Why I Use Drywall Screws
I recently read an article about screws, which was very extensive and well written.
The article explained why certain screws are stronger, and described how screws are manufactured.
Then they did some testing, which is when things got a bit “screwy” in my mind.
As part of the test, they drove the screws into hard maple without drilling pilot holes. They used several different type of screws, and the results were predictable. McFeely’s brand and Spax tied for the strongest while the regular, humble drywall screw came dead last with the most breakage. By far.
This testing method was very surprising to me, because of the omission of first drilling a pilot hole. This was particularly surprising, considering that they were driving screws into hard maple. Had the test been performed with using the proper sized pilot hole for each particular screw being tested, the results would have been much different.
I have been using drywall screws for woodworking for over 30 years—with excellent results. I have had some break, maybe 10-20 at the most- less than one per year. I can’t remember when the last one broke because it’s extremely rare for me. I would venture to guess I’ve probably saved several hundred, if not thousands of dollars by using drywall screws throughout my career.
I don’t use drywall screws for every application, especially where moisture is a concern. I do use them in all my jigs and fixtures in my shop and haven’t had any problems at all. They are successfully holding many cabinets tightly to their walls, and I am confident they won’t fail me anytime soon.
Most applications for screws in fine furniture is as a holding device while the glue sets. Also not mentioned are brass screws, and almost everyone uses them in fine furniture. Try installing brass screws in maple without pilot holes. They break even with pilot holes on occasion, and there are several devices for correcting the problem, it is so common. I have been known to throw away new brass screws and use steel ones right from the beginning, and in some cases the drywall screw.
The real point of this blog is that I agree that premium type screws are stronger – but they don’t need to be! At least not for most applications. I do use premium type screws for some projects – but that is the exception, not the rule. Why use an elephant gun to shoot a mouse?