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Screws are metallic, pointed spikes with ridges (called threads) around the shaft that bite into material when turned. Because the threads are really one continuous groove, pressing and turning the screws clockwise will cause the screw to penetrate the material, When long enough to pass through a first piece of material and into a second, a screw will hold the two pieces of material more tightly together than nails and more flexibly than glue.

Picking the right screw for the job means knowing the following about screws:

  • types of threading (wood vs. metal threads) and either self-tapping, which mean they have a point on the end that can bore its own hole in a material, or regular, which have no point, and require pre-drilled holes.
  • dimensions (length and size)
  • types of heads (flat, oval, etc.)
  • types of slot - any kind of screw cap may have either a single slit through the top for flathead screwdrivers (most common) or a cross for Phillips head drives (more decorative and easier to use). Other screws have uncommon slots to make it more difficult to turn the screw unless you have the appropriate tool. These include the star-like indentation in the head for Torx screw bits, square indents, and "one-way" screw heads (one side of the slot is sloped so that the screwdriver can't grip it.
  • composition -screws are made from
    • stainless steel for extreme durability
    • aluminum to keep from rusting
    • brass for furniture or cabinet work
    • bronze for lamps and other specialty applications

    • ordinary, plated, or galvanized common screws suitable for any indoor or outdoor project where the screws are protected or not expected to last more than a few years against the weather

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