Matthew Burak

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builds traditional fiirniture and runs a woodworking business in northeastern Vermont.

Top detail. The tabletop's breadboard edge is pinned in place with square wooden pegs that extend into the tenons. Softened edges and a hand-rubbed oil finish give the top an antique look and feel.

Pick the Right Fastener for the Job:

A Guide to Heads, Threads, Metals and Coatings

New twists on an old fastener. Choosing a wood screw is no longer just a matter of picking the right size. Today's manufacturers offer a screw for just about every purpose and application.

Screws for Woodworking by Paul Anthony Y A 7 hen it comes to fasteners for cabinetry and furniture, it's hard to beat

\/\I wood screws. We use them to create and reinforce joints and to attach r V panels, tops, trim and hardware. They're great for making jigs and furniture design mock-ups since they allow for disassembly.

A screw basically acts as a clamp. The head pulls the upper workpiccc down as the threads advance into the lower, or anchor, workpiccc. The concept of the screw is attributed to Archimedes of ancient Greece, but there is little physical evidence of metal screws as fasteners until the 1400s. The earliest screws, with square or hex heads, were attached with nuts. Some 16th-century armor shows screws with slotted heads. It's not known when screws for wood were developed, but we do know that they appear in firearms made in the mid-1500s. These fasteners had widely spaced, hand-filed threads and blunt tips, and they were installed into holes made with a pointed gimlet. By the 1800s, screws were produced on lathes, as many still arc in developing countries. But the most advanced thread-making technology involves rolling wire between two dies.

A woodworker's choices used to be limited to traditional tapered screws and sheet metal screws—still available but less commonly used since the advent of new screw designs. Some years ago, woodworkers discovered the convenience of using hardened drywall screws in cabinetry, jig-making and even furniture. More recently particleboard or production screws have become the screws of choice in woodshops. These tough fasteners have deep, aggressive threads and narrow shanks, and they come in a variety of head types.

Screws have changed in other ways, too—from new drives to new metals and coatings for almost any application. In this articlc I'll discuss these developments as well as some specialty drilling and driving tools for screws.

Screw Terminology

Before we get into the characteristics of modern screws, let's cover some important screw terminology. (See Fig. I.)

Heads come in a variety of shapes for different applications. (See chart, opposite page.) Drives are also shown in their most common forms. The shank diameter varies in relation to the head and threads (depending on the type of screw). The screw in Fig. 1 is a tapered wood screw: The diameter of its unthreaded section matches the diameter of its threads. The root of a screw is the diameter of the shank in the threaded section.

All screw threads serve the same purpose, but they differ in both shape and relation to the screw's axis. The thread angle determines the sharpness of the thread. A low thread angle means a

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