You might have seen this before – it’s a General Tools cordless precision screwdriver. Or rather, I should say it’s a cordless powered screwdriver. Because aren’t all screwdrivers cordless?
This mini precision driver has a quick-change chuck that works with 1/8″ hex precision screwdriver bits, and it drives fasteners at “100+” RPM. You can change the motor direction with an easy-toggle sliding switch selector. The driver is powered by AAA batteries and lasts a little over 10 hours per set.
The screwdriver comes with Phillips #0, #1, slotted 1/16-inch, 1/8-inch, and Torx T5, T6 bits.
Price: $10 (on sale), $20 (regularly)
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It looks like the normal price is $20, but Amazon and Lowes have it on sale for $10 for the holidays.
With this cordless powered precision screwdriver being priced at $10, is there any reason to buy manual precision screwdrivers? Well of course! As you can tell from my best precision screwdrivers roundup, I am very particular about precision drivers. I would still prefer manual drivers, as I am sure they allow for better feel and better control.
There’s probably little risk of stripping fastener heads with this tool. In using this tool, I would be more concerned over bit selection. For instance, McMaster Carr carries 55 different 4mm micro screwdriver bits, and exactly zero 1/8″ precision bits.
If I had to install or remove a couple of dozen small screws each day, my feelings about this powered driver might change. Then again, there are a number of reviews complaining about the screwdriver’s build quality and reliability. For everyday use, I would probably buy something like Wiha’s powered micro bit set instead ($98 via Amazon).
If you have used this General Tools screwdriver before, do you like it? Would you use something like this?
I guarantee you it won’t have a motor brake. I have the Craftsman version (Which actually takes 4mm bits… Go figure) of this when it was going for less than $10 from a closing Sears. No motor brake as said and there’s some significant inertia to the spindown. Doesn’t matter for removing screws but I wouldn’t use it to drive them. I’ll just take an extension for 4mm bits and spin it instead to avoid over torquing.
I have a Husky version that is similar to this. I often take apart electronics, and love this device. I usually will hand tighten, but will use this for removing and installing most of the screw.
At $10, I think its about $7 overpriced. I once had this exact screwdriver. It worked a couple of time before crapping out. I consider it a disposable, one time use product.
This General model is worth $10, not $20. I have had the Husky versions that I picked up for around $4, I gave those away just not enough torque or power in that motor. This one at least can tighten a fastener reasonably well. I use an extension bit from a different kit to make up for the rather fat shaft.
The switch is awkward, it’s designed to be actuated by your thumb but how often are you driving a screw like that where your thumb is free to slide the switch? It would have been better had they included a rocker style or gyroscopic switch.
However, this is the tool I’ll reach for if I’m disassembling a laptop with a lot of tiny screws.
Motor-powered anything for such small screws (computers, cell phones, etc.) seems to be overkill. I could see it working with tiny Phillips screws, but would be concerned about spinning out of them and/or stripping them. It gets more difficult if the screw heads are flat or recessed. If I couldn’t remove a small screw manually, something was probably wrong with the screw. Using a powered screwdriver might trash it, making things worse. At that point, I’d either need a very small screw extractor to bite into it, or would use my Engineer Screw Removal Pliers (PZ-58) to effect a rescue.
This tool isn’t about power, it’s about speed and convenience. When you have to remove and then reinstall a couple of dozen long small machine screws, you’re not going to want to have to do it manually. Once? Maybe. Twice? Maybe not. Regularly? No way.
In my past life we did some assembly (albeit not miniature screws/electronics). We had an assembly station with Cleco pneumatic screwdrivers. Very nice tools with accurate torque settings. Unfortunately none of the Clecos cost anything like $10 to $20.
I just looked those pliers up, and don’t think they would ever work for precision screws that are often recessed (sometimes down a tunnel).
My solution to a stuck tiny machine screw would probably be to drill through it, but I haven’t run into that situation recently.
For stuck screws where heat/penetrants don’t work or are not practical – my next thought is to try a left-handed drill bit. I have a Morse set that starts at 1/16 inch – so it can tackle a fairly small screw.
Adam–You’re right about them not working in a recess. What I meant to say was use an extractor bit (with a tap wrench, if possible) to get a start on the screw (i.e., to bite into it) to bring it up and out of the recess. This would allow me to finish removing the threaded portion with the pliers. I use a Moody 12-in-1 Precision Screw Extractor and Screwdriver Set, Stock #58-0670 (available on Amazon), to remove smaller screws that are messed up. Sometimes the narrow screwdriver bodies work; other times, the tap handle gives me more twisting force to back them out.
I mean no disrespect to anyone who chooses to use power tools to remove screws. If you can do it, you’re a better man than I am. My success rate using them has been low, so I just stay with the manual method. Incidentally, employing a drill or other power tool with an extractor is usually why the person denounces the extractor as useless. They overpowered the screw with the power tool, often buggering the screw in the process. My advice is to watch a few videos on YouTube on this subject before jumping into it; it will be time well spent.
I just use a DeWalt DCF680 Gyroscopic Screwdriver, with one of the two Wiha Tools 1/4″ to 4mm Hex Bit Adapters. (Model 75802 micro bit to hex adapter ~$5 from your nearest Wiha supplier, or 75902 micro bit power driver ~$9 from the same.)
When doing something really precise, I still prefer my manual drivers. I have a range of them, from a nice exchangeable-bit set from Lee Valley, to some Mastercraft Manual ones (some of which are Electrically Insulated), and even a bonus Mastercraft set with lots of exotic bits and both an extender and a flex shaft. But, quick attach/detach something? I use a power bit. Renders all these little gimmicky single-use things pointless. Just get the Wiha 75902 power adapter and your favourite micro-bit set together, and it’s no problem.
And when you’re done on the Micro scale, you can still use it for full-sized standard stuff without skipping a beat.
Canadian Tire sells the Mastercraft sets, for those Americans on here. It’s a Canada thing. They’re still really good quality.
And here are the Mastercraft Insulated Manual set. They did re-design these, this is an old model’s colouring.
I’ve had one of these for quite some times, and in some situations it’s very handy. I work a lot with small fasteners in electronics a lot, and if I am disassembling something that has a bazillion tiny screws, this makes quick work of that. Magnetizing the bits slightly makes collecting the screws a lot less hassle. when reassembly times comes, depending on that the project is, I can let the little driver drive them all the way in. I’ve developed a loose grip style that will let the driver spin in my hand as well as spin the switch around, turning the driver off. I will drive more critical fasteners by hand. If there is any problem, it’s one you’ve noticed. There are no similar-sized bits in my arsenal of small drivers that will fit the power driver chuck.
I bought the Craftsman version a few months ago. I’ve got two manual sets, one General from HD and one from (shudder) Harbor Freight. The HF Pittsburgh set was my go-to, as I do a lot of work on computers, gadgets and gizmos, but I really, really like the powered version — especially the little LED light that comes with it.
I have had this driver for more than two years and it is working fine for me. I have to look around for more of a selection of bits but other than that I am pleased with it.
I’ve had this one for a long time (>10 years, bought at Fry’s), and have used it infrequently. It’s too slow (I think I can turn my Wiha’s faster), and too wimpy. Also, the included bits are way too small for most of my uses. I’m thinking about donating it to my son.
From taking a quick look at Amazon, there aren’t many (any?) good precision electric screwdrivers. And although I think I’d like the bit set, the Wiha screwdriver in the link doesn’t look like it’d be worth it, either.
Most normal electric screw drivers are WAY too big for precision / electronics work (though if I wanted a bigger one, I think I’d go for the Bosch PS21 or PS22), and probably have too much torque.
I did pick up an ES120 screwdriver recently from eBay; it’s a big improvement over the General: can take 4mm bits (currently using a HF set I’ve had for years, will look at getting some better if I use it a lot), is much faster, has more torque (though not always enough), has a metal case, and has several speeds. Still, I think it was a little pricey even used, and new it’s way too much, at $70-$100.