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Screws

One of the most common fasteners available is the screw. It may resemble a nail but this fastener is far more versatile and can hold much greater of a load. We'll look at different types of screws and screw sizes.

Sheet Metal Screws, Wood Screws, Machine Screws and Drywall Screws are some of the more common screw fasteners you will use in your projects.

Wood Screw

The wood screw is one of the most common varieties of screws. As it's name implies, it is designed to use in wood projects. The shaft of shank of the screw is typically tapered so as the fastener goes in it fits tighter and tighter in the hole. Also the threads on a wood screw typically don't extend the whole way up the shaft. The wood screw is commonly available in both slotted and Phillips drive although other versions such as a square drive are also available and serve a specific purpose. Wood screws can either be driven directly into the project or a pilot hole can be drilled into the wood first. A pilot hole is recommended especially when driving a wood screw near the cross-cut end of a board. With out this hold, the expansion of the wood will almost always cause the material to split. A split will make the screw ineffective in holding the pieces together and can even ruin that part of the wooden project.

Drywall Screw

The drywall screw is more of a specialty screw but has earned it's place in the list of more common screws. Much like the wood screw, the drywall screw has a tapered shank. The threads typically extend all the way up the shank to the fastener head except for some longer drywall screw sizes. The threads are thinner or sharper and slightly wider. These modified threads give the drywall screw better bite into a typically crumbly yet hard material. These fasteners come in two varieties, coarse thread drywall screws and fine thread drywall screws. The coarse thread screw has less threads per inch in on the shank of the screw. The coarse threads are more aggressive and tend to offer better bite into materials such as a wood stud. The finer threaded screws act by drilling themselves into a denser material such as metal studs or aluminum studs.

The Drywall Screw has many useful applications beyond hanging drywall. A bucket of drywall screws of various sizes 1", 1 5/8", and 2" screws are some of the more useful although I have a box of 4" screws around as well. I always prefer the coarse thread screws as they are far more useful. The thin and sharp threads tend to do less damage to wood and more brittle materials like particle board, OSB and cork. A drywall screw is a self-tapping screw which means it cuts it's own threads in a material. The wide threads of the drywall screw also make it ideal for assembling and reassembling. For instance, I used drywall screws to hold together a shelving unit I built for college. Every year I took the shelf apart and reassembled it the following year. The drywall screws engaged the wood every time and the shelf held many heavy textbooks without fail.

Machine Screw

The machine screw is a bit different than the first two varieties. A machine screw is not tapered and does not have a point at the end of the shank. The thread and size of machine screws are very precise and designed to fit in a predrilled and tapped hole. Stainless steel screws, zinc plated steel and brass machine screws are some of the most common varieties. Some machine screws have square threads as opposed to the more typical triangle threaded screws. While more difficult to cut, it results in an extremely accurate thread and is often used when the depth of the screw is critical to the application.