very well. The bits are not of the best quality but are more than adequate so long as the kit is not misused to manually tighten screws.
All in all, a very good value for money and an equally good choice for beginners.
TACKLIFE provides a two-year warranty.
- Really easy to use and ergonomic, and robust and rugged to boot.
- A single charge lasts a very long time and the charge is retained very well.
- Total of 30 screw bits, which are of decent quality.
- The LED torch’s beam is not aimed correctly.
- No carry case – at least a cheapo one could have been provided.
Cute and girly, Hi-Spec’s Soft Pink kit is targeted to women; though underpowered, it is featherweight and compact, low in price, and can handle lighter jobs.
This Hi-Spec kit’s Ni-MH battery, unlike the Li-Ion batteries of the other products reviewed here, provides more voltage of 4.8 but only 600mAh of current. Its 3 Nm of torque turns the spindle at 180 RPMs.
It charges in 3 to 4 hours but a full charge gets used up in no time at all. It also does not hold its charge well, which is not uncommon with Ni-MH batteries. Some defective units have charging-related problems. Three coloured LEDs indicate the level of juice left in the tank.
This kit is ultra-compact and ultra-light at only 322 grams. It is also meant for only ultra-light-duty work. Assembling flat-packs or disassembling frames is fine; making pilot holes or screwing blind is not. You may need to tighten screws manually.
Resembling a hair-dryer more than a machine tool, Hi-Spec’s ‘Soft Pink’ kit looks just the sort of thing one would expect aforementioned Ms. Jennifer Garner or Ms. Emma Watson to keep in their boudoirs, in case their overstuffed wardrobes bust a door. Or just to impress a visitor. In fact, this machine tool is actually positioned for and marketed to the distaff side.
A single trigger controls forward and reverse rotation; depress the lower end to tighten and the upper end to loosen.
Hi-Spec’s screwdriver has a magnetised bit holder; just push in and pull out bits. An unacceptable defect is that there is significant play between holder and bits.
It has an LED spotlight.
These screwdrivers are far from rugged and break down under heavy or prolonged use.
A slick carry strap is attached to the base of the handle.
Accessories total 26 pieces. These include torx and hex bits beside the more traditional ones – a magnetised holder extender, two softwood drill bits, and three long bits. Though drilling bits are supplied, at 3 Nms of torque and 180 RPMs of speed this little thing is hard-pressed to drill into anything but soft plastic and soft-soft wood, and that too slooowly.
Hi-Spec provides a 3-Year warranty upon registration of the kit.
- At this price it’s a real steal.
- One of the lightest and most compact cordless kits.
- Girly-girls may find it irresistible and even use it as a decor accent in their homes!
- The underpowered kit is good only for the lightest screw-driving work.
- Battery charging and battery life are causes of concern.
- Significant play between the holder and bits.
How To Use A Cordless Screwdriver
A cordless screwdriver is one of the easiest and also safest – or least dangerous – machine tools to use. Really, it is press and play; however, here are a few tips to help you get the best out of your cordless kit.
- Keep your cordless screwdriver charged because you never know when you may have a sudden need for it.
- Use the correct screw bit. Don’t be lazy about changing bits or you may strip the screw-head, end up with an insufficiently tightened screw, or simply waste your time.
- Before putting the screwdriver to the screw, check that the rotation direction is set correctly – you do not want inadvertently to tighten a screw that you want to unscrew.
- Do not turn on the screwdriver and then make contact with the screw-head. Doing so when loosening can strip the screw-head, burr the screw bit, or damage the screwdriver itself. Set the screwdriver (screw bit) correctly and firmly in the screw-head and then turn it on.
- If your hand slips and a flathead hits softwood at high speed, a chip of wood may fly out, or if the torque is too great and speed too high, and the screw-head is not hard enough, a metal fragment stripped from the screw-head may shoot past, so play it safe and wear goggles.
- Also, it is good practice to wear a thick glove on your free hand with which you may be holding the workpiece in case the screwdriver slips.
Can A Screwdriver Be Used As A Drill?
It depends, and not just on one factor, but, on a combination of two factors: the power and torque of the screwdriver, and the hardness of the material you want to drill into. Simply put, the greater the power and torque of the screwdriver and the less hard the material, the more likely that a cordless screwdriver can be used as a drill. Conversely, if the power and torque of the cordless kit are modest and the material is hard, don’t even think about it.
More practically, while makes and models vary in ‘oomph,’ most budget-priced cordless electric screwdrivers simply don’t have the muscle to drill into hardwoods (let alone metals). However, if the material in question is softwood, plastic, plasterboard, etc. then, yes, a budget-priced 3.6-Volt cordless kit could double as a drill for occasional use. If you want to drill into hardwoods and metals using a cordless screwdriver, you should get a 12-volt one with about 30 Nm’s of torque and about 1,000 RPMs in speed.
When using a cordless screwdriver as a drill, be sure that its rotation is not set to unscrewing/loosening, otherwise you may end up cussing out your kit, thinking it’s not working, through no fault of its own!
Kersie learnt the basics of gardening as a toddler, courtesy of his grandfather. In his youth he was an active gardener with a preference for flowering plants. He is a professional and vocational writer and his freelance projects have spanned various kinds of writing.