Fasteners Screws

Screws are the most common fasteners used in good furniture. The majority of joints are made of shaped wood — such as mortise-and-tenons, rabbets or dovetails — and arc glued. Screws rather than nails are used whenever a fastener is required. Always look for wood screws (as opposed to metal screws) when buying fasteners for furniture use.

Screws, not nails, are preferred tor joining wood pieces in furniture repair. Select the type most appropriate (or the location

Size Screw size numbers refer to both the gauge and the length of the screw. Gauge numbers run from 0 to 24, and refer to the diameter of the shank at its widest point. An ()-gauge screw has a shank that is about '/if,-inch in diameter, while that of a 24-gauge screw is Va-inch in diameter. Screws range in lengths from tiny {'/i-inchl to about 6 inches. Most stores carry screws from 2 to 16 or 18 gauge in a variety of lengths. The screws most used in


Woodscrews have a number of uses in furniture work. The most common is to attach table and dresser tops to frames They also are used as joiners, replacing wood joints. In this use, they usually are countersunk and then covered with a wood plug. Always predrill holes for screws, making the hole slightly smaller than the diameter of the screw shank.

Do not drive screws into the end grain of wood, since they don't hold, Always make sure the blade of the screwdriver is as wide as the slot in the screwhead when driving screws. If the blade is narrower, you (1) may damage the screwhead or the blade, and (2) will get much less turning power. If the blade is wider than the slot, you will damage the surrounding wood.


Screws are designated by both length and diameter. Length is designated in inches. Diameter is designated by a gauge number. Lengths available run from V* inch to 6 inches. Gauges available are 0 O/iBinch) to 24 (% inch). The label on ¡he box of screws might read 1x6, meaning the box contains 1 inch screws of No. 6 gauge. Most stores carry all standard lengths of screws in appropriate gauges. Most common gauges are Nos. 2 through 16. The heavier the work required of the screw, the larger the gauge should be,


Standard slotted woodscrews come in three headstyles: flathead (flat across the top); oval head (the top is rounded and the underside of the head is beveled); and roundhead (top rounded, underside of head flat). For most furniture work, you will use flathead screws, but the others have uses, too.

Flathead Use flathead screws when the head of the screw is to be flush with the surface. Use a countersink bit in your electric drill to drill out a place for the head, or use a screw male bit, which both pre-drills a hole for the screw and a wider place at the top for the head You can also countersink the head slightly below the surface.

Oval head Oval head screws are pleasing in appearance and are easier to remove than flatheads. As a rule, the underside of the head is countersunk, and the oval top remains above the surface. Use where the screw will be seen and appearance is important,

Roundhead Most important use for roundhead screws is in applications where you expect to remove the screw and the work is to be disassembled. They also can be countersunk covered.

furniture work range from 8 to 16 gauge, and from % to IV2 inches long.

Styles Screw heads come in flat, oval and round shapes. Flat heads are used when the screw head is to he flush with the surface of the work or countersunk helow the surface. Oval and round heads are used when the screw head will show on the surface of the work.


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A screw head either rests on the surface (left), is set flush (center) or is countersunk (left) The countersunk opening is often filled

A screw head either rests on the surface (left), is set flush (center) or is countersunk (left) The countersunk opening is often filled

When driving or removing screws, always be sure the blade of [he screwdriver is the same width as the slot in the screw head.

Using Screws Much of the time in restoration work, you remove old screws and use them again. If the screw has been damaged, replace it with a new one of the same size and type. When driving a new screw into wood for the first time, always drill a pilot hole, using a drill bit two sizes smaller than the shank diameter.

Some hardwoods will split if you drive a scrcw in without first drilling the pilot hole. To be safe, widen the upper part of the pilot hole to accommodate the unthreaded part of the shank. This part of the hole should be the same diameter as the shank. A screw-mate drill bit does all of this in one motion. At the same time, it drills out a space for the head so that when the pilot hole is finished and the screw inserted, the screw head is flush with or countersunk below the work surface.

Screws will turn into new work easier if you lubricate them first. To do this, rub the screw on a bar of soap or wax.

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Wood Working for Amateur Craftsman

Wood Working for Amateur Craftsman

THIS book is one of the series of Handbooks on industrial subjects being published by the Popular Mechanics Company. Like Popular Mechanics Magazine, and like the other books in this series, it is written so you can understand it. The purpose of Popular Mechanics Handbooks is to supply a growing demand for high-class, up-to-date and accurate text-books, suitable for home study as well as for class use, on all mechanical subjects. The textand illustrations, in each instance, have been prepared expressly for this series by well known experts, and revised by the editor of Popular Mechanics.

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