The problem with Phillips screws
I have seen and hear more discussions complaining about phillips screws. Just as an FYI Phillips are doing what they were designed to do.
X-shaped slot and are driven by a cross-head screwdriver, designed originally in the 1930s for use with mechanical screwing machines, intentionally made so the driver will ride out, or cam out, under strain to prevent over-tightening.
The Torx screw is saving manufacturers millions in driver bit replacement costs over phillips. It can save all DYIers money over phillips in bits, and damaged parts by slipping off the head of the screw.
You're right and well said. Still remember how surprised I was when I learned that most of my issues with Philips screws were by design.
The other common reason people hate Philips is because they don't use the right size bit for the screw they're working with. I see that a lot with DIYers when they're just starting out. If the screw isn't stripped out test fit the bit first. The bit should be tight and stand up on its own with no or very little wiggle. If the bit is wobbly then odds are the bit is the wrong size. In a pinch you can use it, but it'll take much more pressure to keep the bit in place. Not unlike trying to take out a 3/8" nut with a 7/16" socket. You CAN do it, but the odds of messing up the fastener, the tool or your knuckles are a lot higher.
Good advice. Also when shopping for bits search for "non slip" or "anti slip" using Locator sleeve where you have the room can also help.
I did not know there are actually 2 different “Phillips” screw designs. Not the tip number but the tip design itself.
Read more here:
I will add that in addition to the different design of the head itself there are surely manufacturers that really don’t give a hoot about their production. There are not 2.25, 3.5 nor .95 screwdrivers. Precision drivers aren’t the problem, it’s the cheap poorly made screws.
My other beef is with star drives. They are the ticket for sure grab but why have so many different sizes? If you keep your bits in a tray container I dare anyone to find the closely sized tips with a quick look. At least GRK bits are colored and give you a hint with some memory of what is what that you’re using.
I have found that there a couple of tool manufacturers that have drivers with some machined grooves on the contact points of the driver tips. That small addition gives a driver better consistency contact.
I’ve never committed murder but I’ve been tempted when a plumber or worse yet, a homeowner hovered over my bag asking if I had a screwdriver……
Interesting. I did not know about JIS design.
Actually I have found two other versions: the antiquated Frearson (or Reed-Prince) which is still in use with some bronze wood screws in wooden boat building and restoration, and the modern Pozi drive in UK, Aus, NZ. I was very frustrated caming out and damaging wood work in NZ until I learned that I was using a US #2 Philips driver on NZ Pozi screws. Got the right driver and all was better. Like you, I now have quite an assortment of carefully curated screwdrivers and power bits. PS: Pozi is better than Philips. Robertson square drive is the best of all. Cheers.
There’s a downside to most things. The major one I come up with most often are screws……
They should look REAL different! A Phillips should be a 1,2 or 3. If it’s not, the little dot on the head is a pretty good indicator.
Us dumb carpenters I bet think there’s 2 kinds…..flat or Phillips. I know I did and I didn’t Learn it in public schools or college. Trial and error or now here.
I forgot those weird screws in my old pickup. 52 Chevy.
Robertson Square Drive do look REAL different. And the screw sticks on the bit until placed and driven: One hand work. Easy to find in NZ. Harder to find in Hawaii.
BTW: Allen screw heads are my go-to for machine screws now. Either metric or fractional, but I try not to mix on the same machine.
Calvin, while you are gunning for the bad guys get the one who came up with the Phillips square combination. One size fits none.
Nothin worse than an old, opinionated carpenter.
You can’t be sure they know what they’re talking about.
And I surely fit the bill.
I've been in manufacturing for over 40 years dealing with the problem of phillips screws and their drivers at various times. There are laws regarding the adherence of imported fastners to design standards but they are obviously not enforced. My last job was in aerospace and defense manufacturing and even there I had a few problem requiring us to recall assembled devices. I have designed tools and fixtures to ensure the alignment of the driver to the fastener. I'm thinking of adapting some of my designs to be attachable to power drivers to help ensure the alignment. Do you think it would sell? I just replaced kitchen cabinets and as I'm sure you've experienced the original installer (obviously DIY wannabe) drove the fasteners at angles and used the wrong thread and length.
Manufacturing of tools with a thought to actual use?
On occasion it’s a novel idea.
Early 80’s, commercial job, hundreds of sheets of drywall to metal studs. No more nails….what a shock. Purchased a Milwaukee Screw Shooter. I’m sure few contacted the designer, at least I didn’t, to thank them.
Longer nose than a drill body and a long trigger pad. The balance of the gun was even. The thought out part were 2 depressions (grooves), near the top on either side. Your thumb and forefinger fit in there and allowed easy use of your 3 other fingers on the trigger. Finger on/off lock easy to get to as well.
In your hand it was different than a usual drill/driver is held.
By not using your forefinger to operate the switch, your forefinger and thumb in the groove lined up with the tip and screw. Almost too easy to point the screw straight in, dead on.
Sorry for all the words, but it’s an example of design and function being “right on”. What a concept.
Do you know the model # of that tool? Is the latest version as good or better? Most DIY homeowners have only drill/drivers or impact tools. I have a drill, hammer drill, & impact driver no drywall tool.
When it quits raining I’ll go out and take a look in the shop.
Is new as good as that 80’s model……
They’ve had over 40 yrs to screw that up……
The old Dewalt as well as their battery powered drywall shooter was a popular product for the pro hangers. Funny how the screw gun replaced the hand nailing. Some geezers in residential refused to switch .
Well, it’s done raining but in the meantime I googled it and found this…..
Rather than go out and move the van to get to that shelf I offer this as pretty darn close. I did not have the belt clip on mine but the detachable cord is the same as my model. Same box/tray so maybe here’s the model number.
And, it sure doesn’t look used commercially.
The only thing you might have to putz with due to age is probably the brushes……..I changed them once and had hundreds of hours use (or more).
Worth a look.