Are you wondering if a ratcheting screwdriver is worth the investment? In this article, we’ll talk about ratcheting screwdrivers, how they work, and when they are helpful.
A good ratcheting screwdriver is worth it. For some projects, a ratcheting screwdriver will allow you to work much faster, helping to avoid needless interruptions. Ratcheting screwdrivers also usually have interchangeable bits, which makes them versatile.
Below, we’ll look at the pros and cons of a ratcheting screwdriver. If you’re wondering whether you should buy one, and what to expect, then you’ve found the right place.
What’s the Point of a Ratchet Screwdriver?
Before we talk about the point of a ratchet screwdriver, let’s ensure we’re all on the same page. In this article, we’ll be talking about a ratchet screwdriver that looks like a regular screwdriver, it just has a ratchet set built in. We are not talking about a ratchet wrench with a screwdriver bit attached to it.
A ratchet screwdriver is built so that it can only turn in one direction – essentially, it works just like a ratchet wrench, but it’s just in the form of a hand screwdriver.
If you’ve ever used a nice ratchet screwdriver, you probably need no convincing as to how nice these tools can be. However, for those who are new to this type of tool, let’s go over several benefits.
Pros of a ratcheting screwdriver:
- Faster work
- Less lost screws
- Less needed screwdrivers
- Works for small bolts
Let’s look at these closer.
Work Faster with a Ratchet Screwdriver
The ratcheting screwdriver will help you work faster – that’s its claim to fame. If you’re doing a tedious task that requires inserting a lot of screws, then the ratcheting set can help you go faster.
The thing many people don’t think about when using a regular screwdriver is that you have to regularly change your grip while using it, even when you’re going fast. Our hands aren’t built on a swivel.
The ratchet allows you to maintain a firm grip and pressure on the screw while you turn. This consistency helps in another way – you are less likely to lose the screw. Often, when we are driving a screw by hand, we will have to keep recentering the screwdriver. With the ratchet screwdriver, you are less likely to disengage from the screw, leading to a faster job.
Fewer Lost Screws with Ratchet Screwdriver
Since you don’t have to readjust the screwdriver, not only will you go faster but you won’t have to worry as much about losing the screw when you readjust the bit. Often, the screw will come out with the bit. Sometimes, the bit is purposely magnetized, but this will work against you if it easily dislodges the screw.
Furthermore, as we’ll talk about in the next section, ratchet screwdrivers often allow you to change the bit, ensuring you get a good fit – this will also lead to fewer lost and stripped screws.
Ratchet Screwdrivers Give You More Options
Most ratcheting screwdrivers function very similarly to a multi-tool. They usually come with a set of bits that can be inserted into the end of the screwdriver in a similar way to a powered drill. For those who like this setup, this can be really convenient.
For one, you can cut down on a lot of bulk. Instead of carrying a bunch of screwdrivers of all different sizes, you could just carry one screwdriver. Here’s a video that shows an interchangeable screwdriver.
For two, if you’re in the middle of a project, you don’t need to dig through a toolbox to find a smaller bit size when you need it – it’s on the screwdriver.
Often, ratcheting screwdrivers will allow you to store bits in the handle, making it really convenient. This is usually a plus for most people, but in later sections, we’ll talk about why this interchangeability can present an issue.
Works for Small Bolts
A ratcheting screwdriver can also double as a wrench for extra small bolts. Usually, you can find extra small bolt drivers that will fit on a ratcheting screwdriver, this makes it convenient if you run across a project that needs more precision than a regular socket set.
Up until now, we’ve been singing the praises of the ratcheting screwdriver, but these tools are not without their downsides. Let’s go over some cons.
Cons to a Ratcheting Screwdriver
The ratcheting screwdriver is a nice tool to have, but that doesn’t mean it’s a perfect tool. In fact, some people may really dislike these tools, finding them to be a little gimmicky. We’re going to talk about all of this.
At the end of the day, you’ll have to try them out and decide if a ratcheting screwdriver will fit into your workflow.
Downsides to ratcheting screwdrivers:
- Some are cheap and gimmicky
- Ratcheting screwdrivers are more expensive
- It’s easy to lose their bits
- They can break
- Not as versatile (in some ways)
Let’s look at these cons in more depth.
Some Ratcheting Screwdrivers are Low Quality
The issue with ratcheting screwdrivers is that they are pretty cool, and that means that there are a lot of knockoffs or low-quality tools sold. These tools are often marketed as “dad gifts” or cheap toolbox supplies.
This flooding of the market with low-quality ratcheting screwdrivers lowers their overall perceived value and makes it likely that someone trying to buy one could encounter something low quality.
The key is to search for a ratcheting screwdriver that has a quality reputation – look at reviews online. And, if you can, go to the store and inspect them in your hand before you buy them. You will get a good feel for their quality just by handling them.
Good Ratcheting Screwdrivers are more Expensive than Regular Screwdrivers
Good ratcheting screwdrivers are more expensive than regular screwdrivers, which may lead some people to pass on their value. If you’re going to spend the money on a ratcheting screwdriver, you need to consider several things.
First, what kind of projects are you doing? If you’re someone who uses a hand screwdriver a lot, then a ratcheting screwdriver could be of great benefit.
Second, do you already have a large collection of well-organized screwdrivers? If you do, then you may not find as much value in a ratcheting screwdriver.
It’s Easy to Lose a Ratcheting Screwdriver Bit
The other issue that’s common, especially for those who aren’t as naturally organized, is losing the bits to the ratcheting screwdriver. Oftentimes, especially if you buy a cheap ratcheting screwdriver, the bit housing is shallow, making it easy for the bits to fall out.
In this case, you could end up in a position where you reach for a screwdriver only to find that it doesn’t have any bit. This is frustrating.
To mitigate this issue, you can try to tape spare bits to the side of the ratcheting screwdriver. Or you may be able to find a ratcheting screwdriver that has a permanent bit, if you just want a permanent Philips or flathead ratchet screwdriver.
Some Ratcheting Screwdrivers are Confusing
Some people find ratcheting screwdrivers frustrating. When you grab them, you need to ensure they are set in the proper direction before you use them – otherwise, you’ll either spin the screw in the wrong direction or you won’t spin it at all.
Some people might prefer the simplicity of a standard screwdriver, without worrying about how the screwdriver is set. The good news is that you can usually set a ratcheting screwdriver to a neutral position, where it acts just like a regular screwdriver.
Ratcheting Screwdrivers are Less Versatile (in some ways)
Yes, in some ways, a ratcheting screwdriver is more versatile, but in other ways, it isn’t. For example, many people like to use their screwdrivers for simple prying tasks, like opening a can of paint. With a ratcheting screwdriver, you’ll have more trouble performing these tasks.
Also, the ratcheting screwdriver will be more sensitive to dust, dirt, and paint. If it becomes soiled with a substance, it may not function properly, whereas a regular screwdriver is foolproof.
You’ve considered the pros and cons and it’s time to ask the big question. Is it worth buying a ratcheting screwdriver?
Should You Buy a Ratcheting Screwdriver?
If you have the funds, you will probably be glad you purchased a ratcheting screwdriver. However, you will also find that it doesn’t fully replace the simplicity of a regular screwdriver.
The ratcheting screwdriver will allow you to work faster, especially if you have any repetitive screws you need to remove by hand. You will be less likely to lose your screws, and you will be able to carry more screw bits.
However, the ratcheting screwdriver will cost you more money than a regular screwdriver, and while it’s useful, it also has its issues. Ratcheting screwdrivers can be confusing. Not only that, but it’s easy to lose the bits, and you must watch out for knockoffs.
Overall, you’ll need to give them a try. Some people love them, others don’t.