Can I Use A Manual Screwdriver Instead Of A Drill? (Solved!)

You can easily replace the functions of the drill by using a manual screwdriver under some limited circumstances.

The main function of a drill is to make holes for bolts in hard surfaces. The other function is to ease the stress of screwing bolts instead of using a manual screwdriver. It does come in handy when you have to screw a multitude of bolts. Drills are only time-savers and effort-multipliers. So nothing is preventing you from always using a screwdriver instead of a drill.

Is the manual screwdriver a boring tool?

The common screwdriver isn’t a boring tool. But a special screwdriver can be used to drill holes. Screwdriver with a boring bit with its supporting boring bar and arbor used to enlarge and accurately finish a large bore previously formed by casting or otherwise.

A boring tool is used to achieve greater accuracy of the diameter of a hole and can be used to cut a tapered hole. awls, gimlets, and augers also produce holes. An awl is the simplest hole maker, for, like a needle, it simply pushes material to one side without removing it. Drills, gimlets, and augers, however, have cutting edges that detach material to leave a hole.

You can be handy for making holes in drywall for plastic anchors. A #2 Phillips works for the little ones and I have a stubby slot head type that makes the right size hole for the larger ones with the wings on the back. Such as a Klein Rapi-Driv screwdriver works excellently for this purpose.

Rapi-Driv screwdriver
Klein Rapi-Driv screwdriver

The shaft swivels in the handle. The screwdriver works like a bicycle crank, rapidly spinning the screw. Or, in our case, drilling a hole in the gypsum drywall.

Can I use a manual screwdriver instead of a drill to drill holes?

Perhaps, but poorly, and with small diameter drills through low strength material. Most “screwdrivers” have low torque, with low-speed limits.

You can always find a manual screwdriver to insert or remove a screw. If you need to drill the hole with a manual screwdriver. There are a few circumstances when you’d want to use a manual screwdriver instead of a drill to drill holes. I’d actually consider drilling a hole with a screwdriver if I needed two things:

  1. A small hole.
  2. Extreme control over torque and feed pressure to prevent splitting or wandering.

You can use a ratcheting screwdriver to speed up the process slightly. I have a screwdriver equipped with an excellent chuck mounted on a hex shank. Then, a hole was drilled successfully with a screwdriver as below picture.

ratcheting screwdriver
screwdriver be used to drill holes

Once you have driven the hole with the drill bit, you can switch to a screwdriver bit.

Incidentally, that cheap DeWalt ratcheting screwdriver is always the envy of my trade school classes. It can go stubby to fit in tight spaces, or long to give access in tight corners. It has a very smooth ratchet. And, I can drive fasteners by hand with it faster than someone fumbling with a powered driver in a tight spot. Highly recommended!

Similarly, you can always get a power driver to do what a manual screwdriver can do. However, it is a lot harder to do this in every situation, because the power driver for the bit tends to be bigger.

Can I use a manual screwdriver instead of a drill or driver to drill a screw?

For Self-drilling screws, If the screw head is a standard slot. If you try using a drill, the bit will most likely skip in and out of the screw head whenever any resistance is encountered. You need the dexterity and deft touch only a human-operated screwdriver can provide or you’ll wind up stripping the screw head.

Other times would be if you’re screwing in a tiny screw, say if you’re performing watch or eyeglass repair. You’ll need a very small screwdriver and a light, delicate touch. Or if you’re driving in a tiny 1/4″ long screw to mount a brass face plate onto a jewelry box.

It doesn’t take much power to over-torque this screw and strip the hole. A deft touch is required. If your drill has an adjustable clutch and you can set the torque on it, sure you can probably use it to drive in these screws, but personally, I like to use a screwdriver instead to ‘feel’ when I’ve torqued it enough.

Standard Slot Screw Head
Standard Slot Screw Head

There’s a certain romance to using hand tools over power tools. You know, doing it the old-fashioned way. Plus, what if the world’s power grid went down permanently and it would take decades to bring it back up? You’d better hope you have some skill with hand tools or else the impromptu government will not look too kindly on your lack of skills and will take you out back and shoot you just so there’s not another useless mouth to feed.

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