Screw Gun Tips, Tricks and Accessories

I purchased my first screw gun in the early 1980s. It was one of the best investments I’ve ever made, despite its single speed and 30-minute battery life. I knew of nobody else who had a screw gun at the time. Today the screw gun is surely the most popular electric tool on the market. I don’t think I know anyone who does not have one – and many have two.

Screw gun ownership is not limited to diehard do-it-yourselfers such as me. Wood workers, drywall installers, electricians, plumbers and auto mechanics wouldn’t be without one. The ubiquitous screw gun is also in the tool kits of everyone from the casual handyman to single moms. It’s become an almost indispensable tool that saves time and incalculable energy.

The screw gun makes jobs such as shelf installation something that anyone can do. Otherwise, such tasks would be left to those few with the necessary hand strength to turn a hand screw driver the hundreds or thousands of times necessary.

You can purchase a screw gun that is either corded or cordless. The corded models are primarily intended for use in production settings such as factories and workshops. The cord creates definite limitations in the list of possible applications.

The cordless screw gun is by far the most popular and most employable. Today’s models are lightweight, variable speed, reversible, easily portable, high voltage workhorses that can hold their battery’s charge for hours. If you are buying a new screw gun, just perusing the list of available models and their respective features and benefits can be mind boggling.

The things you want in a really good screw gun include:

1) Variable speed.

2) Reversible.

3) At least an 18-volt lithium-ion battery.

4) Good battery life.

5) Quick change tool-less chuck.

6) Settings for drilling and screwing.

7) Clutch.

8) Fast charger.

9) Good guarantee.

There are many good screw guns available today. My three favorite brands are Makita, DeWalt and Milwaukee. These brands cost a bit more than some brands, but give tireless, trouble free service indefinitely. Unless you are in the trades, if you buy a new screw gun today, it will likely last you a lifetime – requiring only a new battery some years down the road.

Accessories that you simply must have for your screw gun include screw driver bits, hex head bits, drill bits and an extension for the chuck that holds your bits. The extension allows you to reach recessed, hard-to-get-to places with ease. I find magnetized screw driver bits to be more hassle than help. However, be sure that your hex head bits have good magnetic capability.

Pro Tip: For the rare occasions when a magnetized screw driver bit is needed, simply rub a rare earth magnet on the bit for a moment. It will work great for a few minutes. You can get these magnets at hardware stores for about a dollar, and they last forever.

There are some great bit accessory kits available for your screw gun. Look for ones that give you multiple screw driver bits – you’ll wear out both Phillips head and flathead, but mostly Phillips head. Also, be sure the kit has each size of screw driver bit: #1, #2 and #3. The #2 Phillips head will likely get more use than any other bit you have. If the kit comes with hex heads, be sure it has both a Ã?¼” and a 3/8″ in the mix – these will get the most use. Note: An extra pack of just #2 Phillips head drivers is a good idea if you intend to use your screw gun a good deal.

Pro Tip: Avoid buying any flathead screws for your projects. They are many times harder to drive with a screw gun. Phillips head, hex head and star heads should become your favorites. Star heads are still not that common, except in the trades, but I highly recommend their use whenever possible.

If you don’t intend to use your screw gun for a while, remove the battery. Also, it’s a good idea to occasionally clean the screw gun’s electrical contacts.

Drywall dust is the worst. If you use your screw gun on drywall a lot, be sure to clean the gypsum dust from the chuck and trigger areas often. Also, either blow out or vacuum the motor’s air intakes and exhaust areas as needed.

A simple two-compartment plastic basket with a handle is a great accessory for a screw gun. You can put the gun in one side and the bits in the other, and still have room for some hardware. These inexpensive baskets are available in the house wares section of any discount store.

Keep your screw gun covered when it’s not in use. This prevents dust from getting into the motor area, and other areas as well.

Have the proper accessories and take reasonable care of your screw gun and it will serve you well for many, many years. I simply cannot imagine how many hours they’ve saved me over the years. Not to mention the wear and tear on my wrists and elbows. Oops – I mentioned it.

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