Choosing the Right Screw

DIY Tools & Techniques David Thiel discusses a variety of screw types and the best material for each.
Related To:

Screw Heads

A combination screw head works with both a slotted and a Phillips screwdriver — but slotted screwdriver can slip out of this head. A Phillips screw head gives you a lot of torque but the point on the end of the screwdriver can cause it to slip out of the screw head while turning. A square head screw allows the screwdriver to have positive torque with little slipping.

Brass Screws

Screws come in a variety of sizes. Small number 0 or 1 brass screws are used for attaching decorative hinges. They are flathead wood screws. Make sure you have the right size screwdriver for these screws. A large screwdriver will strip out the heads.

Wood Screws

Sometimes drywall and sheet metal screws are used in wood projects but aren't made specifically for use with that type of material. A sheet metal screw has threads running from the very top of the screw to the bottom of the screw. When putting two pieces of wood together, the threads of the screw may hold the gap between the two pieces open, rather than closing them tightly together. A wood screw does not have threads at the very top, allowing it to pull the boards together tightly. Drywall screws do not have threads at the top. They have thin shanks, with widely separated threads to cut quickly without splintering wood.

Some screws have a gullet at the end that resembles a drill bit. The screw cuts as it goes into the wood, making its own pilot hole as it goes in. The screw does the work of the drill bit and reduces the chance of splitting the wood as you drive it in.

Metal Screws

A machine screw without a point is designed to go into a machined piece, like a nut. They are not usually used for wood applications, but they can be used to hold two pieces of wood together, if necessary. T-nuts are threaded inside and can be used for many applications in the shop.

A lag bolt has a hex head and is installed with a ratchet. It’s good for holding a piece of metal to a piece of wood. Drill a pilot hole before screwing a lag bolt into wood because it has a large head.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Tips for Choosing the Right Paint Finish

Paints come in a variety of finishes: flat, eggshell, semigloss, satin and high gloss. Learn tips on how to choose the best finish for your painting project.

Tips for Choosing the Right Countertop

There are many more options for countertops than laminate. Here are some tips on how to choose a countertop that's right for you.

Choosing the Right Type of Paint for All Types of Materials

Paint is the ultimate designer's medium. For only a few dollars, paint transforms nearly anything into something fresh, dazzling and new. Discover the materials that accept paint and those that you should avoid.

How to Choose the Right Dishwasher

Dishwashers today offer an endless array of features and options. Which ones make the most sense for you? Here's what you need to know before you buy.

Choosing the Right Kitchen Countertops

Searching for the perfect surface doesn't have to be difficult. Here are some pointers about the most popular countertop materials.

Choose the Right Paintbrush

Learn these important tips in choosing the right paint brush for your painting project.

Tips on Choosing the Right Router

Follow these tips from DIY experts and it'll be easy to choose and use a router.

Tips on Choosing Adhesives

Adhesives, or glues, work in different ways and each is suited to specific surfaces. Use this guide to choose the best adhesive for any project.

How to Choose the Right Bedroom Curtains

If you’re stumped over picking bedroom curtains, check out these designer tips.

Get Social With Us

We love to DIY. You love to DIY. Let's get together.

Discover Made + Remade

See the latest DIY projects, catch up on trends and meet more cool people who love to create.

Make It. Fix It. Learn It. Find It.