Do you need to join many pieces of wood together for a woodworking project? Using wood screws is the best approach to ensure a strong and secure bond. 

However, before you go to the store to buy wood screws, you should be aware that there are numerous varieties of wood screws.

For those looking for mechanical fastening, wood screws have become a popular choice. You can employ them to create a clamping force, which will offer you a very strong joint. 

What are wood screws?

Wood screws are primarily used to bind wooden items together. Chipboard, MDF, softwood, and hardwood are among the materials they work with. Wood screws come in a variety of shapes and sizes, with characteristics including shanks to prevent wood splint, twin threads for effective drive, and tips that eliminate the need for pre-drilling holes. Wood screws come with a variety of drive types and head shapes. The Pozidriv and countersunk head versions, on the other hand, are the most popular. 

Wood screws were originally constructed of brass or steel and had a shaft that grew thicker as it got closer to the head. Drilling a pilot hole was required for a secure fit of this screw type. The modern wood screw, on the other hand, has a uniformly sized shank in respect to the head. This implies that a pilot hole isn’t always required. 

Wood screw sizes and sizing chart

It’s critical to choose screws that are the right size. The breadth of the hardwood substance should correspond to the thickness of the screw you choose. You should also make sure that the screw can sustain the weight of the load you’re going to apply.

The diameter or gauge of the screw will be represented by a number, with the #6, #8, and #10 being the most popular wood screws. The increasing numbers correspond to the screw’s thickness. As a general rule, a #8 screw is preferred for general use, while  #6 screws are ideal for exquisite woodworking.

Which type of wood screw to use?

This can be perplexing now that I’ve informed you that there are numerous varieties of wood screws. From afar, it’s difficult to identify the difference because most of them look alike. They have a sharp tip, a threaded shank, and a head. The gauge, head, and drive type of each type of wood screw, on the other hand, are all different. 

I may not be able to cover all of the different types of wood screws because there are so many. I’ll go through a few of the most frequent ones and how they’re used. You should be able to identify the precise type of wood screw to use for your projects by the end of this guide. 

1. Standard wood screw

Standard wood screw

This is most likely the type of screw you’ve seen. This is the most common wood screw, and it’ll be used to attach two pieces of wood together. They have a smooth top and a threaded shank. The majority of them feature a flat head, resulting in a tidy finish when pushed into the board.

These wood screws are affordable and come in a variety of lengths and head styles. If you need to use these wood screws, tapered head screws are the best option. The square and star drive is used on the majority of the screws. 

2. Pocket screws 

Pocket screws

Pocket screws are noted for their unusual ability to self-drill. They feature a broad head that is connected to a flat shoulder. These are ideally suited for wood with pocket holes because they can securely secure the board. When using normal wood screws on woods with pocket holes, the screws will go all the way in and split the wood. 

The square drive on the most popular pocket screws makes it easy to position them. These are the screws to use if you have some pocket holes that need to be linked. As an alternative to pocket screws, you might use screws with a panhead.

3. Deck screws

Deck screws

Deck screws should be used for any outdoor woodworking tasks. These are corrosion-resistant because they are constructed of copper or hardened steel. They have a shank with deep threading and sharp ends. It won’t be difficult for you to drive them into the boards. They can be utilized with both hardwood and softwood.

These are the screws to use even if you live in a location with saline waters or extreme weather. They are known for their ability to survive all types of weather and will provide you with a strong and secure link. 

4. Drywall screws

Drywall screws

The drywall screws are the last but not least. These are the most affordable options on the market, and they’re widely utilized in jigs and ship projects. The threading runs the entire length of the screw and has a very thin shank. They are not particularly sturdy due to the thin shank and may not be the ideal choice for hardwood applications. If you’re working on a serious woodworking job, I wouldn’t use these screws. 

Wood screw head types

The form and drive type of screw heads are the two most essential aspects.

There are many different types of drives, but the following are the most common.

Slothead screws

Slothead screws are the most frequent type of screw used for driving. They have a basic groove for material penetration that can be rotated with a flathead screwdriver.

Phillips head screws

Phillips head screws have a lot more versatility than slot head screws. They may be inserted safely into a variety of wooden materials. When driving the final piece of the screw into the wood, though, there may be some sliding. The screw and driver are frequently damaged as a result of this.

Robertson screws

Square drive or Robertson screws have a number of advantages over Philips head screws. The square head on these screws considerably reduces the danger of slippage. Pocket screws are a common source of them. 

Starhead screws

Starhead screws are becoming more popular for woodworking applications. They can be supplied with a guarantee of dependability and can also handle a lot of torque.

Wood screws by material type

Wood screws come in a variety of materials, as previously indicated. Screws in brass, bronze, and aluminum are available for a variety of applications. Steel screws, on the other hand, are the most popular and widely used type.

Because of the problems connected with the use of standard tapered steel wood screws, many individuals prefer to use less expensive screws for plasterboard. Without the requirement for pre-drilled pilot holes, these screws could be quickly pushed into wallboard and studs.

Unfortunately, they were brittle and had a reputation for snapping under intense strain. 

Many people have switched to contemporary manufacturing screws because of problems with plasterboard screws. These sturdy and dependable screws may pierce a variety of hardwoods as well as some metals. They can also handle high-speed driving. 

Because of its strong corrosion resistance, steel deck screws are often utilized for outdoor applications. When corrosion is an issue, silicone bronze and stainless steel screws can also be used.

Brass wood screws

These screws are commonly used because of their appealing appearance. They’ve traditionally been employed in naturally acidic wood materials as a substitute for steel screws, and they’ve been paired with brass ironmongery for added visual impact. Brass wood screws are available with countersunk, round, or raised heads. Because of their great corrosion resistance, such screws can be used in outdoor applications. 

Stainless steel wood screws

These screws can be used for a variety of tasks and are compatible with a variety of wood types. Depending on the desired finish, different head types can be selected. Screwdriver, combi drills, and impact drivers can all be used to install the screws. They are also corrosion resistant and are widely used in places that are exposed to dampness.

Steel wood screws

Steel screws come in a variety of sizes and shapes. In most timber materials, these screws can be installed without the need for a pre-drilled pilot hole. For added durability and corrosion resistance, zinc-plated and hardened steel screws can be purchased. 

Parts of a screw

A screw is made up of 4 components:

  1. The Head
  2. The shank
  3. The threads
  4. The tip
anatomy of a screw

The tip

A pointed tip on screws used in woodworking is used to help guide the screw into a precise place. A split point on self-drilling screws slices into the wood like a drill bit. Machine screws, for example, do not have a point. 

Screw tip that self-drills (self-taps)

The tip of a machine screw (on the right) is not pointed.

The shank and the threads

A screw’s threads wrap around the shank. This is the portion that drives into the material when put together. Some screws’ threaded parts stop before they reach the head, whereas others are fully threaded. 

Thread on screws

Source by mcfeelys

Shanks and threads are available in a variety of sizes. A number represents the diameter. Numbers 6,8, and 10 are the most common wood screws; the higher the number, the thicker the wood. I usually always use screws with a diameter of #8. #10 screws are frequently used for longer screws. 

Source by mcfeelys

Wood screw diameters that are often used.

Threads are sometimes specified in threads per inch (tpi) in the United States, with 24 or 32 tpi being the most common. These are critical to know when using machine screws or bolts that require a matching nut. Wood screws are sometimes available with coarse or fine threading. Hardwoods should be threaded with fine threads, whereas softwoods and plywood should be threaded with coarse threads.

As a result, the first number on a box will give you the screw diameter. This is sometimes followed by the threads-per-inch, and then the screw length.

The head

A screw head is made up of two parts. It’s the shape of the head and the sort of drive. Continue reading to learn more about them.

Types of drives

screwdriver screw in a wood oaks plank

There are many various sorts of drives, but you only need to know about a few of the most common ones.

Slotted: What is a flathead screw?

The first way of driving a screw was using slotted screws. It’s basically a slot that a flathead screwdriver twists, as the name says. As a result, these screws are referred to as flathead screws far more frequently than slotted screws. 

Flathead screws are tough to drive with a drill or impact driver and require a lot of patience. It’s strange how prevalent they are now, and how readily available they are in hardware stores. Basically, they’re terrible, and I’d never recommend them for woodworking unless you’re trying to construct a period piece of furniture that’s historically accurate. Otherwise, slotted screws should be avoided if possible.  

Phillips

Phillips screws were a huge advance over slotted screws when they were introduced in the 1930s. A Phillips head driver will remain in place much better, but they still have the bothersome habit of cam-outing or slipping when pushing the final bit into wood. This can harm both the driver and the head. I’ve heard they were made to do this to prevent overtightening, but I’m not sure if that’s true. 

They come in a variety of sizes, so make sure your driver matches and fits well. I really wish that Phillips screws would become extremely obsolete, but they are still extremely common in the United States. Phillips screws still make up the majority of screws sold in hardware stores. 

Square drives

Square drives are a significant step forward. They’re also known as Robertson screws, and they’re very popular in Canada. They are far more difficult to come by in the United States. 

Cam-out and driver sliding are considerably reduced, if not completely eliminated, thanks to their square design. These are typically found in pocket screws in the United States. 

Star drive

Star drive screws are becoming increasingly popular in the United States, and they are my personal favorite. Cam-out is almost eliminated by the star shape, and the driver nearly never slips out. They can also handle a lot of torque. They’re usually sold with high-quality screws that won’t snap if overtightened. When you buy a box, it normally includes the necessary driving tip. 

Head shapes

There are many different head shapes, just like there are many different drive types. Fortunately, there are only two that are commonly used in woodworking.

Flathead

This is when the jargon can become a little muddled. It’s easy to mix up a flat head screw and a slotted screw, which we commonly refer to as flathead screws. Flathead screws are the most frequent type of screw used in woodworking. It features a beveled head that fits snugly into the wood, flush with the surface.

You can simply drive the screw into the wood to make it flush, but using a countersink bit to drill a pilot hole or a countersink to cut the bevels after drilling a pilot hole will yield better and cleaner results.

A countersunk hole is perfectly suited for a flathead screw.

Panhead of rounded

The domes of panheads and roundheads can be shallow or deep. They aren’t commonly used for woodworking because they sit on top of the wood. When gluing another material to wood that you can’t countersink, such as metal or plastic, you’ll need these. 

Wood screws buying guide

How can you choose the correct wood screw now that we’ve discovered that there are so many distinct types? When looking for wood screws, there are a few important things to keep in mind. Here are some of the most important factors to consider:

Type of head

Before purchasing any type of wood screw, think about the head. The majority of the screws will have a cross-head or a flat head. 

Other varieties of screw heads, on the other hand, have been introduced in recent years.

There are two types of screws: star head and square head. Star head screws are known to have a greater grip. You’ll need a screw that won’t peel when you use your drill to drive it in.

Head shape

When it comes to choosing wood screws, the shape of the head is also important to consider. Flat, round, or oval-shaped wood screws will be the most common.

Round head screws are intended for attaching thin things to wooden surfaces. Flatheads, on the other hand, will be utilized on objects with holes, such as hinges. On the other hand, oval heads function as a hybrid of flat and round heads. They have a tapering bottom and a rounded top.

Length 

The length of the screws is another important factor to take into account. In most circumstances, the screws will be between 0.5 and 3 inches long. You should choose the appropriate length for your project.

How to install a standard wood screw

Screwdrivers and screws on a wooden table. The concept of work.

It’s critical to choose a wood screw that’s the right length and strength. Wherever high-level holding force is required, heavier screws should be used. It will also be important to select a screwdriver with the appropriate tip size (it should fill the recess). As previously stated, drilling a pilot hole prior to screw penetration is not always essential. However, we’ll go over the entire procedure here: 

Step One: Mark the Spot

Make a cross in the precise location where the pilot hole will be drilled.

Step Two: Drill Down

Drill directly into the cross-referenced region.

Step Three: Create a Hole

Where countersinking is required, make a large and shallow hole

Step Four: Drill the Screw

Begin drilling with a hand driver and work your way up to a power driver (set at a reasonable speed to prevent screw hole stripping).

How to extract a cross threaded wood screw

A cross-threaded wood screw can be extracted using a variety of methods. In the event of a stripped screw, which can be caused by anything from poor tool quality to overtightening, such techniques may be required.. You should start by using a manual screwdriver to see if the screw is slipping or gripping. A set of pliers, grasping the edges of the screw and rotating cautiously, may also be used to remove a slightly projecting screw.

If it doesn’t work, you can extract the item with a rubber band and a screwdriver as follows:

Step one: Attach the rubber band

Secure the rubber band to the screwdriver tip with your thumb and finger, making sure there is no slack.

Step two: Turn the screw

Insert the protected screwdriver tip into the screw head and turn it loose slowly

Another option for extracting threaded screws is to use a specially designed extractor. This has points on both ends, one for drill attachment and the other for cutting when the drill is driven in reverse. It can be used to drill a small hole through the screw’s center. The screw can then be spun up and away from the material with the opposite point. You can also use an extractor to bore a hole around the screw to make it easier to remove. A tapered plug can then be used to close the hole. 

The following is how to use a screw extractor:

Step one: Pick an extractor

To remove the stripped screw, select the right sized screw extractor

Step two: Install the extractor

To secure the extractor, place it in the drill check and tighten the chuck.

Step three: Select reverse mode

Drill into the stripped screw then but into the screw head with the drill in reverse

Step four: Remove the screw

Continue to turn the drill backwards until the screw loosens.

Are nails used in woodworking?

Non-woodworkers have a prevalent misunderstanding that we use a lot of nails. On the contrary, nothing could be further from the truth. I don’t think I’ve ever used nails in a project on this channel, except for decorative purposes, in the ten years I’ve been doing it. I used brads to keep boards together while the glue dries on occasion, but never as the only means of assembly. 

Nails are difficult to hammer in, can bend, and the hammer head can easily harm the surface of your object. Not only that, but they don’t hold as well as screws and can become loose over time. 

Final words

Wood screws are necessary and will come in handy if you can find the proper ones. You’ll have no trouble affixing pieces of wood and forming a sturdy joint. Wood screws, unlike nails, are more secure and cause less harm to the wood.

You can make an informed decision if you have a thorough understanding of the various types of wood screws and their applications. I also emphasized that there are other varieties, and that I had only touched on the most common ones. Because you now know the sort of wood screw to use, this information will help you improve your woodworking projects. 

FAQs

Can wood screws be used in plasterboard?

Plasterboard has historically been hung with custom-made screws. When compared to wood screws, they do have some restrictions. If they’re used in situations where there’s a lot of moisture, they’ll rust. To reduce the possibility of splitting, breaking, and weakening, flat countersunk deck screws can be used instead. These screws also have a shank that is designed for long-term durability and secure fit.

How long should a wood screw be?

The optimum length of the screw will be determined by factors such as the type of wood, screw material, and lateral vs sheer stresses. In the choosing process, however, there are some general principles that should be followed. The screw should be able to penetrate at least half the thickness of the bottom material. The screw should also be capable of securely securing two boards, if necessary. There should be no visible protrusion.

How much weight can a wood screw hold?

When fastened to purpose-made wood studs, coarse-threaded wood screws may support weights of more than 100 pounds.

Do you need to use pilot holes for wood screws?

Before installing screws, it’s a good idea to drill pilot holes that are the right size. When installing the screws, these holes should be drilled to prevent the wood from splitting or cracking. When screwing into woods with complicated structures, such as oak, this is very critical.

The screw will be easier to guide into place if a pilot hole is drilled first. Screwing using a power drill or screwdriver should also be relatively simple. When a high level of pressure is applied to the screw without the pilot hole, there is a great chance of breaking it. 

Can you use wood screws for brick?

For brick applications, masonry screws should be used instead of wood screws. The masonry screws are made to be used without the use of a lag shield, plug, or other anchor system. They have a different patterning and longer threading than the wood variety (possibly two inches or more). Masonry screws are also widely utilized in the metalworking industry.

How far should screws go into wood?

The screw length will be determined by the thickness of the materials being joined and the orientation of the joint’s components. It is recommended that you choose a screw that is at least 2 to 3 times the thickness of the material you are adding. It may be important to experiment with several lengths of screws before deciding on the stones that are most suited to your needs. If the screw does not fully enter the material and cannot be tightened, it should be cut off. A screw with a shorter length will have to be used.