How To Use Self Tapping Screws

By Bonnie Contreras

Another name for self tapping screws is self drilling screws. The clue is in the name. They drill the hole in the metal for you so you do not have to drill what is called a pilot hole first. This is useful when you want to mount things like computer monitors onto metal shelving because you do not have to fiddle around matching up holes, you just drill the screw through everything and you only have to do it once.

These are wonderful, time-saving devices. You can mount sheet metal or corrugated metal to a steel frame easily and quickly without tearing your hair out or swearing at anybody. They are also useful for mounting surveillance cameras. Other uses for a self-drilling screw include surgery and dental implants.

Self drilling screws may have either crosshead (Phillips) heads or plain ones. Crossheads give the screw more more leverage when being driven through metal. You can see how important it is to make sure you have the correct tool for the job at hand. Such a tiny modification in form can translate to a significant change in function.

Most screws have a right-handed, or clockwise, thread. To tighten, turn clockwise; to loosen, turn counter-clockwise. The easy way to remember this is righty-tighty, lefty-loosey. The same mnemonic works for opening and closing jars as well as adjusting the radiator.

There are numerous other kinds of screw. There are differences in the pitch (the distance between threads), and they differ in composition (steel, zinc, copper, nickel, brass or chromium). They can have different heads, flat or round; plain or Phillips head (cross head).

Henry F. Phillips bought the design from a guy named John P. Thompson, tinkered with it then patented it. One of his early customers for the new technology were the makers of the Cadillac, General Motors. Phillips, in ailing health, sold the patent to Ford Motor Company in 1945 for a whopping $5 million, a lot of money now and a whole lotta money then.

When a screw is likely to face strong counterclockwise torque, which would loosen a right-handed screw, a left-handed screw is the correct choice. For instance, the left side of a bicycle has a left-handed thread. Anything with helical threads can legitimately be called a screw. The propeller of a ship is an example, as is an Archimedes' screw water pump.

It is really fun to watch self tapping screws in action. You can get quite a lot of work done in very little time, a satisfying prospect. Juggling two or more pieces of material together and trying to get the screw to hold can be tricky and exasperating. In many ways, simple devices are better than more complicated ones. There are a number of varieties of screw. They have different diameters and different distances between individual threads. They are manufactured from several different types of metal, including copper, nickel, chromium, brass, zinc and steel. Another important difference is in the construction of the screw's head, whether it is flat, round, plain or Phillips headed.

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