Original Photo by Ksenia Chernaya
No, I’m not going to teach you how to use a screwdriver – that’s completely redundant.

What’s NOT redundant however is knowing the differences between all the screwdriver heads. You might know how to use a screwdriver, but there are so many types of screwdrivers around.

For example, do you know the difference between a Philips and a JIS screwdriver?

And why is it called a “Philips” screwdriver anyway?

That’s what you’re about to discover more in this blog post, in addition to:

  • The 6 most common types of screwdriver heads – and how they’re designated
  • Why you must use the right screwdriver for the right screw – and what can happen if you don’t

1. Flathead

image of flathead screwdriver
Also called a “slow screw driver,” this is the most basic screwdriver head – it’s just a flat indentation.

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    2. Philips

    en:User:Cburnett, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
    Unlike the flathead screwdriver, a Philips screwdriver head has four edges that resemble a “+” sign.

    A Philips screwdriver has the designation of “PH,” followed by a size code, such as:


    • PH00
    • PH1
    • PH3

    Why is it called a “Philips” screwdriver?

    The Philips screwdriver got its name from its inventor – a man from Oregon, USA named Henry F. Philips.

    3. JIS

    It might look identical to a Philips screwdriver head, but it’s not.

    The JIS (or “Japanese Industrial Standard”) screwdriver is mainly found on screws fitted to Japanese motorcycles and scooters.

    And while a Philips screwdriver will fit into a JIS screw head, it will not bottom out. 

    A JIS screw also has a small dot next to one of the cross slots. 

    If you’d like more details about the differences between JIS and Philips, check out this video from the Motorcyclist Magazine YouTube channel:

    4. Hex (Allen)

    The name “hex” comes from the fact that the screwdriver head is hexagonal – in other words, it has six sides.

    Metric hex keys sometimes have the designation “M,” followed by a number that describes their size in millimetres, such as:


    • M3
    • M6
    • M10

    5. Pozidriv

    Arkadiusz Zarzecki, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
    A Pozidriv screwdriver can be seen as a more advanced version of the Philips head. 

    Often, Pozidriv is designated with a “PZ” abbreviation, followed by its size code, such as:

    1. PZ1
    2. PZ2
    3. PZ3

    And yes, the correct way to spell it is “Pozidriv,” NOT “Pozidrive.”

    6. Torx

    KMJ, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
    A Torx screwdriver is also hexagonal but unlike a hex (or Allen) screwdriver, the edges of a Torx head are star-shaped.

    Torx screwdriver heads are designated with the letter “T,” followed by a number between 1 to 100 to indicate their size, such as:


    • T1
    • T15
    • T27

    Use the Right Screwdriver For the Right Screw Type!

    image of flathead screwdriver going into a philips screw
    Image by saulhm from Pixabay
    If there’s one thing to take away from this blog post, it’s that you must use the right screwdriver type for the right screw type.

    For example – are you removing a Philips screw? Then use a Philips screwdriver.

    In other words, don’t do it like in the image above. 

    It might be possible for another type of screwdriver to into the grooves, but if you use any other screwdriver type, you might round down the screw (especially if you use a battery-powered drill)

    What happens if the screw gets rounded down?

    Each screw head has one or several edges designed for the corresponding screwdriver.

    If you round these edges down, you’ll damage them – so much that you won’t be able to remove the screw.

    It doesn’t matter if you switch to the correct type of screwdriver afterwards – once you round down these edges, it’s more or less irreversible.

    Bottom line – just like you must use a correctly sized spanner or socket for a socket wrench, you must also use the correct screwdriver for the job.