How do I loosen those blasted screws that hold the carbide inserts on the cutterhead of my jointer? Every home center Torx bit I try just twists inside the screws until the tip of the bit breaks off. Are these screws welded in place or something? – C. J.
Chris Marshall: Sometimes the cheap home center option isn’t the right tool for the job, C.J. I faced this very problem myself last summer (it’s downright uncanny, actually!), and in fact I may have even written about it in the August 2013 print issue. But in case you didn’t see it there, here was the bright light at the end of that dark, screwy tunnel: I was using inferior Torx bits. The steel in those bits is hard enough to sink star-drive screws into wet deck lumber (I suspect that is exactly and only what they are designed to do), but it’s much too soft to loosen factory-tightened machine Torx screws. Then, resigned in my frustration, I happened to be searching a tool manufacturer’s website one day and saw that they make hardened Torx bits for impact drivers. I bought a couple, and to my flat-out delight, they loosened those insert screws as if they were made for the job! I was able to remove and then re-tighten all 40 screws with the same Torx bit, and it’s ready to do it again when the time comes. Hardened Torx bits cost a little more than their “six for $6” cousins, but they definitely are worth it for machine maintenance tasks.