Here’s a tip of my hat to McFeely’s for coming up with a better woodworking screw. Well, actually, a whole bunch of better fasteners, but there’s one type I particularly like: the #8 Promax® 1-3/8″ black oxide flathead.
You read that right—1 and 3/8. Not 1-1/4″, 1-1/2″ or 1-5/8″ … the usual home-center suspects.
Here’s why I like the 1 3/8″. It’s uncanny how often I seem to have to screw two pieces of 3/4″ material together, face to face. Layers of substrate. Subtops to “show” tops. Shop-made feet to bases or turned knobs to drawer faces. Jigs and fixtures of one kind or another.
For other face-to-edge or face-to-end joints, longer screws work just fine. But for a face-to-face joint, when all I want to do is countersink the head, a 1-1/4″ screw is tad too short to give me the holding power I want without digging a deep counterbore. A 1-1/2″ is a bit too long, especially on sheet goods that are only 23/32″ thick to start with. Of course, 1 5/8″ is no dice in the first place. The tip punches right through the backside.
Now, enter that handy McFeely’s 1-3/8″. It’s the perfect “in-betweener“ for the job. There’s enough shank running through the bottom workpiece to provide a solid connection, and the head seats neatly without being too shallow or too deep. The screwheads are nibbed underneath, so they help dig into the countersink when I don’t quite get that bored fully. Even the threads are a step above an ordinary flathead: they’re serrated for a more aggressive bite. McFeely’s offers a full line of Promax screws in other “tweener“ lengths too, sized in 1/8″ increments.
I’ve driven a lot of these screws through the years. To my recollection, I’ve never snapped off a head or stripped the drive. (But I’ve beheaded plenty of home-center cheapo screws.) McFeely’s tempers the screws for durability, and you can install them with either a Phillips or a square-drive bit.
Okay, so maybe this whole topic is a really little thing, all in all, but it’s nice to have just the right fastener for the job when you need it. Thumb through McFeely’s catalog, and you’ll quickly see that they’ve got fasteners of all types, sizes and compositions. Some you’ve never even realized were available. It’s safe to say, if they don’t carry it, you probably don’t need it. And, they kick off the front of every catalog with a thorough overview of the ins and outs of screws. I actually read that stuff—and I’m not a reader!
If you’re not familiar with McFeely’s yet, it’s a company worth book-marking. These people take fasteners seriously. While the screws cost a little more on the front end, you won’t question the quality once you’ve driven a few handfuls.
Give them a try, and let me know what you think. Here’s a link to learn more about them:
If you have other McFeely favorites, drop me a comment and share them. I’m always happy to add a new bin to the fastener drawer!
Catch you in the shop,
Chris Marshall, Field Editor