Impact Tools for Screws – Wrong Tool for the Job!
Screw design adapts to changing needs.
Having been in the industry for more years than I’d like to count, I have had my share of conversations with contractors and purchasing agents. If I simply do the math, well over a half a million calls during my career. So, saying that, I’ve had a pretty good finger on the pulse of the changes that have been made over the years in the designs of screws to adapt to the changing needs of contractors throughout the recent decades. For instance, changing the standard head size on larger size diameter screws for the gutter and roofing contractors from the 5/16 and 3/8 hex heads to a one size fits all ¼ tall high hat to save them time from having to constantly change their drivers while working. One thing that has never changed, however, is using anything other than screw guns to drive in screws.
Not everyone on YouTube is an expert.
With the growing popularity of do-it-yourself videos, everyone with a camera phone and an idea has the resources to reach a larger-than-life audience. This can be good or, in some cases, not so good. Not everyone is an expert. If you are not sure what tools are best to use with your fasteners, ask your fastener representative. If they don’t know the answer, a good representative should be able to find out the answer for you.
In the fastener industry, we have seen the not-so-good side of these types of do-it-yourself videos. I’ve seen videos that were directed to contractors and do-it-yourself guys, encouraging them to use impact tools to drive their screws in order to make the job quicker and easier. If you have already tried this, you would think that this was the case. At first. Until, months later, when your gutters are falling from the eaves, and you have the additional cost of labor and materials returning to restore them. The old saying ‘pinch a penny to lose a pound’ becomes a reality.
NO IMPACT TOOLS WITH SCREWS!
The impact wrench was designed to drive large wheel nuts into wheels. When you think of the way that a screw was designed to work, the motion of ‘impacting’ a small screw in the same way, doesn’t at all make sense. Screws being installed with this improper tool can be fractured or otherwise compromised in their ability to do the job they were designed to do because the impact tool is adding stress to the fastener which can be dangerous as well as costly. The damage that these improper tools are causing is creating enough concern among manufacturers and distributors that there have been discussions of stamping ‘NO IMPACT TOOLS’ on the boxes of screws in order to get the word out.
Using an impact tool with your painted and powder coated screws can also cause your paint to chip. After spending the extra money to make sure that your screws match your metal roof or gutters, who needs chipped paint?
It’s the wrong tool for the job.
Although initially, an impact drill may drive your screws in quicker, in the long run it could be the biggest headache you’ve ever created for yourself.
What Do All the Numbers Mean?
Did you ever read the label and wonder what all the numbers represented? Well, here’s your decoder ring!
Example: 12-24 X 7/8 Hex Washer Head Self Drilling #3 Drill Bit
12 – Represents the thickness of the shank. Think dress size. The bigger the number, the thicker the shank.
24 – Represents the number of Threads per Inch also known as TPI. The higher the number, the finer the threads, which are best used in metal applications. The fewer the threads per inch, the coarser the threads, the faster the screw will drive and are the preferred threading for wood applications or wood studs.
7/8 – measurement from underneath the head to the tip of the screw. In the case of flat headed screws, the length is measured from the top of the screw to the point.
#3 Drill Bit – Drill bit tips range from #2 to #5. They do not represent the size of the hole that they will drill but do represent the thickness of metal they will drive through. But we will save that for another tip!
Self-Drilling (Tek® Screw) Primer – It’s All About Education
Sharing our knowledge of commercial fasteners such as self-drilling screws, also known as Tek® screws, with contractors is important to us.
Based on years of experience having to match screw requirements with nothing more than descriptive word phrases, we knew the primer teaching contractors how distributors call out fastener specs would be beneficial and probably save not only time but money when ordering screws.
And we know that the more information we arm contractors with on the screws they could be using to improve their business, the more we will be contributing to their success.
So, All Points Fasteners is all about presenting solutions that solve real problems for contractors.
It’s Not So Difficult Ordering Self-Tapping Screws!
So you picked a self-tapping screw off a job site and it was just what you have been looking for but it didn’t come in a box that was labeled – it was just sitting there on the floor. What do you do? How can you ask for something when you’re not really sure what to ask for? The nice thing is that it isn’t so difficult if you know what dimensions to measure when you are asking your fastener sales representative to help you.
First describe the head. Is it a…?
- Hex Washer Head
- Hex washer head with a neoprene washer attached
- Modified Truss Head
- Oval Head
- Pan Head
- Bugle Head
- Pancake Head
There are other style heads available but these are the most common head styles that you should know. Once you can identify the head style that you are looking for, it makes things much easier.
To identify the shank size of the screw, it’s much easier if your screw is a hex head. When considering the shank size, think dress size. The smaller the number, the thinner the shank. The bigger the number, the thicker the shank.
The standard for the industry is:
• 1/4″ Hex Head = #6 or #7 or #8 shank size
• 5/16″ Hex Head = #10 or #12 shank size
• 3/8″ Hex Head = #14 shank size
Of course there always have to be exceptions just to keep things interesting.
In our case, we have needlepoint screws (aka zip screws) developed especially for the gutter industry with have high profile 1/4″ hex head but #10 washers and #10 body shanks. In the 70’s and 80’s, standard #8 screws worked fine for the gutter industry but when the quality of the wood used for homes changed, it was necessary to increase the thickness of the shanks so that the screws wouldn’t snap when hitting knots in the wood. We also added a filet underneath the head to give the screw a little extra strength.
Next, there is TPI or threads per inch to consider. As a rule of thumb, the less threads per inch, the screw is intended to be used in wood. The more TPI, the screw is meant for metal or metal studs. These are sometimes called out as ‘coarse threaded’ or ‘fine threaded’ screws. If you try and use a coarse threaded screw in metal studs or hard woods, the quality of the screw can’t really be blamed when it snaps although that happens all the time. It is simply misapplication and the more you know what screws were made for what applications, the less problems you will have when using your screws.
Now we get to the points of the screws.
Does the point look like a pencil point?
Does the point look like a drill bit tip?
There are other type points like Type 17’s used with woods and others but the two listed above are the most common.
And lastly, you should remember to state the plating that you need. Zinc plating is most common with under normal situations will last you about two years on average. Hot dipped galvanized is generally five years. But these are old school type plating. We have started stocking Dacronized®, ceramic type plating, which we normally have stocked in 500, 1000 and 1200 hour salt spray tested. They give you extra protection and even are available with the heads painted as well to match exterior applications.
When you are looking at a label on a box, the screws will generally be labeled something like “8-18×1 HWH SDS Z/P”. This would translate to #8
shank, 18 TPI by 1 inch long, hex washer head, self drilling screw (tek type point) zinc plated.
This is not everything that there is to know about self-tapping screws, zip screws and tek screws included, but it will give you a good baseline to start!
Not Just Zip Screws and Tek Screws!
Having been in the fastener industry for contractors since 1986 selling zip screws and tek screws you would think there would be nothing new to learn. Wrong! Although we specialize in screws mainly used by the Heating and Air Conditioning and Gutter industries , more and more I am hearing from OEM’S or engineers who are desperately looking for screws that don’t exist. They needs head diameter’s that are smaller so that they will fit in between narrow grooves, points that will penetrate hard plastic, then go through 30 gauge steel and then tap into stucco then into wood. And they are being used outdoors in the snow but should be rust proof but not as expensive as stainless steel. And all in the same screw! It’s a wonder I have a hair left on my head!
In years past, designer screws were a source of frustration for me because one of my contractors would pick up a screw that he really liked on a job site and then want me to locate a source for them. After many hours, maybe days, of diligent searching, I would finally find out that someone like a major hotel chain had the screws made especially for them to install the cabinets in their hotels and getting the same screws with the same dimensions was never going to happen.
Well the good news is that some manufacturers have changed their willingness to do smaller orders so that the chance of having these ‘designer screws’ manufactured is much higher now than it was in the past. Within recent months, we have been successful in procuring parts that in the past would have been impossible to supply. Of course, there are still minimums to be met but instead of having to order containers of screws in order to get the manufacturers interested, we can get away with a pallet or two. Good news for some but still not low enough for others.
Still, there are many more options available to choose from than there were 20 years ago, starting with coatings to keep screws from rusting as quickly. Take a look at our ceramic coated zip screws, available which with painted heads as well. These parts work great in areas where weather conditions are moist. We will soon be supplying needlepoint screws which are stainless steel as well as ceramic coated which will bring increased rust resistance.
Looking At The Different Types and Uses of Stainless Steel Fasteners
Stainless steel fasteners are fasteners that consist of stainless steel. Just like other stainless steel materials, they have at least 10% chromium. This percentage differentiates them from the regular steel materials. Stainless steel fasteners have the advantage of forestalling corrosion. Normally, these materials would need additional elements to enhance their structures. As such, it is commonplace for such fasteners to consist of metals like nickel, titanium, molybdenum and nitrogen among others.
Varieties of stainless steel fasteners
There are various kinds of stainless steel fasteners in the market. These varieties of fasteners include:
• 18-8: These fasteners consist of 8% nickel and 18% chromium. They include fittings like 302HQ, 303, 305, 304, 302 and XM7. The 18-8 steel fasteners usually offer huge resistance to corrosion (400 series stainless). They are also nonmagnetic and only attain hardness through cold working.
• 316: 316 stainless steel fasteners are more suited to severe environments. They are usually non-magnetic, thermally non-hardenable and austenitic. Such fasteners boast of 0.08% carbon with a higher level of nickel. The presence of 3% molybdenum posits them as one of the strongest resistors of corrosion. As such, they can withstand corrosive attacks from calcium and sodium brines, phosphoric acid, sulphite liquors and hypochlorite solutions.
• 304 stainless steel fasteners: These are austenitic steel fasteners that are nonmagnetic and need cold working to harden. They come equipped with 18% chromium, which provides them with enough resistance to oxidation and corrosion. Also, it has 8% nickel content, which enables them to resist the negative effects of reducing chemicals.
Uses of stainless steel fasteners
Stainless steel fasteners fulfill an integral role in many sectors. For instance, the construction industry uses these fasteners to build structures that support heavy weights. Thanks to their non-corrosive abilities, they are the perfect components for constructing long-lasting structures. In the motor vehicle industry, stainless steel fasteners are important in the assembly of motor vehicles. Once again, their resistance to rust makes them the perfect candidates for assembling such outdoor elements like cars.
People can also use stainless steel fasteners to connect pieces of wood. Such fasteners include lag bolts and carriage bolts. Other fasteners like shoulder bolts are helpful when creating pivot points in machines. Their smooth top sections and threaded lower areas make them a perfect fit for this purpose. People who need to bolt applications can also rely on stainless steel fasteners for this purpose. They can also provide great holding power.
The widespread of stainless steel fasteners finds basis in their numerous advantages. Primarily, they are rust and corrosion-resistant. This means that they are strong and can withstand the rigors of the conditions that accelerate rusting. Also, these fasteners give people an easy time when cleaning. The high content of chromium gives them a lustrous surface, which is smooth and easy to clean.
Regardless of their strength, stainless steel fasteners also offer an easy time with regards to unfastening. This is due to their high melting points where they can withstand heat. This prevents fusing, which could make unfastening a major hassle.
Eric works as a design technician at Ejot, UK, were he helps design some of the most advance industrial strength fasteners. Ejot quality assurances have helped them with some high profile projects such as the new confinement roof for the Chernobyl nuclear reactor and The Athletes Village for the London Olympics.
There Are Now Many Choices for Wood Screws
When doing Do-it-Yourself projects, a lot of folks get confused about what screws to use to carry out their job. There are so many choices…..so many dimensions to decide on. What length should the screw be? How thick of a shank do I need? Slotted drives? Torx drive? Quadrex? What type of point do you need? Zip? Tek Point? Type 17 point? There is a purpose why each screw has a particular specification or attribute and if you don’t know how your screw is going to perform you will end up blaming the fastener if it doesn’t do what you want it to when the true cause was how it was used. Let’s take a look at how you can decide what type of wood screws to use.
As the name suggests, wood screws are utilized when you are doing work with wood. A lot of your wood screws will be produced from a metal that isn’t likely to react with the resins as well as treatment chemicals within the wood. Some metals will leave a rather unpleasant looking stain if they come into contact with particular chemicals or resins. It used to be that you only had two choices of material for wood screws – plain carbon steel or carbon steel with zinc plating. Sometimes you could locate stainless wood screws. Now however, you can find screws for wood, usually deck screws, with special plating to protect them from chemically treated wood. They are commonly obtainable in 500 and 1000 hour salt spray tested.
There are a few options when it comes to wood screws or rather, screws you use in wood. There are wood screws that require pre-drilling since their point isn’t sharp or hard enough to self start. They have coarse threads so that the wood will fill in between the threads and help to prevent them from pulling out of the softer wood or particle board. Generally, they have a prominent smooth shank (sometimes called a shoulder) to help pull together the two pieces being fastened.
Another alternative is what is referred to as a Type 17 point, which has a sharp point and the thread will go all the way to the tip of the point
with finer threads, generally 18 threads per inch. These work wonderful in the harder woods. As you put pressure on the screw and turn it
using a drill it’ll cut into the wood and create its very own hole. These are typically rather tight fitting and don’t often tear loose. They have a cut at the tip of the point so that the displaced wood has an avenue of escape and will keep the wood from splitting.
The majority of wood screws may also have an area of non-threaded metal just beneath the head. This is so that you are able to allow the top of the screw to slide through the top piece of wood so you are able to tightly fasten the two bits of wood together.
For do-it-yourself projects to go smoothly, make certain that you pick the proper screw with the right features for the wood you’re going to be using and for the correct application. You should also determine if you need to use of the self tapping variety or if you will need to have to pre-drill. Just about all wood screws will work for just about all woods, however getting the best screw for the job is certainly best.
Here’s a quick word of advice to point you in the right direction: For harder woods, fine threaded wood screws work best. For the softer woods or particle board, the coarse threaded screws are more appropriate. These are also sometimes called particle board screws.