Get Screwed

Nails do the job of holding together whatever it is you want to join.  Except for bodies, of course, but we won’t go there right now.  Grin.

Getting back to the subject, while nails are good, screws are better.  Using screws may take a little longer, or require a little more elbow grease, but screws hold better, are easier to remove and look neater.

Screws usually come with either a slotted head or the Philips head.  Look at the top of the screw to determine the type of screwdriver you will need for your job.  A slotted head has just one indentation running straight across the head.  The Philips has an x-shaped slot.  Square-drive screws are also used, mostly in assemble-it-yourself kits for desks, bookshelves and the like.  In that case, the tool is usually included with the kit.

Besides the general configuration of a slotted or Phillips, screws are manufactured in one of three main head types: flathead, ovalhead or roundhead.  Each of these screw types own qualities that make them best for specific use.

For example, flathead screws can be driven flush with, or even slightly below, the surface, giving you a smoother finish with little puttying required.  Ovalhead screws should be used with washers for a finished appearance.  Use roundhead screws if you want the head to show.

One of the screws you may be familiar with is a hanger screw, the type that comes with ceiling hooks.  Drive a hanger screw into a ceiling joist then attach the hook to the thread on its lower half.  Otherwise, if you’re using the hook for something heavy, you may see the hook and your decoration, along with part of the ceiling, laying on the floor.  Ouch.

There are lots of screws for all kinds of jobs – drywall, wood, masonry, decking, and sheet-metal.  The types are self-explanatory, right?  I mean you wouldn’t use a masonry screw to fasten two wood boards together.  Well, unless you were in a huge hurry and didn’t want drive to the store first.  But then, don’t blame me if your project is messed up. 

Confusing?  Okay, then, go ask the cute clerk on the hardware aisle for help.  You know the guy – the one with the nice butt, um, smile.

As with nails, buying screws in bulk can be less expensive.  Always buy a few extra, just in case you end up needing more.   Drywall screws, for example, are often available by the pound, are inexpensive, and easy to drive using a drill with a screwdriver bit.

Speaking of drills, check back for an article on choosing a drill.