Last month, we moved to Vancouver Island and I have been busy setting up shop, rebuilding the fence around the back yard and building two new gates with 1000 linear feet of 1×6 red cedar.
When ordering supplies, I decided to try the premium-grade Universal Screws by U2 Fasteners. These sell for about $18 for a pack of 100.
I found that the U2 screws were practically impossible to start with one hand, without a predrilled hole. (With my usual choice – square recess screws – starting a screw one-handed was always a piece of cake.) Much of the fence building required holding one part with one hand and driving the screw with a cordless drill in the other. I quickly gave up on trying to start U2 screws one-handed and adapted by starting the screws with the part on the ground, then positioning the part and setting the screw.
Where I really noticed the benefit of the premium screws was when driving 3-1/8” long screws to hold the gate hinges onto the posts without predrilling. I did a simple test to compare a standard square recess screw to a U2 Universal Screw.
I started with a square recess screw and set the clutch of my cordless drill to the lowest setting. When the clutch kicked in, I adjusted it and drove the screw further, repeating as necessary. When the screw was about 2-1/2” in, there was a lot of friction on the screw and I needed all my weight behind the drill to keep the screwdriver bit from camming out of the socket (I was unsuccessful).
At 3/8” away from being fully seated I stopped because I was concerned with either breaking the screw or stripping the head. The clutch setting was at the highest level – 25. I backed out the screw and replaced it with a new one with an undamaged head.
Two holes up, in the same hinge, I used a U2 Universal Screw. I was amazed at how easily I was able to drive it. I fully seated the screw with the clutch set to level 3!
Although I found them impractical to start one-handed, I felt that these premium screws did have some real benefits. The reduced torque required to drive them allowed me to sink them faster, and with less effort and concentration keeping the screwdriver bit engaged.
I don’t doubt the manufacturer’s claim that this leads to more more productivity with an increased rate of fastening, and fewer battery changes. For long screws, where the benefits are greatest I will continue buying U2 screws. For short screws… I’ll need to do more testing.
4 thoughts on “A Practical Test of Premium Fasteners”
Use one of the extensions with a slider to hold the screw. One handed works. On a gate hinge, I think the strength of the head of the screw is important as well. Need some mass there. Use a stop plate at the bottom of the gate so when it closes hard the latch does not take all the force. Congrats on the move Chris, bet you sleep better!
Great points, Morgan!
Hi Chris, Seeing your piece on U2 screws, I was surprised at the cost, I usually buy Spax screws generally shorter than the ones you were using, I find them very good quality but quite expensive. other makes that are good are Reisser. On another point, what is the price of wood over on Vancouver Island? here in the UK it has gone up considerably, I have just purchased 8 x 1.8 metre lengths of 1″ x 1 1/2″ treated softwood for exterior use, this cost me £28, around US$37, hardwood is now a horrendous price. I see you use Festool tools, very nice tools, cost a lot but give you a sense of good feeling when using them.
Compared to Spax you buy, do you feel the U2 screws are good value or expensive?
I haven’t had to buy hardwood for a long time as I have a good supply that I’ve had milled for me. I can tell you, however, that the red cedar cost $1.55/linear foot.
I got into Festool for the dust collection. The performance of their tools is very impressive, too.
Thanks for reading,