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Don’t Get Screwed

Choosing the right driver prior to starting an installation is critical.

January 16, 2014
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Phillips vs Frearson

There are three terrible ways to finish a DIY boat repair or accessory installation. One is when the screwdriver slips and scratches the boat. Two, the head of the fastener gets stripped. And three is when the head is wrenched completely off the screw.

As the illustration shows, not every fastener with a cruciform recess cut in its head is a “Phillips.” The Frearson, or Reed and Prince, as it’s also called, is a different head type. Phillips screws have a cross cut in the head with rounded corners and a taper. These features are designed to help the driver bit “cam out”—rise out of the slots of the X—when just the right amount of torque has been applied to tighten them and before enough torque is applied to twist off the head. Over $500,000 was spent in their development during the 1930’s, when they were introduced for assembly line manufacturing of automobiles.

Frearson screws have a perfect cross cut in their heads, one without rounded corners. They are not designed to cam out and so, when used by an attentive and experienced installer, rarely allow the driver to jump and mar the finish. They also allow that same experienced installer more leeway in how much torque to apply for a given application.

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It’s important to know the type of screw head you are working with. It’s equally important to use the right size driver with the screw in question. For Frearson, it’s simpler, as two drivers fit all sizes. Phillips drivers, on the other hand, come in a wide variety of sizes.

Make your next boat project easier and identify both the type and size driver you need for the fasteners at hand.

For all your boating DIY needs, visit builtforboating.com

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