Sick of breaking screws

BSevier

Bryan
User
I just wanted to pass along some helpful information. I've made several boxes over the last few years, and one thing I always dreaded was installing the hinges or locks because the screws were so darn small and weak, they would often break off. Even when I use a steel screw first, I would occasionally run into the issue. This was especially true when building with the denser exotic woods.

Well, about a year ago, I was wandering around Woodcraft and saw these gimlets (link below). I remember my father-in-law using these several years back. I decided to pick up a set (they are only ~$5) and have not had a single broken screw since. Problem solved.

Now, I mark the placement of the hole, pre-drill, run the gimlet in, then install the screw (with a little wax).


I hope I can save someone the frustration of breaking off a screw in a project you were so close to finishing.

Here's a few pics of some of the boxes I've built...




1587063447693.png 1587063491652.png 1587063525430.png 1587063620071.png 1587063640615.png

Stay safe.
 

CrealBilly

Jeff
Senior User
Nice... Thanks but I always thought it was China screw break like dry twig in wind storm. Nails are just as worse though.
 

Gotcha6

Dennis
Corporate Member
Isn't it always the case that the most basic and fundamental tools wind up being the ones we end up needing and finding out about last?
 

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
Years back I was asked to make some small displays that had two pieces hinged together. Broke off a bunch of screws at first then I looked at the situation. The countersunk metal hole in the hinge was right for the screw head's diameter, but the screw's tapered head stuck below the hinge's metal. Problem solved when I got a small Weldon countersink and put a slight countersink in the top of the pilot hole. The countersink only went maybe 1/8" deep if that but it worked. Never twisted off another screw head in the next several hundred I had to put together.
 

gator

George
Corporate Member
I had not thought of a gimlet but I solved my breakage problem by first using a steel screw of the same size as the brass one. I would drive the steel one first thus creating the threaded hole for the brass screw to go into easily.
George
 

Skymaster

Jack
Senior User
NEVER EVER use drywall screws on anything but drywall. Much more brittle they were not designed for the stress of wood to wood. Wood screws only on everything but drywall
 

Gotcha6

Dennis
Corporate Member
NEVER EVER use drywall screws on anything but drywall. Much more brittle they were not designed for the stress of wood to wood. Wood screws only on everything but drywall
+1 on that.
I've seen too many people use these only to have the screw heads pop off when they are run in tight.
 

Pop Golden

Pop
Corporate Member
And I thought a gimlet was a drink. I picked up a set a few years ago. Bryan from your post do gimlets thread? you indicated that when you used a gimlet on a predrilled screw hole the screw went right in. Maybe I'm not using my set right. I'v never gotten a lot of use out of mine.

Pop
 

CrealBilly

Jeff
Senior User
NEVER EVER use drywall screws on anything but drywall. Much more brittle they were not designed for the stress of wood to wood. Wood screws only on everything but drywall
Yep... Pop, goes the weasel.

Menards sell construction screws that are shaped like drywall screws but they don't snap like drywall screws.
 

BSevier

Bryan
User
And I thought a gimlet was a drink. I picked up a set a few years ago. Bryan from your post do gimlets thread? you indicated that when you used a gimlet on a predrilled screw hole the screw went right in. Maybe I'm not using my set right. I'v never gotten a lot of use out of mine.

Pop
yes, the gimlets thread the hole for the screw.
 

BSevier

Bryan
User
I had not thought of a gimlet but I solved my breakage problem by first using a steel screw of the same size as the brass one. I would drive the steel one first thus creating the threaded hole for the brass screw to go into easily.
George
Before picking up the gimlets, that is how I would do it also - and it helped. The problem was, I still had some of the steel screws break off - especially when working with the dense exotic woods.
 

Matt Furjanic

Matt
Senior User
Your boxes are awesome! Just excellent work.
You might try some inlay bandings. Check out www.inlaybanding.com. There’s some more box ideas out there too.
I keep a tube of lip balm in my shop to dip screws in. Same as wax, but tidy.
Matt...
 

BSevier

Bryan
User
Your boxes are awesome! Just excellent work.
You might try some inlay bandings. Check out www.inlaybanding.com. There’s some more box ideas out there too.
I keep a tube of lip balm in my shop to dip screws in. Same as wax, but tidy.
Matt...
Thanks for the complements and link, Matt. They definitely have some nicer inlays than what I find at Woodcraft and Klingspor. I will be sure to use them in the future.

The two boxes I am working on now (the first two pictured) I did use some inlay on the lid. I also made up some 1/16" inlay for the sides. Just 3 pieces of veneer glued together, then cut into strips. Typically either white-black-white, or black-white-black. I never really thought about doing that until I got Andrew Crawford's books on boxes. He also has a website smartBoxmaker: Box Making Courses, Premium Box Hardware & More that has some really good pics. That is also where I got the inspiration to try a domed box. Quite challenging, but it really makes a difference to the appearance of the box. It turned out that the toughest part of it was trying to find a source for 1/16" birch plywood. It's not easy to find, and when you do, it's quite pricey - the size of the pieces I needed were only available on the internet.

Good idea with the lip balm. My neighbor works for Burt's Bees - so he gives me more samples than I can use.

-Bryan
 

Gotcha6

Dennis
Corporate Member
Good idea with the lip balm. My neighbor works for Burt's Bees - so he gives me more samples than I can use.

-Bryan
BITD I can remember when carpenters only had wooden handled hammers they would often drill a hole in the heel of the hammer handle and fill it with beeswax or, if they could find a clean one, toilet bowl setting ring wax. Not many screws used then, but it made a difference on a 10d finish nail going into SYP.
 

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