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What is a Cordless Screwdriver?

Ron Marr
Ron Marr

The cordless screwdriver has come a long way since its earliest incarnation hit the market. In the beginning, these tools were something of a novelty, a labor-saving device that saved very little labor. The first cordless screwdrivers, originally known as "electric screwdrivers", often lacked power and feasibility. Their batteries quickly depleted, which required either the purchase of new batteries or many hours of recharging.

That was then. This is now. Today, cordless tools of all sorts are a staple for both the “do it yourself” hobbyist and professional builder. There is a cordless version of virtually any tool one could imagine, and thanks to ever-increasing innovations, very few workshops or toolboxes are without at least one cordless screwdriver.

A screw.
A screw.

The cordless screwdriver, in simplest terms, is a screwdriver that turns a screw-bit via an electric motor. It generally integrates a hexagon-shaped socket at the end of the driver's shaft, into which can be placed both screwdriver and drill bits. Thanks to technological breakthroughs, both the motors and the batteries which power the cordless devices have become efficient, light, and small. The charging time is quick, and modern batteries tend to hold a much longer charge than their predecessors. The power range for a cordless screwdriver, or drill-driver as they are sometimes called, ranges from approximately two to 18 volts.

Some power screwdrivers run on rechargeable batteries.
Some power screwdrivers run on rechargeable batteries.

Available in a variety of shapes and sizes, cordless screwdrivers can be selected based upon one’s needs. Some resemble a traditional screwdriver, and are often marketed as “stick drivers". Heavy duty models resemble a power drill. This latter style of cordless screwdriver is often loaded with options, such as settings for torque, speed and direction of rotation. Many models also include an LED or laser light, allowing one to more easily view their work.

The power source for a cordless screwdriver, and most other cordless tools, is either a nickel-cadmium (NiCd) or lithium-ion (Li-Ion) rechargeable battery. Each has its supporters and detractors. However, the commonality is that both types of battery are sturdy, reliable, and provide plenty of power.

Quick charging units are available for cordless screwdrivers geared toward professional use. Most builders or contractors also keep extra sets of charged batteries on hand, thus assuring that their cordless tools are always up and running. For home use, batteries can be left in a safe, permanent charging base when the tool is not in use.

The traditional, hand-powered screwdriver will probably never be obsolete, as some tasks require an ultra-fine touch. For instance, a cordless screwdriver cannot, as of yet, duplicate the delicacy needed by craftsman who work with tiny screws. However, the cordless screwdriver has come of age, and has earned its title of being both a labor and time-saving device.

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    • A screw.
      A screw.
    • Some power screwdrivers run on rechargeable batteries.
      By: Gresei
      Some power screwdrivers run on rechargeable batteries.