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Here’s why you should stop using cheap screwdrivers

  • March 19, 2023
Getty Images/Luis Alvarez

“Why should I spend money on expensive screwdrivers when the cheap ones look the same? Aren’t all screwdrivers the same?”

Put simply, no, they’re not all the same, and I have a good example of why it’s important to have decent tools, especially if you’re in the job of repairing other people’s gadgets.

Also: My favorite electric screwdriver for heavy-duty jobs

Holding the propellers on the DJI Mini 3 Pro drone are some really tiny screws. Not only are they tiny, but they’ve been glued in place using a threadlocker compound to prevent the screws vibrating loose and the rotors flying off in flight — something that would have disastrous consequences for the drone.

These screws are tiny!

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

And these screws are notorious.

Drone groups and forums are full of tales of woe where people have chewed up these screws when trying to remove them. And once they’re damaged, getting them off becomes an even more foreboding project.

Also: This is the perfect mini electric screwdriver

It seems that even the screwdriver supplied with the drone isn’t up to the job.

I have a Mini 3 Pro drone, and it needs the props changed. So, I decided to see just how easy it is to get them off — or how easy it is to make a mess getting them off.

Also: This stuff is better than super glue

First I tried the supplied screwdriver, and just as I suspected, it didn’t fit correctly at all.

The supplied screwdriver doesn’t fit the screw correctly

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Worse still, the screwdriver actually damaged the screw, chewing off some of the metal, which is not good at all!

The screwdriver actually damaged the head of the screw (notice where the black paint has been removed), which is not good!

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

I’m not going to be using that screwdriver again, that’s for sure.

Fortunately, I’ve got a few decent screwdrivers. For example, I’ve got this awesome Lifegoo mini electric screwdriver. This screwdriver bit fit the tiny propeller screw perfectly!

This screwdriver fit perfectly!

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

The quality difference between the screwdriver that DJI shipped with the drone and the Lifegoo screwdriver bit is easy to see. The supplied screwdriver bit head is rough and badly machined.

But this Lifegoo screwdriver bit is so good it had no problem removing the fastener that I damaged with the supplied screwdriver.

The inferior supplied screwdriver (right) compared to the precision bit from the Lifegoo mini electric screwdriver set

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

I also tried my favorite screwdriver set of all — the iFixit Pro Tech Toolkit — and as I expected, this kit also has a screwdriver bit that fitted perfectly. This set has been used a lot over the past few years and is still like new.

The iFixit Pro Tech Toolkit is another great toolkit, with screwdrivers you can rely on

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

If you’re in the business of repairing other people’s gadgets, you really need to have good screwdrivers. You can’t be causing more damage when trying to repair something. I’ve had to follow in the footsteps of someone who’d previously used poor quality tools, and the amount of extra time it takes to do a job is staggering. 

Also: This must-have screwdriver has two cool hidden tricks

For example, I’ve spent a good 30 minutes removing a tiny screw holding down the motherboard in an iPhone that had been previously damaged by a “repair person” who’d given the iPhone back to the owner in a worse state than it was in to start with. 

This sort of thing is unacceptable.

Save yourself a lot of headaches — and embarrassment — and get yourself decent tools.

See also

This replaced my multitool for a fraction of the cost

This $11 gadget is a must-have for aging eyes

My favorite electric screwdriver for heavy-duty jobs

This is the perfect mini electric screwdriver

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