Drywall installation is no small feat, and one of the trickiest parts to get right is attaching the panels and setting screws in drywall to just the right length. Many DIYers use a screw setter, and this article looks at the best screw setters and dimplers on the market now.
The top pick is the Bosch D60498 Drywall Dimpler Screw Setter because it’s adjustable length so that you can use it for other applications, and it works with both power drills and impact drivers.
A screw setter isn’t your only option for sinking screws. Professionals and drywall finishers usually use drywall screwguns for the task. a Drywall screw gun features a built-in depth setting nose cone. When you have a small project or are on a budget, a dimpler is an economical choice. Let’s look at what to look for in a dimpler, how to use it, and some of your other options when installing drywall.
What Makes a Good Screw Setter?
Screw setters, also called drywall screw dimplers, are tools with hex shank drill bits meant for standard drill chucks and impact drivers. They’re usually #2 Phillips size screw bits with a cone stopper that stops drywall screws at a certain depth. These are fairly cheap items that you can get at any hardware store.
Drywall screw setters are good for DIYers. They’ll work for small projects and patch jobs. Contractors will generally use drywall screw guns because it’s much faster, easier to handle, and generally has an auto-off function that stops the motor when the correct depth has been reached and prevents drywall tear-out.
Related: Best screw gun for drywall.
A dimpler locks to the proper depth and prevents you from driving any further. You’ll have to practice a bit to get the depth just right.
When choosing a dimpler, there are a few things to keep in mind:
Fixed depth vs. Adjustable depth Screw Setters
Some handy-people prefer fixed depth dimplers. These are generally very inexpensive, just 2-3 dollars apiece, and for a smaller project, buy a package of 5-10 and swap them out as they wear out. You might find with more expensive and adjustable depth screw setters is they will loosen as you use them. This might not bother you if you’re reattaching a single panel but becomes an issue if you’re sinking hundreds of screws.
Length of the Screw Setter
Longer dimplers are usually meant to fit an impact driver, while the snub-nosed shorter dimplers only fit cordless drills. Even if you have an electric drill, you might prefer a long dimpler because they make getting into tight places, corners, and edges a little easier, though at the expense of a perfectly set screw. If you’re not so particular, the trade-off might be worth it.
Of course, you can always try to countersink screws without a dimpler. This is not recommended – countersinking screws to just the perfect depth is very important for a good-looking drywall job. Even if your clutch settings on your power drill are very sensitive, It will take much more time. You’ll end up breaking through the drywall paper and having to sink even more screws, or you won’t sink them deep enough and get ‘clickers.’
You can tell the screws are too high by running a drywall knife over the surface of the drywall and listening for the screws – these are almost impossible to cover and finish. At the very least, you need an inexpensive drywall screw setter when you’re installing drywall.
The Best Reviewed Drywall Screw Setters
DEWALT DW2014 Drywall Screw Setter Bit Tip
- The product is dry screw setter
- Easy and simple use kit
- The product is manufactured in China
This is an excellent and very affordable product from DEWALT. It’s the least expensive option on the list. For an inexperienced drywaller, this product is grab and go – it’s preset, so there is no messing around with figuring out the right depth, and it will last a very long time.
More than one review mentioned that although this will work in an impact driver, it’s made for electric drills that and will wobble around.
Get this drywall screw setter if you need an inexpensive option, with maximum durability for doing only drywall with a power drill.
- Snub Nose Design
- Advanced hardening
- 1-Year Full Warranty
Bosch D60498 Drywall Dimpler Screw Setter
- The Dimpler is reversible, while chucked, push in, then turn to lock for reverse feature.
- Preset to drive screws to the perfect depth
- Features an automatic clutch release to eliminate drywall tear-out
This Bosch gets full stars. It’s fixed depth, and it’s a little more expensive than the all-metal fixed-depth options, but its reverse feature for screw removal lets you pull the cone back and lock it to back out screws. This dimpler also works with impact drivers. You can also swap out the tip and substitute various sizes and styles for whatever screw you’re using.
Users say the plastic collar cracks, especially if you’re pressing hard. If you want extreme durability, you’re better off with a metal collar.
Get this dimpler if you’re a less experienced drywaller.
- Preset depth for drywall
- Automatic clutch release
- Fit Standard Head Size Drywall Screws
Century Drill & Tool 68592 #2R Drywall Power Screw Setter, 2″ length
- Drywall screw setter for driving and countersinking screws into drywall particle board and plywood
- 2" overall length
- 1/4" power hex shank
This is a great product if you’re using an impact driver, or you find using a longer screw setter is easier for ceilings and corners. This is the two-inch length but also comes in a snub-nosed one-inch length for power drills.
You can’t replace the bit, but for the price, that shouldn’t matter too much.
This is the best dimpler if you’re using an impact driver, and you need a maximum durability dimpler that will handle a lot of drywall.
- Steel Collar
- Fixed depth
- 2″ length
Smart-Bit Screw Depth Setting Tool
- Once target depth is reached, the Auto-Stop mechanism inside the tool disengages the driver bit
This screw setter has a lock feature that disengages the driver bit, so you’ll always countersink screws into drywall to the perfect finish depth, and the stopper collar is padded so you won’t leave that ring around the screw.
This also has the common problem that the depth stop collar doesn’t hold depth after awhile.
Get this screw setter if you have other delicate applications, like installing cabinet hardware, or you’re not very experienced with the ‘feel’ of setting drywall screws.
Related: Best drywall anchors for cabinets.
- Automatic Clutch Release
- Adjustable Depth
- Stopper Collar with Rubber O-ring
- Works with Star Drive and Phillips Drive Bits
- Four Drill Bits
NEIKO 00238A Adjustable Depth Screwdriver Bit Holder
- 1/4" Bit Holder: This magnetic impact bit holder attaches to impact shafts and high torque drills with a wide adjustment range and no-nonsense bit quick changes for quick work of any project.
- ADJUSTABLE BIT HOLDER: Our impact bit guide sets screws in straight and to a predetermined depth that gives optimal results every time.
- DRILL BIT HOLDER: Magnet drill bit holders speed up the drilling process with less worry about wobbling or stripping as it locks in the drill bit and allows for accurate drill direction.
The best thing about the NEIKO is that it’s magnetic. While you can magnetize other dimplers, it’s easier when it’s just a feature. It’s adjustable depth so that you can take it to other applications, and it’s good for impact drivers and cordless drills.
Users report that, like many adjustable depth screw setters, this wears out and doesn’t hold depth after long-term use.
This is a good choice if you have different light projects and need an all-purpose screw setter for a regular drill handy.
- Adjustable Depth Lock Feature
- Hardened shaft
Dimplers are not expensive products. You can probably afford to buy a few for your next drywall projects to figure out what style you like the best. Depending on how much drywall you’re hanging, what kind of power tool you’re using, and the kind of screws your setting, you might want one kind of dimpler over another.
Adjustable drywall dimplers are more complicated items than the fixed depth versions. They’re bigger, a little heavier, and eventually, they won’t hold their depth anymore. However, most adjustable depth dimplers benefit from allowing you to back out screws by pulling back and locking the cone. If you’re using a fixed depth screw setter, you’ll have to have another bit handy to switch out if you want to back out screws for some reason. If you’re doing a patch job or have other projects like flooring or a deck where you’d like to use a screw setter at a different depth, this might be your best option. It’s always nice to have a screw setter around.
Clutch release screw dimplers keep you from stripping out the screws once you hit a certain depth in drywall. If you install enough drywall, this should be an issue – it is pretty easy to feel when the cone has hit the paper. Still, if you like the extra security of know the dimple will keep the bit from stripping out the drywall screw heads, you should consider the clutch release versions of these screw setters.
Electric drills vs. impact drivers. Some of these screw setters will not work in an impact driver. An impact driver can accept the long dimplers with a divet near the end of the hex end. Your impact driver may hold the shorter dimplers but not securely. The dimplers that work for impact drivers will work on a regular power drill. Keep that in mind when you’re purchasing your screw setter.
Is There a Difference Between a Dimpler and Screw Setter?
The two terms are used interchangeably. USG Sheetrock ‘The Dimpler’ is a registered trademark, so other companies making the same product use the term ‘screw setter.’ Think Kleenex vs. facial tissue.
Can I Attach Drywall With Just a Power Drill?
Yes, but even with the clutch settings very low, it’s likely you won’t sink the screws to the perfect depth. You’ll rip through the drywall paper and have to add more and more screws, or you’ll find screws are setting too high, and you’ll have to sink them properly before finishing your drywall.
Can I Use a Dimpler for Decking?
Yes. You need an adjustable depth screw setter and some practice and trial-and-error to find the right setting for your decking project.