Wednesday, November 30, 2022


Put a cordless screw gun in your RV arsenal

By Chris Dougherty
Chris Dougherty is a certified RV technician. Here is an article he wrote while he was serving as’s technical editor.

One of the most useful tools you can carry in an RV is a good battery-powered screw gun. As a professional technician, I use a DeWalt 12-volt screw gun every day. I’m never without it. What’s nice about this tool is it’s lightweight, compact, pretty powerful, has a huge array of bits available, and is capable of handling multiple tasks, from fastening to drilling. The compact size is ideal for working inside RV cabinets where bigger tools can’t reach.

There are certain tools that I’m willing to buy at a discount store, especially hand tools that come with a lifetime warranty. There are some, however, which I won’t skimp on, and power hand tools are one example. I depend on my screw gun too much to go with something that won’t perform.

Home centers like Home Depot, Lowe’s, Ace Hardware, and online retailers like Amazon all carry the good brands like DeWalt, Milwaukee and Makita. When choosing a unit for using in your RV, make sure it has the following features:

1. A compact unit is good, but I wouldn’t go below 12 volts. Bigger units will still work, but they’re bulkier, as are the battery packs and chargers.

2. It should have a light. This is very useful inside cabinets or concealed spaces. (The DeWalt has three around the chuck — it’s bright with no shadows.)

3. Some kits come with two batteries, which is nice.

4. Make sure you can get a good set of bits that will fit it, to include Robertson (or square) fastener bits, Phillips, straight, Torx, and drill bits. Make sure you can get drill bit replacements.

5. A case is nice to keep it in, and most of them come with one. Make certain to NEVER keep your screw gun’s lithium-ion batteries stored in below-freezing locations. They must be kept warm.

6. I am not a fan of impact units. I prefer a gun with an adjustable transmission to avoid stripping fasteners.

I mentioned bits, and there are a number of options available. I prefer to have the cased kits so the bits have a good home. The aforementioned home centers always carry several kits from each of the tool manufacturers. In addition to the kit, I would get a set of extensions, as some fasteners won’t be reachable without them. I also have a right-angle adapter which is useful for some of those tight spaces. It plugs into the screw gun and the tip plugs into the adapter.


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Brad Teubner
4 years ago

OK, I admit I carry an air compressor and a 1/2″ impact.
And two 3/8″ corded drills.
But I’m retired, and I can take the time it takes to manually turn a screw as opposed to finding space to keep and charge an electric screwdriver. But they are nice.

Rudy Hingst
4 years ago

I have had a Black & Decker Matrix 20 volt driver with almost all of the attachments for about 5 years and use it regularly. It works great and came with2 batteries

4 years ago

There is no issue with storing lithium-ion batteries at below-freezing temperatures. Ideally they should be charged at near room temperatures, but storage can be well below freezing with no ill effects.

4 years ago

In the years of being an electrician, the handiest extension is a magnetic bit holder. Helps with those awkward screws.

Al in Seattle
4 years ago

Recently researched lithium ion battery drills because my NiCad tools were no longer reliably rechargeable. Best deal was the Lowes house brand. Their 24 volt drill came with a 2.5 amp battery and an additional 1.5 amp was available for $10. Here’s the “but wait there’s more” feature … $20 buys a 5 year replacement warranty. If it breaks, return to the store and they replace it. No shipping or waiting required. The total was less than replacing the NiCad batteries or upgrading to lithium which requires a new charger.

4 years ago

I have a DeWalt that I use for my heavy duty work. I also purchased a small 12v rechargable screwgun from Harbor Freight for $9.99. This unit will tackle almost every job I have used it for while on the road. It is extremely compact, has enough torque for most jobs and has a built in light. Probably one of my better investments (I do not work for Harbor Freight).

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