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Fastener Materials and Finishes

It shouldn't’t surprise you to hear that there is no single best material for making screws, just as there is no single best fishing lure or garden fertilizer. It all depends on the application, of course. Hardened steel screws are the work horse for many situations, but are entirely unsuitable for most exterior applications unless properly coated or plated. The following short course should help you determine the best fastener for your application.

1.  Un-plated Hardened Steel Screws

Un-plated Hardened Steel screws are the most popular, and are primarily used where they will not be visible or exposed to corrosive conditions. Their color variation from almost pure black through a bronze to silvery Grey does not affect quality – it is simply a result of process-variable interactions as simple as the screw’s location on the heat treat furnace conveyor belt. All McFeely’s un-plated screws receive a Dry-Lube finish which reduces driving torque requirements, but provides virtually no corrosion resistance. Hardened steel screws are the base stock for all our plated screws.

FSL  Flat Head Square Drive FAL Flat Head Combo Square and Phillips Drive WRL Round Washer Head Combo Drive
F2l Flat Head Combo Drive # 2 recess TST Trim Head Square Drive Metal Screw  TSO Trim Head Square Drive Wood Screw

2.  Stainless Steel Screws

Stainless Steel provides the ultimate corrosion resistance for most woodworking projects. It is softer than our hardened steel screws because stainless steel is not generally heat-treatable – the wire must be soft enough to be formed, yet hard enough to provide the desired strength. We carry stainless steel in a variety of grades. Note: Not all grades are designed to be completely “stainless”! We do not carry the 304 grade of these, the cost to performance metrics does not meet our criteria. 316 is made with more Nickel than the 305's and will hold up to salt water better. Stainless steel is inherently non-magnetic.

FP5 305 Stainless Steel Flat Head SQ Dr FA5 305 Stainless Steel Bugle Head Square Drive FT5 350 Stainless Steel Flat Head Star Drive
FT6 316 Stainless Steel Flat Head Star Drive SD6 316 Stainless Steel Bugle Head Square Drive TSS Landscape Stainless Steel Hex Drive
PM5 Pocket-hole 305 Stainless Steel Square Drive TA5 305 Stainless Steel Trim Head Square Drive CSS Fiber Cement Board Stainless Flat Head SQ Drive
T41 Trim Head 410 Stainless Steel Square Drive    

3.  Aluminum Screws

Aluminum is surprisingly strong because it work-hardens as it is formed into screws. These screws are just the thing for assembling aluminum doors, windows, or gutters because they eliminate the corrosion problems associated with the more common use of zinc-plated fasteners.

PAS  Pan Head Screw

4.  Solid Brass Screws

Solid Brass screws are also very soft, and virtually demand a carefully sized pilot hole to eliminate installation breakage. (Pre-threading the hole with a steel screw helps minimize this problem.) A Square Recess really makes a difference with these screws. The softness of the brass greatly increases cam-out problems with most other driver types, a situation neatly overcome by the Square Recess. Ideal for installing solid brass cabinet door and hardware

BFC  Flat Head Square Drive

5.  Fresh Silicon Bronze Screws

“Oxidized” Silicon Bronze screws are primarily used for marine boat building, although many people have used them to build decks made of Western Red Cedar or Redwood because the screws will eventually blend into the color of the wood. The screws right off the production line are generally the color of a fresh penny – after they have been around awhile they oxidize and darken as shown in the “Oxidized” Silicon Bronze picture. Shank diameter is the same as the outside of the treads, completely filling the clearance hole creating a seal.

SFC  Flat Head Square Drive

Fastener Platings

Selecting the proper finish for your screws is a new experience for many woodworkers. After all, most of the time you don’t have a choice! If you don’t like bright zinc, or it isn't’t suitable, it’s just tough luck. We offer a wide variety of finishes and materials – not to add to the confusion – but to make sure you can have the most appropriate fastener for your task!

1.  Black Oxide Screws

Black Oxide used as a coating for ferrous (mainly metals made of iron) materials, stainless steel, copper and coper based alloys, zinc, powdered metals, and silver solder. The finish provides a small level of rust/corrosion protection and also gives it a black appearance to minimize light reflection. Plain or non-plated screws can have a variation in color appearance because of the changes during the heat-treating process. For the Black Oxide coating to achieve a maximum corrosion resistance, it must be impregnated with an oil or wax. One of the advantages of this type of coating over others is its minimal buildup.

WRK  Round Washer Head, Combo Drive  FSK  Flat Head Square Drive  

2.  Black Phosphate Screws

Black Phosphate coatings are used on steel parts for corrosion resistance, lubrication, and or as a foundation for additional coatings or painting. It serves as a conversion coating through a process where it is dipped or sprayed with a dilute solution of phosphate salts or phosphoric acid is applied to create a chemical reaction with the surface of the part being coated creating a layer of insoluble, crystalline phosphate. The Photoshop process is more Eco-friendly process compared to the oxide process and because of the chemical reaction that happens, it is less likely to rub off when compared to Black Oxide.

FSP  Flat Head Square Drive WCP  Washer Head Combo Square Phillips Drive  

3.  Statuary Bronze Screws

Statuary Bronze is a decorative finish designed to match the antique appearance of old cabinet hardware. Primarily dark bronze, with highlights of copper. Highlights increase on screws exposed to wear or abrasion, often used for decorative purposes, such as mounting cabinet and door hardware.

FBZ  Flat head Square Drive

4.  Yellow Zinc Screws

Yellow Zinc resembles Bright Brass plating, but appears more iridescent. It offers a modest amount of corrosion resistance (approx. 100 hours’ salt spray to 10% red rust).

FMY Flat Head Square Drive  WMY Promaster Round Washer Combo Drive  

5.  Clear Zinc Screws

Clear Zinc is another largely decorative plating, although it does offer a salt spray rating to 10% red rust of about 50 hours. A good choice for interior applications when working with acidic woods like red/white oak, or when the screw will be countersunk and plugged. It is a poor choice for most exterior applications.

FMZ Flat Head Square Drive

SRZ  Drawer Front Screws Round Washer Head Combo Drive  

6.  NoCoRode Plus Screws

NoCoRode Plus is steel screw with one of the most corrosion-resistant platings we offer. In manufacturer conducted salt-spray testing it has exceeded 1,800 hours, making it almost 20 times more corrosion-resistant than standard Yellow Zinc plating. It works well with most outdoor woods, including ACQ pressure-treated, but use caution with Redwood, Western Red Cedar or similarly acidic woods – these tend to stain, sometimes even with stainless! And unlike the plating on hot-dipped galvanized screws, NoCoRode Plus doesn't’t chip and break. This process can have a minor amount of recess fill so we recommend using our NoCoRode Undersized driver bits. Best of all, the plating is tan colored, so that it “blends” with many pressure-treated materials.

FCT Flat Head Square Drive PMT Pocket-hole Square Drive WCT Round Washer head Combo Drive

Can’t find the answers you’re looking for? Call 800-443-7937 and ask for our Product Support Department or send us an email at tech@mcfeelys.com