Our Best Overall pick, the Dremel GO-01, has been discontinued. We're currently testing the model that has replaced it, along with a number of other electric screwdrivers. Expect an update to this guide, in the coming weeks.
The best power tools make you feel like a superhero: Difficult time-consuming tasks all of a sudden become much easier to do. Any project that calls for a manual screwdriver brand can be completed much faster while using an electric and cordless one. Driving a screw through that drywall to hang a shelf? Done, in a single bound. Assembling that new chair you just unpacked? Finished, faster than a speeding bullet.
After hours of research and days of testing six of the most popular and best electric screwdrivers to buy, we discovered that the Dremel GO-01(available at Amazon) will offer a do-it-yourselfer the most superpowered-punch around the house.
Dremel’s first screwdriver takes some great design cues from their well-known rotary tools to build a versatile powered screwdriver for your home. Its slim handle allows for an easy grip and gives the tool a low profile to help access tight spaces. Not only was the handle thinner than most of the screwdrivers I tested, but its grip was also comfortable and easy to hold onto. The screwdriver spins when it is pushed against a screw rather than using a trigger like many other electric screwdrivers. By eliminating a trigger, the GO-01 has a lower profile and makes using it simple. The GO-01 can be operated with one hand: a thumb switch in the handle allows for a quick change in direction.
The screwdriver’s torque is variable and can be changed using a dial in the bottom of the handle. This allows you to use a small amount of force if you are working with something more brittle, like an old light switch or use all the power possible when driving in a screw into a wall. The GO-01 internal lithium ion batteries get their juice via an included USB charging cable and wall wart, rather than using a proprietary charger. It's handy feature, that allows for charging of the screwdriver, from a wallsocket, portable battery pack or even using a laptop. Additionally, it ships with small selection of seven common bits in a soft plastic retainer. For its price and the size, the power of this screwdriver is impressive.
The Milwaukee M12 is an excellent mix of the torque you expect from a larger tool (like a drill or impact driver) but in a smaller size. While on the large end of the electric screwdrivers (both in size of the tool and torque), the M12 was often able to complete tasks outside of the range of our testing. For example, all the other screwdrivers tested were maxed out when using 1-inch screws. The M12 was able to push past that limit, driving 1.5-inch screws into a wall stud. During the assorted tasks in our subjective testing, this was the screwdriver I often grabbed when the job was assumed to be outside the capabilities of the other powered screwdrivers. For example, I used the Milwaukee M12 to reattach a compartment door on my RV, driving short metal screws through the holes on a hinge. That said, to finish the job, I needed a different screwdriver with a smaller physical profile—the Milwaukee M12 was too tall to fit in the space I was working in.
While more expensive than the other screwdrivers, the M12 heavy-duty torque provides a proportional bang for your buck. Like the Dremel GO-01, the M12 has an adjustable torque through a clutch collar, allowing for more force when needed and less force when trying to work with more delicate materials. The M12's rechargeable battery pack is removable, allowing you to swap batteries when you need a freshly charged one. The M12 kit includes two batteries, a charger, two screwdriver bits and a fabric carrying case.
My name is Rebecca Boniface. My curiosity and frugality fuel my enthusiasm for DIY projects. My experience ranges from wrenching on cars to RV repairs, furniture hacks, and small engine maintenance. Since I live fulltime in an RV and travel frequently, I find that little repairs and maintenance are necessary to keep my home in good shape without going over-budget at the mechanics. Often, my DIY skills can make the difference between being stuck on the road or being on my way. If I was able to learn how to repair and build my way to a better life, you can, too. I want to help you find the tools you’ll need to feel the satisfaction of a job well done, as well as save yourself time and money.
Testing was divided into objective and subjective tests. Before we started, we made sure each screwdriver was charged for at least 24 hours before each segment of testing. Our objective tests were task-orientated, specifically focused on attaching screws to a 2x4 piece of lumber and assembling closet organizers we’re testing for another product roundup. For inserting screws in a 2x4 piece of lumber, an inch-long Robertson head lumber screw was used at an angle (roughly 45 degrees) as well as straight-on to get a sense of the screwdriver’s torque. We pre-drilled five holes for each screwdriver to test as well as testing five times on another solid section of the board. For the closet organizers, we used the hardware that was included with the organizers themselves, ranging from short half-inch screws to four-inch fasteners.
The subjective tests ranged from assessing the overall experience of using the screwdriver, including the build quality, noise level, ease of use, settings and additional features on the tool. In addition to the formal tests, I used the screwdrivers for a couple of weeks around my house on tasks like removing and installing plastic air vent covers, repairing a door on my RV and adjusting some drawers.
The most important thing to understand about electric screwdrivers are the bits. A bit refers to the piece of the screwdriver that matches the head of the screw. They’re often named after its shape—star, slot, flat-head—while some reference a name, like Roberts. Depending on the screwdriver, bits may or may not be included. Generally, the more expensive screwdrivers had fewer bits included with the tool.
How Do I Set Up An Electric Screwdriver?
You might have some bits from another tool that can work in your electric screwdriver, increasing its usefulness. For example, a set of hex bits can make assembling flat-pack furniture significantly easier compared to using the frequently included hex key. In addition, matching the correct bit to the screwhead can make the difference between stripping the screw or removing it easily. When it comes to the screwdriver bits, one size does not fit all. The screwdrivers tested used ¼-inch hex shank bits, usually with a magnet to hold the bit in place.
Other Electric Screwdrivers We Tested
In some areas, the DeWalt scored very well—the screwdriver feels balanced in terms of weight and its handle has enough rubber on it to secure your grip. This gyroscopic screwdriver is the exact opposite of intuitive: I had to pick up the user manual to figure out how to use it. For the DeWalt, the direction and amount of torque are determined by your initial movement of the screwdriver. In other words, you hold the trigger and quickly turn it to the left, the screwdriver zips counterclockwise. As someone who frequently mutters “righty tighty” under my breath, basing the direction of the screwdriver on my movement simplified my use. If you are repeatedly doing the same task, this would be the screwdriver for you. Sometimes, I was surprised by how much force the screwdriver provided: If I had been doing something a bit delicate, like working with brittle plastic, I would have over-torqued and caused damage.
The BDCSFL20C has a lot going on in the looks department: Its iconic orange and black coloring with chunky white accents looks both industrial and modern. Its LED task light has a large push button behind it, allowing the LED to be turned on and left on as you work. When picked up, however, the BDCSFL20C loses some of its shine. All the weight is in the front of the screwdriver, tipping the screwdriver forward with a hollow feeling handle. The balance improves a bit by snapping the handle out of the gun-style orientation into the straight position. The button that releases the handle has a loud spring snap, sometimes needing a bit of a wiggle to get it to snap into a locked position again. This poor alignment felt typical of the build quality: not a particularly well-built tool. While the handle was comfortable for the size, the rubberless grip feels slippery. For the price, this screwdriver would be a good supplement to a toolbox with a power drill or driver but not a great tool on its own.
The Skil scored about average on most of the tests, however, was not able to sink a screw into the 2x4 without pre-drilled holes. While the tool did have some nice features, like the LED light stayed on a bit longer than other screwdrivers and a separate indicator to tell you if there was a live circuit near the screwdriver tip, these features feel like they would be more suitable for specialty use, like electronics. If you are a user who often needs to be sure that an area you are working in has live power, this would be a useful screwdriver. Compared to similar voltage screwdrivers, with similar prices, we found this screwdriver to be underpowered.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.