Torque screwdrivers are designed to ensure that fasteners are properly tightened but not overtightened. This ensures a secure hold without stripping delicate threads.
My dad had a particular set of tools for working on our DOS-era computers. We were never allowed to touch the tools, so we would gather around and watch in awe whenever he got them out.
First was the anti-static mat. Then the anti-static wrist connection.
Then, he’d pull out all of his tiny, precision screwdrivers and lay them in a row.
Finally, he’d begin carefully begin taking the computer apart.
The methodical work was mesmerizing.
If you regularly work on computers or have a household full of small electronics, the right tools will save you a lot of money.
There are quite a few variations to choose from. The electric-powered models can speed up your task if you are working in a professional role.
Preset torque screwdrivers with only one tightening specification is another popular option among those who always install a single screw to a specific tightness (such as in assembly line work).
Adjustable models that let you select from a range of torques is more popular for hobbyists and repair personnel. ToolTally has a good list of these.
A recent example of how owning a good set of precision tools helped us was when my wife just asked me to take her watch into the jeweler for a new battery. I popped out my computer tools and changed her battery in a minute, saving $20.
Just like my dad, I have my own set of specialty screwdrivers for working on electronics.
The only difference is that mine all have a torque setting.
On my first technician job, I was working in an automotive shop. John had been in the role for over a decade.
During one of my first days on the job, he was tightening a bolt, only to hear that dreaded “pop” of the bolt head shearing off.
One of the other techs working nearby joked, “You know, John, they make torque specs for a reason.”
That comment stayed with me, and I now own an entire suite of torque-measuring tools.
The torque screwdrivers are my carefully-protected prized possession.
Purchasing the right screwdriver for each task was not cheap. Each torque screwdriver is only good for a small range of torque specifications. This requires you to buy the right one for your specific task.
I have ones that I use for my automotive work, others that I use for my electrical jobs and yet others that are reserved for intricate computer repairs.
Care For Torque Screwdrivers
Due to their small size, the internal components of torque screwdrivers are smaller and more delicate. This requires extreme care to ensure they aren’t damaged.
We all know that dropping them can be harmful to their intricate settings and cause a loss of calibration.
However, there are some other things to think about as well.
Should You Use a Torque Screwdriver to Loosen Screws?
Taking care of your torque screwdriver also means that you should never use one to loosen a screw. I know some people will argue with me on that. However, it takes more torque to loosen a screw than to tighten one.
When you try to loosen a screw with your calibrated tool, you can accidentally over-twist it and damage the tool’s mechanism.
It is good to have a regular screwdriver for loosening screws.
Protect Them From Dust and Sea Air
Problems in the air are another problem. If you live near the ocean, you will want to keep your precision tools inside your air-conditioned house, not out in the garage where unfiltered air can damage them.
As anyone who lives near the ocean can attest, the salty air is difficult on precision equipment. You may also want to keep a small packet of silica in your tool chest to help absorb any added humidity.
Get The Correct Torque Range
As you shop the different torque options, recognize that they are not all the same. They are made to tighten screws within a limited torque range.
The screwdriver you use to install a computer motherboard will use a different tightening range than the torque screwdriver used to tighten a rifle’s scope.
Spend More Money For The Proper Brand
The brand of a screwdriver can matter as well. Some brands, such as Klein, might invest more money in the anti-shock features for electrician work.
CDI and Wera tools are well-known for the high precision that their devices offer. Getting one of these is helpful if you need a high degree of accuracy.
Even companies like Harbor Freight offer torque screwdrivers. If a higher margin of error is acceptable in your work, you can save money by purchasing a less-well-known brand.
Not everyone is going to see the value in owning a torque screwdriver. However, if you work with expensive components, the right tool will protect those components.