Let’s cut to the chase: you’re here because you’re not sure whether to grab an electric screwdriver or a drill for your project, right?

That’s the predicament most DIY enthusiasts and professional handymen often find themselves in.

With the wide variety of tools available, it’s easy to understand why.

In this article, we’ll uncover:

  • The basics of an electric screwdriver and a drill, their parts, functions, and types.
  • Core differences between these tools such as power comparison, functionality, size, weight, cost differences, and more.
  • Similarities between an electric screwdriver and drills.
  • The advantages and disadvantages of both.
  • How to choose the right one for you.

This read is aimed at shedding light on all you need to know to make an informed decision.

The Basics Of Electric Screwdrivers & Drills (Explained)

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of each tool, let’s start with the foundations. Understanding the basic structure and functions of both an electric screwdriver and a drill will provide the necessary context for the subsequent discussion.

By understanding what these tools are and how they operate, we’ll be better equipped to explore their differences, similarities, and unique selling points in later sections. Let’s get to it!

What Is An Electric Screwdriver?

Electric screwdriver versus drill

An electric screwdriver, as the name suggests, is an electrically-powered tool used to screw and unscrew screws with minimal effort.

Comprising a handle, a power trigger, and a chuck (the part that holds the bit), this tool is a must-have for any toolbox. In the current market, cordless screwdrivers have also gained immense popularity.

The electric motor spins the chuck and the bit, making the task of driving screws into the material a breeze. Perfect for light-duty tasks, these are the handyman’s best friend when it comes to assembling furniture, installing light fixtures, or doing light renovations.

Types of Electric Screwdrivers

When it comes to electric screwdrivers, there’s a model for every task:

  1. Straight electric screwdriver: Resembles a traditional screwdriver, only powered. It’s perfect for small, tight areas.
  2. Pistol grip electric screwdriver: Shaped like a gun, this design allows for better control and is perfect for tasks requiring more force.
  3. Adjustable electric screwdriver: Can change configuration between straight and pistol grip for maximum flexibility.

What Is A Drill?

the difference between a drill and electric screwdriver

A drill is an electric or battery-powered tool used for boring holes in various materials or fastening materials together with screws. Just like an electric screwdriver, a drill has a handle, a power trigger, and a chuck that holds the bit. Drills are often more robust and powerful.

You can use them for everything from light-duty tasks, just like an electric screwdriver, to heavy-duty tasks, like drilling holes into concrete or metal. One common type of drill that you might find is a cordless drill.

Types of Drills

The range of drills available on the market is extensive, with each designed to suit different tasks:

  1. Corded drills: They are reliable and offer constant power but lack the convenience of portability.
  2. Cordless drills: Offer the freedom of mobility but may lack power compared to their corded counterparts.
  3. Cordless electric drills: Offer the freedom of mobility but may lack power compared to their corded counterparts.
  4. Hammer drills: Perfect for drilling into tough materials like concrete or masonry.
  5. Rotary drills: High-powered drills designed for heavy-duty jobs.
  6. Impact drills: Designed to deliver high torque for driving long screws or bolts.

The Core Differences Between Electric Screwdriver Vs Drill

Electric Screwdriver Vs Drill

Now that we have a grip on the basics, it’s time to dive into the heart of the matter. While an electric screwdriver and a drill may seem similar, especially to the untrained eye, they possess distinct differences that set them apart.

The key to choosing the right tool lies in understanding these core differences – whether it’s about their power capacities, functionality, size, weight, or cost.

Understanding these factors will not only help you make an informed decision but will also enable you to use each tool to its full potential. Ready to drill into the details?

1. Power Comparison

The power of a tool often determines the type of work it can handle. Typically, power drills have higher power ratings than electric screwdrivers, meaning they can tackle more demanding tasks.

The power of these tools is usually measured in voltage, with higher-voltage tools providing more torque (twisting power). For instance, an 18V drill will generally have more power than a 3.6V electric screwdriver.

2. Functionality And Use

While both tools can drive screws, the way they perform tasks differs. Cordless screwdriver models are optimized for screwing and unscrewing, with lower torque and speed compared to drills.

This makes them perfect for light-duty tasks. Drills, on the other hand, are versatile powerhouses capable of both screwing and making holes in tough materials.

3. Size And Weight

Generally, electric screwdrivers are compact and lightweight, making them ideal for prolonged use and reaching tight spaces.

Electric drills, on the other hand, are often heavier and bulkier due to their larger motors and batteries but offer more power in exchange.

4. Speed Variations

One significant difference that often goes unnoticed between these tools is their speed variations. Electric screwdrivers are designed for precision, so they typically have a lower speed range, averaging around 200-600 RPM (Revolutions Per Minute).

On the other hand, drills are built for both driving screws and drilling holes, which requires more speed. So, they usually come with a higher RPM, averaging around 1200-1500 RPM, and often feature a variable speed setting that allows the user to adjust the speed depending on the task.

5. Chuck Size

Another key distinction lies in their chuck size. The chuck is the part of the drill or screwdriver that holds the bit in place.

Drills generally have a larger chuck size – typically 3/8-inch or 1/2-inch – which allows them to accommodate a wide variety of drill bits and screwdriver bits. This design is typically found in manual screwdriver sets as well.

This means they’re more versatile and can be used for a wider range of tasks. Electric screwdrivers, on the other hand, typically have a 1/4-inch hex chuck, which is designed specifically for screwdriver bits. This makes them less versatile than drills but more focused on their primary task – driving screws.

6. Torque Control

Torque control is another distinguishing factor. Torque refers to the force that causes rotation – the ‘twisting power’ in other words.

Drills often feature adjustable torque settings, allowing you to control the amount of force the drill uses to drive screws or drill holes.

This feature is especially useful when working with different materials, as it helps prevent over-driving or under-driving screws. In contrast, most electric screwdrivers have a fixed torque setting that’s sufficient for most light-duty tasks but may not offer the same level of adaptability as a drill.

7. Noise and Vibration

Noise and vibration levels can also play a part in choosing between an electric screwdriver and a drill. Generally speaking, drills, especially when used at their maximum capability, tend to produce more noise and vibration than electric screwdrivers.

If you’re sensitive to these factors or are working in a noise-sensitive environment, you might prefer the quieter operation of a cordless electric screwdriver.

8. Tool Lifespan

While both tools are built to last, their lifespan can vary depending on their construction and use. High-powered drills, particularly those from reputable brands, are often built for endurance and can withstand heavy-duty use over longer periods.

Electric screwdrivers, while robust in their own right, are typically designed for lighter duties and might not fare as well under consistent heavy use. However, with proper maintenance, both tools can provide service for many years.

9. Cost Differences

Electric screwdrivers are usually cheaper due to their less complex design and smaller size. Drills are generally more expensive because of their higher power and versatility.

10. Safety Features

Lastly, the safety features inherent in each tool might also be a consideration. Drills, particularly those designed for professional use, often come with additional safety features such as lock-on buttons, auxiliary handles for better control, and clutch mechanisms to prevent over-torquing.

Electric screwdrivers, being simpler devices, might lack some of these features. However, their lower power and slower speed can inherently reduce risks associated with misuse.

Each of these differences contributes to making the electric screwdriver and the drill suitable for different tasks and uses. It’s crucial to consider these differences when deciding which tool is the right choice for your specific needs.

Check out these safety tips when using power tools to learn more.

Similarities Between Electric Screwdriver Vs Drill

Electric screwdriver Or drill

Now, before we delve into the distinctions and unique selling points of each tool, it’s crucial to understand their similarities. Despite their differences, electric screwdrivers and drills share several common features.

  • Power source: Both electric screwdrivers and drills operate using an electrical power source. This can either be from a power outlet (for corded versions) or a rechargeable battery (for cordless versions).
  • Function: While they may differ in power and speed, both tools serve a fundamental purpose: driving screws. Each can be used to either tighten or loosen screws.
  • Parts: Both tools feature a handle, a power trigger, and a chuck. These are integral parts that work together to provide the tool’s basic function.

Understanding these similarities can help provide a clearer context when we delve deeper into the unique attributes and benefits of each tool.

Further reading: Screwdrivers Types: The Ultimate Guide

Electric Screwdrivers Or Cordless Drills: Pros & Cons

Electric screwdriver Or cordless drill

After examining the differences, it’s time to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each tool. Just like any other product, both electric screwdrivers and drills come with their unique sets of strengths and weaknesses.

Knowing these will help you to balance your needs and expectations with what each tool can offer. Remember, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all tool, but there’s always a tool that’s just right for your task.

Advantages Of Electric Screwdrivers

Electric screwdrivers come with several advantages that make them an excellent choice for certain situations:

  • Lightweight and compact: They’re easy to carry around and perfect for getting into tight spaces.
  • User-friendly: With simple operation and lighter weight, they’re great for beginners and those with limited hand strength.
  • Precision: The slower speed allows for more control, which is beneficial for tasks that require precision.

Disadvantages Of Electric Screwdrivers

Like any tool, electric screwdrivers also come with a few drawbacks:

  • Limited power: Electric screwdrivers aren’t as powerful as drills, making them less suitable for heavy-duty tasks.
  • No drilling function: Unlike drills, screwdrivers are not designed to bore holes.

Advantages Of Drills

Drills, too, offer a host of advantages:

  • Versatility: Drills can both drive screws and drill holes, making them a versatile choice.
  • Power: With higher voltage and more power, drills can handle a wider range of tasks, including heavy-duty projects.
  • Speed control: Most drills offer variable speed controls, allowing the user to adjust the speed to fit the task at hand.

Disadvantages Of Drills

However, drills also have their limitations:

  • Size and weight: Drills are generally heavier and bulkier, which might lead to fatigue during prolonged use.
  • Cost: Drills, particularly high-quality models, can be more expensive than electric screwdrivers.

Which One Is Right For You?

what is the difference between screwdriver and drill

The ultimate question is: which tool is the best for you? The electric screwdriver or the drill? The truth is, it’s not a question of which tool is universally better. It all depends on what you need it for, your skill level, your budget, and a host of other factors.

So let’s take a look at some scenarios and factors to consider, to help you make the decision that fits you like a glove. Here’s to finding the right tool for the right job!

Factors To Consider When Choosing Between An Electric Screwdriver And A Drill

The key to choosing the right tool lies in understanding your needs. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Project size: Are you doing light-duty tasks or heavy-duty projects?
  • Budget: How much are you willing to spend?
  • Power source: Do you have easy access to a power outlet, or do you need the freedom of a battery-powered tool?
  • Skill level: Are you a beginner or a seasoned DIYer?
  • Frequency of use: Is this a one-time project, or do you frequently engage in DIY projects?

Scenarios Where An Electric Screwdriver Is More Suitable

An electric screwdriver is the better choice if:

  • You’re doing light-duty tasks such as assembling furniture, hanging pictures, or installing light fixtures.
  • You need a tool that’s lightweight and compact for working in tight spaces or for extended periods.
  • You’re on a tight budget. Electric screwdrivers are generally cheaper than drills.


In the end, whether an electric screwdriver or a drill is right for you hinges on your specific needs, the nature of your projects, and your budget. Both tools have their unique strengths and limitations, so weigh these factors carefully.

By understanding the differences, similarities, advantages, and disadvantages of each, you’re now equipped to make an informed choice. Now, go out there and conquer your DIY projects with the perfect tool!