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Phillips screwdrivers and flathead screwdrivers are remarkably similar in one important way; both are what are classified as “drivers” in the world of tools, meaning their purpose lies in forcing bolts or screws through various types of material, with the added benefit of being able to remove these bolts or screws as well. At first glance, both types of screwdrivers may even look very similar to each other. It’s not until you get up close and examine the points of each screwdriver head that the major difference becomes apparent.

A flathead screwdriver has a single, flat blade, while the Phillips instead has two blades that form a cross or plus sign. The shapes of the screwdriver heads in turn correspond with the appropriate screws to which they are applied, and you really won’t find anyone using a Phillips screwdriver in a slotted screw, and vice versa. While you might think that a properly sized flathead could work in a screw designed for a Phillips, you might see success but it will cause unnecessary strain or potential damage on either the screw or the driver, so it’s always best to match the right driver with the type of screw you are using.

The flathead screwdriver has been in use for centuries, while the Phillips screwdriver is relatively new in comparison, having only been invented in the 1930’s. Henry Phillips, a tool company owner, wanted to find an alternative to flathead drivers and slotted screws that would be safer and also prevent overtorquing. The need for such drivers and screws was driven largely by the automobile industry, which at the time was becoming more and more of a mass production worldwide. Because the design of Phillips drivers and screws were so compatible with industry machines and allowed workers to utilize their own twisting strength more efficiently, the Phillips driver quickly caught on as the better tool in high-torque manufacturing processes.

Although Phillips drivers and screws might be safer on tools and the workers who operate them, the classic flathead screwdriver still has its advantages over the newer design. A flathead driver has more universal uses – for instance, you could use one as a scraping or prying tool if nothing else was available to you. And in terms of slotted screws, having a driver present isn’t absolutely necessary, as other small, thin objects like coins or knives can often turn the screws affectively when all else fails. On the other hand, Phillips screwdrivers don’t really have any alternative uses and it would be difficult to find a substitute to turn a Phillips screw for you without the properly fitted driver.

No toolbox would be complete without both flathead screwdrivers and Phillips screwdrivers in various sizes, as you are likely to come across alternating situations in which one or the other is optimal. For the largest selection of hardware and tools that you can find in Miami, look no further than Shell Lumber & Hardware. Please feel free to call us any time at (305) 856-6401, or visit us in person to browse our current selection of handheld tools and general supplies.


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