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What is an Offset Screwdriver?

By Phil Shepley
Updated May 17, 2024
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There are many variations on the standard screwdriver. The main reasons to use a non-standard screwdriver are for jobs that a straight screwdriver cannot reach or jobs that require more torque or power. An offset screwdriver is a variety of screwdriver that is used at a perpendicular angle from a traditional screwdriver. This offers a better angle for some jobs that could be awkward or even impossible with a normal screwdriver. This type of screwdriver can also offer increased leverage, making it easier to turn and remove screws that would otherwise be very difficult.

A typical screwdriver consists of a handle and a shaft, at the end of which is a blade that makes contact with the screw that needs to be turned. The main difference of an offset screwdriver is that the end of the shaft has a ninety degree turn. Instead of twisting the handle of a screwdriver to drive a screw in or out, an offset screwdriver turns more like the hands of a clock, and can be rotated both clockwise and counterclockwise.

A simple offset screwdriver consists of a metal shaft with a flathead or Phillips-type blade in an “L” shape, with the blade oriented on the short side. Some offset screwdrivers can contain blades on both ends of the shank that typically protrude in opposite directions from one another. In this variation, one of the two blades can be a flathead screwdriver while the other is a Phillips head. They can also be different sizes of the same style head.

There are more complicated types of screwdrivers, and for every one there will typically be a corresponding offset screwdriver. For example, some screwdrivers have removable blades that can be replaced with different sizes and types for various screws. The same type of offset screwdriver can be found, with a fixed handle but interchangeable blades. These are often sold as complete sets that contain the screwdriver along with a number of removable blade bits.

Another popular variation is a ratchet offset screwdriver. When tightening a screw with this, the user does not need to break contact between the blade and the screw since the tool keeps the blade stationary when twisting it in the opposite direction. This is also a handy feature when working with screws that in cramped spaces where the turn radius of the screwdriver is very small. These popularly contain interchangeable blades for increased utility, and are built with a switch that reverses the direction of the ratcheting mechanism to switch between clockwise and counterclockwise motions.

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Discussion Comments
By Logicfest — On Jun 05, 2014

These are incredibly handy and there is no reason for a toolbox to be without one. They are inexpensive, too, and often come with both a Phillips and flat head end. One, inexpensive took that is handy makes one of these a must have.

By Vincenzo — On Jun 04, 2014

If you have ever replaced a door knob, you know the value of one of these. The problem with using a regular screwdriver is that the door knob interferes with the connection between the screwdriver and the base plate that is tightened and holds everything in place.

Without an offset screwdriver, it may be impossible to get the screws as tight as you'd like and they will back up on you over time, forcing you tighten them again and again.

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