Basic DIY skills are something we all need, but when it comes to tightening a screw not everyone knows what they are doing, and until recently I had no idea either. It is not just about the type of screw but also how much effort we desire to put in to make it tight enough. Often assembly instructions will say to just make it fingertight. Any tighter than that, we will want to consider whether to use a power tool or put all our strength into tightening the screw as much as possible. We have to be mindful, however, of not splitting materials like wood in the process. Also, to make it so that a screw drives into a material more easily, we can drill a pilot hole first. For a nicer look, we can countersink the screw so that its head does not stay raised above the surface.
So, if you’re still confused, this article will look at the ways a screw is tightened or driven in, as the latter seems more appropriate when power tools are referred to.
There is a range of different types of screwdrivers on the market in terms of the type of head they will deal most effectively with. Screwdrivers can be all in one or a tip to fit into a socket set. Ratchet screwdrivers can be purchased that have a more automatic or assisted action for users. It makes the job of screwing easier and is a compromise when a power-assisted tool is not desired.
The types of heads available include flathead, cross-head (known as Phillips), hex, star, tri-wing, and Pozidriv. The last one is an abbreviation for “positive drive”. It is important to match the head of the screwdriver as closely as you can to the screw for increased grip to prevent slipping and injury. A longer screwdriver will provide more leverage. An angled screwdriver will help with screws in inaccessible places. Screwdrivers can also be purchased to deal with screws that are difficult to remove. They have different shaped tips to help remove them. The same tips are generally available for the power tools as are available with a manual screwdriver.
Many modern electrical devices will require particularly small screwdriver tips to remove their casings, and often require a more unusually shaped tip than was previously the case. Where the cross-head or Phillips design was once used, this is generally being replaced with a shape that is difficult to find a tool to fit. It is best to search online in this instance to find one.
2. Power Tools
Power tools take away the effort required to drive home a screw. Their power settings can be adjusted to apply more power as required. It is a good tip to begin slowly and then speed up. This prevents slipping on the job and either marking the surface of what you are working on or injuring yourself.
For some more safety tips, keep the floor dry so that nobody slips while using the power tool, keep cords out of harm’s way to avoid tripping, and never carry a power tool by its cord. It is always sensible, too, to only use power tools when they have been double-insulated by the manufacturer. Also, use eye goggles and cut-resistant gloves (available on unigloves or similar online stores), as with power tools screws are moving around at great speed. A further safety tip is to have a device that cuts the power should the cable end up being cut by accident. It will guard against electrocution. Finally, always read the power tool’s instructions, as they will contain some dos and don’ts regarding the use of the tool.
3. Cordless Tools
For improved safety when using power tools, the cordless option should always be considered. They might be more expensive but you cannot put a price on safety. Although you have to remember to charge their battery, you will benefit from being able to handle the tool better without a power cable in the way. A cable that could potentially end up finding itself cut by accident.
So what do I think?
Manual tools are adequate where not much pressure needs to be applied to tighten the screw as it only needs to be fingertight, whereas power tools will make a job easier when a screw needs to drive in with more force. If you are worried about the safety of a dangling cord, then you can always opt for a cordless model. Just remember to keep the battery charged for when you need the tool, and preferably have a spare battery in case the job takes longer, as a half-completed job is no use to anyone.