Screw Driver Repair – Save Your Tools
by Damien Andrews
With prices going up almost as fast as inflation, whenever the do-it-yourselfer can save a few bucks, it's an inviting prospect. Every dollar saved is a dollar that can be applied to the next project – and the next project is really what being a do-it-yourselfer is all about. One way to save money is to extend a tool's serviceable life. For example, a common example of prolonging a tool's usefulness is, when you have a wooden-handled hammer, and the handle becomes loose – you can simply drive another spreader in the top and you're good to go again for a long time. The 25¢ spreader beats the heck out of a new $15.00 hammer, and it also tops the $6-8 hammer replacement handle. Of course if the handle is cracked badly…
With the introduction of battery-powered screw guns, every do-it-yourselfer started amassing large quantities of screw driver blades. This myriad of short blades designed for use with power drivers were, of course, in addition to the existing rack of traditional manual screw drivers on the workbench and in the toolbox. The point being, the average do-it-yourselfer has an awful lot of screw driver blades that can get damaged, but they can also be easily repaired and put back into service.
To repair a screw driver blade you don't need much in the way of tools – or time, for that matter. A couple of good metal files are all that you'll require to keep your screw driver blades in tip-top condition.
All you have to do is secure the screw driver blade that you want to repair in a vise. You can also use some clamps, if a vise is not available to you. If you do use a vise, be sure to put something between the screw driver blade and the vise jaws to prevent scoring on the blade. I always keep several pieces of 1/8" thick harness leather by my vise. It works great for protecting things from the serrated jaws of the vise. If you can't find good pieces of leather at your local swap meet, try the Tandy leather catalogue. Even new, it's very inexpensive and will last for decades.
Once the screw driver blade is secured, take your metal files and start to reshape the blade. On a flathead screw driver blade, start by flattening and squaring the end of the tip, and then gently file away any curls that are created on the four sides. If you have to take a lot of metal off the tip, then you may need to do a slight bit of tapering on the sides also, but this won't happen very often.
To repair a Phillips head screw driver blade, start by filing the sides. This is much easier and faster if you have a metal file that has squared sides. Using this type of file you can work down two of the screw driver blade ridges simultaneously. Finish by filing the end tip of the screw driver blade. When repairing a #1 Phillips head, you'll want to leave a point. A # 2 Phillips head screw driver blade also needs a point, but less so than a #1 – the very end can be slightly flattened. When repairing a #3 Phillips head screw driver blade you'll want to flatten the end pretty much. If you need a reference, check out brand new Phillips head screw drivers at your local hardware store.
The above technique will work on all types of screw drivers, even fine jeweler's screw drivers. Just be cautious to adjust pressures and angles to suit the screw driver blade you're working on. Also, when you're working with small, fine screw driver blades, be sure to work slowly so that you don't overheat the metal and weaken the tip of the screw driver.
It is possible to do some of the repair work on some screw driver blades using a grinder, but be very careful. Grinders not only remove metal very quickly, but they also heat metal up fast. If you get the metal too hot, you'll weaken the tool and shorten its service life rather than lengthen it.
Pro Tip : If you are repairing extremely fine screw driver blades that are very small, such as the smallest of the jeweler's screw drivers, use emery cloth instead of files.