The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Between Square, Star, and Phillips Head Screws

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Between Square, Star, and Phillips Head Screws

20 Jun, 2024

So, you are just thinking of beginning your new DIY project and you are wondering which screw drive will be perfect to match the requirements of your upcoming project. Well, every screw has a unique application and choosing the right screw drive can make a significant difference in the efficiency and ease of your woodworking or DIY projects. Among the popular options are the Phillips head screw, square drive, and star drive (Torx). In this blog, we will dive deep into understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each of these types, so it can help you decide which is best suited for your needs.

The Phillips Head Screw: A Common Choice

It’s very likely that you have heard about the Phillips head screws and you know their application really well. These are characterised by their cross-shaped slots and are widely recognized and used. These screws were invented in the 1930s and they were envisioned to prevent over-tightening. They are ideal choices for assembly lines. Today, the Phillips head screw remains a trusted choice in many household and industrial applications.


  • Self-Centering: The cross-slot design helps in keeping the screwdriver centred, reducing wobbling. This feature is particularly beneficial when driving screws into places that are hard to reach.
  • Machine-Friendly: Phillips head screws can be easily tightened or loosened by machines, making them suitable for automated assembly. This is why they are commonly found in electronic devices and assembly lines.
  • Versatility: These screws come in various sizes suitable for different applications, from small electronics to larger construction projects.

Things to consider:

  • Cam-Out Effect: The tapered design can cause the screwdriver to slip out under high torque, a phenomenon known as cam-out. This can lead to stripped screw heads and damaged workpieces.
  • Compatibility Issues: Phillips screws are often confused with Pozidriv screws. Although they look similar, the tools for each are not interchangeable, leading to potential damage if the wrong tool is used.

Despite these drawbacks, Phillips head screws remain popular due to their availability and ease of use in light applications like drywall. They are especially useful in applications where over-torquing is a concern. However, that’s not it. If you think that you need a black screw or a gold screw to enhance the aesthetics of your project, you can check out CSK Philip Screw by LP.

The Square Drive: Underrated but Reliable

Square drive screws are also known as Robertson screws. These feature a square-shaped recess. This design was popularised in Canada and has been slowly gaining traction in other regions. They are particularly preferred in woodworking as well as the construction projects for their reliability.


  • Secure Fit: The square recess provides a tight fit with the screwdriver, reducing the chances of slipping. This makes them ideal for applications requiring repetitive screwing and unscrewing.
  • Durability: Square drive screws are less prone to stripping compared to Phillips head, ensuring longevity and consistent performance.
  • Ease of Use: The design allows for one-handed operation, as the screw can stay on the driver bit without falling off, which is particularly useful in tight spaces.

Things to consider:

  • Tool Availability: Square drive screws are not as widely available in some regions, particularly the U.S. This can be a limitation for those who do not have access to the appropriate tools.
  • Bit Matching: Requires a precise match between the bit and the screw for optimal performance. Using an incorrect bit size can lead to difficulty in driving the screw or potential damage.

Square drive screws are highly favoured in woodworking due to their reliability and ease of use, particularly in projects that require repetitive screwing and unscrewing. They are also used extensively in cabinetry and joinery, where precision and a secure hold are crucial.

The Star Drive (Torx): High Performance

Star drive screws, commonly referred to as Torx screws, are identified by their star-shaped recess. This design has become increasingly popular in both Europe and North America. Torx screws are known for their high performance and durability in demanding applications.


  • High Torque Application: The star-shaped design allows for higher torque transfer without cam-out, making it ideal for high-strength applications. This is why Torx screws are often used in automotive and aerospace industries.
  • Less Wear: The design distributes force evenly, reducing wear on both the screw and the bit. This results in longer-lasting tools and fewer stripped screws.
  • Versatility: Available in a variety of sizes and types, including tamper-resistant versions, making them suitable for security applications.

Things to consider:

  • Specialised Tools: Requires specific Torx bits, which might not be as common in all toolkits. This can be a barrier for those who do not have access to these specialised tools.
  • Cost: Often more expensive than Phillips or square drive screws. The higher cost can be justified by their performance, but it might not be suitable for all budgets.

Torx screws are often used in applications where precision and durability are critical, such as in automotive and electronic assembly. They are also favoured in construction projects requiring high-strength fasteners.

Comparative Analysis

When comparing Phillips head, square drive screws, and Torx screws, it is essential to consider the specific requirements of your project. Here is a brief comparative analysis to help you decide which one to opt for.

  • Ease of Use: Phillips head screws are easy to use but prone to cam-out. Square drive screws offer a more secure fit, while Torx screws provide the best grip and torque transfer.
  • Availability: Phillips head screws are the most widely available, followed by square drive screws. Torx screws are becoming more common but still require specialised bits.
  • Durability: Torx screws are the most durable, with minimal wear and tear. Square drive screws are also durable, while Phillips head screws are more prone to stripping.
  • Cost: Phillips heads are generally the most affordable as most leading stainless steel screw manufacturer in India offer them, followed by square drive screws. Torx screws are the most expensive but offer the best performance.

By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each screw drive, you can make an informed decision that enhances the efficiency and quality of your work. We at LP Screw, are among the leading stainless steel screw manufacturers in India, and our products are known for their finest quality. We hope you find this article helpful. If you have liked these insights, then you may want to consider following us on our social media handles so that you never miss an update from us.

It may sound cliche, but the best screw drive depends on your specific needs and the nature of your project. Phillips head screws are versatile and widely available, making them suitable for light applications. Square drive screws provide a secure fit and are excellent for woodworking and repetitive tasks. Torx screws offer the best performance in terms of torque transfer and durability, making them ideal for high-strength applications.