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Electric Screwdriver VS Drill (Are They The Same Thing?)

Second to the tape measure, the electric cordless screwdriver is the most valuable tool the homeowner can have around the house.  This is why I highly  recommend that every homeowner invest in a high quality and dependable cordless electric screwdriver.

Gone are the days where homeowners had to use bulky and heavy cordless drills for the simple, around the house repairs and projects. Now companies like DeWalt, Black and Decker, Makita and Milwaukie are making much smaller, lightweight, easy to use electric screwdrivers to replace their larger, more powerful and heavier counterparts.

But before you go out and look for a good cordless screwdriver or drill, you should know the differences between them. You may have wondered if a cordless screwdriver is the same as a drill, and thats ok!  You’re not alone. Many homeowners ask the same thing.  Let me take a moment to talk about electric screwdrivers vs cordless drills.

Electric Screwdriver Vs Cordless Drill

The main difference between an electric screwdriver and a cordless drill are:

1. The size of the motor 

2. The type and size of battery that provides the power 

3. Total amount of torque

The motors inside electric screwdrivers are significantly smaller compared to cordless drill motors. This in turn means that the batteries, which provide the power are also smaller in electric screwdrivers. Most electric screwdrivers use batteries that provide between 4V and 10V of power to run.

Cordless Electric Screwdrivers

DEWALT 8V MAX Cordless Screwdriver Kit, Gyroscopic, 2 Batteries (DCF680N2)

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Some of the major characteristics of cordless screwdrivers are:

  • Compact and Lightweight
  • Low power compared to cordless drills
  • Excellent for small projects and assembling
  • Perfect for situations you would use a regular screwdriver
  • Great for slowly advancing screws and not stripping
  • Highly controllable
  • Great companion to a cordless drill
  • Typically cost less than cordless drills

Cordless Drills

DEWALT 20V MAX Cordless Drill / Driver Kit, Compact, 1/2-Inch (DCD771C2)

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Some of the more common characteristics of cordless drills are:

  • High powered
  • Designed for drilling holes in various materials
  • Projects where high torque and high speed is required
  • Heavier/ Bulkier
  • More practice/effort to control
  • Highly versatile tool.  There are many attachments that can be used.
  • Typically cost more than cordless screwdrivers

When Should I Use An Electric Screwdriver?

BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX Cordless Drill / Driver, 3/8-Inch (LDX120C)

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Cordless screwdrivers are designed to do one thing - insert and extract screws. They are lightweight and very easy to use, and because of this, they are great for smaller around the house type projects. For example, you would use a cordless screwdriver to:

  • Remove a cabinet door
  • Replace an outlet cover
  • Remove the battery cover on child’s toy
  • Hang a picture frame
  • Put furniture together like desks, entertainment units, etc
  • Craft projects
  • Small home repairs

Looking at this list, you'll notice that all of the examples are low speed, low torque, relatively simple projects.  Not a lot of power and speed is needed from the cordless screwdriver to accomplish these tasks.

When You Should Use a Cordless Drill

Cordless drills are versatile tools that pack much more power, speed and torque than cordless screwdrivers.  They are designed to drill holes AND drive screws. Cordless drills can be  bit heavier and bulkier than cordless screwdrivers.  Drills can be used around the house like screwdrivers, but they are best used performing bigger jobs.  For example, you would use a cordless drill to:

  • Drive screws fast
  • Drill holes in a variety of materials
  • Cut a hole with a hole saw
  • use a rotary sander attachment
  • Use a wire-wheel brush attachment
  • Hang Dry wall

Now that you’ve been shown a cordless screwdriver vs a cordless drill, you can decide which one is best for you.  In my home, I have chosen to have both on hand, because of the big difference in work each one can do.  

The Best Cordless Drill That I Use

The cordless drill I currently use is the Bosch 12 Volt Max Lithium Ion.  It happened to come as a combo pack which included the cordless drill and a cordless hammer drill, as well as 2 batteries, a charger and a case. 

The Best Electric Screwdriver That I Use

If all you're looking for is an inexpensive option to automatically insert or extract screws, then the Black & Decker 4 Volt Max Lithium-Ion Rechargeable Cordless Screwdriver is an excellent option.

This is a no frills, very easy to use, lightweight cordless screwdriver. I would go as far to say that I recommend this particular screwdriver as the best cordless screwdriver for homeowners.


What is your experience of a cordless drill vs cordless screwdrivers?  Do you still consider them to be one in the same?  If so, share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment below!  

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