What’s a wood screw?

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A wood screw is used to join wood and has a hollow shank. It requires a pilot hole to prevent the wood from snapping. Drywall screws are not suitable for structural strength and have threads running the entire length.

A wood screw is used to join two pieces of wood together. Made of steel, the wood screw typically has a head designed to be used with a regular slotted or phillips screwdriver. An easy way to identify a wood screw from a metal screw is to look at the shank of the screw. A wood screw will have a hollow shank below the head and above the threaded area, while a metal screw will typically have fine threads running from the tip of the screw down to the head with no hollow or smooth areas. The materials used to manufacture the screw can be plain steel, brass, or aluminum; other options are galvanized steel or adhesive-coated steel.

The threads of this type of screw are intended to bite into the walls of a pre-drilled hole. The screw is not typically used to drill your own hole; however, some specialty screws are designed this way. When you try to force a wood screw into place without pre-drilling a pilot hole, the wood will usually snap and the screw will typically not hold as well as a screw driven into a pilot hole. By using a pilot hole, the screw threads are able to bite through without being impeded by the wood chips in the hole.

One type of screw that works great without a pilot hole is a drywall screw. Many times, the drywall screw will be mistaken for a wood screw, even though they are not the same. The drywall screw is a very coarse threaded screw designed to be driven into wood without a pilot hole. This type of screw is not designed for structural strength, nor is it made to securely fasten two pieces of wood together. The drywall screw is more like a staple in that it secures a cover to a wood wall. Having threads running the entire length of the screw, it cannot clamp two pieces of wood together sufficiently.

The hollow shaft of the wood screw allows the screw to rotate freely within the outermost piece of wood and pull the inner piece against it causing the threaded end to grip the wood and pull. The fully threaded drywall type screw has threads that grip within the outer piece of wood and do not allow the screw to rotate freely as the end threads grip and pull the wood. This results in a very tight screw, however the wood can remain separated.

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