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Thread: elementary screws and bits questions

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Vancouver Island, Courtenay/Comox Valley, British Columbia

    elementary screws and bits questions

    Hi all:

    I have some basic questions. For putting together my workbench, I have been drilling pilot holes and then screws. The bit I'm using to drill pilot holes is not....very impressive....I'm not sure it would make a hole in soft butter. Now I don't think it's me, and I don't think it's the drill.

    1. So what kind of bits should I be using to drill pilot holes? This bit just didn't seem very sharp?

    2. Are there any screws I could be using that don't require pilot holes? Honestly, after the first few pilot holes, I figured, I don't need no stinkin' pilot holes and just drove the screws......

    Now I'm just using screws in 2 X 4's for a coarse project. Should I be using different types of screws for that than in a finer project? Any screws for fine projects that don't require pilot holes?

    Thanks all,
    AKA Young Grasshopper Woodworker
    AKA The Rookie

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    somewhere east of Queen Creek, AZ - South East of Phoenix
    Ur opening up a whole new can of worms here.....

    For something like your doing I used to used to use deck screws and go for it but now I have changed and use proper fasteners and techniques.
    Last edited by Don Baer; 10-11-2010 at 04:29 AM.
    "There’s a lot of work being done today that doesn’t have any soul in it. The technique may be the utmost perfection, yet it is lifeless. It doesn’t have a soul. I hope my furniture has a soul to it." - Sam Maloof
    The Pessimist complains about the wind; The Optimist expects it to change;The Realist adjusts the sails.~ William Arthur Ward

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Salt Spring Island, BC Canada
    Like Don for something rough like shelving for the garage of shed I use self tapping deck screws as they go in easy and hold. For finer works like furniture I use glue and clamps maybe some brads for trim and on occasion when trim will hide it and it is nessisary the odd screw.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Oceanside, So. Calif. 5 mi. to the ocean
    McFeeley's self drilling wood screws work very well. I have had no problems using them. I also don't make little two-thousand dollar tables to try them on. I have used them on my workbench, my woodlathe bench, my drillpress moveable base, and other places I can't think of at this moment. (see my signature)

    Their square drive screws are a blessing. Put the screw on the screwdriver and dance an Irish jig if you wish...The screw stays on. The screwdriver does not pop out of the screw when you tighten. Their screws don't break.

    It sounds like I own stock in McF but I don't, I just REALLY prefer their screws.



    McFeeley is currently having a one-dollar shipping charge on all orders.

    <> or 1-800-443-7937
    First of all you have to be smarter than the machine.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM
    Sounds like you have a cheap and/or dull drill bit. The pilot holes shouldn't be that tough to drill in softwood. But as others have mentioned, self-drilling deck screws should probably be just fine for a quick work bench. In my opinion, the next step above wood screws and deck screws would be bolts going all the way through the wood with nuts and washers on the other side. Even better if the joints are half-lap or other similar "supported" joints. Beyond that, you have the fancier furniture joinery like mortise and tenons, dovetails, and other similar joints. But for a workbench made from construction lumber, I'd probably go with deck screws.

    Don, what would you recommend as the proper fasteners and techniques for a project like this?
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Reno NV
    Put me down in the square drive McFeely's camp as well. They have a DIY Dozen assortment I started with. I find it's really handy to have pretty much every screw size I need when working on projects. I've expanded my assortment a bit and replenished it a couple of times.

    The other thing you might want to look at is a Drill Doctor. It's expensive, but it's dead easy to get sharp drill. I figure mine paid for itself when I was drilling 1/2" holes in the frame of my F-350 for mounting a trailer hitch and hold down brackets for my camper...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    RETIRED(!) in Austintown, Ohio
    I've gotta disagree with Brent. The Drill Doctor is okay for someone who drills a lot in metal using twist drill bits- particularly using larger bits.

    The smaller bits are relatively cheap, and you'd go through 50 or 60 of them before even getting close to the price of a Drill Doctor. Also, twist drills aren't the best choice for wood.

    With smaller bits, like the 1/8" or 3/16" (3mm or 5mm for non-U.S. users) usually used for pilot holes, brad point bits are much better. They offer cleaner cutting, and the brad point lets you position the hole with much better accuracy, because the drill doesn't 'walk' across the surface before cutting in.

    I'd suggest going to Lee Valley (there's a new store in Victoria, I believe) and picking up some 'open stock' brad points, or maybe even a set of 3mm`12mm. My link shows the 'economy' drills, but there are also some HSS ones, albeit at considerably higher prices. I do have the HSS set, and they're great.
    Jim D.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Reno NV
    True, for wood, you would want to get a nice set of brad points. That makes sense. Drill doctor is no good for sharpening those, unless you want to turn them into twist drills.

    I've got several sets of drill bits. A nice set of fractional brad points, a HF set of metric brad points, a big ole hf cheap set of twist drills with fractional and numbered sizes, and then one very nice set of twist bits.

    The difference in quality between the very nice sets and the cheap sets is huge. But at the end of the day, if they are sharp, they can punch a hole.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    No, not all of SoCal is Los Angeles!
    I'll toss in my 2 cents. I think your primary question is about the drill bit but, first let me say that I am also a fan of McFeely's square (Robertson) drive screws. There are plenty of other quality screws out there as well. McFeely's cost about the same as the big box store screws that will break causing frustration and damage to your project. I just didn't know there was that much difference for so little difference in price till I got a little educated here and on other forums

    On to drill bits. As Don said; a can of worms. For wood I use brad point bits and yes, there's a difference there too (but the price isn't close like on the screws ). I have a set of split point bits. Its an inexpensive set that came in a plastic case along with some screwdriver bits, spade bits, center punch, some small hole saws and all that. You know the ones that the big box stores carry?

    It was a gift from a well meaning non-woodworker but, surprisingly, it has met almost all my needs for common split point bits. You can get into all sorts of differences like point type and angle (split point, bullet point, 135*, 85*), helix rate (how many twists), material (black oxide, HSS, titanium, cobalt) and so forth. For the amount that I use this type of bit, any reasonable quality (meaning they are straight and the diameter is what they say it is) bit has worked fine for me. They are inexpensive so you could pick up a few of the size you need (see chart) or a small set.

    As to brad point bits; these are my bread and butter for wood boring. I tried several bargain sets which were as you might imagine. Diameters were approximate, they wobble, don't hold an edge, tear on entry and exit and all those things we get when we buy a set for what one good bit costs . Before we get into a Ford/Chevy argument in this thread, I will say that there are many quality brad point bit makers out there. My current favorites are Lee Valley lipped bits. The cost has me using others as well but, when its critical, I each for the LV set.

    This is a conversation that could go on as long as those "is Festool worth the money" or "what kind of dust collector should I get" threads so I will just stop here having used up wayyyyy too many pixels already. Run to the store and spend a few bucks on a small set of split point bits to keep you moving on your project. The rest will come in time.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails drill-bit-size-chart.jpg  
    Last edited by glenn bradley; 10-11-2010 at 02:10 PM.
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    - Arthur C. Clarke

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    I have recently found that it will drill better when the drill motor is not in reverse.

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