Cordless Screwdrivers Reviewed

The words ‘cordless’ and ‘screwdriver’ may conjure up a vision of a small powerless tool with very limited capabilities, best suited to the occasional DIY task. The reality, however is different. Since the introduction of the first battery powered tools the technology has advanced beyond recognition and it’s now possible to produce compact and convenient tools with powerful performance and innovative features. The cordless screwdriver has come of age and is now a useful pro tool, ideal for use in situations where a larger drill/driver is unnecessary, inconvenient or just unusable.
Battery technology has a lot to do with this, and with the increasing use of newer formulations, such as lithium ion, batteries are now smaller, lighter, quicker to charge and more reliable. Motors too have advanced and the small power units used today have considerably more torque than their diminutive size might suggest.
Power This obviously varies depending on the size of the tool. The smallest machines are not designed to deal with the largest screws but are fine for more delicate jobs such as fitting cabinet hinges and working in confined spaces. Correct motor gearing is also important to squeeze out the best performance. Some machines sacrifice power for speed making them useful for the occasional drilling job, though less good at screwdriving.
Batteries and charger The professional models are supplied with a pair of batteries and a fast charger, so you should never run out of power. The smaller models are often only supplied with one internal battery, but can be left permanently on their chargers so they are always ready for use.
Torque control When driving small or delicate screws, it is surprisingly easy to damage either the screw or the workpiece with a carelessly used cordless screwdriver. A torque control ring mounted on the front of the machine allows you to set the machineís internal clutch to disengage when the required tightness is reached. This means that you can drive all your screws to the same depth without risk.
Chuck Generally screwdrivers are equipped with a hexagonal socket on the front designed to accept standard screwdriver bits. However this does not mean that you can only use screwdriver bits. There are many drill bits and accessories available to fit these tools from manufacturers such as Trend with their Snappy range. Accessory chucks are also available.
Light Manufacturers are always looking for ways to make their products more enticing and the most recent add-on is either a laser or an LED light. A laser is useless on a screwdriver, but a light may help you see in dimly lit areas such as inside cupboards.
How we tested them To give some idea of the comparative performance of the tools, all the batteries were fully charged and then 2in no10 screws were driven into a piece of softwood, without pilot holes, until the batteries were exhausted. Here are the results:
Model Battery voltage and type No. of screws
Bosch IXO 3.6v Li-Ion 7
Skil Drillgun 7.2v NiCd 12
Stanley 6v NiCd 13
Metabo PowerMaxx 4.8V NiCd 61
DeWalt DW920 7.2v NiCd 69
Bosch GSR 10.8V-Li 10.8v Li-Ion 121
Makita 6019D 7.2v NiCd 128
Dewalt DC740KA 12v NiCd 142

We have included a wide range of tools in this feature, from pocket-sized screwdrivers through to small drill/drivers so their usefulness should not be entirely judged on this
Price: £29.95
Power: 3.6v Li-Ion
Batteries supplied: 1 internal Charging time: Approx. 5 hrs Accessories supplied: Storage tin, Charging stand, set of bits
Bosch: 01895 838743
Bosch IXO
Bosch IX0 The tiny IXO is a well designed and comfortable tool to use. As you can see from its performance figures, it’s not really at home dealing with large screws. Its strength is in its small size and convenient features. It incorporates a small orange light to illuminate the bit in dark corners and has a foolproof display indicator on the top the top to show the direction of rotation. It has one speed and is intended purely for screwdriving. The handle has softgrip padding and the trigger is large and easy to operate. A charging stand is supplied which also stores all the screwdriver bits. This is not a heavy duty tool, but is small enough to sit on the back of the workbench in its charger ready to help with the smaller jobs.
Price: £79.95
Power: 4.8V NiCd
Batteries supplied: 2
Charging time: 1 hr
Accessories supplied:
Storage case, keyless chuck, right angle attachment
Metabo: 02380 732000
Metabo Powermaxx
Metabo Powermaxx The Powemaxx is a development of Metabo’s bulbous Powergrip screwdriver and is certainly an impressive tool. It again has a rather pleasing rounded shape, though in a more conventional pistol format. It has a variable speed trigger and a two speed gearbox. A torque control ring is fitted to the front and a keyless chuck is also supplied that screws onto the front over the screwdriver socket. A useful right angle attachment is included that allows you to drive screws in places where access is limited. This is a beautiful little machine and due to its well chosen gearing and efficient motor it manages to squeeze an impressive performance from its batteries. Though it’s not the most powerful here, it’s extremely versatile being able to both drill and drive screws with equal efficiency. Overall an excellent machine with all the accessories you need.
Price: £14.99
Power: 7.2v NiCd
Batteries supplied: 1
Charging time: 4 hrs
Accessories supplied:
Storage case, set of drill and screwdriver bits
Skil: 01895 838791
Skil Drillgun
Skil Drillgun The Skil is a futuristic-looking machine with a large softgrip covered handle and a bright work light mounted on the base. It has a locking chuck that to stop the bits slipping out. On the top are a pair of coloured arrows which illuminate to indicate the direction of rotation. It has a very large variable speed trigger. Unfortunately, considering the voltage, the performance is less than impressive. The speed chosen is rather too fast for screwdriving, so drains the battery quickly, and is more suited to drilling. It’s supplied with a set of both drills and screwdriver bits. This is a fairly large tool, though still convenient and comfortable to use. Overall not a great performer, but considering the bargain price OK for a DIY Father’s Day gift.
Price: £30.48
Power: 6v NiCd
Batteries supplied: 1 internal
Charging time: 5 hrs
Accessories supplied:
2 double ended screwdriver bits
Toolbank: 0800 068 6238
Stanley cordless screwdriver
Stanley Cordless Screwdriver The Stanley is a straightforward tool. It has a thick rubberised grip and a rocking trigger that turns the motor in both directions without the need for a separate reversing switch. It also has a particularly bright worklight mounted on the front that is switched by twisting the front ring. It is a fairly thick tool and would suit those with larger hands. The Stanley is robustly made and still small enough to be used in fairly confined corners. A reasonable tool, though over priced and too long a charge time.
Price: £89.45
Power: 7.2v NiCd
Batteries supplied: 1 removable
Charging time: 1 hr
Accessories supplied:
Storage case, 2 screwdriver bits
DeWalt: 01753 567055
DeWalt DW920
DeWalt DW920 The DeWalt is a solid professional tool with a long hinged body. It may be used with the handle and motor in line, or alternatively the motor may be tilted by 45 degrees to form more of a pistol shape. This is a very robust tool with the motor mounted in an alloy casing and incorporating a 16-position torque ring on the front. The hexagonal chuck has a bit locking ring to secure the bits. Only one battery is supplied but another could be bought if required. In use the DeWalt is a good performer, though surprisingly heavy. The hinged body allows it to reach most spaces and it’s powerful and comfortable. A tough pro tool.
Price: £99.18
Power: 7.2v NiCd
Batteries supplied: 2 external
Charging time: 1 hr
Accessories supplied:
Storage case, 2 double ended screwdriver bits
Makita: 01908 211678
Makita 6019D
Makita 6019D The familiar Makita has been around for a few years now but can still hold its own against some of the newer models. It is, however, fairly large and really falls into the category of drill/driver rather than cordless screwdriver. Nonetheless it is an accomplished machine with a slim body and a long handle into which the large battery slides. It’s fitted with a conventional keyless chuck and has an eleven position torque ring. There’s a two speed gearbox. The body is smooth plastic without any rubber padding, but is still comfortable to hold. There’s a small variable speed trigger with a rotation change switch above. In use the Makita performs well but it’s larger and heavier than some of the others.
Price: £89.95
Power: 10.8v Li-Ion
Batteries supplied: 2 external
Charging time: 30 mins
Accessories supplied:
Soft case, belt holster
Bosch: 01895 838743
Bosch GSR 10.8 V-Li
Bosch GSR 10.8 V-Li The Bosch is a compact machine whose small size contains a considerable amount of power. It has an extensively rubber padded body with a hexagonal chuck on the front. There is an eleven position torque ring. A bright LED worklight is incorporated in the body just above the trigger. There’s a sliding direction of rotation switch and a smoothly shaped variable speed trigger. The power is supplied by the small Li-Ion battery that slides into the handle. This may be fully charged in 30 minutes and two batteries are supplied. A belt holster is included and the unit is supplied in an attractive soft case. In use the Bosch is hugely impressive. It’s small enough to use in confined spaces and overhead, but powerful enough to drive in large screws without complaint. The battery and motor have sophisticated protection circuits that cut out in the event of motor or battery overload. A quality professional tool.
Price: £85.00
Power: 12v NiCd
Batteries supplied: 2 external
Charging time: 1 hr
Accessories supplied:
Storage case, 2 screwdriver bits
DeWalt: 01753 567055
DeWalt DC740KA
DeWalt DC740KA DeWalt is the most powerful machine here and is again a small drill/driver. This is a very nicely balanced tool with a T-shaped body that sits comfortably in the hand. It has a rubber padded handle and a smoothly shaped variable speed trigger. There’s a two-speed gearbox and it has a fourteen position torque ring. A 10mm keyless chuck is fitted. In use the DeWalt is a strong performer and easily drove in the most screws. However it’s a fairly large machine and obviously less able to get into the smaller spaces where the smaller machines have the advantage. Extremely comfortable to use and well made.
There are two machines that stand out here and they are the Bosch GSR and the Metabo Powermaxx. The Bosch is compact and powerful with a fast recharge time making it a real workhorse. The Metabo has less power, but added versatility with its two-speed gearbox, keyless chuck and right angle attachment. Both are excellent tools.