Peter Roberston Is My Hero

We Canadians have long understood the value of the Robertson screw, invented by one Peter L. Robertson in 1907. Unlike Phillips- and slot-head screws, they don’t cam out or strip easily. Also, with a well-made bit and well-made screws, the screw will stay securely on the tip of the driver. How well? These two pictures should answer that question. There is no trickery here – no glue, not additional supports, and no photo editing. These photos are real – the screw driven and photo shot by me in my shop.

When I put up the plywood ceiling in my shop, I used #2 Robertson screws and a #2 Roberston bit in my impact driver. I would put a screw on the end of the bit and hang the driver from a tool hook on my belt. Then I would wrestle the sheet of plywood into place and drive the one screw into the ceiling with my right hand while holding up the plywood with my left.

Then I would carefully release the impact driver and leave it suspended from the screw head. My left hand was still holding up the other side of the plywood. With my right hand, I then reached into the pouch on my belt for another screw and pressed the tip into the plywood where it would hang. Then, I would retrieve my driver from the first screw and drive the second.

Try doing that with Phillips screws.

PS: If you are interested in reading more about the screw and screwdriver, I’d strongly recommend One Good Turn: A Natural History of the Screwdriver and the Screw by Witold Rybczynski.

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