I need some good advice on how to not snap a screw


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Are there any general rules to follow to ensure one doesn't snap a screw? I was putting a 2.5" #8 screw into two pine boards. I drilled a countersunk pilot hole first as I had with the previous 9 screws I already did this with and then SNAP. I'm not sure if I hit a knot hidden in a board or what happened. I was using my same impact driver I always use. Any general advice on screw size, length, composition? I've noticed #8 2.5 inch screws are harder to find. Is it just better to go with a #10 once you get to that length?

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Did you pre-drilled ?

When i started woodworking, I got tired of never having the proper size/length.

I bought at a big box store, the #6, #8 in all the length they had.

I have never used high-end screws, but from what I read online, they are less likely to snap.

Impact driver can have very high torque, you could be better off using a drill.

A video on it: 

 

 

 

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I have snapped big box store’s screws by hand let alone using power. I switched to McFeely’s and similar screws many years ago. I am sure I broke and one of these better, hardened screws but it’s been so long I don’t remember.

I am sure I’ve broken one of these better, hardened screws but it’s been so long I don’t remember.

All good advice here about pilot holes and so forth. Also good advice about pre-threading holes for brass screws by using hard steel ones. Quality screws are not expensive and they are worth every penny.

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I think stainless steel may also be softer than regular steel. 

Make sure the pilot hole is the correct size for the material (hardwood vs. Softwood).  There are charts.  I was surprised to realize that drill bits I was choosing by eye were smaller than the charts recommend.  

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37 minutes ago, Mark J said:

I think stainless steel may also be softer than regular steel.

Oh yes. There are different SS alloys, but unless I know the quality, I treat them all like they are brass; generous pilot hole & for the long ones, pre-tap with a steel screw.

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I was talking to my local friendly Ace Hardware guy last year.  I stoppred in to look at his screws for precisely the same reason you wrote this post.  He said that he does not buy his screws from China and that they are less likely to break.  I buy my screws from him now and have had no problems.

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So one thing that I have noticed comparing old wood screws that I have inherited to new wood screws that I have bought is that the shanks of the new screws are narrower.  So what I'm talking about is wood screws where most of the shaft is threaded, but top 1/4 of the shaft is not (as opposed to sheet metal screws that we all use in wood).   With the old screws that shank is the same diameter as the outside of the threads.  With new screws the shank is much smaller.  Any body notice the same.  Any significance?

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It mostly boils down to one of these:

  • Pilot hole too small
  • Pilot hole not deep enough
  • Countersink not deep enough

I found this chart to help with pilot hole sizes... hard woods require bigger pilot hole than soft woods.

https://www.boltdepot.com/fastener-information/wood-screws/Wood-Screw-Pilot-Hole-Size.aspx

 

Don't use an impact driver on small screws...(anything #8 or smaller... #10 or bigger seem to handle it) use a drill/driver and set the clutch down pretty low, like a 3-5 range.   Then hand screw it the rest of the way.    The drivers tend to hide the fact that the screw is binding.   That's why the clutch is nice, especially set towards lower range.   If it's hard to hand screw, then check your pilot hole as above.

You can also put a bit of wax on the screw, just rub it on a piece of paraffin or beeswax.   That reduces the friction, makes it easier.

I've had really good experience with these pre-lubed screws I buy at Rockler.   They're very high quality and work well.

https://www.rockler.com/8-square-drive-lube-finished-screws-number-8-screws

 

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I used some screws from Lowe's and I swear every 3rd one snapped off. It was so bad I stopped in the middle of a project, threw them out and went to buy different ones. If it keeps happening to you it might be worth changing brands just to see if that's whats wrong.

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