Let me start off by saying that I didn’t seek out to put together a DIYer screwdriver buying guide.
You see, I was scouting out Labor Day tool deals, which usually involves my snapping a few pics of floor displays for further research at home.
I came across a Craftsman screwdriver set at Lowe’s – your typical multi-piece set aimed at DIYers and casual users – and it struck me as particularly bad value.
I felt that this Craftsman screwdriver set deserves some words, but not in a good way, and so it seemed like a better idea to springboard into a buy this, not that type of discussion.
Lowe’s has a Kobalt screwdriver set that I would absolutely buy over the Craftsman one, but it seemed inadequate to stop there. So, I added in a couple of more recommendations.
Towards the end, I realized that my “here’s what I recommend instead” post had broadened well beyond its original scope, naturally evolving into an impromptu DIYer screwdriver set buying guide.
Because of that, this post reads more linearly than the typical list of recommendations you might be used to. I hope you’re okay with this, and if not, let me know and stay tuned for the update.
Craftsman 12pc Screwdriver Set – What NOT to Get
With the Craftsman deal, you get a 12pc bi-material screwdriver set for $34.98, saving you a whopping $3 off its crossed-out “was” price of $37.98.
That’s… not a good bargain, to put it lightly.
You get 6 standard full-size screwdrivers, 2 miniature screwdrivers, 2 stubby-style screwdrivers, a double-ended offset screwdriver, and a screwdriver magnetizer and demagnetizer accessory.
I know that “inflation” and all, but $35 seems like a lot for this.
If you look closely, the large price sticker is covering up what looks to be $27.98, which seems a bit better.
Looking online, this same set is $24.98 with free shipping on $45+ orders.
Readers have recently reported having difficulty getting Lowe’s stores to match online pricing, but one could always try that.
$24.98 is a little better than $27.98 and a lot better than $34.98. Did this set ever sell for $37.98?
I have purchased similar Craftsman screwdrivers before, for review purposes, and the handle is fairly comfortable.
But this configuration? I’d rather spend half as much for just the 6pc set. Or maybe $20 for an 8pc set of full-size drivers.
Stubby-style screwdrivers can come in handy.
Okay – I’d find it appealing if the 6pc full-size and 2pc stubby screwdrivers were together in an 8pc set for $20 or less. Bingo – they have this for $21.98.
If you’re spending $22, another $3 gets you 2 mini drivers of questionable quality, an offset screwdriver that might come in handy one time if you don’t lose it, and a magnetizer/demagnetizer tool that might be good to have if it’s well-made.
But, the Craftsman 12pc set isn’t $25 in stores, it’s only that price online right now. If you’re at the store, which is how I impulse-buy most of my hand tools from Lowe’s or Home Depot stores, it’s $34.98 right now.
Maybe next week it will be $27.98, as seen behind the sticker? But that’s still far away enough from $21.98 for the 8pc set, and I wouldn’t consider it a great deal. It’s an okay upsell, but not a better bargain, if that makes sense.
I think this is an example of what not to get.
Craftsman Model CMHT65071
Item No. 1071663
Would anyone of you choose this Lowe’s-exclusive Craftsman set? I’m worried that maybe my feelings about the set are colored by my reaction to Lowe’s promotional (or pre-promotional?) pricing.
It’s amazing how much pricing can skew one’s opinions. If this Craftsman set had a $20 sticker price, my take on it would be completely different.
I bought a smaller Craftsman set on impulse one year (for testing and editorial exploration purposes), and have nothing against their handle style, or the tip quality for the money.
So, if you can snag it for less, it might be a good buy. But given the pricing I’m seeing, I feel there are better ways to spend the same money today.
Kobalt 20pc Screwdriver Set – Getting Better
Alright, so what would I buy instead? If only shopping at Lowe’s, where the aforementioned Craftsman set is an exclusive, they have this Kobalt 20pc screwdriver set for $24.98 online.
Kobalt is a Lowe’s brand, and so you can only find their tools exclusively at Lowe’s. Craftsman is not a Lowe’s brand, but the set discussed above is specifically labeled as an exclusive.
This Kobalt set comes with 11 full-size screwdrivers, 6 mini screwdrivers, 2 offset screwdrivers, and a bottle opener. All of the handles look to have bi-material cushion grips.
What are the sizes? Lowe’s website doesn’t say, they only specify: “Sets feature popular sizes to satisfy wide range of fastening needs.”
From the product images, it looks like you get typical Phillips and slotted screwdriver sizes, plus maybe 2 Torx drivers.
This would be a decent starting-out screwdriver set, at least as far as what you can find at Lowe’s.
I’ve used many Kobalt screwdrivers before – probably with this handle style, I don’t recall – and they’ve always been decent.
You get more for the money here, not just with respect to quantity, but the sizes and type of screwdrivers you get in the set.
Researching just a little more, this set was $20 last year for Black Friday.
Kobalt Model 67248
Item No. 1411251
Wera 6pc Kraftform Screwdriver Set – My Premium Choice
If we’re taking the Craftsman’s in-store price of $35 into consideration, I would instead buy this Wera Kraftform Plus 6pc screwdriver set.
The handles are comfortable, and the tips have a fantastic “Lasertip” anti-cam-out texture.
These Wera screwdrivers are fantastic. I own many, and love them as general purpose screwdrivers. They’re pricey, but worth it.
I have more premium-priced screwdrivers at my disposal, but these Wera’s are a reliable workhorse that will likely always be a part of my kit.
Don’t Forget a Mini Screwdriver!
I would also budget $2-3 to get this Stanley 4-in-1 pocket screwdriver, which covers smaller sizes.
At the time of this posting, it’s $2.28 at Home Depot with free shipping.
Husky 6pc Diamond-Tip Magnetic Screwdriver Set – Great for Under $20
If I need to stick to a $25 total budget, I’d get the Stanley 4-in-1 pen driver (here are other pocket and technician screwdriver suggestions), and probably this Husky 6pc screwdriver set from Home Depot.
I really like this Husky 6pc diamond-tip magnetic screwdriver set, and I’ve posted about it before.
Husky is a ToolGuyd sponsor, and so I tried to avoid the brand for this discussion, but I like this screwdriver set too much to forcibly exclude it.
At the time of this posting, this 6pc set is just under $19.
With this set, you get spend a little more than on less expensive assortments, but the grippy diamond grit-coated tips and comfortable handles are worth the added expense.
You also don’t get anything extra you might not need, which means more money goes into the tools you might use more frequently.
20 screwdrivers for $25 seems like a good value, until you realize that just 6 will cover at least 95% of your fastening tasks. If you come across screw styles or sizes that a 6pc screwdriver set cannot handle, you’ll need something else. But will that 20pc set include that “something else,” or will you have to spend more money anyway?
Husky has plenty of other screwdriver set options, many of which I’ve purchased or received for testing, and I’ve had good experiences.
These are far from being my favorite screwdrivers, but they’re good quality and the set offers a great value within its price range.
If You Need More Tip Styles and Sizes
Perhaps consider a good 1/4″ hex bit handle and an assortment of insert bits.
That’s beyond the scope of this post, but I’ll include a single recommendation to get you started in the right direction:
If you want the most bang for your buck, Kobalt and Husky have very competitive options for $20 or less – get whichever. Will they be long-lasting high-precision professional-grade tools? Not really, but they’re as good or better than what you can expect for $20.
And if you’re not happy, take it back to the store within your return period, get your money back, increase your budget by a few dollars, and try something else.
So, that said, I’d recommend the Husky set, the Stanley 4-in-1 “pen driver”, and then maybe consider putting a few dollars towards a magnetizer (via Amazon). Add an offset screwdriver (via Amazon) to your shopping list after the first time you really wish you had one.
The Craftsman set though… $25 seems okay for what you get – but certainly not $35. Although, I’m not very impressed with what you get. It’s a standard 6pc screwdriver with 6 more “a little of this and that” tools to help convince DIYer to spend more.
If I sound a bit cranky about this, it’s because I have fallen for such tool sets before. These days, I’d rather spend $20 on 6 tools I need, rather than 6 I need and 6 minor tools or accessories I might someday need.
Also, those-add-on tools will often be duplicated when – not if – you need to buy additional tools down the line.
2 mini screwdrivers or 1 offset screwdriver isn’t enough. When it’s time to buy more sizes, a set will likely be most economical, and then you’re basically spending money on duplicate sizing or functionality.
This happens with a lot of assortments. For instance, when you start working a lot with Torx fasteners, will the 2 sizes included in the Kobalt set be enough? Probably not, and so you’ll eventually need a separate Torx set.
Although, there is benefit in having a tool-at-hand before you know you need it.
Still, this is why I like the Husky and other 6pc sets. You can easily add to them without necessarily duplicating the functionality of what you have.
Coming back to the Wera set – that 6pc set cost nearly double as much as the Husky, but the quality is fantastic, especially the anti-cam-out tips. Most people love the handle shape, but some people don’t – so make sure to try them within your chosen retailer’s return period.
What About Multi-Bit Screwdrivers?
Some of might be thinking that an all-in-one multi-bit screwdriver might be a better choice.
Yes, and no.
I keep both around. Multi-bit screwdrivers are convenient, standalone screwdrivers are often more comfortable and can better fit within recessed handles.
Additionally, more complex projects might require multiple screwdriver sizes. It’s easier to pick up different drivers than to change a multi-bit driver’s configuration back and forth.
Wiha 6-in-1 Multi-Bit Screwdriver
I’m not so excited about Wiha tools anymore, but their multi-bit screwdrivers are solid recommendations. I bought these for review last year and continue to use them regularly with good experiences.
The 6-in-1 is just $13 right now, which seems like a good bargain. I paid $16 for mine in January 2021.
Tekton 6-in-1 Multi-Bit Screwdriver
I also like Tekton’s 6-in-1 multi-bit screwdrivers, priced at just $10 each.
It’s available with black or red handles, and you can choose from a couple of different bit configurations aside from the usual Phillips and slotted loadouts.
Candidly speaking, there is no shortage of multi-bit screwdrivers in the $8 to $20 price range.
These would all be in addition to – and not instead of – a 6pc or greater screwdriver set.
What Do You Recommend?
I tried to exclude Husky at first, given the potential conflict of interest (I try my best to avoid making comparisons between sponsor and non-sponsor brands in any circumstances), but it’s my top sub-$20 choice with no reasonable second choices quickly coming to mind.
Irwin, another Stanley Black & Decker brand, used to have some great screwdrivers, but I can’t find them at decent prices today.
Gearwrench also makes great screwdrivers, but their pricing is beyond the scope of this post.
There’s also Felo Ergonic, if you can catch them on sale.
What would you recommend? I’m curious to see what readers’ thoughts are, but please keep the relative price range of $15 to $25 in mind.