Brass Screws

Jeff Vandenberg
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Woodworking Brass Screws
Brass screws — they’ll drive you nuts.

You have to be careful installing brass screws because the brass is soft, at least it’s a lot softer than steel screws we’re used to. So it’s easy to strip the slot or twist the head right off.

What can you do about it? It goes without saying that you drill a pilot hole.

In my experience, you don’t need to drill the hole so all of thickness of the threads bites into the wood. It will hold well enough if just the tips can get a grip.
Then, to decrease friction when driving in a brass screw, I use a little soap or wax to lubricate the screw. But that can create problems if the soap or wax gets on unfinished wood.

My favorite technique is to “cut” the threads in the pilot hole with a steel screw of the same size and type as the brass screw. It’s a hassle, but a lot less hassle than trying to remove a “headless” brass screw.

Jeff Vandenberg aka "Woodsconsin"

Never though about the cutting the thread with steel screw.
That is a great idea.

I had my share of striped heads:)

Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

My question is why use brass screws? We know that they are soft. Why not use S.S. screws or even Bronze.
I agree with the soap/wax method.
Using a tapered drill bit with counter sink, will also make the use of soft screws less tedious.


Tor and Odin are the greatest of gods.

Well what if your customer insist thats what they want. Or if your matching something that already exists in a customer’s home. If thats what they want they get. They are paying you for what they want. So it would be a great idea to just pick up a steel screw or 2 the same size as the brass and get r done. Word of the mouth go’s a long way.

Jeff Vandenberg aka "Woodsconsin"

Using a steel screw to make threads is a great idea . Also find the driver that fits the screw the best . With phillips head screws , one size does not fit all . Made that mistake to many times.


When working with brass, its usually a finish choice. I always use a steped counter bore drill that cuts 3 widths at the same time and allows me to set the depth so that only the last 2/3 of the screw thred bites. As well their is always a bar of ivory soap on my shop shelf for any screws. A lot of people ask what’s it for? It’s got a bunch of grooves in it from running screws along it. Also, when putting brass screws in, I always use a screwdriver by hand so I never over torque the screws.

CHRIS, Charlottetown PEI Canada. Anytime you can repurpose, reuse, or recycle, everyone wins!

Yes all them steps are great Thorreain. I use a old candle for screws on hard woods. It just makes life so much easier. I never tried soap?

Jeff Vandenberg aka "Woodsconsin"

I like brass personally, but prefer to use much more robust machine screws after tapping the hole with a metal tap. A little wax still helps but usually isn’t necessary

The early bird gets the worm but its the second mouse that gets the cheese.

Very nice Shipwright. Are you using a flat bottom taps or drilling a bit further and using standard taps?

Jeff Vandenberg aka "Woodsconsin"

The latter here Jeff, because I had room but bottoming taps would be even better.

The early bird gets the worm but its the second mouse that gets the cheese.