Do Screwdrivers Wear Out? (Solved & Explained)

Screwdrivers can wear down, especially cheap ones, which might strip the screws you use them on. Inspect and replace on a regular basis.

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I have been using screwdrivers for 40+ years. Everyone I have used regardless of the brand turns the screw just fine and I have never broken one unless I was abusing it or using it in an application it wasn’t intended for. I have a mix of harbor freight, craftsman, Kobalt, and snap-on screwdrivers in my toolbox. As long as you use your screwdriver correctly and take care of it, it should last for many years without becoming worn out.

When the tips on your screwdriver aren’t holding up and the handles aren’t doing you any favors, chances are it’s taking longer than it should complete simple tasks and causing you frustration.

If you push and it slips because it lost its fit, you get a horrible stab wound. I usually know a Phillips tip is worn out when it slips out of the fastener under pressure, skitters across the workpiece, and ends up embedded in my left arm.

When is a screwdriver tip worn?

As soon as you see wear on the side of the driving portion that goes into the screw. The driving face needs to be totally flat, once there is a wear “ramp” it cams out.

screwdriver tip worn
screwdriver tip

The tips on our screwdrivers are precision machined to exact tolerances for a perfect fit – every time you use them. We utilize exclusive chrome-vanadium-molybdenum tool steel to preserve the tip shape and durability for repeated use. We even harden them to a 60 on the Rockwell C scale and then coat them with Hard Chrome Top Plating. This provides you with additional unmatched curability for tip and blade integrity.

When the top of each ridge on the tip has burrs on it, it’s worn enough that the majority of the ribs that will actually catch are worn but it’s definitely not unusable.

It’s actually in that perfect wornness that you can work on fasteners that you need to avoid damage on, like external hardware on expensive whatever.

Why do screwdrivers wear out?

A screwdriver can become worn out is if it is used incorrectly. For example, if you use a screwdriver to pry open a door, the tip of the screwdriver will become bent and eventually break off. Beside, if it is dropped or otherwise subjected to impact. This can cause the tip of the screwdriver to become chipped or broken. If you accidentally drop your screwdriver, inspect the tip to make sure it is still intact before using it again.

For example, a Phillips tip is not supposed to wiggle at all if it’s the correct size for the screw head. If it wiggles, it’ll slip out and that’s where the wear comes from.

screwdrivers wear out
screwdrivers wear out

Screwdrivers are made of hardened steel and designed for repeated use.The only way a screwdriver can become worn out is if it is used incorrectly.

If you use a screwdriver to turn a screw that is too big for the head of the screwdriver, then the head of the screwdriver will start to wear down. This will eventually cause the head of the screwdriver to break off. Also, if you use a lot of force when you are turning a screw, then this can also cause the head of the screwdriver to break off.

If a screwdriver is dropped or otherwise subjected to impact, it can become damaged. The force of the impact can damage the tip of the screwdriver, making it less effective at driving screws. It can also cause the handle to break or loosen, making it difficult to use the screwdriver.

How do you maintain a screwdriver?

A screwdriver is a versatile and essential tool for many tasks around the home, workshop or office. But like any tool, it needs to be maintained in order to function properly. Here are some tips on how to keep your screwdriver in good condition:

The first thing to do is to keep the handle of the screwdriver clean and intact. This will allow you to have a solid grip when using it. You should also never hold the piece you are working on in your hand – always lay it down on a workbench or place it in a vice.

maintain a screwdriver

Another important tip is to carry your screwdrivers in toolboxes or work belts, rather than in your pocket. This will help protect them from damage and keep them within easy reach when you need them.

How to repair a screwdriver?

I know we all have a few sitting unloved in our toolbox. Want to regrind Phillips tip back into shape? It’s good for your favorite screwdriver, that you can’t exchange blades any longer.

If your screwdriver is dull, there are a few things you can do to fix it. Sometimes you can dress the tip a bit with a triangular file, and grind the pointy tip of the bit. This lets it seat deeper and it works better. If I grind too far, the bit still works but is difficult to center into the screw.

If that doesn’t work, you can also try using a grinding wheel. If neither of those options work, you may need to replace the screwdriver altogether.

For a typical median grade screwdriver, if that happens, I just take a file to it or put it on a bench grinder and turn it into the next larger size Phillips by removing enough material to make all 4 lobes equal and intact.

Is it worth rejuvenating a screwdriver?

Doesn’t seem to make sense when you can buy a decent new screwdriver pretty cheap.

Are regular Phillips screwdrivers hardened at the tip? If they are, and you dress the tip back and remake it, it’s going to wear out again faster. The best thing is to use the hardened tips with the multi-use sets. I doubt that it could possibly be cost-effective to pay somebody to re-grind Phillips tips rather than buying replacements.

It’s utterly pointless to rejuvenate a Phillips screwdriver. Grinding the “sharp” part of the tip-off means it will never fit properly in a Phillips-head screw. Filing the grooves and flats takes too long, and I strongly suspect that it’s difficult to find a file that would produce the correct angles without considerable skill and patience.

repair a screwdriver
repair a screwdriver.

The best screwdriver tips are forged, not ground.

I believe that the Phillips design was intended to cam out at some given torque, but when it does, the screw and the driver are in danger of damage. Using a worn driver will endanger the recess in the screw head, using a driver on damaged screws endangers the driver tip. Any person having a lot of trouble with worn screwdrivers better do some inspection on the screws that are being driven; you’ll probably find that the screws are as ruined as the driver.

My simple test for screw/driver wear is to take a NEW, PROPERLY-FORMED Phillips-head screw about an inch long, and insert the driver into the head as normal. The screw should not fall off the driver when the driver is held parallel to the ground. Similarly, a used screw can be tested by inserting a good driver into the recess, again the screw should hold onto the driver when horizontal. Worn screws or worn drivers will generally not “stick together” when held horizontally. Clearly, a magnetized driver or a magnetized screw isn’t suitable for this test!

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