Monday, 13 July 2009

What's happened to steel woodscrews?

I'm just finishing restoring an old Victorian chest. It came painted in a thick coat of varnish with modern brass screw-in cupboard knobs disfiguring the drawers. It was therefore unwanted by the dealers and very cheap. Many hours of careful work with ticketed cabinet scrapers to remove the finishes down to the wood, careful filling of blemishes and old screw-holes and hours of traditional French polishing have brought it to the stage at which I can fix the salvaged period handles I have sourced.

The handles are fixed with 4 gauge brass screws, requiring, in hardwood, a pilot hole of 1/32" and a clearance hold of 7/64". However, if you try to fix the brass screws directly, you risk snapping them. So one first fixes using equivalent steel wood screws, then with the brass screws.

Fortunately I have a decent stock of 4 gauge round-head Brass wood screws, but couldn't find any 4 gauge steel screws of the appropriate length anywhere. Last night I searched the web to little avail - they seem to have disappeared. Only one company still claims to stock them - I'll call them later. Many other websites claimed the new 3mm size to be the equivalent of 4 gauge. It isn't.

Will I now, as with Tungsten filament lamps, have to stock up on sufficient Imperial wood screws to last me until my death-bed?


Anonymous said...

Do a search for "Jamestown Distributors" based in Rhode Island.

I'm pretty sure they will have what you need and they've delivered to me in the UK before.

Budgie said...

Have you tried brass plated screws as a first fix? They are steel, so won't snap. I do not know whether they are available in traditional wood screw style in imperial, though.

BTW, I think most fasteners now sold in the UK (for wood and for engineering) are now made in China, whatever it says on the box.

TheBigYin said...

I have no answers for you Raedwald but sufice is to say that craftsmen like yourself are no longer catered for in these days of cheapness and vulgarity!

I am not an artisan in any way but watch such programs like The Antiques Show now and again and am constantly surprised by people who think their pride and joy is an unblemished masterpiece only to find it has been bastardised somewhere along it's provenance.

Thankfully there are people like your good self that will not sacrifice quality for cheep quantity!

You are a craftsman as well as a wordsmith and I will endevour to atain such but it takes people like yourself to learn from.


Anonymous said...

Car boot sales,local markets, any tat shows,steam/stationary engine shows,old ironmongers plenty of places,just look around,honest sir.

Blue Eyes said...

No More Nails?

Anonymous said...

Have you tried asking your friends' dads? I mention this because my own has about seven hundred jam jars in his garden shed, each containing a different kind of nail, screw, nut or bolt in various quantities, and I believe this is standard middle-aged bloke behaviour. In a shed somewhere near you is that which you seek.

Anonymous said...

The BigYin has got this "nailed" - pun intended. We no longer cater for longevity and craftsmanship. Making things and doing things that will be seen by future generations as wholesome, beautiful and beneficial is an ethos that belongs to a bygone age. Instead its all short term quick fixes and things that break and things that last only a short time before needing to be replaced. Or worse still, things that were never destined or designed to work in the first place.

Does this all sound a tad familiar with any of you?

Coney Island

Anonymous said...

The shed comment is spot-on.

My own shed contains similar stuff in abundance, but sad to say nothing as small as a No. 4 screw.

Now, Mr. R., if you were looking for 2" or 2 1/2" No. 8 or No. 10, then I would be your man.

Hope you find a source, do post the results please.

Anonymous said...

BR, not entirely true.

Have a look here:

(Disclaimer: my son is a student there!)