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A Major Difference Between Canada & USA

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Nov 19, 2019 - 7:11:54 AM
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878 posts since 12/2/2012

There were so many "click-bait" titles I could have made considering the topic is about screws. . .

But as a guy who has a home workshop and works on everything around the farm and house I thought this was pretty interesting.

Robertson, Phillips, and the History of the Screwdriver

"Most everyone owns at least one screwdriver. But Canadians likely own a screwdriver that few outside Canada would recognize. The differing fates of the Robertson and the Phillips head screwdrivers demonstrates that innovation is intimately tied to historical events. The History Guy remembers the forgotten history of the screwdriver. This is original content based on research by The History Guy. Images in the Public Domain are carefully selected and provide illustration. As images of actual events are sometimes not available, images of similar objects and events are used for illustration. All events are portrayed in historical context and for educational purposes. No images or content are primarily intended to shock and disgust. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Non censuram. "

Ok. I'm done for the day. See ya later.

Edited by - Wyozark on 11/19/2019 07:13:43

Nov 19, 2019 - 9:54:54 AM

2168 posts since 7/20/2004

Very interesting, particularly since there was a woman from here whose wealth was attributed to her being one of the heirs of the Phillips screw fortune.

Nov 19, 2019 - 10:34:03 AM
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bubbalouie

Canada

12928 posts since 9/27/2007

Having worked in Canadian industry nearly all my life putting things together I've noticed Robertson screws are the workhorses of screws. I wouldn't build anything out of wood without them.

Phillips are for small metal parts & drywall screws. Screws that can't take much torque.

The video mentions that Phillips "Cam out" when driven. That means Stripped. No fun to remove if need be.

Nov 19, 2019 - 11:27:38 AM

DRH

USA

94 posts since 5/29/2018

There are perhaps five or six cruciform drive profiles that people incorrectly label as Phillips head. (Correction: Wikipedia lists nine.) Reed and Prince, JIS, Posidriv, to name a few. Most of the time when the driver "cams out" it is because the person is using the wrong size or type driver. I tested this with several experienced mechanics and found that nearly all of them made the same mistake.

The problem gets worse when screwdriver manufacturers don't even bother to follow the rules.

Robertson heads are gaining popularity here, mostly in deck screws. Manufacturers are getting away from Phillips and similar profiles because people stubbornly refuse to use them correctly.

Nov 19, 2019 - 11:43:59 AM
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chuckv97

Canada

44784 posts since 10/5/2013

Besides Robertson vs. Phillips , there was also Frobisher and Pilgrims....

“English explorer Martin Frobisher hosted the first Canadian Thanksgiving. It was held in what is now Newfoundland during his expedition's attempts to find the Northwest Passage to the Orient in 1578 and marked their safe arrival to the New World. So it was not hosted to celebrate a bountiful harvest. With time, French, Scottish and German immigrants to Canada added some of their traditions to the harvest festival. American traditions like the turkey were added by the United Empire Loyalists around the time of the American Revolution.

The first American Thanksgiving was celebrated 43 years later in 1621 at the site of Plymouth Plantation, in Massachusetts. The Wampanoag Native Americans helped the pilgrims who arrived in Massachusetts cultivate the land and fish, saving them from starvation. At harvest time in the winter of 1621, they were very thankful that they had a good crop of food to eat during the coming winter. They thanked God and the Wampanoags for teaching them how to grow crops.”

Nov 19, 2019 - 12:37:51 PM
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donc

Canada

6092 posts since 2/9/2010

I was trained as a telephone installer in Vancouver 48 years ago. We used Robertson #8's for everything. The best feature was that they would sit on the end of a screwdriver by themselves. With 1 hand twisting you could drive those screws into 3 inches of old wood. We used them for attaching phones, junction boxes and jacks to all sorts of walls. Around 1990 U.S. West borrowed about 60 of our repairmen after extensive storm damage in Washington and Oregon.. Without thinking most of our guys pulled out their Robertson screws when they had to hang something. A few weeks later the U.S. West supervisors had a fit because none of their own guys carried Robertson screw drivers. To this very day there is probably some repairman in Spokane Wn. cursing because he can't get a screw out of the wall.

Nov 19, 2019 - 1:25:13 PM
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Brian T

Canada

15855 posts since 6/5/2008

I've got a half dozen different Robertson sizes and lengths.

Most stuff, I can do it all with #8 and change the length.
I tried with #6 but always just needed a little bit more.

#12 is for fencing = it ain't ever coming apart by itself.

Robertson screw-driver tip shape sizes?
Local hardware store sells 6- and 12- packs in plastic grippers.

There is a #7. I found it to be exactly the right size for building up crooked wood carving knives
of designs common to the First Nations of the Pacific Northwest Coast. How odd.

Nov 19, 2019 - 2:07:19 PM

Wyozark

USA

878 posts since 12/2/2012

Have learned something today.

We often buy old things and if I find slotted screws I have guessed that the item was made prior to WWII and this confirmed it.

For outdoor projects I've seen construction screws move away from the Phillips style to a Torx or star-style bit.

In hard wood I absolutely have to pre-drill the hold or the Phillips will likely strip out. It's not necessary for soft wood like pine.

Perhaps thirty + years ago I got a square driver/screw set that was touted by Rockler (I think; I guess they existed back then). The screws were used up long ago and I never bought any more, but occasionally I find that screwdriver works on one thing or another.

The Canadian Robertsons' really seem like the way to go, but I reckon we won't find them around here. I may just go take a peek at on-line supply companies and see if they can be had.

Slotted screws are still in the stores, but it's pretty rare for me to buy them.

Shortly after I got married I began acquiring tools. The first things I am pretty sure were Sears Craftsman Screwdrivers. They were a dollar each back then with a lifetime guarantee. I still have all of them, including a Reed Prince that I hardly ever used except maybe to punch a hole in something. . . .

Nov 19, 2019 - 2:33:04 PM
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Owen

Canada

4404 posts since 6/5/2011

quote:
Originally posted by bubbalouie

  Robertson screws are the workhorses of screws. I wouldn't build anything out of wood without them.

Phillips are for small metal parts & drywall screws.


Yep, Robertsons are best... Torx are pretty good, 'though I find they don't stick to the driver tip, as Don mentioned, quite as well as Robertsons do].

Phillips are for when you don't have a Robertson [or Torx], and like Bubba mentions, strength/grip are secondary.

And slotted are for the scrap metal tub, unless required for an accurate time-period restoration.

...as always, others are free to disagree.

Edit: Thanks to Michael, I had to once again consult the all-knowing Google.... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_screw_drives

Edited by - Owen on 11/19/2019 14:37:55

Nov 19, 2019 - 3:24:05 PM
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WesB

USA

192 posts since 12/17/2014

... and all this time I thought a Phillips Screwdriver was Milk of Magnesia and vodka.

Nov 19, 2019 - 3:30:43 PM

DRH

USA

94 posts since 5/29/2018

quote:
Originally posted by donc

The best feature was that they would sit on the end of a screwdriver by themselves. With 1 hand twisting you could drive those screws into 3 inches of old wood.


Japanese motorcycle manufacturers switched to socket (Allen) head screws around 1978 for this very reason.  It improved assembly time.  Unfortunately, the same mechanics (?) and riders that were destroying the JIS (sorta like Phillips) screws soon started complaining about the socket heads.

The problem with socket heads was that nobody had enough sense to clean the mud out of them before removal.  Around 1992 the manufacturers switched to non-standard 8mm hex heads with integral washers on all engine case screws.  I got out of that business long ago but I am sure mechanics and riders have figured out a way to destroy them as well.

The auto industry has been using Torx for at least 25 years because they work well with automated assembly.

FWIW, McMaster Carr has some Robertson head fasteners, including machine screws (I think).  I've used them on sheet metal machine enclosures.  Much less fuss than Phillips heads.

Nov 19, 2019 - 4:06:49 PM
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Brian T

Canada

15855 posts since 6/5/2008

#8 x 1 1/4" and #8 x 1 1/2" Robertsons are sold loose and up to 5-pound tubs.

I have #8 bits to predrill for length, even the shanks and countersink for the heads.
Robs will break in hard woods unless I do a good job of setting them up.

I have been known to buy #8 and mail them to American friends as Birthday Presents.

The only thing that I don't like about the Robs is the difficulty of digging old paint out of the heads.

Nov 19, 2019 - 4:23:31 PM

donc

Canada

6092 posts since 2/9/2010

I can only think of 1 advantage of Phillips over Robertson. Small components built on an assembly line have used the Phillips because the electric screwdriver will usually force the tip out of the screw when the head is turned tight enough. When turning a Robertson screw by hand I have more than once twisted the head off completely. It's even easier to break the screw with a strong electric screwdriver. It now becomes the awkward job with vice grips or whatever to removed the partially seated screw from a hard piece of wood. I often wonder why the Torx or Hex head was needed when the 4 sided Robertson would have likely worked well in most of those applications. I get the feeling the companies like GM would rather see their customers running to the dealership instead of embarking on their own to replace parts with household tools.

Nov 19, 2019 - 5:23:48 PM
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DRH

USA

94 posts since 5/29/2018

quote:
Originally posted by donc

I can only think of 1 advantage of Phillips over Robertson. Small components built on an assembly line have used the Phillips because the electric screwdriver will usually force the tip out of the screw when the head is turned tight enough. ...

I often wonder why the Torx or Hex head was needed when the 4 sided Robertson would have likely worked well in most of those applications.


Most production lines today use torque-limited servo drivers for threaded fasteners.  They automatically stop at programed torque and can only be adjusted by the production engineer.  Early industrial electric screwdrivers were notorious for causing tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome.  They disappeared from the production floor about 25 years ago, after workers comp claims turned into lawsuits.

The advantage of Torx over Robertson or hex is longer tool tip life.  Even the Robertson tip will cam out after it wears down.

Nov 19, 2019 - 6:09:19 PM

DRH

USA

94 posts since 5/29/2018

Nov 19, 2019 - 7:54:59 PM

donc

Canada

6092 posts since 2/9/2010

My kitchen floor was re-done with ceramic tiles 10 years ago. The job required 300 square feet of extra plywood to solidify the floor surface. That worked out to over 1200 screws. I used the Robertson type screws which could have been from McMaster- Carr, P.L. Robertson, or the Peoples Foundry of China. I was able to turn 1200 screws without replacing the blade but it was getting awfully round by the end of the job. The screws had the same shape as American sheet wall screws except for the Robertson head. We still use the Phillips screws here for sheet rock installation. [ In this country sheet rock is called 'drywall']

Nov 19, 2019 - 9:29:28 PM
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52859 posts since 12/14/2005

OutHanging with you banjo bunch sure beats trying to stay awake in classrooms all day, several months of the year, for several years!

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