Professional Tool Reviews for Pros

Starborn Smart-Bit Deck Screw Depth Setter Review

Smart-bit depth setter solo
PTR Review
  • Ease of Use 10.0
  • Build Quality 9.0
  • Ergonomics 9.0
  • Value 9.0

Thee's no denying the speed of the Starborn Smart-Bit Depth Setter. Whether you're fastening decks or drywall, this tool is going to save you time and it's lightyears beyond any traditional depth-setting accessory is likely to offer. For around $20, it's something you really need to purchase and experience for yourself. After you do, I don't think that you'll go back to any other method ever again.

Overall Score 9.2 (out of 10)

There are times when you get to review a fastening device that really surprises you. At least that was the result of testing the Starborn Smart-Bit Deck Screw Depth Setter. It’s a simple accessory that quickly and easily pops into your corded or cordless driver or drill and allows you to configure the depth for your fasteners. The real catch is that it’s no gimmicky device—this thing really works. I mean, you set the depth, find a test piece of wood and give it a few goes…then you’re off to the races.

Before I sound too much like I’m drooling all over the virtual “page”, let me go over how this accessory works.

Setting Up the Smart-Bit Deck Screw Depth Setter

Before you do anything with the Starborn Smart-Bit deck screw depth setter, it’s nice to just look at it to understand exactly how it works. First off, it will work with any 1″ bit, though it ships with a total of four Torx bits (both T-20 and T-25) and a #2 Phillips bit. Once you insert the proper bit to match your fastener of choice (That’s right, a company that makes fasteners actually designed this to be fastener-independent!), you just twist the depth setter and counter screw the locking ring to secure it at the proper depth. I recommend grabbing a spare piece of wood or material to test it out on. Once you get it configured properly, however, it tended to stay in place and didn’t once releases prematurely or”drift” to a different depth.

Smart-bit depth setter flush

But that wouldn’t be at all mind-blowing if it weren’t for how the Smart-Bit stops itself when it hits the proper depth. That’s where the magic happens. It’s also why this review is so short. There’s  just not much else to say.

It works.

Smart-Bit retail package
This is the retail packaging you’re likely to see when you go to pick up this accessory.

Real-World Testing: Driving the Correct Depth Every Time

Starborn makes its Cap-Tor, Deckfast Metal and Epoxy fasteners, but I stuck with several brands of Phillips screws I had on-hand—including both 2″ drywall and decking screws. The stop collar of the Smart-Bit Depth Setter is amazing. As soon as it contacts the surface it “pops”, freeing the bit and preventing damage to the workpiece. The collar itself has a no-mar ring around the edge, but the mechanism is what really makes the difference. It does two things that are absolutely necessary for this accessory to be worthwhile: 1) It doesn’t wear against the material at high speed, so there’s no scuffing, and 2) It doesn’t allow the bit to stay engaged with the fastener, so the fastener stops driving and the head doesn’t strip. Neither the bit nor the workpiece get any abuse, even after dozens of set screws.

Smart-bit depth setter line
Testing the various depth settings on a piece of scrap material to get it just right.

So the process of driving multiple screws is: Bit, Set, Drill, Pop…Bit, Set, Drill, Pop…Bit, Set, Drill, Pop…

Seriously, it was like I was working in a factory. The work gets done so quickly, you wonder why you ever did it manually before. And with consistency comes beauty. There is a lot to be gained from a job where every screw is set perfectly the first time. It looks better and, in the case of drywall, makes for easier work in doing seams and joints. The Starborn Smart-Bit deck screw depth setter will literally change the way you work on composite and pressure treated decking projects.

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