The Evolution of Auto-Feed Screwdrivers

The Evolution of Auto-Feed Screwdrivers


For just about any sheathing application – from drywall to backerboard to subfloor installation – there is a tool for the job. Oftentimes, an auto-feed screw system (combination of auto-feed tool and collated screw) is the perfect option.

Auto-feed tools got their start as an upgrade to traditional screwdrivers for drywall applications. Handling loose screws was a challenge for installers as they positioned drywall with one hand and tried to place and drive screws with the other. In response, attachments were introduced which added an auto-feed “head” to a loose screwgun. But these weren’t purpose-built tools, which tended to limit their effectiveness. In 2001, SENCO launched DuraSpin, the first integrated auto-feed screw system.

Drywall contractors were won over by DuraSpin’s increased speed and efficiency (up to four times faster than bulk screwdrivers and loose screws). Auto-feed also resulted in improved workplace safety and reduced lost time and workers’ compensation claims. The ease of use when working overhead or with scaffolding clearly demonstrated the value over loose screws and traditional drivers.

These same benefits – speed and ease-of-use – can be extended to applications like flooring and decking with the use of stand-up attachments. The introduction of SENCO’s corner-fit system, which allows better access and screw placement in tight spaces, as well as innovations such as application specific speeds – 2,500 and 5,000 RPM – and precision locking depth of drive control have further expanded the usefulness of auto-feed systems.

Building codes which call specifically for screws, as well as safety concerns have also played a role in the adoption of auto-feed systems in window installation, tile roofing and a variety of residential and industrial applications. But auto-feed screw systems haven’t been readily accepted in many difficult commercial construction-based metal applications. That is, until now.

New Channel-Fit Nosepiece Extends Benefits of Auto-Feed Screw Systems to Many New Commercial Metal-to-Metal Fastening Applications

In 2016, SENCO introduced an innovative nosepiece attachment for its DuraSpin products designed specifically for commercial construction professionals. Metal-to-metal fastening applications require any auto-feed system to access recessed channels up to 1.8” deep. SENCO’s Channel Fit Nosepiece was designed to make feeding screws in these environments possible and easier than using loose screws. Typical applications include steel decking, hat channel, wall panel construction, resilient channel, metal truss assembly, window framing and aluminum extrusions.

This first-of-its-kind accessory:

  • can drive screws 1/2” to 1” long
  • ensures proper spacing between fasteners to prevent overlap in tight spaces and to comply with strict commercial codes
  • provides a clear line of sight to improve screw placement in pre-punched holes
  • incorporates grooves to allow shavings and chips under the screw head to escape

Other Advances for Steel Applications

Recently, SENCO received an evaluation report (ESR #3558) from ICC Evaluation Service (ICC-ES) certifying that 24 self-piercing, self-drilling tapping collated screws meet the 2012 and 2015 International Building Code (IBC) and International Residential Code (IRC) codes.

These fasteners, which are now ICC approved for commercial building projects, are commonly used for connections involving cold formed steel framing. Common applications include joining drywall/gypsum sheathing to steel, steel to steel framing, steel sheathing to steel framing, and certain wood to steel sheathing.

Auto-feed screw systems have come a long way since first hitting residential jobsites. Innovations in both tool and screw design mean they can now be used in a wide range of applications, including commercial construction.

If you’re considering an auto-feed screw system, here are some general parameters to guide your choice:


Speed (RPM) Primary Applications Secondary Applications

  • Cordless or corded
  • 1” – 2” fasteners*
Designed for drywall applications

  • Drywall to Wood
  • Drywall to Steel
  • Underlayment
  • Cement Board
  • Subfloor
  • Wood Decking

  • Cordless or corded
  • 2” and 3” models
Designed for driving into dense materials

  • Metal Framing
  • Cement Board
  • Wood Decking (3”)
  • Composite Decking (3”)
  • Sheathing to Steel (3”)
  • Drywall
  • Subfloor
  • Underlayment


*Drive down to ½” fasteners with accessory nosepieces like the channel fit.