Last year, at their 2015 media event, Dewalt introduced a line of Maxfit screwdrivers that are related to their Maxfit insert bits. These screwdrivers combine a few new features that aren’t seen on many screwdrivers, including hollow ground slotted screwdrivers with the eased corners that Stuart was impressed by.
According to Dewalt, these redesigned screwdrivers have CNC-machined tips that grab onto screws and help to prevent stripped screws. The bi-material handles have “a yellow torsion zone” that flexes to absorb torque. The hex shafts serve the same purpose as a bolster, you can increase you leverage by fitting a 1/4″ wrench to them.
As I mentioned above, the slotted screwdrivers don’t have the typical tapered profile you often see on general purpose screwdrivers. The hollow ground tips are angled very close to parallel at the ends, so they fully engage slotted screwdriver heads. In many cases this should make the screwdrivers slip less and allow you to transfer more torque to the screw.
Tapered screwdriver tips often put pressure on the edges of a slotted fastener’s channel. These parallel-tipped drivers better engage the sides of the channel. In addition to less slippage and greater torque transfer, this often means less chance of damage to the fastener.
With a tapered tip screwdriver, your choices come down to using a smaller screwdriver, where the tip reaches the bottom of the slot and the blade fits sloppily against the sides, or a larger screwdriver where the tip won’t reach the bottom of the slot, but the blade fits tightly against the sides of the slot, albeit only with minimal contact. Each situation is less than ideal and the blade will slip easily out of the slot.
Maybe the neatest feature of these screwdrivers comes from the strange yellow round section of the shaft near the tip. My set came with a yellow magnetic sleeve that fits over this section of the screwdriver, and helps with fastener retention and placement. The sleeve has ball detents which lock onto this yellow section when you push it over the shaft of the screwdriver.
Since the yellow section is much wider than the ball, the sleeve can freely move a short distance. This allows the sleeve be in just the right position to magnetically grab the head of the screw, regardless of how deep the tip of the screwdriver engages the pattern.
The end result is that the screw is held securely on the tip of the screwdriver so you can start screws one handed even in a really tight location.
You can slide the magnetic sleeve out of the way if you don’t need it, or take it off and store it someplace safe.
I purchased the Dewalt Maxfit 8 piece screwdriver set before Christmas, model DWHT62058. I bought this set rather than the 22pc one that was a special buy because I wanted the larger slotted and Phillips #3 screwdrivers. The square drivers were just an extra to me. Rarely have I ever needed a square drive screwdriver, but I suppose it could come in handy if I need to fine tune a pocket hole joint.
This set comes with:
- Magnetic screw lock sleeve
- 3/16” x 4″ cabinet driver
- 1/4” x 4″ slotted driver
- 5/16” x 6” slotted driver
- #1 x 3” Phillips driver
- #2 x 4″ Phillips driver
- #3x 6” Phillips driver
- #1 x 3″ square driver
- #2 x 4″ square driver
What is a cabinet driver you ask? Well I’m not exactly sure either and am even less sure after trying to read up on it. I’ve read a few conflicting definitions.
One source said that cabinet screwdrivers have the same sized shaft as the tip. This allows you to fit them into a recessed hole no bigger than the screw itself as commonly found in electrical cabinets. Another source said it has to do with the parallel grind of the tip. Still another source said it had to do with the thickness of the blade.
Stuart says: Regarding cabinet screwdrivers, it’s my understanding that they’re round-shafted drivers with same-width tips. I don’t think parallel grind comes into play, and believe I’ve seen tapered cabinet screwdrivers.
Many slotted drivers, such as the Klein driver example linked just below, have wider tips than shanks. You can’t do certain things, like access a fastener that’s recessed in a drawer front, because the sides of the tip might be too big. In a cabinet driver, the sides are ground flush with the sides of the shaft.
Why aren’t all drivers cabinet-style? Tapered drivers require one (or more) fewer manufacturing steps, and the greater meat at the tip means greater strength.
The only one that makes sense in the context of these Dewalt screwdrivers is the thickness of the blade. The 3/16″ slotted driver has a 0.030″ thick tip while the other two slotted screwdrivers have a 0.040″ thick tip.
Neither style has tip widths wider than the shaft, which by Stuart’s generalization might make them both cabinet-style drivers.
With the quad-lobed handle, you really can’t grab the screwdriver wrong — you don’t notice flat sides like you would with a tri-lobed handle. The rubber over mold is grippy, but doesn’t give much. The end of the screwdriver shows what type of tip the screwdriver has, but doesn’t identify the size. In fact the size isn’t printed anywhere on the screwdriver.
Using the Screwdrivers
I purchased this set specifically for my shop, and replaced some cheap set that I picked up a long time ago. The Dewalt Maxfit screwdrivers now live hanging over my bench on a magnetic tool holder within quick reach.
They’ve become my go-to set of screwdrivers, and so I find that I’m always rounding them up from various locations around the house.
Part of the reason I’m grabbing the Maxfit screwdrivers over other screwdrivers I have stashed around the house, is because of the magnetic screw holder sleeve. The strong magnetic grip on screws makes it really easy to start them one-handed in tight or hard to access areas.
I own a set of Snap-on screwdrivers that used to be my go-to screwdrivers when I absolutely didn’t want to cam out of a Phillips screw or slip out of a slotted screw, or when I problems getting a grip with other screwdrivers. Since I’ve purchased the Dewalt screwdrivers, I haven’t run out to the garage to grab the Snap-on screwdrivers even once.
I don’t think the Dewalt Maxfit screwdrivers are of the same quality as the Snap-on screwdrivers, but they are definitely good enough. I haven’t had any issues with the Phillips tips camming out prematurely, and the hollow grind on the slotted screwdrivers really grabbed most of the slotted screws I tried.
While I don’t think I’ve ever used a dedicated square drive screwdriver before, I’ve used a lot of square drive insert bits. I’ve seen a wide range of quality and fit with the insert bits: from ones that cammed out worse than Phillips bits to ones that fit so positively that I broke off screw heads. The #2 square drive Maxfit screwdriver fit more in the last category than the first. I couldn’t find any #1 square drive screws to test.
Ninety percent of the screws I’m starting are #2 Phillips, so the magnetic sleeve lives on the #2 driver. Still, it would be nice to have more than one magnetic sleeve for 8 screwdrivers. Maybe you don’t need one for every screwdriver, but if you lose or break the single sleeve, the cheapest replacement or add-on option is to buy a 2-pack of 2″ Maxfit insert bits.
I’d also like to see the sizes printed on the screwdrivers somewhere, preferably on the yellow end cap so you could tell at a glance without having to examine the tip.
Like I said before, these aren’t the best screwdrivers I’ve owned, but they are very adequate for everyday use. Combined with the magnetic sleeve for starting screws one handed or in tight spots, these are nice screwdrivers to have around.
Price: $25 plus shipping
There are other set sizes and options available.