How to Use a Drill for Screws: Drive them in like a power screwdriver

How to Use a Drill for Screws: Drive them in like a power screwdriver

A power screw driver or impact driver can drive screws through boards using screw bits. These bits are shaped like screws. There’s a flat head bit, a Philips bit, and dozens of other shaped-bits. There’s also drill bits. Drill bits can also be used in a power screw driver, if the bit is compatible with the chuck. It can be used to drill holes. The same is true with power drills that have a chuck compatible with screw bits. A power drill can be used to drive screws.

Example of a power screw driver.

Example of a power screw driver. Available here on Amazon.

Example of an impact driver, for driving screws

Example of an impact driver for driving screws. The Dewalt DCF885C1 20V Max 1/4″ Impact Driver Kit. Available here on Amazon.

The chuck is a clamp used to hold the bit in the power drill. It is designed for objects that have radial symmetry. There are jaws in most chucks. The jaws can be tightened to hold the bit. Most chucks are keyless, so they require manual tightening and loosening by the hand.

A drill can be used to drive screws into materials if the chuck can safely hold a screw bit. Here’s some helpful tips to consider while driving screws with a drill.

Place a Row of Screw Bits Next to Drill

Different types of drill screw bits

Different types of drill screw bits. Available on Amazon here.

The first thing to do is gather several screw bits of varying shapes. If the project requires a flat head or a Philips bit, then put these next to the drill on a table. Organize them so that you can easily retrieve them while working. To make it easier to recognize each screw bit you could label them with a piece of paper and color code it.

 

The screw bits might be magnetized to make it easier to drive a screw into a material. Practice placing screws on the screw bits. Hold the drill vertically and horizontally. If you have enough skills, the screw should stay on the bit, even while moving the drill.

 

Draw X’s on Material for Screws

The material can be a table, shelf, or cabinet. Locate the places where the screws will be driven and draw an X with a pencil. Draw all the X’s before drilling the first hole. By marking all the screw locations, it will be easy to transition from one hole location to another, without having to study the material and determine the location.

Use a pencil to mark the locations. A marker is a suitable alternative. Press firmly to mark the locations. Each X should be visible from a few feet away.

 

Drill Pilot Holes for Screws

If you are screwing into a hard material (e.g. hard wood) or near the edge there is a chance that driving in the screw will crack or damage the material you are screwing into. In this case you need to drill a hole into the material for the screw to go into.

A digital caliper can be an accurate way to measure the size of the screw shaft and drill bit to match them for drilling pilot holes.

A digital caliper (available here on Amazon) can be an accurate way to measure the size of the screw shaft and drill bit to match them for drilling pilot holes.

Use a drill bit to make the holes. Use a drill bit that makes a hole the same size as the screw shaft without the thread part. You could either judge this by eye of use a digital caliper to measure the diameter of the screw shaft and the drill bit.

If there are two pieces of material that need to be joined, drill through both pieces. Drill each X marked on the material. Take a break if you have a lot of holes to drill. Also, make sure the battery is charged fully. If the drill slows down, it’s time to recharge it. You might even consider replacing it. Here’s my review of the best cordless drills on a budget.

 

Clear the debris from the drill bit regularly. If you have to replace the bit with a new one, then do so. Quickly loosen the chunk and remove the drill bit. Insert a new one and tighten the chunk. After it is secured, finishing drilling the remaining holes.

 

Match the screw bit with the screw

Some screw heads look similar but are actually different. There are different sizes and types of screw heads and screw bits. Using the wrong screw bit for a screw can mean that the bit slips out of the screw head while you are trying to screw it in. This can damage both the screw bit and the screw. If you have damaged (stripped) the head of a screw it can mean that it is difficult to finish screwing in it or get it back out.

A Pozidriv Size Number 2 drill screw bit

Example of a Pozidriv Size Number 2 drill screw bit. Note that the “PZ2” engraved in the bit.

A Pozidriv screw

Example of a Pozidriv screw. Note the extra cross compared to a Philips head screw.

Philips head, size number 2 screw bit. Note the PH2 engraved on the shaft.

Example of a Philips head, size number 2 screw bit. Note the PH2 engraved on the shaft.

Example of th Philips head screw. Note the single cross.

Example of th Philips head screw. Note the single cross.

The main time people use the wrong screw bit is when using a Philips head bit on a Pozidriv screw or visa versa.

 

Drive Screws into Material

After all the holes have been drilled, remove the drill bit and attach a screw bit. The shape should match the screws that are needed for the material. Then, attach a screw onto the screw bit and place the tip of the screw into the hole. Pull the trigger to drive the screw into the hole. Press firmly to make a tight connection. Move on to the next hole. Put another screw onto the screw bit and place the tip of the screw into the hole. Repeat for each hole.

The type of material is important. Wood is easy to drill through. There shouldn’t be any problems with wooden tables or shelves. Harder material may pose a hazard. For example, metal might cause the drill to overheat. This usually occurs if the metal is too hard for the drill bit. Steel is a very hard material; it might damage the drill. Copper, on the other hand, is softer and will be easier to drill through. Compare the hardness of the metal with the limitations of the drill bit. Also, replace the drill bit if it gets damaged while drilling. With multiple bits, it may be possible to safely drill through any material.

Change Bits to Match Screws

When a new screw is needed, replace the screw bit with a matching shape. Then, attach the screw and drive it into the hole. This should be easy if the screw bits are on a table and spaced apart with labels. Loosen the chunk, remove the old bit, grab a new screw bit from the table, and insert it into the chunk. Tighten the chunk and place the new screw on the screw bit. Place the tip of the screw into the hole and pull the trigger to drive the screw into the hole

This is everything you need to know to use a power drill to drive screws. It’s a matter of changing the drill bit with screw bits. Keep track of the shape of the screw bit and the screws that you need. Keep in mind, this is only possible if the screw bits are compatible with the chunk of the power drill.

List of Basic Tools for Projects

  • Power Drill
  • Drill Bits
  • Screw Bits
  • Screws
  • Material
  • Pencil

FAQ

Which is better, an impact driver or power screw driver vs cordless drill for driving in screws

In my opinion, the best all round option is a good cordless drill. Impact drivers and power screw drivers may be specifically designed for driving in screws but they are less versatile (can’t also drill holes well in most cases). A good cordless drill will also be faster at driving in screws. The case where you would prefer an impact driver is when screwing in baton screws and the extra power of a cordless drill may cause damage.

How to drive a screw into wood without electric or cordless drill?

If you don’t have an electric or cordless drill you could use an electric screw driver or impact driver. You could also use a manual screw driver set. Using a manual screwdriver set can take a bit more time and effort but does essentially the same thing in most cases. However, if you are screwing into hard materials (e.g. hardwood) or near the edge of the material, screwing without drilling a guide hole can lead to cracking and damaging what you are screwing into. A drill is such a versatile and useful tool, you probably should get one.

How to screw into drywall/plaster?

Screwing into drywall/plaster (without drilling into a stud behind the drywall) is not very stable and the screw is likely to come out very easily. However, there are other ways to fasten things to a drywall. Check out my article about hanging heavy a picture on drywall.

 

References:

Wikipedia

Best Cordless Drill

A big part of drilling holes or screwing in screws well is having a great drill! Check out my review of the best cordless drills here:

Best Table Saw

Another tool that every serious woodworker needs is a table saw! Check out my review of table saws here:

Best Oscillating Multi Tool

An oscillating tool is a great all rounder tool that is great for DIY and renovation projects. If you are into renovation and DIY, you may want to read my oscillating multi tool review here:

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