Video: Meet the Robertson Screw, Canada’s Take on the Common Fastener

https://www.youtube.com/embed/R-mDqKtivuI

It's easy to take the screw for granted, as most of our projects are tacked together with various versions of these small fasteners.

Philips and slotted screws are most prevalent, but what about the Robertson head? Our Canadian audience may be familiar with it, but if you live elsewhere (like us), you may have never heard of this square-drive screw.

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ShawnG
ShawnG UltimaDork
6/26/20 1:13 p.m.

Welcome to the 20th century. cheeky

G_Body_Man (Forum Supporter)
G_Body_Man (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
6/26/20 1:57 p.m.

The beauty of having a Robertson driver is that if you ever strip out the head of a Phillips, just jam a Robertson in there and most times you'll be able to extract the screw.

pkingham (Forum Supporter)
pkingham (Forum Supporter) Reader
6/26/20 2:31 p.m.

I really like The History Guy's stuff.  About half is military/war related, and even that it interesting while not being a real interest of mine.  The other half covers all kinds of stuff, and just about everything I've seen was worth the time.

mad_machine (Forum Supporter)
mad_machine (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
6/26/20 2:59 p.m.

robertson are good screws.  I prefer Frearson myself.  

Turboeric
Turboeric Reader
6/26/20 4:51 p.m.

He's wrong about not being able to use a flat bladed driver in a Robertson, as you can in a Philips. The right sized flat blade place diagonally in the Robertson head will work - not ideal by a long shot, but at least as good as a flat blade in a Philips, and better than nothing in a pinch. Canadians don't get passionate about much, but we'll defend to the death the superiority of a Roberson screw head! laugh

djsilver (Forum Supporter)
djsilver (Forum Supporter) Reader
6/26/20 7:16 p.m.

My dad worked in heavy construction, I grew up around "trailer parks" and my dad moved them and worked on them as a side gig.  I never heard the term "Robertson Screw", but square head and even figure-8 head screws were common in the assembly of mobile homes.  I still have both types of screwdrivers from my Dad's collection.  I've noticed recently that deck screws are often square drive.  I've seen some that are Torx, but they are mostly over-the-top trying to impress someone.  

Fascinating. 

It's like Tesla vs. Edison.

ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter)
ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter) Reader
6/26/20 9:06 p.m.

I used to design spinal implants for a living.  Quickly concluded that all cruciform headed screws suck, and star drive (Torx) are superior in every way.  I was quite pleased to see them all over my Cayman.

Sidewayze
Sidewayze New Reader
6/27/20 12:25 a.m.

Wow.  I didn't realize you folks south of the 49th don't have these.(I just looked at the home depot US website. Phillips wood screws. Huh.. ) Pretty much all wood screws in Canada are Robertson. With a good bit, they're awesome.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
6/27/20 12:43 a.m.

You can get "square drive" (as they call them) screws in the US, but you have to look for them. It's all I use given the chance. Phillips heads are the devil.

Streetwiseguy
Streetwiseguy MegaDork
6/27/20 7:37 a.m.

I have a few prejudices in my life that come from a dark place, but one of the strongest is that Robertson screws are wonderful in wood construction, but are so totally wrong when used in a car that I will question the heritage of the car owners mother.

 

bradyzq
bradyzq Dork
6/27/20 8:52 a.m.

In reply to Streetwiseguy :

LOL, I agree, 100%! It's a dead giveaway that something has at least been apart, and probably hacked. 

Kreb (Forum Supporter)
Kreb (Forum Supporter) UberDork
6/27/20 12:02 p.m.

I use stainless steel wood screws and the square drive is way less likely to strip out than phillips. Especially if you're using a power driver.  Night and day, really.

As an aside, it's interesting how many people don't understand that your primary stainless alloys are weaker than mild steel. They think that corrosion resistance is the same as strength. Nope.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
6/27/20 1:37 p.m.

Well, in the long term, maybe the strength ratings converge :)

The Trex fasteners I used for the deck were all Robertson. They came with drivers because who has Robertson in this country?

Also, if you work on cars, you need a set of JIS drivers. You will never use a Phillips again. 

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
6/27/20 1:55 p.m.

We here in the states call them square drive.  Bits are marked S1, S2, S3, etc.  Up in Canada it's common to see the bits marked R1, R2, R3.

I detest phillips.  The first time I used a Robertson screw, I was sold.  I still prefer torx, but Robertson is a massive step up from phillips.  My only problem with Roberston (much like phillips) is if you don't hold the driver perpendicular, it's pretty easy to strip the hole and then it's all over.  If you get crooked with torx, you might shred two of the teeth which means you still have 4 to drive the screw.

mad_machine (Forum Supporter)
mad_machine (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
6/28/20 1:07 a.m.

and to throw another screw into the mix: Pozidrive.

 

https://bsfixings.uk/the-difference-between-phillips-and-pozi-screw

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
6/28/20 8:31 a.m.

Or better yet.... spider drive.

HeadLOK Flat Head Deck Framing Screw – Rigid Foam Screw – Cabinet ...

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
6/28/20 9:53 a.m.
Keith Tanner said:

Well, in the long term, maybe the strength ratings converge :)

The Trex fasteners I used for the deck were all Robertson. They came with drivers because who has Robertson in this country?

Also, if you work on cars, you need a set of JIS drivers. You will never use a Phillips again. 

Torx wood screws (and I assume Phillips as well) also come with drivers.  They're a wear item, so it's nice to see that little touch.

Patrick (Forum Supporter)
Patrick (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
6/28/20 9:58 a.m.
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) said:

Or better yet.... spider drive.

HeadLOK Flat Head Deck Framing Screw – Rigid Foam Screw – Cabinet ...

In a pinch a #3 phillips will drive those.  I heart those headlock screws

Peabody
Peabody UltimaDork
6/28/20 10:02 a.m.

In reply to Streetwiseguy :

East coaster. Surprised?

I only use them on bodywork/trim and interior panels, usually where you can't see them.

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
6/28/20 10:54 a.m.
Patrick (Forum Supporter) said:
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) said:

Or better yet.... spider drive.

HeadLOK Flat Head Deck Framing Screw – Rigid Foam Screw – Cabinet ...

In a pinch a #3 phillips will drive those.  I heart those headlock screws

I call them orgasm screws because I get a little one every time I use one.

wspohn
wspohn Dork
6/28/20 11:34 a.m.

As a Canadian, I like Robertson screws a lot.  For all the reasons set out in that entertaining video. And if you hold a screwdriver horizontally or higher, just sticking the screw on the end is like using a magnetic screwdriver with any other head type - they don't fall off and can be guided into hard to reach places.

Nice to see someone mentioned Pozidrive.   NOT the same screwdrivers as Phillips!

I can add more screw trivia as another of my hobbies is collecting and restoring vintage clocks. Before the days of mass screw production, a clock maker would machine up his own screws. Some were filed with a narrow angle 'V' file so weren't a slot head with flat bottom. These need special screwdrivers, and the threading was often a bit....unique. 

Until about 1750, many clockmakers also used square headed screws, which had the virtue of being capable of removal or installation with small wrenches. Round headed screws standardized after that and machine made standard screws were available by the end of the 18th century.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
6/28/20 11:44 a.m.

I didn't know about Pozidrive but I had seen the markings and the different drivers. 

I mentioned it before and I'll do it again - if you work on cars that are Japanese and (in my experience) anything with Phillips, get some JIS drivers. They're the Japanese variant and they  work so much better when you're working on both imports and domestics as well as anything else made in Japan. It's like getting a set of metric wrenches to use on a modern car instead of Whitworth. Oddly hard to come by in this country, but everyone should have a set. 

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
6/28/20 11:45 a.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner :

I had a set of JIS bits once.  They are mandatory for working on older Japanese carbs riddled with screws.

Streetwiseguy
Streetwiseguy MegaDork
6/28/20 11:49 a.m.
Peabody said:

In reply to Streetwiseguy :

East coaster. Surprised?

I only use them on bodywork/trim and interior panels, usually where you can't see them.

I would know...  

Peabody
Peabody UltimaDork
6/28/20 3:15 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

I mentioned it before and I'll do it again - if you work on cars that are Japanese and (in my experience) anything with Phillips, get some JIS drivers. They're the Japanese variant and they  work so much better when you're working on both imports and domestics as well as anything else made in Japan.

Same deal with Japanese bikes, too. Most of my riding buddies bitch about the lousy Phillips hardware on their bikes, not knowing that they're actually JIS.

I do one better. The first time I work on a bike I take them all off, throw them in the garbage, and replace them with stainless steel socket cap screws. I keep a good selection in 3 - 10 mm just for that

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