This article was published in Wood Digest in 2008 by Greg Wiener, CEO of Quickscrews® International Corporation.
Over the past 20 years we have seen the development of an entire industry. 20 years ago the choices for screws for cabinet and furniture makers was extremely limited. You were either buying a tapping screw or a drywall screw, neither of which were intended for use in wood. Although those types of screws worked the products themselves were not intended or designed for those woodworking applications. As the woodworking industry evolved so did the use of varied and different materials. The introduction and expansion of man-made materials such as MDF and particle board, along with the expansion of a large variety of soft and hardwoods, required different thinking when it came to fastening products for the industry. The fasteners on the marketplace had to change. The introduction of heat treated coarse threaded screws was a major improvement. Woodworkers would finally be introduced to a quality product line that met their demanding needs in the area of joint fastening and cabinet construction. The next evolution surrounded the need to ensure that all hardware being used would or could have an appropriate fastener to attach to again a wide variety of man-made and wood species. Another difficulty that still remains today is the fact that hardware manufacturers have not standardized the holes in hardware which have identical purposes, thus the need for a larger selection with multiple head styles of screws.
Combined with the ongoing use of harder and denser woods and the need to improve productivity, fasteners took on another feature when the self drilling type 17 auger point was introduced on assembly type screws. This feature allowed the end user to eliminate the need for pre-drilling as a measure to prevent either the screw from breaking or the wood from splitting. When adding 4 radial lines (commonly referred to as Nibs) under the head, this feature allows the screw to sink below the surface without the need to drill a countersunk hole. Fasteners began to take on the role of improving productivity. Manufacturers started to appreciate the value of a product which could reduce overall costs of labor, thus reducing the costs of making their product. These cost savings were far greater than the increased costs of the features added to the screws.
Further evolution brought about multiple suppliers who introduced a wide variety of different thread types. These products are more specialized and linked to specific applications as well as materials. One of the best advancements made came many years ago in the areas of face frame manufacturing. Long a problem with screw heads breaking, the advent of a flat top head, with a thicker depth eliminated head snapping entirely. Today you can purchase as many as 8 different thread designs for what is now known as pocket hole manufacturing, and as with other changes, the use of this type of manufacturing has grown, and such the need for a wider variety of screws is apparent.
When it comes to cabinet installation, the advances in fastening methodology have created an entire line of specialty screws just for this application. Screw suppliers are now looking at both the fastener and the fastening tool used to fasten, to make sure that this difficult application can be made easier and faster. The installation of drawer fronts has been made far easier and better with the introduction of the Drawer Front Assembly Screws. This fastener has gained significant popularity over the past 5 years and has replaced multiple different fasteners which used to do the job, but not as easily and efficiently. As the demand from the marketplace continues to seek better and more varied quality cabinets, so does the cabinet manufacturer look for ways to improve their business and reduce costs and increase productivity in every area of their manufacturing world. Screws have become an important identifiable product line as opposed to a commonly used commodity item. Fastener suppliers understand this need and continue to bring new and exciting improvements to the fasteners themselves. Today suppliers who provide product knowledge and a quality product will continue to dominate the marketplace in terms of penetration, expertise and innovation.