Utilizing a motorized machine instead of the traditional screwdriver reduces hand fatigue, prevents palm blisters, delivers more secure joins, and allows you to penetrate materials that would otherwise be too dense with a manual tool.
Home improvements should be a pleasure, not a chore. That’s why it’s important for me to pass on my knowledge and experience in drill driving — allowing you to safely complete your jobs speedily and achieve amazing results.
So grab your mighty tool — and get ready to screw.
Why Use a Screw Drill Instead of a Screwdriver?
Because, buddy, you live in the freaking 21st century.
Unless you’re a historical reenactor or Amish — you don’t count with an abacus, wash your clothes in the local lake, or drive to work in a horse and cart. Technology has given you the opportunity to make light work of screwdriving in the form of drills — so be thankful and take advantage of these phenomenal machines.
Ok, admittedly, there are few rare occasions that demand the use of traditional manual screwdrivers — most usually for precise work such as high-end cabinet making, jewelry repair, and circuit board installation.
However, for the vast majority of your fixings, using a drill delivers the following advantages:
A typical drill chuck for screwdriving rotates around 2000 rpm, that’s 33 times every second — can your wrist turn at that rapidity? No? I didn’t think so.
You know how hard it can be to screw manually into dense hardwoods. Not only is it tough on your hand and arms, but you also run the risk of shearing the screwhead. Knocking out around 300+ inch-pounds of torque, drills make light work of driving into stubborn materials.
Most quality screw-compatible drills have a cut-off torque clutch — disengaging the driving head when met with a user-selected resistance. This permits accurate and even screwing with every fixing, and reduces the likelihood of splitting your target material.
Let the drill take the strain — not your body. If you’re a seasoned handheld screwdriver user you know that it can result in wrist pain, arm fatigue, and palm blisters. Utilizing a power tool is effortless — just squeeze the trigger.
If you want to be able to tackle any screw size and head type — you need an absolute plethora of handheld tools. With a drill, you need just one unit — plus a small box of driving bits, naturally.
Utilizing a traditional screwdriver isn’t exactly a joyous or thrilling experience. However, wielding a mighty electric tool in your hand makes you feel like a DIY ninja.
What Type of Drill Should I Use for Driving Screws?
You wouldn’t strip wallpaper with a paint sprayer, nor would you jump-start your car with a chainsaw — you need the correct tool for the job.
Screwdriving is the same.
To power metal fastenings into wood, use a cordless drill driver. As the name suggests, these flexible machines offer the twin functions of drilling and driving in one unit. And, being cordless, they offer the ultimate in portability and convenience, allowing you to drive away to your heart’s content away from power sockets.
The features that these phenomenal machines possess that make them ideal for screwdriving include:
- Keyless chucks — for rapid screw bit exchange.
- Variable torque — permitting you to set the brawn to suit your target material.
- Adjustable speed — slow for dense materials, fast for softer mediums.
- Lightweight — allowing for extensive operation without fatigue.
- Battery-powered — eliminating annoying mains cords.
- Single-handed operation.
- Reverse function — to remove screws.
To discover more about drill drivers, purchasing tips, and my pick of the best models on the market — check out my Drill Driver 101.
How to Use a Drill as a Screwdriver
What You Need to Follow This Tutorial
I know you’d rather be screwing than read this article, but hold back and don’t be premature. Thorough preparation saves embarrassment and delivers a more satisfying finish.
So before penetration, ensure you have all the below items ready to hand:
- Cordless drill driver.
- Compatible fully-charged lithium-ion cells.
- A carpenter’s pencil.
- Measuring tape.
- Spirit level.
- Suitable screwdriver bits.
- Drilling bits for pilot holes.
- Eye protection.
- Screws – duh.
How to Use a Power Drill for Screws — A Step By Step Guide
Just before we crack on, a quick heads-up. The following guide provides the method for driving into woods and drywalls — the most common mediums for power screwdriving. If you’re tackling a different material, make sure you check out the Non-Timber Driving section below.
Step 1 – How to Drill a Screw Preparation
- Choose a suitable drill driver — check out my cordless screwdriver guide if you need inspiration.
- Ensure the drill’s battery packs are fully charged, and attach.
- Select the correct screw. Confirm it’s a suitable format for your material, and that it’s the perfect length.
- Pick out a corresponding drill bit — Phillip bit for Phillips screws, hex bit for hex screws, etc. The most popular type for drill driving is the PoziDriv — a variation of the Phillips that permits heavy torque without the risk of head stripping.
- Position the screw bit into the chuck and tighten. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for this step, as insertion methods can vary between models. If you’re dealing with a particularly dense timber, you may need to drill a pilot hole. Should this be the case, use a penetration bit three-quarters the diameter of the screw.
- Adjust the drill torque settings to suit your target material — typically set by rotating the cuff around the chuck head. Apply a low-speed, high torque for hardwoods and a high-rapidity, low torque for soft timber.
- Depending on your project, use the measuring tape and/or spirit level to determine the screwing location. Mark with the carpenter’s pencil.
- Don your protective eyewear.
Step 2 – Using the Power Drill Screwdriver
- Position the screw into the pilot hole or hold its tip against the pencil mark with the thumb and forefinger of your less dominant hand. Alternatively, some driving bits are magnetic, allowing you to attach the screw directly to the drill.
- Locate the driving bit in the screw’s head and deliver a gentle amount of pressure to keep it in place as you commence driving.
- Stand sideways on to the target material, standing with your feet around 36 inches apart.
- Ensure that the drill is perpendicular to your project — unless you want the screws to enter at a novel angle.
- Gently squeeze the drill driver trigger to begin rotation and penetration. Gradually increase the tempo as the tip penetrates — always ensuring the rapidity allows you to retain control and accuracy.
- Let the drill do the work. Only a small amount of pressure is required.
- When the screw has entered to the correct depth — or the clutch disengages — release the trigger.
- Slowly pull the drill driver away from the screw to remove the bit from the screw head.
- You have successfully screwdrived with a drill!
Removing Screws With a Screw Driver Drill Bit
You can also use your cordless drill driver to remove screws.
The process is virtually the same as the above driving steps, but instead, you set your power tool into reverse.
Typically, this is a slide switch located above the trigger housing. Markings on the drill casing will indicate which position is forward and which is backward.
Ironically, you generally have to apply more pressure to remove fixings than you do to drive them. Giving your drill a reasonable amount of forward pushing ensures that the driver bit remains within the screw head, allowing effortless removal and preventing head stripping.
Cordless drill drivers are mainly designed for timber penetration. However, they can also be utilized to screw into metal and masonry.
Use the steps outlined above, with the following amendments and additions:
- Always drill a pilot hole.
- Utilize a metal-type drill bit — ideally, titanium tipped.
- Drive slowly and with caution, to prevent screw or target material damage.
- Choose a high torque setting.
- Keep rapidity low to inhibit overheating.
- Use a hammer or rotary drill with a masonry bit to bore a hole.
- Insert a Rawl plug into the recess.
- Ensure your screw is the same size as the plug.
- Drive slowly.
- Under no circumstances use the rotary/hammer drill as a driver — you’ll wreck your target material, driving bit, and screw head.
Using a cordless drill driver takes the effort out of screw driving.
It was important for me to demonstrate how effortless this process is — even for the newbie — saving you time, reducing fatigue, and delivering the most secure of fixings.
I genuinely hope you found this walkthrough informative and enjoyable. And, if you have a buddy you feel may benefit from this 101 guide, please feel free to share.
Now you know how to use a drill for screws — so charge your cells, pick up your driver, and get screwing!
Screwdriving With a Drill FAQs
Q: Can I Use a Drill As a Screwdriver?
Yes! Using a cordless drill driver makes screwdriving effortless and fatigue-free, while also promising a more secure fastening than that offered by a manual tool. The ultimate machine in my opinion, is the 1900 rpm Makita XPH102.
However, under no circumstances use a rotary or hammer drill for screwdriving — unless you want to destroy your bit, screw, and target project.
Q: Do You Need a Special Drill Screw for Powered Screwdriving?
No, but it can help. If you take it steady and slowly, you can drive standard Phillips and hex screws with a drill driver. However, using a specific powered driving format — such as the PoziDriv — enables greater torque and less risk of slippage.
Q: How to Insert Screwdriver Bit Into Drill?
Carefully! Ensuring the bit is secure means a reduced risk of screwhead shearing. Always check the manufacturer’s instructions for locating bits into the chuck — as techniques can vary across brands and models.
However, for a general guide, here’s a quick video detailing the procedure:
Q: What Drill Settings Do I Need for Screwdriving?
Ensure you’re using a drill driver, not a hammer or rotary unit. Use the rotating cuff around the chuck head to set the speed and torque. Utilize low-torque, high speeds for soft materials, and high-torque, low-rapidity for denser mediums.
Q: What Drill Bit for Screws Do I Need?
Always use the correct bit for the screw type — these can be flathead, hex, Phillips, or PoziDriv.
Q: Is A Drill Driver Better Than an Electric Screwdriver?
Yes! Not only does a drill driver offer a boring facility — not possible with electric screwdrivers — it also offers greater brawn and torque than its smaller cousin.