Screws and screwdrivers might not seem like the most exciting topic on its face, but you could write a book on their uses and intricacies. There are so many tricks on how to use this type of hardware and their respective tools, and I’ve chosen ten that I hope will help you with future projects. If you have more tips, by all means, sound off in the comments.
If you want to have your screws sit flush with your material, you must countersink them. Either use a conventional countersink, or pre-drill with a bit that matches the diameter of the screw head.
Why Phillips Screws Stink
Don't get me wrong, they're cheap and often get the job done, but they were made to not drive well. They were designed specifically in the early 20th century to cam out when too much force was applied. Now that we have torque-limiting drills this isn't a problem anymore, yet somehow we still use them.
Collect Them All!
Nowadays removable driver bits seem to be the norm, but don't count out the old-fashioned drivers. Different sizes and shaft lengths can help in tight spaces, and even miniscule variations in bit size and shape can mean the difference between freeing a screw and stripping it.
More Handle = More Torque
Think of a screwdriver as a lever. The shaft is the fulcrum, and the lever arm is the radius of the handle. Barring tight spaces, a larger handle is always better.
Torx Screws are Awesome
The patent for Torx screws ran out recently, and now you can find them in most hardware stores. They're a bit pricey, but these six-pointed screws are unparalleled in ease of use. I highly recommend them, especially if you want to some day dismantle your project.
Wrench that Driver
If a screw is particularly stubborn, you can get more torque by placing a pair of pliers or vise-grips on the handle, and bearing down on the screwdriver handle with the palm of your hand. Make sure it's a screwdriver you don't care much about, as the wrench can mar the handle.
A Screwdriver is Only a Screwdriver
It's not a chisel, a pry-bar, or a knife. Use the tool for what it's designed for and it will probably last you the rest of your life.
Extracting a Stripped Screw
There are many ways to do this, but this is my favorite. Use a Dremel's cut-off wheel to make a slot in a stripped screw head, then you can take it out with a flat-blade screwdriver.
Invest in Security Bits
The (soon to become classic) adage "If you can't open it, you don't own it" is more and more dependent upon being able to take out odd-shaped screw heads. Security bit sets are relatively inexpensive, and a good investment for any Maker.
The Right Screw for the Job
Panheads, sheetmetal, galvanized, there's a laundry list of different kinds of screws. Do some research before you start your project and find which one is best for your application.