Last updated: August 17, 2021

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Thanks to the internet, DIY has become a widespread and unstoppable movement. And if you are one of those who never misses an opportunity to give new life to broken objects, or simply create new things, you will need a lot of different screws at hand.

These metal parts have always been essential to securely join different pieces together, from wooden boards on beds and furniture, to lens legs and frames, to jewellery and electronic equipment. For these reasons it never hurts to buy the best screws on the market and keep them on a dedicated shelf.

Of course, not all screws are the same or of the same quality, which is why we'll help you choose the ones you need. We look at the different types of models and their most appropriate uses, we also research the best places to buy them and their most relevant prices.




Summary

  • A screw is a small piece of metal that is installed in sockets in a threaded manner. Its purpose is to secure different parts securely, either by twisting into a hole, or by pressure using a nut. They are used in a wide range of furniture, objects and electronic equipment.
  • There are different types of screws, all with varying sizes, tips and heads. The different sizes are used to fit and fit into parts of different dimensions. The heads are designed for use with various screwdrivers, and the tips vary depending on the material where they will be installed.
  • To buy the right model you need to know the exact dimensions you need. If you are buying to replace missing or spare parts, you can compare the screws you already have to determine their length and thickness. Getting the measurements wrong can leave you with screws that are loose or simply won't fit.

The Best Screw: Our Picks

Buying one screw at a time would be illogical, that's why in this section you will find our recommendations for the best screw packages. Here you will find models of different sizes grouped in separating boxes, so that you can save time buying and ordering your parts.

Buying Guide

Anyone can go out to buy screws, but not everyone can know the different types that exist, let alone how to measure them. In this section you will find all the basic information about these metal parts, then we will tell you the best hardware stores and places to buy screws, as well as their most common prices.

Repairing a piece of furniture requires two constants: effort and a lot of screws (Photo: Владимир Григогорьев / 123rf.com)

What is a screw and what are its advantages?

A screw, or bolt, is an elongated, threaded, tubular metal component used in the assembly of objects. It is fastened by being torqued into a hole or threaded socket made to fit. They are easy to install and replace and can be removed to loosen parts or tightened to join them together.

Screws have helped in the assembly of a large number of objects, as they are inexpensive and easy to install. They are indispensable in all types of workshops, as they are key parts in furniture, automobiles, household appliances and all types of objects.

Advantages
  • Wide variety of models
  • Easy installation and removal
  • Durable
  • Inexpensive
  • Replaceable
Disadvantages
  • Require additional tools
  • Complicated measurement determination
  • Easy to lose

Phillips, Flat, Hex and Torx Screws - What should you look out for?

The head of a screw is what defines the type of tool that will be used to drive them. Each head pattern withstands different levels of pressure when tightened before it loses its shape, which is why the maximum level of force that must be exerted to screw it in varies. Here we will show you the most common screw types.

Phillips

Also called double slotted or crosshead screws due to their design pattern. They resist a little more pressure before deforming their slots than flat screws. They are used in a wide variety of parts and objects due to their ease of manufacture and assembly. Can be handled with cross and flat screwdrivers.

Flat

They are among the most economical due to their simple single slot design. They are often used in applications where easy disassembly is required without a lot of pressure. They do not withstand a lot of torque due to the easy deformation of the socket during screwing. They can be opened with flat screwdrivers.

Allen

They are widely used in all types of power tools, reclining furniture parts and human-powered vehicles. They are easily recognised by the hexagonal-shaped hollow groove in their head. They are very quick to remove due to the curious shape of the spanners used to fit them.

Torx

They are the most commonly used screws in small electronic devices, such as mobile phones and tablets, because they offer a comfortable fit in small parts. Their slotted design allows them to withstand more force before deforming.

Hexagonal

These screws are generally large in size and withstand large amounts of torque. They have a slotted head with a hexagonal shape. They are widely used in automobiles, large locomotive machines and all types of industrial equipment.

Phillips Flat Hex Torx Hexagonal
Used in All types of applications Low torque applications Power tools, vehicle parts, furniture High torque applications, electronic devices Automotive and industrial applications
Head design Cross slot Straight line slot Hexagon slot Slot with 6-point star Slotless and hexagon-shaped
Adjustment tool Crosshead screwdriver Blade screwdriver Blade screwdriver, sharp objects Allen key, Torx screwdriver Mechanical spanners
Variations Thompson, Frearson and Pozidriv Coin Double Hex Torx Plus Multi-slotted

An Allen screw will make screwdriving easier thanks to its efficient spanners. (Photo: Владимир Григорьев / 123rf.com)

Buying Criteria: Factors that allow you to compare and rate different models of Screws

Don't be overconfident when buying screws, just because two are the same size does not mean they are the same. There are so many variables in these metal parts that it is very easy to get confused when ordering them. Here you will find ways to recognise the most important characteristics.

Measure

Knowing how to measure screws is essential if you want to buy the right ones. These parts come in all sorts of dimensions and buying the wrong one can be a headache. To measure them you will need a tool called a caliper. You will usually be able to identify them by following this recognition format:

"D - P x L" or "D x L"

Where "D" is the diameter of the bolt, "P" and "L" are the thread pitch and the length of the bolt respectively. The same format can be used for both metric and imperial screws. This is important to know if you are buying screws online, as it is a quick way to find out their dimensions.

Metric system

Screws that are identified with metric units are identified by the letter M and are measured in millimetres. It is easier to become familiar with this system due to its simplicity and easy reading.

For example, an M3 - 1.25 x 40 screw will have a diameter of 3 mm, a pitch of 1.25 mm and a length of 40 mm. If its measurements were as M3 x 40, the screw would have a diameter of 3 mm and a length of 40 mm.

Imperial system

Imperial measurements are a little more difficult to understand as they are measured in inches. Unfortunately, it is common to find screw sales catalogues that use this method of classification, so it is also necessary to learn how to measure using this type of system.

As an example, a 3/16' - 24' x 1/2' screw will be 3/16' in diameter, its threads will be 24 threads per inch and its length will be 1/2'. In case the screw is identified as 3/16' x 1/2', its diameter will be 3/16' and its length will be

You will need a caliper if you want to measure and identify your screws and bolts. (Photo: Piotr Wytrążek / 123rf.com)

Tips

The tip of the bolt is the part located at the end of the side opposite the head. Its design will have different characteristics to better suit certain situations and materials. It is very important to know the different types of tips, as they can save you hours of effort and work when trying to install them.

  • Assembly or metric threaded bits: These are bits with no cutting edge at all. They are intended to fit into pre-drilled holes in hard materials, so they will not require any effort to screw in. If you are buying a screw to replace one in your TV stand, it will have one of these bits.
  • Self-tapping or wood threading bits: These have pointed shapes to penetrate wood as they are screwed in, they also have blunt threads. They are often used in conjunction with drills and electric screwdrivers. If you set up a woodworking shop, you don't want these screws rolling around on the floor.
  • Drill bits: These bits are shaped like drill bits. They are used for drilling dense, hard woods, as well as even harder materials such as concrete and metal. They are usually more expensive than average and can only be used effectively with drills. They save a lot of time as they do not require pre-drilled holes.

Material

There is a wide variety of materials from which screws are made that provide different mechanical and chemical properties. Knowing the different manufacturing methods will allow you to choose those that are suitable for the environment in which they will be used, as well as the stresses they will be subjected to.

Steel

Steel is the most commonly used metal in fasteners. It is cheap, strong and comes in different grades of hardness. Grade 2 is considered the standard and is the cheapest, grade 5 is used for its higher strength and is often found in cars and machines, grade 8 is much stronger and more expensive than grade 5.

Stainless Steel

This alloy mixes steel with chromium, which makes the bolts resistant to corrosion. Because this resistance is inherent in the structure of the material, it will not be lost in the event of scratches. They are useful if you need to use strong screws in places prone to rust.

Aluminium

Another material with a high resistance to corrosion, aluminium is a lighter and less hard option than stainless steel. This material will also not be affected by scratches. Depending on the alloy the material will have different properties, such as more hardness or more corrosion protection.

Silicon bronze

Often called bronze, it is an alloy of copper, lead and silicon. It is used in high corrosion environments, such as boat parts and marine construction. They are even more resistant to oxidation than stainless steel. Due to their colour they are aesthetically pleasing, so they are often used decoratively.

Brass

Also used for its resistance to corrosive environments, brass is often installed in places where the screw will be exposed. It is a relatively soft material, so other options are often more eye-catching.

Plastic

These are rarely used. Due to their low cost they are often found in cheap furniture and flimsy parts. They do not have decent mechanical strength, so should not be considered for holding heavy objects. They can be used for applications where low electrical risk materials are required.

Titanium

One of the most expensive materials. This metal is lightweight and has high mechanical strength. It is used in medical applications such as tooth implants or for fitting prosthetics to bones, as the human body does not react negatively to it.

Coating

Coating, also called plating or plating, is the process in which a layer of material is applied to the screw. This provides additional aesthetic and chemical properties, which can be used to make them more conspicuous or to make them more resistant to corrosion. Any damage to this coating will affect its performance.

  • Chrome plating: This finish is often sought after for its aesthetic properties, as it leaves a shiny coating on the screw. This coating adds a good level of strength against corrosive elements. If you're looking for shiny, eye-catching screws, you'll want them with a chrome plating.
  • Zinc Plating: This is usually the most common coating on steel screws, as it adds corrosion resistance. This process gives them a shiny, golden appearance. They are the best option if you are looking for inexpensive, rust-resistant screws. Keep in mind that if they are scratched they will lose their anti-corrosion properties.
  • Hot dip galvanising: This is a process in which screws are dipped in molten zinc, then turned to distribute the material evenly and remove the excess. It applies a higher strength corrosion resistant coating, as it is thicker than that achieved with normal coatings.
  • Black oxide: A black coating whose sole purpose is to improve the storage conditions of steel fasteners. It has anti-corrosion properties but does not reach the level of other coatings. It does not increase the dimensions of the bolts, so additional coatings can be applied to them.

(Featured image photo: Serhii Kucher / 123rf.com)

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