Consistent Screw Setting Every Drive
Face-screwed decking looks best when the screws are set to equal depths; but it’s next to impossible to free-hand consistent screw depth setting. One option to get equally set screws is to use a dedicated drywall screw gun; another is to transform any drill / driver into a depth adjustable screw gun by chucking on Starborn’s Smart-Bit Deck Screw Depth Setter.
The drive shaft spins inside the the stationary body so you can grip the barrel during screw-driving for stability. The bottom edge has a secondary spin-free stop collar topped rubber O-ring bumper so the decking surface is never bruised when the Depth Setter bottoms-out.
Adjusting the drive depth
You set the depth of drive by loosening the locking ring. This frees the stop collar to adjust up or down. Then lock the position by tightening the ring. The adjustment rings are knerled so they’re easy to grip – no need for tools. There are no index marks to guide the depth so you’ll have to test each setting and make adjustments until you get just the right depth. I test screws in a scrap of decking backed by a block of wood.
The Smart-Bit Depth Setter works with Torx (r) and Phillips (r) screw bits. Starborn doesn’t recommend it for square drive screws noting that sometimes square bits pop out of the tool. Of course I didn’t learn about the square drive limitation until after driving dozens of square drive screws without a problem.
Useful on more than decking
The tool works on more than just decking. I keep one in my tool pouch almost all the time for hanging drywall on small projects, installing fencing slats, and any other screwing operation where you want to control screw depth.
Tips for using the Depth Setter
I’ve used the Depth Setter for the past 8 months and learned a couple of useful tips.
The tool holds the driver bit very tight; carry a pair of needle-nose pliers to swap out bits.
The stop collar is rimmed with a rubber O ring. After a lot of use the O ring can get dinged up so pick up a couple of spares. My local hardware store stocks assorted sizes and the one that seems to fit best is a 5/8 in. ID x 1/16 in.
If you hang a lot of drywall, the innards can get a little gummed up. Blast it out with compressed air and it will free up. Don’t spray the inside with oil; it only turns the drywall dust into mud.
Keep even force on the screw until the Depth Setter bottoms out and makes an audible ‘pop’. Don’t be alarmed by the sound, that’s the Auto-Stop ™ mechanism disengaging the bit from the screw.
Smart-Bit Deck Screw Depth Setter sells for $20 to $25