My New Year's resolution: don't use drywall screws

... for anything except hanging drywall.*
It's really irritating to see how just about every screw I see driven into the various houses I work on seem to be those damned ubiquitous drywall screws. Doesn't matter whether it's a shelf bracket, a piece of trim or an electrical fixture. Sure, they're cheap and easy to drive and everyone has bagsfull of them, but you know what? They ain't the right fastener for about 75% of the things they're used for.
Thing is, they're made of hardened steel, which you'd think would make them better. This does make them easier to drive into wood without drilling a pilot hole first (gee whiz, who has time for *that*?). But the problem is that means they're much more brittle than ordinary wood (or sheet-metal) screws of the same size, which means they're much more likely to fail under stress. (Anyone who's ever snapped off the head of one of them because of overtightening knows this.)
So I'm going to start stocking up on a bunch of sizes of wood screws and start using them. Next, I might tackle that problem: I read, some time ago in /Fine Woodworking/, I think, that the best screws to use in wood are actually ... sheet-metal screws, which have bigger threads in relation to screw size that hold better in wood. Have to do some research on that.
* Exceptions for other applications which this type of screw is made for, such as fastening deck boards, etc.
--
Washing one\'s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the
powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.
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David Nebenzahl wrote:

I use Drywall screws for Drywall, and use the DeckMate screws for more general purpose use. The DeckMate screws are thicker shank, coated and much stronger. I generally drive them with a Makita impact driver. Your noted exception doesn't exist, as deck screws are significantly different from drywall screws.
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Nice to see there's another Makita ID fan in this NG. I am amazed at how many DIY folks posting here are struggling with problems that could be solved using the tool. Prices are finally getting more reasonable now, so that may change in the near future. Think Torx drive and Merry Christmas!
Joe
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Each to his own, and your opinion is reasonable enough. For me, it's more the type of head on a screw than anything else. I'll go for anything from a Phillips to ... excepting security screws and especially straight slot screws. I do use drywall screws, or the coated kind for decks though, whenever the screw head will be hidden and the environment not one to provide rusting. As for twisting off a screwhead, I'm not so sure it has to be a drywall screw; you can do that to any screw whether they bend/twist first and the head comes off, or it just snaps off without warning. Whevever I hit a situation like that I'm either using the wrong screw or it's hit something unexpected like a knot, meaning to stop and find another location nearby. The clutches on today's drill drivers are great for avoiding twisting off a screw head too, I've found. I set them high unless I'm doing something where it really matters, but not OFF. Actually, now I think about it, in my experience, I'd rather have a drywall head snapped off than a softer metal twisted off; the drywall screws break below the surface usually where the others leave a small piece still sticking out. Oh well, can't have it all, huh?
As for sheet metal screws vs finer threads, that depends on the type of wood and how the screw is going through the grain. If the wood is prone to splitting they'll split it faster that one with a finer threaed, assuming each has the right size pilot holes. For most common woods, drywall screws are good too because yo dn't need to provide pilot holes or clearance holes. The threads stop at the right place to become a "slip" for the piece on top and they clamp things together good and tight. Six of one, half a dozen of the other, I suppose. For finer work I'd never use any but the proper screw types.
My 1 worth, I guess. Everyone's mmv, I'm sure.
Twayne
Twayne
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"David Nebenzahl" wrote:

I couldn't do without my "improper" drywall screws. I use 'em for anything and everything I can get away with using them for, most especially with temporary setups, jigs, and the like. Dimensional lumber and plywood are made for them.
If one screw isn't strong enough, I'll just use two or three then. They work great.
ALL HAIL THE ALMIGHTY DRYWALL SCREW! SAVIOR TO OUR PROJECTS GREAT AND SMALL!
Jon
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True. I'm guilty 75% of the time

Oh yea. There are places I'd never use them. Exterior apps (unless galv), floors, underlayments, truss/flooring sistering, anywhere natural movement is probable to name a few.

That sad thing is how damn thin they have become. No wonder they snap so easily. I pulled some 2"ers out of some 20 yr old countertops just a bit back. I'd say a good 1/3rd or better beefier. And the necks just below the head don't look like old manifold bolts.
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I'll take a pass on giving my opinion, but will say that I toss EVERY slotted-head screw I see or find. I would defy anyone finding ONE on my premises!
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The only type I buy anymore have the combination phillips/sq. drive heads, and usually use a square drive bit to drive them.
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OK, I'll bite. What's wrong with slot-headed screws -- the kind you use a plain old "blade" screwdriver for.
Thanks!
David
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snipped-for-privacy@panix.com (David Combs) wrote in

using a power driver like a cordless drill/driver doesn't work very well with slotted screws. square drive,PosiDrive and TorX are designed for power driving,Phillips works OK(with a slight bit of camout).
--
Jim Yanik
jyanik
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I think it would kind of depend on how many nails you need to drive. As an example if you were putting on a roof, a nail gun is the only way to go.
As far as driving screws are concerned, using power is quite often preferable to using a screw driver especially when you are dealing with long screws.
Also they make some really good wood screws for construction that while at first glance appear to be drywall screws, the body is considerably thicker and the metalurgy is such as they are an appropriate fastener choice for structural strength.
--

Roger Shoaf

About the time I had mastered getting the toothpaste back in the tube, then
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