A flexible screwdriver uses a tightly-wound, spring-like device in place of the typical screwdriver shaft. This spring-like shaft allows the screwdriver to be flexible and work in angled positions, which often exceed 90 degrees. Having the blade or Phillips driver head attached to the flexible shaft at one end and the handle attached at the other, the flexible screwdriver is a very handy tool when there is not sufficient space to allow a straight-on approach to a screw. One shortcoming of the flexible screwdriver is the lack of torque-applying force the spring shaft allows a user to place upon a stubborn screw.
There are several different lengths and styles of flexible screwdriver available to the mechanic or electrician who might encounter a difficult-to-reach screw. A screw is often too tight or rusted to be removed by a flexible screwdriver. As torque is applied to the handle of the screwdriver, the flexible shaft often twists and distorts instead of turning the screw. The same thing typically happens when attempting to effectively tighten a screw with the tool. While the hand-operated screwdriver is the most common, there are several variations on the tool that allow it to be used effectively in a number of different ways.
The ratcheting, flexible screwdriver uses a ratcheting action built in to the handle to allow the screwdriver to be turned a partial turn at a time without removing or re-gripping a hand on the handle. This feature is very helpful when a screw is in a difficult-to-reach location. The user is simply required to twist the ratcheting screwdriver back and forth to either remove or install a screw. Other variations to the flexible screwdriver are flexible driver bits designed to be used with a cordless drill/driver tool. These flexible extensions are available in many different sizes and lengths, allowing access to nearly any screw.
Often, a flexible screwdriver is purchased as a component of a kit. The typical kit will include different-length flexible shafts along with several differently-sized screwdriver bits, typically including Allen head and Torx® bits all arranged in a portable case. These kits are convenient to have for the individual that does electrical or mechanical work around the home or on the job. Some flexible screwdriver kits also include magnetic screwdriver tips that allow the screw to be removed from its location, once loosened, by the screwdriver.