Choosing Woodworking Screws
Determining the type of screw to use on your next project might prove to be more difficult than you imagined. There are lots of options when it comes to screws. Each type is designed with a specific purpose in mind.Choosing the right screw is important to ensure the longevity of your project. You need to choose the right screw that will hold fast without cracking your wood and can still offer weather protection and aesthetic appeal.
There are many factors that go into the decision-making process. The first of which is understanding the benefits of using screws over other fastening options.Screws are known to be one of the most versatile ways of fastening wood together. They offer tighter holds than nails and are more easily adjusted than woodworking glue.Their threads enable them to keep a firm hold on your wood for an extended period of time and can withstand adverse weather conditions if they are treated with the right coating.
Screws can be made from various materials, feature various coating types, and they can have specialized points, threads and heads. With all the variations available, it can make it difficult to determine the right kind of screw for your project.We have gathered together a list of the things you should keep in mind while searching for the right screw. We hope that the categories we have listed will be able to aid you in choosing the best woodworking screw for your next project.
What Your Wood Needs
There are many different screw types that are designed to take on specific woodworking needs. Your first step toward finding the right screw type should be determining how you will be using the screws in your project.
All Points Fasteners states that strength, length and location are all important factors in determining the right screw for the job.
The strongest screws are designed to fasten two pieces of wood together. If you plan on making wooden furniture or other all-wood projects, you’ll need to use stronger screws than you would with other projects.
You’ll also need to consider the thickness of your wood to determine the necessary screw length. The screw needs to go through the first piece of wood and at least halfway through the second for it to have a secure grip.
The location of your project also plays a role in the type of screw you should use. Indoor projects do not need weather-resistant coatings as outdoor woodworking projects do.
Indoor screws are also typically more aesthetic, while outdoor screws are more functional.
Screws can be made out of various types of metals to cater to different woodworking needs. All Points Fasteners states that the most common materials are steel, copper, aluminum and titanium.
These are the most commonly used screw due to their versatility and low price point. They are ideal for most in-home projects.
This type of screw is naturally weather-resistant and can withstand long periods of exposure. Its natural properties allow it to resist corrosion and makes it an ideal option for outdoor use.
These are notably weaker than other screw options. However, this type of screw is extremely lightweight. It can be used in small projects that will not experience weathering or high levels of stress.
This option combines the strength of steel screws with aluminum’s lightweight appeal. Titanium screws are notably more expensive, but they are highly versatile due to their durability and lightness.
Don’t Forget Your Coat
Coating can be used to cover the screw’s material to add a layer of corrosion protection or for aesthetic purposes. Norwood Screw Machine Parts breaks down the most common types of screw coatings.
This is the most common screw coating, as it is the most affordable option. It resists humidity, rust and oxidative damage.
This coating is applied to screws electrically. It is designed to withstand wet and humid climates.
This type of coating is best for indoor use. It is an aesthetic option that works well in dry conditions.
Hot Dip Galvanized
This option is good for all weather conditions. It is able to protect your screws at both high and low temperatures and can survive in salty climates.
This coating offers less protection against adverse weather conditions, but it is good for indoor use. It is an ideal option for kitchen and bathroom spaces that expect high humidity.
Get Your Head in the Game
Fastener Mart explains that the type of head your screw has will determine how smooth your finished project will be. There are two main options; countersunk and non-countersunk screws.
These screws work best in soft wood or pre-drilled countersunk holes. Once they are installed, their heads will be even with the wood’s surface, leaving you with a smooth finish.
This type of screw is more common and has many more options than countersunk screws can offer. Non-countersunk screws remain above the wood line after they are installed.
They come in various styles, sizes and colors to help you match the screw to the style of your project.
Drive type distinguishes the type of slots the screw’s head has that enables it to be installed into a surface. Craftech Industries explains that there are several common drive types that are used by woodworkers.
This type of drive features a single slot for a driver to grip. It requires a hand screwdriver to be installed because a drill can easily lose its grip due to the single slot.
This screw was designed to cause cam-outs intentionally. It works to prevent you from applying too much torque when installing, which prevents you from overtightening the screw and damaging your surface.
One Way Drive
This option offers an extremely tight hold due to its tamper-free design. Once the screw is installed, it requires a specialized one-way toll extractor to remove it.
This drive type features a six-point fastener head. It requires a wrench or specialized sockets to install.
Hex Socket Drive
It features a rounded head with a hexagon socket that requires a hex wrench to be installed. This option also can be made to be tamper-resistant.
This option sports a six-point star design that offers more surface area for a driver to grip. It features higher slot walls that allow a driver to have a better grip for higher torque power and prevents cam-outs.
Hide or Sleek
Although screw heads might work to complement some projects, they may look tacky on others. Wood Magazine explains how you can easily change your project’s look by adjusting how the screws are presented.
Hide the Screws
One way that you can present a more polished look to your project is by hiding your screws. This will help your project to look more smooth and sleek. This can be done in two different ways; placement and counterboring.
You should focus on installing your screws in places that are not easily visible. Installing screws to the back of your project, placing them under a tabletop or installing them on top of a tall project are all good options for hiding your screws.
You can also install screws where you know they will be covered by other pieces. Install screws in places that will be covered up by later additions to your woodworking project.
This option requires you to drill the screw below the wood’s surface. Plugs are then used to fill the hole with complementary or contrasting patterns. This method ensures that your surface is smooth and provides you with a way to completely hide your screw.
You can also cover your screw heads with button plugs or screw covers. These come in various textures, shapes, sizes and colors and will add texture to your project.
Button plugs fit over screws and protrude from the wood’s surface. They work to highlight the edge lines of your project and can add an sleek decorative touch.
Get to the Point
A screw’s point determines how easily a screw can be driven into a surface. American Fasteners Corp. explains the five main screw point categories.
This type of screw is able to create or tap their own mating threads. Some variations create their own hole as they are installed, while others need a pre-drilled hole. Tapping screws come in five different variations to fit your needs.
Thread Cutting Screws
These screws come in seven different variations that are all capable of creating new threads within existing holes.
Thread Forming Screws
This type of screw offers a tighter hold than other options. All six types mate with zero clearance.
These screws create their own holes as they are installed, eliminating the need for pre-drilled holes.
Machine and Tapping Screws
This type of screw is equipped with a uniform thread design. It will work well with uniformly threaded nuts and pre-threaded holes. This option is also available in nine different types to fit your needs.
Thready or Not
Once the point has penetrated the surface, the threads work to secure the screw’s full length into the wood.
Originally, fine threaded screws are used on harder woods, while coarse threaded screws have a tighter grip on soft wood. However, new technology has made threading more complex and versatile. Quickscrews explains some of the new screw threading types that can benefit your project.
This threading is designed to be used on particleboard, but its versatile wide threading allows it to be used on virtually any type of wood.
Extra Coarse Thread
The threading is designed to be extra wide to strengthen its holding power in soft and porous wood.
This type of threading is ideal for hardwoods and guarantees a strong hold.
Hi-Lo Pockethole Screws
This thread is designed to work well with all types of wood. Its strong holding power prevents it from causing strip-out in all types of wood.
Hi-Lo Thread-QX2 Installation Screws
This type of threading enables a screw to hold fast, even in wood studs. It causes less binding in metal studs and allows you to penetrate a surface quickly.
This threading was designed to be used with wooden hinge attachments.
Sheet Metal Thread
This option is specifically designed to penetrate and hold fast in sheet metal.
QuickCutter Fine Thread
This threading minimizes the need for pre-drilled holes and allows you to quickly secure your project with stress-free driving.
QuickCutter Extra Coarse Thread
This type of threading also minimizes the need for pre-drilling and helps you to drive your screws in quickly. It also features extra coarse threading that enables it to have stronger holding power.
There are many factors that go into deciding what type of screw is needed for your woodworking project.
You first need to determine the best material for your screw. The type of wood you are using can help you determine the screw material type that you need.
The location of your woodworking project can also be a determining factor. You’ll need a screw with a corrosion protective coating on it if you plan to use it outdoors.
Screws can be hidden or used as decorative items, so you should also consider how you want your screws to look.
The type of head and thread that the screw has are also important factors that can help you determine which type of screw to use. You’ll need to choose a screw that has the right amount of grip without the risk of splintering your wood.
Once you have determined which type of screw that you should use, you can begin piecing together your next project.
To help you get started, here is a guide on How to Drive Screws.