How to Use Flat Head Screwdriver

The flat head screwdriver might seem like a straight forward simple-to-use device until it strips your screw head. If you don’t place the flat head precisely on the slot, it will slip and chip away part of the ridges of the slot. So, if you are a DIYer, and don’t want to make losses then you must understand the basics of using the flat head screwdriver and the slotted screws that go with them.

Flathead screwdrivers have been designed to be used with the slotted head screws that are characteristic of a narrow opening that integrates with the flat head screw tips. Flathead screws are used on projects that require a neat finish, such as attaching toilet paper holders, installing electrical outlets, and when attaching lighting fixtures.

How to properly use a flat head screwdriver

Step 1

One of the basics of using a screwdriver is that you must first drill a pilot hole if working with timber, as it will ensure that achieve a professional finish. The essence of drilling pilot holes is to help direct the screws, without the pilot holes the screws will follow the grain of the wood that you are trying to drive into and you will likely end up with crooked screws.

Some pilot holes are created with different drill bits, and the process of using differently sized drill bits helps protect the wood from splitting. The same concept applies when you are working on other tough or delicate projects such as glass or brick.

Step 2

For your flat head screwdriver to successfully perform its task you must first ensure that you are using the slotted screws. Secondly, flathead screwdrivers are available in different sizes, you will, therefore, want to ensure that you get one that fits the size of the screw that you will be working with.

Additionally, the flat head screw heads come in different thicknesses, a feature that enables it to seamlessly fit on the slot of the screw that you will be working with and which in the long run prevents stripping.

Step 3

Place the screw perpendicularly on the pilot hole, then hold your flat head screwdriver with your right hand and place it on top of the slot screw aligning it with the slot on the screw head. Then with some little pressure, you will begin to rotate the flat head screwdriver clockwise, and as you do this the screw will progressively sink into the piece of wood and fasten it.

Important to note, as you prepare to use the flat head screwdriver with the slotted screw, ensure that the initial hole in which you will sink the screw is not as big as the size of the screw.

Step 3

When driving in the slotted screw, remember that this type of screw must achieve a neat finish, thus you will use your flat head screwdriver to ensure that the inserted screw sits flush with the surface of the material that it is screwed in.

Step 4

The flat head screwdriver is also used to unscrew, thus if you are working on an enhancement project and need to get the slotted screw out, you must ensure that the flat head screwdriver tip sits firmly on the slot of the screw. And then rotate it anti-clockwise, if the screw had been tightly fixed you might have to add some pressure but be sure to remain steady because the flat heads unlike other types of screws are prone to stripping. If the latter happens it will be almost impossible to get the slot head screw out.

Tips for using flathead screwdrivers

  • If you are using your flat head screwdriver in hard-to-reach places, the basics of screwing apply but which might not be actionable at that particular moment. So, what you can do, is invest in a screw holder and place it at the end of the flat head screwdriver. The screw holder will hold it in place the moment you begin driving the screw in.
  • You can also use an adjustable wrench– If the material you are trying to drive in proves difficult, you will need some assistance from the adjustable wrench. You will grip the wrench close to the tip of the flathead screwdriver then you will turn the wrench simultaneously with the flat head screwdriver. The above will enable you to easily go through tough materials.
  • Operators can also resort to using the flathead screwdrivers that have a shorter shank because they tend to be easy to work with. A shorter shank allows the operator more driving power.
  • If you are working with precision flat head screws that you may find in watches, electronic gadgets, although flat head screws are rare in gadgets, make sure you use a precision screwdriver.
  • If you are using a flat head bit with an electric screwdriver, you need to ensure the flat head bit fits perfectly in the screw as there is more of a chance of stripping the screw. If you are unfastening a screw, you will need to ensure you press firmly on the screw, and if your electric screwdriver has a variable speed trigger, start off with low RPM, then speed up as the screw becomes lose. If you are fastening a flat head screw, drive the screw in slowly, slight speed up once in, then slow down once almost tightened, finish off with a hand screwdriver as this will ensure you tighten without stepping the flat screw head. If you would like to learn more about electric screwdrivers, see our: best electric screwdrivers.
  • Using a ratchet screwdriver will ensure you have an easier time screwing or unscrewing a flat head screw, use one when possible. To learn more about ratchet screwdrivers, see our: best ratchet screwdriver guide.


Working with flathead screwdrivers will only lead to success if you follow the basics, ensure that you are working with a pilot hole, use a screwdriver that is thick enough to fit in the slotted screw, and get the right size flat head screwdriver, as there are various types of screwdriver sizes for flat heads. You can also learn how to use phillips scredriver here.


What are the other names of the flathead screwdriver?

The other names that the flat head screwdriver goes by are straight, common blade, slot head, flat tip, or standard screwdriver.

Must I hold the flat head screwdriver from the tip when using it?

Yes, you must hold it from the far end and exert minimal downward pressure for it to sink into the wood.