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Best Cordless Screwdrivers

By: Amy Livingston on June 07, 2018

Cordless screwdrivers are perfect for lightweight work

Cordless drills and cordless impact drivers can handle most driving jobs with aplomb, but some tasks, such as cabinet making or repair, call for a lighter touch. That's where a cordless screwdriver can come in handy. These small tools, usually weighing a pound or so, are suitable for driving screws and light drilling. They can fit into tight spaces more easily than a hefty drill, and you can hold them up in different positions without tiring out your arm. On the down side, even a good cordless screwdriver is much slower and less powerful than an inexpensive cordless drill, and a quality model can cost almost as much.

We didn't find any professional tests that cover cordless screwdrivers, so we had to rely on owner-written reviews for our recommendations. Overall, we found the most positive user feedback for the 7.2-volt DeWalt DW920K (Est. $80). With only 80 inch-pounds of maximum torque, it's not nearly as powerful as a full-sized drill, and at 3.5 pounds, it's actually heavier than many drills. However, it has one feature no drill can offer: an adjustable two-position handle that lets you operate it both as an in-line tool (like a manual screwdriver) and in pistol-grip mode (like a drill). This enables it to attack a screw from multiple angles and fit into nearly any space.

Other features also add to this cordless screwdriver's utility. You can adjust the amount of torque by turning the collar behind the driver bit, so you can apply more force to heavier screws and use a lighter touch where it's needed. You can also adjust the speed by applying more or less pressure to the trigger. The chuck accepts only 1/4-inch bits, but it has a quick-release feature so you can switch them out easily. You can reverse the direction of the driver and even install a drill bit, so you can use the tool as a drill in a pinch. The tool is backed by DeWalt's standard three-year warranty, which includes one year of free service.

Unlike most cordless tools, the DeWalt DW920K uses old-fashioned nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) batteries, which are heavier than lithium batteries and have a shorter run time. However, most users still say for the kind of light-duty jobs it has to do, this cordless screwdriver can keep going for plenty of time on a charge. It also recharges quickly when it runs down. They describe it as sturdy, well-balanced, and compact, and they love the 2-position handle and adjustable torque. However, some users find it too heavy. We also saw some complaints that the Ni-Cd batteries wear out quickly.

If the DeWalt DW920K is too hefty for your arm – or your wallet – the Worx WX255L (Est. $40) offers a lighter alternative. This cordless screwdriver gets mostly positive reviews from more than 300 owners posting at Home Depot, and even more feedback at Amazon (though it's only available from third-party sellers there). There are two features about the Worx that users particularly like. First, it has a unique built-in screw holder that lets you work with only one hand, which can also catch screws when they are removed. Second, behind the head is a reloadable cartridge that can hold up to six ¼-inch bits right inside the body of the tool. When you want to change bits, you can use the slide-action bit changer to withdraw the bit you're using, then rotate the cartridge to select the one you want and advance it into place. Owners say these two features together save them lots of time when using it.

Users admit that this 4-volt, one-speed screwdriver is really only suitable for light jobs, but it makes up for that by being extremely lightweight (just 1.1 pounds) and easy to maneuver. Instead of a removable battery pack, this tool has a built-in, 4-volt lithium battery that users say can go a good while on a charge – but then it takes about 5 hours to recharge. Also, Worx estimates the battery's useful life at only 18 months, and once it dies, you'll have to replace the whole tool. Still, at under $40, you could go through two of these for less than the price of one DeWalt DW920K.

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