driving cheap screws without stripping the heads

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Old 08-17-10, 03:56 PM
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driving cheap screws without stripping the heads

Using the standard ubiquitous drywall screws, I'm making a large garden box (4'x4') with some old redwood 2x6's. I'm using a strong Milwaukee electric drill with an screw driver adapter. I'm predrilling the screw holes so the wood won't split. But it is near impossible to drive the screws without the adapter spinning in the screw head. Sometimes if I just touch the drill trigger lightly and then release it, the drill inertia will drive the screw partway without the adapter spinning in the head. But this is hard to do consistently, so I spend most of the time making many attempts with each screw and usually not succeeding in seating the screw properly.

Is there a solution to this problem? I'd guess that buying more expensive, better made screws would work...but I don't know. Can someone tell me if that's true, and if there's a technique that will work with the cheap screws.
 
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Old 08-17-10, 04:14 PM
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Does the drill have a torque setting? I guess not since it sounds like it doesn't have an electric brake either. If not..drive them close then seat by hand.

Hope you plan on painting when done...drywall screws rust real quick if exposed to weather. They may rust inside the wood and split it after a few years use as well. Wouldn't have been my first choice....they make exterior screws that are basically drywall screws with a galvanized coating...would have been better and not much more $$. I'd have used deck screws....
 
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Old 08-17-10, 04:19 PM
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First question are you drilling a 3/16 clearance? hole in the top board? I see a lot of people that don't but it has always made sense to me. If you thread into the top board the screw may force the boards apart so you have to expend more effort keeping them together. Trying to keep them together distracts you from keeping the driver aligned. Secondly you are exerting more resistance on the screw increasing the likely wood of a stripped screw. They make wax for saw blades you might try that on the screw threads.

Another choice if drilling clearance holes in the top board isn't enough is to buy a combo drill bit that drills both a clearance hole and a pilot hole. The first part will be about 1/8" then the second part 3/16". It's always best to have two drills, one for the screwdriver bit and one for the drill bit. Personally I like a good, heavy, corded, 1/2" drill.

Finally all screw driver bits aren't equal. Try a different brand. I have found the cheap ones in the fish bowl at the check-out work better then expensive brand name.

Not sure if "clearance hole" is a real term or something I made up to describe a hole that the threads will pass through tightly with out catching. I usually use a 3/16" bit for both #6 and #8. A bit loose for #6 and a bit tight for #8 but a nice compromise.
 
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Old 08-17-10, 06:40 PM
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One question I didn't ask: should I be able to drive these screws quickly, or does it have to be done at a slow speed even with the best driver bits and the best screws?

My corded Milwaukee drill doesn't have torque settings, but has enough torque to twist your arm if it sticks while drilling a hole. Is this the wrong drill to be using, too much torque for these phillips head screws?
 
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Old 08-17-10, 06:43 PM
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Using Spax square drive screws would sure solve that problem. But that's overkill. Special screws and a special square bit.

See the setup on the left? That's what ray2047 is referring to. The threads will rotate freely through the first piece of wood and then catch the second and draw the joint together. You won't accumulate resistance where it isn't needed or wanted.




Also keep in mind that there are different size screwdriver tips

Either that or get some shelf brackets or corner braces and just screw 'em inside the corners with smaller screws or nails.

I've snapped the head off of screws driving them into old framing.
So it's not just you.
 
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Old 08-17-10, 06:49 PM
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Slow is good; keeps from overtightening. You really need a slower speed driver. I sometimes use my variable speed corded drill in a pinch when I forget to recharge the battery for the cordless driver, but it's not my first choice to drive screws.

Also, check out screws that are square drive or dual drive. The dual drive screws have a head that is phillips, but the center of the "x" is cut square to accept a square drive bit. You'll never strip out another screw. If you ask in the fastener section at your local hardware they should be able to steer you in the right direction.
 
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Old 08-17-10, 07:06 PM
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I did mention in the initial message that I was pre-drilling the holes, so I don't have the problem of the two boards being forced apart. The problem I'm actually having is the driver bit keeps bouncing out of the screw head, and if I increase the pressure even more the bouncing out still occurs but it also starts stripping the metal. So the driver bit isn't holding inside the screw head long enough to drive the screw.

Perhaps there's a perfectly matched driver bit and screw head. I've been using a Skil finder/driver holder, but the bit itself is probably a fishbowl type. I know there are square drive and other fancy types, but I'm trying to learn how to do this without spending a fortune just on the screws. It's just a box made with used wood, and I have leftover boxes of drywall screws.

I remember having the same type of problem when my 14v Makita cordless drill was working, but that might have been because I didn't know what torque setting was best...should it be high or low torque?

So back to my original question...has someone perfected a technique that works with standard, run of the mill, made in China, pos, screws?
 
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Old 08-17-10, 07:27 PM
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So back to my original question...has someone perfected a technique that works with standard, run of the mill, made in China, pos, screws?
why use " made in China, pos, screws?" I use decent quality screws

as to driving them without stripping the heads Ive used one of these cordless screwdrivers for years works great in not stripping the heads


 
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Old 08-17-10, 07:35 PM
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I just realized that although I started out using dry wall screws, I switched to Grip Rite Gold Screws (3"). These are coarse thread, all purpose, screws coated with gold zinc. Better than the black drywall screws, rustwise?
 
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Old 08-17-10, 07:53 PM
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Anybody remember Yankee screwdrivers? Once upon a time they were the cats meow. I had my fathers for years and always intended to buy one that did Philips but never did. I got seduced by the alure of new fangled electric tools.

 
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Old 08-17-10, 08:11 PM
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the yankee was the cabinet makers best friend before cordless

I still carry and use on of these it doesn't take up much room in the tool bag and its light weight I can drill a few holes with this in less time then it takes to walk to the truck to get the cord;less drill

before cordless drills we used them with carbide bits for masonry

(I don't do masonry with one today )

 
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Old 08-17-10, 08:56 PM
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Originally Posted by jbclem View Post

Perhaps there's a perfectly matched driver bit and screw head. I've been using a Skil finder/driver holder
Not really. I had mentioned different sizes because there's 3 standard sizes, # 1 # 2 and #3. that coincide with the size designation of the screw. It'll specify on the box. It's common to mix up #2 and #3.

I remember having the same type of problem when my 14v Makita cordless drill was working, but that might have been because I didn't know what torque setting was best...should it be high or low torque?
Low torque for driving.
Are you using a regular drill or a drill/driver?

The replies did acknowledge that you're predrilling, which is a good idea on your part, but read 'em again for the detail.

I'd cut a length of that 2 by material, place it inside each corner and screw into it rather than screwing into end grain. You'll create more durable joint. You can even cut 'em shorter than the width of the 2x6 so they'll be hidden by dirt.
 
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Old 08-18-10, 02:49 AM
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Looking at the box the Gold screws came in, there is an icon of the screw head, the word "phillips" above it, and below "3GS1". The driver bit I'm using has "PM2" on it. Would these identify the screw as a #3 and the bit as a #2. If so, then it looks like I might do better if I match them up, even though they seemed to fit well.

I'm also using 2x4 material inside the corners and screwing into it. And I remember those Yankee screwdrivers from when I was a kid. I actually have a Stanley 103 hand drill (eggbeater type), $2.00 at a thrift shop, but I don't think I'm up to driving 3" screws with it.

Looks like my Milwaukee drill is way too strong and torqey for this task, but it'll have to do until I can rebuild my Makita battery pack. I'll try to match up the bit and the screws, and maybe in the future there will be Chinese p.o.s square drive screws. In the meantime I will take a closer look at the more expensive screws...this has really been a PITA, making this garden box.
 
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Old 08-18-10, 05:09 AM
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I have some Spax(tm) screws on my workbench that came from either HD or Lowes that are the dual use type (#2 phillips/square) and I don't think they were any more expensive than the other screws.
 
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Old 08-18-10, 04:44 PM
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You should be using a #2 phillips for those screws you have. The screw tip you are using may be worn out as well. Try getting a phillips ACR bit. They have little grips on the tip that help prevent them from coming loose. They work much better than traditional bits. The one problem I had with them is that the tip of the bit would break off in the screw head. That's why I don't use them anymore.

Using a corded drill doesn't help either. The modern cordless drill has a brake on the motor so it stops as soon as you let off on the trigger. That makes a big difference.

#2 x 2" Phillips ACR Bit Ball Detent, Driver Bits, Drivers & Bits, Power Tool Accessories - McFeely's

You should be able to see what I mean about the grips at the tip.
 
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