Finding the Self-Tapping Screw You Need Based on Description!

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.

Start describing and measuring from the top of the zip screw or tek screws (check this out) and then head down to the bottom.

First describe the head. Is it a…?

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!

Designer Screws Other Than Zip & Tek Screws

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.

K-Lathe aka Modified Truss aka Round Washer Head

K-Lathe aka Modified Truss aka Round Washer Head

The Round Washer Head design, which can also be known as wafer head screws, K-Lathe screws and modified truss screws, could quite possibly be the most multipurpose head design offered. It combines the benefits of the Pan Head design but has an attached washer built on to the head to increase head diameter. This helps prevent over-driving in softwoods.

General cabinet assembly, installation, hinges, metal drawer slides, wooden drawer guides, attaching lights and brackets are just a few applications where the Round Washer Head design is used. The addition of the washer provides maximum bearing surface to allow for “over-driving” the screw to tighten those stubborn joints easily These Screws are also self tapping screws in that they tap their own mating threads and do not need female threaded inserts like machine screws.

It was originally designed for the construction industry to attach wood lathe and metal framing to 20 to 25 gauge steel studs. They also can be known as plymetal because they can be used to attach plywood to metal. The large wafer head sinks into the plywood and has a large bearing surface The length is measured from the top of the head.

They are available in Philips drive as well as square drive, which is occasionally referred to as Robertson drive. They are readily available in stainless and well as carbon steel and with plain or painted heads.

Also known as:

  • Round Washer Head Needlepoint
  • Wafer Head
  • K-Lathe Screws

Sharp point – zip screws, or self-drilling – tek type screws, these screws are also self-tapping screws as they tap their own threads into the materials they are used with and do not need to be used with a pre-threaded mate such as a nut or insert.

How To Use Self-Tapping Wood Screws

How To Use Self-Tapping Wood Screws

All hardware stores which are truly really worth the name possess a extensive assortment of things like wood screws and nails and bolts and tools for utilizing these items. To make matters even much more difficult, each and every type of securer as well as tool may possess a somewhat different method to using it correctly. Let us consider a glimpse into how you will make use of wood fasteners as well as what you do not do with wood screws.

The first matter to observe regarding wood fasteners is you get hold of individual tapping anchoring fasteners and regular wood screws. The self exploit fastener generally is a lot easier to install as well as requires a lot much less do the job. All you need to do is make use of either a Philips or flat head screw driver and set the point of the fastener on the spot you wish it to be and begin screwing. As you turn the actual screw driver the actual fastener should cut in to the wood and make a hole for itself. Completely no drills required Afterwards there is the standard self-tapping wood fastener. You will require a drill for doing so one. You will have to mark out all of the places that you’re heading to need to place fasteners as well as drill a hole in the wood which is the correct size for the fasteners you are heading to be using. After that you need to go along and, while employing the proper kind of screwdriver, screw all the screws in to place.

The hazard using using both sorts of fasteners is you don’t get all of them in straight. A individual tapping screw might possibly get picked skew by the grain of your wood or by you inserting unequal pressure on the screw driver as you flip it into the wood. If you help a drill afterwards you absolutely run a slightly decreased chance of going skew as you are not becoming expected to place a lot of pressure on your drill to bite into the actual wood and the drill isn’t possible to get pushed close to because of the grain of the wood. As a substitute you risk utilizing a drill bit that’s a touch too large for the anchoring screws you will almost certainly be utilizing in your do-it-yourself project that means that the fastener is not going to hold.

Additionally you need to make certain which you will get the best sort of fasteners with regards to the materials they’re produced from. Some metals have a tendency to be a lot more corrosion proof in contrast to various plus most can leave an terrible spot if you use them in wood due to the fact they react to the actual sap still still left in the wood. So first do some study and ascertain exactly which you’ll necessity and which type of screws you are going to be using.

Picking the greatest kind of fastener for any job may possibly not be as simple as it appears when the professionals get it done. There are truly lots of details to look at before you commit to a specific wood fastener or nail for your specific do-it-yourself project. If you’re not sure, ask for help and get this correct.