Buying screwdriver bits
When buying screwdriver bits for your cordless drill, you really need to think about ‘stocking’ two categories of bit, in order to cover most DIY tasks. Effectively, you need a small, but high quality selection of the most used bits, and a large, inexpensive, lower quality selection of every other bit. This guide will explain why this is the case, and what the best options are for buying screwdriver bits.
The three main screwhead types
Although there are a large number of screwhead and fixing types, in DIY terms, most of the time, we only really use a few. Therefore spending a fortune on high quality bits for every possible situation is a true false economy. The three main designs that DIYers come across are slot head, Phillips head, and Pozidriv head. For more details on these, please see my guide ‘Household fixings kit’.
Of these three, Pozidriv is by far the most commonly used – why? probably because you get the best grip on the screwhead with the Posidriv design. Phillips head screws tend only to be used for specific tasks these days, such as for fixing plasterboard or cement board, and quite often, a bit is supplied in the box of screws you buy. The traditional slot head screws tend to be used as a decorative screw i.e where the head is never filled over, but you rarely use a cordless drill for driving in slot head screws as the bit just slips off the head too easily.
Therefore, I would estimate that over 90% of the time, the only screwdriver bits that most of us use are Posidriv.
The other 10%
In order to cater for the rarer occasions when a different bit type is needed, remember that with every drill bit set, screwdriver set, and toolbox set that you’ve ever been given or purchased, there’s normally a good selection of screwdriver bits. I tend to store all these up in one separate toolbox, and for the odd occasion when I need something ‘different’, this box normally has the answer.
If you’re new to DIY and haven’t had time to build up this stock of seldomly used bits, any relatively cheap selection box will suffice, as the bits are not going to be used regularly, so they don’t need to be of the highest quality. Therefore if you need some inexpensive, yet still fit-for-purpose bits, I would always choose one of the Bosch X-Line sets (available on Amazon, and in most DIY outlets), which come in differing sizes, and therefore price brackets. These sets also contain a good range of drill bits, which will always come in handy.
Is size important?
Basically, yes! Marked on the side of screwdriver bits are both the bit type (e.g. PZ for Posidriv, PH for Phillips), and bit size. The three most common sizes are simply 1,2,and 3, with 1 being the smallest, and 3 the biggest. Size 2 is by far the most popular as it deals with average size screws, which are not surprisingly the most popular size for most DIY jobs. Therefore any screwdriver bit set you buy, should have a much higher proportion of size 2 bits than any other.
What about shank lengths and sleeves?
There are two main shank lengths for bits; the short ones, which must be slotted into a sleeve or bit holder before being inserted into a drill chuck, and the long ones, which can be inserted directly into the chuck. Longer ones can also be used in the sleeve, but you can get a bit of ‘wobble’ this way, so it’s just not ideal when you come to driving in a screw. Therefore, generally I find using a bit holder in conjunction with small shank bits much quicker and more convenient – this thinking also seems to be echoed by the market place, as the shorter bits are much more numerous than the longer shank options.
I’ve already mentioned how the Bosch sets fill my ‘inexpensive’ category, but for my expensive category, the Wera BiTorsion bit set pictured below is my first choice because quite simply, the bits just keep going, and going, and going……..You also get the Rapidaptor sleeve with the set, which ‘locks’ the bits in place perfectly, whilst still being able to pop them out one-handed when required.
The BiTorsion design also prolongs the life of the diamond coated bits, and if you want to check out more of the technological details, you can find it all on the Wera site.
Although these bits are expensive, if you do a calculation on how many cheap ones you throw away because they simply wear out, or break, then in the long run you’ll save a lot of money. Also, because your existing bit collection (or Bosch set), should deal with all the out of the ordinary occasions, you’ll notice that the set I’ve chosen is made up exclusively of Pozidriv bits, and seven of the nine are size 2 – again, vital, for the reasons already stated. You can buy BiTorsion sets on Amazon, and the specific set pictured here is available at Toolstation. Once you’ve tried these, you simply won’t go back!