MAKE Asks: Favorite Fasteners

MAKE Asks: Favorite Fasteners

MAKE Asks: is a weekly column where we ask you, our readers, for responses to maker-related questions. We hope the column sparks interesting conversation and is a way for us to get to know more about each other.

This week’s question: We all know that when working on projects, there are certain fasteners that simply fit the task. But what are some of your favorites — be it bolts, nuts, screws, washers, etc. that are particular favorites of yours?

For woodworking jobs I can’t get enough of Torx head screws. They’re a bite on the pricey side, but there’s something satisfying about slotting one into the screwgun and knowing that it won’t cam out like a Phillips head. They’re super reliable and make the job quicker and less frustrating.

Post your responses in the comments section.

30 thoughts on “MAKE Asks: Favorite Fasteners

  1. David says:

    Rope is way adaptable. Duplex / double-headed nails: It is NOT just construction, it is also the DeCon, the DeConstruction, the taking apart, the ReCycling, that is a critical part of The Plan.

  2. Lewis Baumstark says:

    1. The humble sheet rock screw. Self-tapping in pine, driveable with a cordless drill, good for all kinds of quick-and-dirty wood projects (workbench, staging, garage shelving, etc.) I always keep a few boxes in several lengths (1-1/4″, 1-1/2″, 3″, etc).

    2. Barrel nuts. I don’t need them often, but when I do they’re magic. Just a few days ago I used them to add leveling feet to a makeshift stage for sumo robots. Great for building wordworking jigs or knock-down furniture. I prefer the kind that can be screwed in and out via an Allen wrench as they’re reusable.

    3. Lag screws, 1/2-inch or so (maybe 3/8). Fastened bench tools to my workbench, attached an oak mantle to the wall above my fireplace, and hung a flower box to the side of my house with these.

  3. Halfvast Conspirator (@halfvastcnsprtr) says:

    Sheetrock (and outdoor deck) screws and duct tape. You can rule the world!

    Yeah, the torx head screws are nice but if you want a whole selection of sizes, you can’t go wrong with the sheetrock/deck screws.

    For woodworking, pocket (Kreg) screws (and the pockets) are great too. Sheetrock screws have an angled head underneath and can split your work, the Kreg screws are more like pan-head screws with a flat bottom, but won’t “pull” into the work like sheetrock screws so will sit proud a bit.

  4. jonathan peterson says:

    – trimtite screws: tiny finish head, stainless steel, torx decking screws. Spendy, but last forever and almost invisible (
    – reusable zip ties (especially stainless steel)
    – wooden matches/toothpicks with wood glue to tighten loose/stripped wood joints

    concur on ropes and sheet rock screws. You can get rid of several hundred dollars worth of clamps for woodworking if you are good at using cord for clamping.

  5. Charles says:

    Indeed, rope is my favorite fastener.
    Working with rope is zero entry level; but, when you see someone who’s good at it, like a sailor, trucker, or an eagle scout, well, it’s just one of those old-timey skills that’s down-right amazing.

  6. Ryan says:

    Socket cap machine screw. Universally useful for robotics, RC, pretty much everything.

    I use them so often I ended up buying a box of every size from M2-M8.

    Flat top socket cap and M3 Nylon F-M spacers are also exceptionally common for electronics/robotics.

    I’d go with torx instead of hex but its too expensive.

  7. JamesRPatrick says:

    +1 on drywall screws. I’m also fond of square drive screws if I’m doing a lot of fastening. I wish I had a whole assortment of metric nuts/bolts. Also, hot glue has many uses in low-stress situations.

  8. chuck says:

    Gorilla glue. duct tape, zip ties, drywall screws,and self-tapping sheet metal screws.

  9. toodloo says:

    It’s too bad you can’t get Robertson down there in the ‘states. Imagine never having a striped head again…

  10. Geotek says:

    I didn’t know Torx head screws were available for woodworking. I use the Robetson head (square drive) whenever I can. We have then in the US, and they’re very common in the professional woodworking suppliers. The Kreg Pocket system is a lifesaver and the Kreg type truss-head screws are handy for more than pockets.

    1. Ian Oliver says:

      What’s available in the USA is square, not Robertson. Robertson is slightly tapered, so the screwdriver sticks in the screw (and, I imagine, transfers torque better), while square is untapered.

  11. phidauex says:

    Torx head wood screws are great – my personal favorite are the GRK Rugged Structrual Screw – stronger than a lag bolt, but don’t require pre-drilling. The T30 head can really take some torque before stripping out, and is compatible with impact drivers.

    Self-tapping sheet metal screws are always handy to have around, too. Kind of ugly, but they can solve a lot of problems. I’m also fond of heavy duty blind fasteners like Toggler brand toggle bolts, which are the grown-up version of those little springy toggle bolts your dad used to hang mirrors.

    Of course, my favorite fastener is the TIG welder. ;)

  12. Alex says:

    3M double sided VHB (very high bond?) foam tape is great for attaching things quickly and nearly permanently. Great for irregular surfaces and stuff you can’t drill into, like electronics.

  13. Greg says:

    Rivet nuts. Great for sheet metal work.

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In addition to being an online editor for MAKE Magazine, Michael Colombo works in fabrication, electronics, sound design, music production and performance (Yes. All that.) In the past he has also been a childrens' educator and entertainer, and holds a Masters degree from NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program.

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