Handy Guide For Choosing The Right Wood Screw

Handy Guide For Choosing The Right Wood Screw

27 Jul, 2023

You are about to start your woodwork project; you have your drill set and your wood screw set ready and have the blueprint. And as you start working, you suddenly realize there are ample types of wood screws, each with different sizes, designs, and types. And now you can’t choose which will comply with your project. Don’t worry; this blog is here for the rescue, so read it till the end because it has a lot to offer.

Wood Screw Materials

Let’s start with the basics and try to understand some of the most common wood screws materials that are available for use:

Steel Screws:

These are the most widely used wood screws. They are affordable, robust, durable under stress, and quite resistant to spin out when driving the screw into place. But these types of screws are not recommended for outdoor use as steel can corrode and rust.

Stainless steel screws:

Putting in simpler terms – stainless steel screws provide most of the benefits of steel without the rust problem. You can even notice that many exterior screws have a special coating to avoid further corrosion, making them ideal for outdoor projects.

Brass Screws:

Brass screws are fancier and aesthetically appealing; hence are mostly used for more decorative work. They are corrosion-resistant but tend to be softer, so you should be cautious while driving them. You can use them in furniture-making and other decorative woodworking projects.

Galvanized screws:

Galvanized screws are ordinary steel screws that undergo a galvanization process, where they are chemically coated with zinc. This layer saves ase steel from rust and corrosion, making the screw suitable for construction, furniture making, heavy woodworking, and outdoor projects.

Understanding The Size Of A Wood Screw

The size of a wood screw is specified by two main dimensions: the screw gauge (diameter) and the screw length.

Screw Gauge:

The gauge of a screw is marked by a number, which might be confusing at first, but in more straightforward terms, the higher the number – thicker the screw. Standard screw gauges for woodworking range from #2 to #20. And for a better understanding, you can go through the table below

Screw Size Closest Fractional Size (diameter in inches)
2 3/32″
3 7/64″
4 7/64″
5 1/8″
6 9/64″
7 5/32″
8 5/32″
9 11/64″
10 3/16″
12 7/32″
14 1/4″
16 17/64″
18 19/64″
20 5/16″

When considering the screw and gauze, it’s essential to consider the shank hole and pilot hole.
The shank hole, also referred to as a screw-shank clearance hole, allows the screw to pass through the top board smoothly. This is crucial for woodwork, as it minimizes friction in the top board and allows the screw to join the two boards tightly.

The pilot hole is created using a small bit and serves as a guide for the larger drill. Its purpose is to allow the screw threads to cut directly into the hole, reducing the chance of wood splitting near the end or edge of the bottom of the board. The pilot hole provides a clear path for the screw to enter the board without causing any breaks.

Screw Length:

The screw length is its measurement from the tip to the bottom of the head. To determine the suitable screw length, you can consider the total thickness of the materials you are joining. Remember that it should not be too short that it doesn’t reach the second piece of wood, or it shouldn’t be too long that the tip breaks through the other side. The ideal screw length should allow at least two-thirds of the screw to engage with the second piece of wood.

A Brief Into Wood Screw Head Types

Wood screws come in various head types, each serving a specific purpose during installation. Some common wood screw head types are:

Flat Head:

Flat heads are the most common type of screw. Their countersunk heads fit into the wood surface, creating a flush finish. They are ideal for applications where the screw head should not protrude.

Round Head:

Roundheads have a domed top and are used for a more decorative look. Also, they sit on the wood surface without being countersunk like flat heads.

Pan Head:

Pan heads have a slightly rounded top and offer a greater surface area. This greater surface area allows them to hold heavy items securely in a place with pre-drilling, which most of the screws need. Pan heads are suitable for attaching hardware and brackets.

Oval Head:

Oval heads have an elliptical shape, combining the benefits of flat and round heads. They provide a clean, finished appearance without fully countersinking.

Choosing Wood Screw On The Basis Of Woodwork Projects

You can choose screws as per sizes, lengths, and heads. But if you are still in a dilemma and can’t decide which screw fits your needs, here is a handy guide to choosing the screw based on your woodwork project.

Basic Wood Joinery

For simple wood joinery projects, you can use standard wood screws. Choose coarse-threaded screws with a flat or pan head. These screws have good holding power and are easy to drive into the wood. Use them for plywood, softwood, and medium-density hardwoods.

Furniture Assembly:

Furniture assembly is a common project; hence, you can find a considerable range of furniture screws. Raised head and round head screws are a great option when you desire a decorative finish. They are especially suitable for assembling household furniture. While you may opt for a counter-head as your furniture screw if you are looking for simple furniture assembling work.

Deck Building:

Deck projects involve exterior use, so you’ll need screws that can withstand weather and corrosion. Stainless steel deck screws or coated deck screws (with epoxy or ceramic coating) are ideal for this purpose. They offer excellent resistance to rust and weathering. Multiple wood screw manufacturers are coming up with exclusive coatings, primarily for deck screws. These finishes enhance the visual appeal or decorative qualities of the screws.

Outdoor Furniture:

Stainless steel screws are a good choice for outdoor furniture because they are corrosion-resistant. If you’re working with hardwoods, consider using brass or silicon bronze screws, which blend well with the wood and are also corrosion-resistant.

Wooden Toys and Small Projects:

When working on small woodworking projects like toys, consider using wood screws with a flat or round head. They offer a clean appearance and can be driven flush into the wood. If you are working on small projects where you need to secure wood, plastic, metal, and brick together, then you can choose self-tapping wood screws.

If we categorize in broader terms as per projects:


If appearance is crucial, flat head screws are ideal for a flush, clean finish, while round and oval head screws offer a more visible, decorative look.


Pan head screws are versatile and suitable for various applications, while oval head screws balance function and appearance.


Consider the material you’re working with. Self-tapping wood screws are excellent for metal and wood, while regular wood screws are better for wood-to-wood connections.

On A Final Note

“Beauty lies in the details.”

And you can harness that beauty in your work by choosing the right wood screw size and type for your project. With all the information on wood screw materials, sizes, and head types, you can make informed decisions to enhance your woodworking creations’ strength, durability, and aesthetics.

Happy woodworking!