whats the difference between a screwdriver and a drill

What’s the Difference between a Screwdriver and a Drill?

I noticed that a friend of mine had both a power drill and a separate power screwdriver, which made me wonder if there’s really a difference between a screwdriver and a drill. Since they seem to serve similar purposes, this though prompted me to dig a bit deeper in order to make a direct comparison between these two tools.

What’s the difference between a screwdriver and a drill? A screwdriver is used for securing screws onto surfaces, with a tip that fits into the head of the screw. A drill, on the other hand, is used to chip out materials, including metal, wood, and plastic, producing holes on the surface.

Most people would be surprised to learn that screwdrivers and drills are actually very different tools. With a wide range of features and individual purposes, you will find that these seemingly similar devices are not as similar as you might have thought. Keep reading to get the full scoop on the differences between a screwdriver and drill.

The Difference between a Screwdriver and a Drill

While screwdrivers and drills are both power tools with a similar look that seem to carry out the same functions, they are actually very different in the specific purposes that they are used for.

Although they both have a handle with a shaft that automatically spins with little to no force required from the user, they have some fundamental differences that are outlined in the lists down below.


  • Slower speeds to drive screws accurately
  • Adjustable clutch to indicate correct torque
  • One-hand use
  • Tips fit into screw heads

Screwdrivers generally operate at much slower speeds for additional accuracy, due to the fact that they are used to drive screws into surfaces. If a screwdriver had speeds that were too rapid, it could potentially install the screw in a slanted or crooked fashion.

In addition to the slower speeds, screwdrivers have an adjustable clutch that are designed to indicate the correct torque of the tool.

More specifically, when the user is operating a screwdriver and the screw has been secured into the surface as deep as possible, the handle will let off a small click that stops the function briefly.

This indicates that the screwdriver has completed its functions and notifies the user that they no longer need to operate the tool for this specific task.

Along with the calm operating speeds of a screwdriver and the adjustable clutch, it is relatively easy to use. When using a screwdriver, the user only needs to use one hand, because the tool does most of the work for them.

Additionally, the act of securing a screw into a surface does not require much force to be exerted by the user in the first place.

In order to be able to fit the proper screws and effectively secure them into the targeted material, screwdrivers have replaceable tips that can be placed on the end of the shaft.


  • Faster speeds to drill out materials
  • Used to chip materials (metal, wood, plastic)
  • Lacking in speed control
  • Two-hand use with force
  • Produces holes
  • Can also drive screws

Drills, on the other hand, are much faster and more powerful than the traditional screwdriver. This is due to the fact that drills are generally used to chip materials, such as metal, wood, and plastic.

In other words, a drill is used to create a hole or opening in a surface, instead of driving another object into it.

Drills have very little speed control, as they really don’t need to have a very calculated torque to break through hard materials.

Requiring two-hands to use and some additional force from the user, a drill can produce a new hole in almost any surface. Contrary to the screwdriver alone, a drill has the capability to both create holes as well as fill them with screws.

When Should Screwdrivers And Drills Be Used?

Since screwdrivers and drills are so fundamentally different in the purposes that they fulfill in any tool box, when is the appropriate time to use each of them?

This section will tell you everything you need to know about when to use screwdrivers and drills when it comes to specific home projects.

When to Use a Screwdriver:

  • Removing a cabinet door
  • Removing the cover of an outlet
  • Assembling furniture
  • Hanging a wooden picture frame on the wall
  • Home repairs

Screwdrivers, as described in the previous section, are generally used to insert and remove screws into various surfaces. As a result, you will need to use the functions of your screwdriver during any project that involves screws.

For example, if you need to assemble new furniture together that requires frames to be attached by screws, you will use your screwdriver. Additionally, you can use one of these tools to hang a wooden picture frame onto the wall.

Screwdrivers can also be used to remove screws around the house. For instance, if you wanted to remove the door from your kitchen cabinet, you could use a screwdriver to conveniently twist the existing screws out of place.

Similarly, if you needed to remove the cover of an electrical outlet, you could use your screwdriver for an even removal of the screws that are secured into the wall.

Basically, you can use a screwdriver for anything around the house that needs repairing, as long as it involves the process of either installing or removing screws.

When to Use a Drill:

  • Hanging dry wall
  • Cutting a hole
  • Anything that requires quickly driving screws into a surface

Drills, on the other hand, will be required for different purposes when it comes to home repairs. Since drills are generally used to create holes in surfaces, as mentioned before, they can be used for this purpose anywhere around the house.

If you will be completing a project that involves hanging dry wall, you will want to use the power of a drill instead of the less powerful screwdriver.

When in doubt of whether or not you should use a drill for the task you are trying to complete, you should ask yourself how much force is needed.

In the event that you need to quickly and powerfully drive screws into any surface, you can use your drill in place of your screwdriver for this purpose.

Is a Cordless Screwdriver The Same As a Drill?

While electric screwdrivers and drills have a lot of similarities, the screwdrivers usually have cords attached to them, while drills are most commonly powered by battery.

So, when an cordless screwdriver replaces the traditional one, is it technically the same as a drill?

Cordless Screwdriver:

  • Lightweight
  • Lower power levels
  • Can be used in place of a regular screwdriver
  • Used for slowly installing screws
  • High levels of control
  • More cost efficient
  • Can be used in accordance with cordless drill

Cordless screwdrivers are generally very lightweight, with lower power levels, just like the traditional screwdriver that involves a power cord.

These types of screwdrivers can be used in place of the regular ones, for any kind of project that requires tightening or loosening screws in a slow and calculated manner.

With high levels of control, cordless screwdrivers can carry out the same functions as their traditional counterparts, without the nuisance of a cord limiting its functions.

Cordless Screwdrivers are more cost efficient than drills, however, and can be used in accordance with these tools if needed.


  • Heavy
  • Higher power levels
  • Used for projects that require high speed
  • Low control levels
  • Versatile with many attachments
  • More expensive

Drills, which usually do not include a power cord, are much heavier than the cordless screwdriver, and possess much higher power levels.

Since they are regularly used for projects that require high speeds, they generally do not have much control of the torque.

These tools are versatile with many attachments that can be placed on the end of the shaft, and can be used for both drilling holes and driving screws into the same surface.

In comparison to cordless screwdrivers, drills are usually much more expensive. Despite all of the differences that come with cordless screwdrivers and drills, there are some common factors between the two.

Cordless Screwdriver and Drill – Similarities:

  • Power tools
  • Both used to drive screws
  • Absence of power cord

Both cordless screwdrivers and drills are classified as power tools that carry out tasks for the user with little to no effort or force. Aside from the fact that drills are used to create holes, both of these tools have the ability to drive screws.

Lastly, and more obviously, cordless screwdrivers and drills both operate in the absence of an annoying power cord.

Related Questions

What is one of the best cordless drills to purchase?

One of the best cordless drills that exists on the market is the Bosch 12 Volt Max Lithium Ion Cordless Drill. Highly recommended by enthusiasts, the set comes with both a cordless drill and a hammer drill, along with batteries, a charger, and a case.

What is the price difference between screwdrivers and drills?

The average price of a screwdriver is around $20, while a drill can cost anywhere from $30 to $150.