What Is a Screwdriver Bit?

Christina Edwards

A screwdriver bit is a tip that fits into the end of a manual or electric multi-bit screwdriver. These bits typically have a shaft on one end and a screwdriver tip on the other end. Several types of tips are available, depending on one's needs, including the common straight slot and Phillips bits. Screwdriver bits can be made from either very hard or soft metal. Some bits are even magnetic, and others may have a bit on each end.

Screwdriver bits are metal pieces that resemble the heads of screwdrivers but fit into power screwdrivers.
Screwdriver bits are metal pieces that resemble the heads of screwdrivers but fit into power screwdrivers.

Screwdriver bits usually consist of a shaft and a tip. The shaft of a screwdriver bit is typically a hexagonal shape, with six flat sides. This shaft is often inserted into the end of a screwdriver that has a bit holder. The shape of the shaft prevents the bit from turning inside the bit holder.

Power screwdrivers typically require bits made of hardened metal.
Power screwdrivers typically require bits made of hardened metal.

The tip end of a screwdriver bit may have many shapes. This part of the bit is made to fit into the head of a screw. As the screwdriver is rotated, the bit rotates as well. This action is what turns the screw.

Screwdriver bits are available with several, differently shaped tips. The different shapes are used to tighten or loosen different types of screws. A straight slot screwdriver bit is typically used on a straight slot screw, which is one of the most used screws. The heads of these screws have one single groove across the top.

A Phillips screwdriver bit is used on another very common type of screw. The Phillips head screw typically contains two slots. These two slots are arranged in a cross pattern on the head of the screw. A Torx® screwdriver bit has a tip shaped like a six pointed star. Square and hexagon screwdriver bits are also available.

Powered screwdrivers should only have screwdriver bits made from very hard metal inserted into them. This will help prevent damage to the screwdriver bit. Softer screwdriver bits should be used in manual screwdrivers. The hardness of the bits is often listed the package of a screwdriver bit kit.

Magnetic screwdriver bits, which hold a screw to the bits, are also available. These may come in very handy for small screws, or screws in hard-to-reach places. Instead of dropping a screw that might get lost, an individual can use a magnetic screwdriver bit.

A double-ended screwdriver bit may also come in quite handy. These types of screwdrivers have a tip on each end and a hexagonal shaft in the middle. For instance, a double-ended bit may have a straight slot bit on one end and a Phillips bit on the other end. Instead of inserting a different bit, this type of bit can simply be pulled out and turned around.

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Discussion Comments


@Terrificli -- If you are that concerned about stripping out screws by using a screwdriver bit in a drill, there are some options. First of all, there is the manual, ratcheting screwdriver that might not sink screws as fast as a drill but is a lot easier to use for big projects than a regular screwdriver. It is hard to accidentally strip out a screw with one of those, too.

Also, I have a very cool device meant to accept screwdriver bits. It works like a drill, but spins a lot slower so the speed won't catch you by surprise. The only problem with that device is that the lower speed means it doesn't have the same torque as a drill. Some screws, then, just can't be sunk with that low power thing.


@Terrificli -- There is kind of an art to using a drill with screwdriver bits to drill in screws, isn't there? It takes a little time to get to the point where you learn to vary your speed enough so you don't risk stripping out your screw when the thing is sunk and your drill is still going strong.

Luckily, you can get the hang of using a drill as a screwdriver in a hurry. It beats the heck out of using a manual screwdriver as you can wear your arm out with one of those things during heavy jobs.


Here is a word of advice for anyone using these for the first time. Make absolutely sure you pick one of the screwdriver bits that fits your screw perfectly. When I say perfectly, I mean there is no "wiggle room" at all between the screwdriver bit and the head of the screw.

The reason you want that snug fit is because it is very easy to strip out a screw with a high powered drill. If the screwdriver bit can jump out of the screw, it will and you will risk stripping that screw so badly that it will be next to impossible to remove.

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