Advertisement

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Advertisement

The best screwdriver sets in 2021

Ian Evenden
25 Nov 2021
Advertisement

Buy one of these screwdriver sets and you’ll be ready for DIY duties and beyond

Is it possible to build a toolkit without screwdrivers? We don’t think so. In the average home, you’ll find a vast array of different screws, all of which will – as sod’s law dictates – require the screwdriver which isn’t the one you’re holding in your hand. This is why it pays to invest in the best screwdriver set you can afford, so you’ll always have the right tool for any screw – be it Posidrive or Phillips, Torx or truss head.

Everyday DIY is one thing, but screws are as common as nails in woodworking, and if you’re into building electronics the need for a specific tiny driver with an unusual head is a regular occurrence. Thankfully, you have plenty of choice when it comes to screwdriver sets that are suitable for any eventuality. Is 58 screwdrivers enough? Could you make do with 12? Does each one need a handle, or will a series of interchangeable heads work? Do you need them to be insulated? Or magnetic? What about hex, truss or Torx heads? If we showed you a set of 100 screwdrivers, would you think that was overkill?

Here we’ll explain all the key technical features you need to consider and suggest some of our favourite screwdriver sets. Read on and you’ll find everything from screwdriver sets for the reluctant DIYer to the most proactive home improvement enthusiast.

READ NEXT: The best impact driver

How to choose the best screwdriver set for you

How many screwdrivers do I really need?

Before you buy the biggest set you can find, ask yourself what your priorities are – if you just want a set for occasional DIY, then you don’t need a 100-piece set with every possible head. Equally, if you need a set for specific technical jobs, in addition to everyday home DIY, then it pays to make sure you buy a set that covers every eventuality, and has a suitably wide range of head types and sizes.

It’s worth noting that metric bits have almost completely replaced Imperial-sized ones, but screws put in 50 years ago haven’t heard about this. Still, it’s possible to use a driver that’s slightly too small to loosen a screw, so it’s not worth worrying about having every possible size in your collection. A choice of the most common sizes, in both flathead and Phillips (cross-shaped) will do for most day-to-day jobs.

READ NEXT: The best bathroom paint

Which features are useful to have?

Frequent tighteners of fiddly little screws in hard-to-reach places will appreciate the screwdriver bit being magnetic, as that way it can pick up any that fall, even ones that fall into awkward-to-reach places.

Insulated screwdrivers can protect you against electric shock (although, obviously, you should have safely turned the mains supply off before you even pick up a screwdriver), but not all are made equal. Just because a screwdriver has a plastic or rubber handle that stretches almost all the way to its tip doesn’t mean it’s properly insulated. If you’re going to be doing work near mains electricity, it pays to make sure your screwdrivers are certified, and this should be clearly stated on the handle and the packaging in which they’re supplied.

Another benefit of insulated screwdrivers is that they can protect delicate electronics from static discharge that could damage them. Static electricity builds up all around us, in our hair, our clothes, and when we walk on carpets, and would like nothing better than to run away to earth along the delicate lines of a PCB. Things like anti-static wrist wraps or, at a push, working with your back leaning on a radiator can help to remedy this, but an insulated driver adds another level of protection.

Do the handles make a big difference?

Yes, the design of the screwdriver itself can make a big difference. Some are simple cylinders, while others are shaped for extra grip, with rubberised patterns for you to hold on to. Some have a nut moulded into the haft so you can turn them with a spanner. Others have a hole through the middle so you can insert another screwdriver for extra force.

Sets that comprise a universal handle with many interchangeable tips are popular because they’re light and easy to carry, but once you lose one of the tips it tends to stay lost – they’re not very big and are often dull in colour. Lose too many and you’ll have to buy a new set of tips, or potentially replace the whole set.

Can’t I just buy any old cheap screwdrivers?

Really cheap screwdrivers can be a false economy, as it’s possible for the haft to come loose from the blade if you apply too much pressure while trying to undo a stuck screw. Screwdrivers’ other uses – as general-purpose levers, tools for opening paint pots, and exploratory probes for poking things to see what happens – also put pressure on the join, and too much prying can lead to spontaneous disassembly.

READ NEXT: The best paint for wood

The best screwdriver sets to buy today

1. Rolson 58-piece screwdriver set: Best cheap screwdriver set

Price: £18 | Buy now from Amazon

Rolson has put together a case full of all the screwdrivers you could ever need, twice over. The set consists of both single-blade drivers and a universal handle with interchangeable tips.

This second set is interesting because it contains four types of heads: flat, Phillips, Pozidriv (like Philips but with extra flanges) and Torx (star-shaped). It’s everything you could need (except Security Torx and Allen keys, maybe).

The single-blade drivers are a nice range from larger ends down to tiny precision models, in both flat and Phillips configurations. They’re magnetic and have a weatherproof coating that should save them from rusting if they get wet. This is both an excellent first screwdriver set and a bargain too.

Key specs – Number of drivers: 58; Material: Alloy steel; Case dimensions: ‎31 x 29 x 14cm; Weight: 160g

2. 100-Piece Magnetic Screwdriver and Bits Set with Organizer: A big set for sensible money

Price: £31 | Buy now from Amazon

Is bigger always better? Packed in a display case that would look great on anyone’s mantlepiece, this set contains 31 single-size screwdrivers, a universal handle with 60 different bits including Allen keys, Torx, square bits and six nut drivers alongside the usual straight, Phillips and Torx screwdriver bits.

There’s also an eight-piece precision screwdriver set that includes four Torx drivers, perfect for taking laptops apart, and even a pair of offset screwdrivers, with a different bit at each end, for those really awkward spots.

It’s certainly comprehensive, a set for someone who doesn’t know what they’re going to have to deal with, but is determined to be prepared. Perhaps not ideal for carrying around – though you could choose a subset – but rather for the home DIYer who can pick his weapon depending on the fight.

Key specs – Number of drivers: 100; Material: Chromium vanadium steel; Case dimensions: 55 x 33 x 4cm; Weight: 160g

3. Stanley Fatmax 12-Piece Screwdriver Set: Best screwdriver set for heavy usage

Price: £37 | Buy now from Amazon

Stanley always makes good-quality tools, and this set is no different. The blades are moulded directly into the handles to make them “virtually unbreakable”, and the handles themselves are large, with soft rubber for an excellent grip.

Everything about this set is sensibly designed, from the shot-blasted tips that reduce breakage, to the ergonomic shapes and smooth domed ends to the handles that allow them to spin easily. Colour-coded ends mean you’ll soon be able to identify the tool you want without having to peer at the tip.

There may only be 12 screwdrivers in this set, but it’s an intelligently chosen selection of the most common sizes, from a precision 2.5mm tip to a large 8mm straight and PH3 Phillips. It’s a shame that the case doesn’t have much to recommend it, looking cheap and as if the screwdrivers have been crammed in, but we expect its contents may get transferred to a work bag or toolbox fairly quickly.

Key specs – Number of drivers: 12, Material: Chrome-plated vanadium alloy steel, Case dimensions: 34 x 28 x 6cm, Weight: 498g

4. Draper Tools 44-piece screwdriver set and stand: A big, tough screwdriver set for under £50

Price: £38 | Buy now from Amazon

A halfway house between the Stanley Fat Max set and the cheaper ones, this set from Draper Tools offers a good range of different blades.

It comprises 17 screwdrivers, including three Torx, plus sets of imperial and metric Allen keys, and a universal handle with ten interchangeable ends. There’s something here for almost every kind of job. Sizes range from a big 8mm to 2mm straight-slot, with similar Phillips and Pozidriv options.

A hole through the grippy rubber handle allows for another driver to be inserted perpendicularly for extra leverage, for those occasions when a well-embedded screw puts up a fight, and the screw heads are magnetic for picking up wandering metal bits. The display case can be wall-mounted, should you wish to admire them, setting off the look of a home workshop perfectly.

Key specs – Number of drivers: 44, Material: Hardened chrome vanadium steel, Case dimensions: 30 x 22 x 8cm, Weight: 1.5kg

5. Wera Kraftform Kompakt VDE 17 extra slim screwdriver set: Best electrical screwdriver set

Price: £123 | Buy now from Amazon

Something a little bit different. Wera launched its handle shape in the 1960s, basing it on the contours of the human hand. And despite a few tweaks, it’s stayed basically the same ever since. Human hands, Wera says, haven’t changed in that time either.

This is a specialised set of electrical screwdrivers, all fully insulated. You get two handles, and 17 inserts, all 154mm long, to go in them, plus a matching pair of pliers and insulation strippers. All the blades are extra-slim for working with sunken screws or those that are kept down by springs, and you get a selection of straight, Phillips, Pozidriv and Torx ends, none of them particularly big.

Probably of interest only to electricians, the screwdrivers aren’t magnetic, but can be made so with a magnetizer that’s sold separately. It all comes in a nice black textile case, perfect for keeping the kit together in a toolbag.

Key specs – Number of drivers: 17, Material: not given, Case dimensions: ‎26 x 17 x 7.5cm, Weight: 1.1kg

Read more

Best Buys