GDP loss due to the use of inferior screw heads?

It’s been some 80 years since the Phillips screw came on the scene, but we still see those blasted slotted screws in use.

Has anyone ever tried to calculate how much GDP is lost due to the buggers – falling off the screwdriver, the screwdriver slipping from the slot and damaging the item, etc.?

So that’s what caused the economic collapse! :smack:

Just wait till I try to analyze the effects of turn-signal blink durations on climate change.

The dozen or so different Unified National thread standards on the other hand…

Muslims use flathead screwdrivers every day, just sayin’.

In my experience it’s much easier to strip the head of a phillips screw especially when you’re trying to unscrew a rusty old screw. Easier screwings in are surely outweighed by the massive PITA of an occasional stripped screw.

Phillips screws arguably add to the GDP by speeding up assembly.


Horses for courses. Wood screws are single slot because that gives the screwdriver the greatest grip which is important when you are working with wood.

I sorta like the phillips heads but they do smear under pressure.

The best head is a square one - the Robertson screw. Strong and doesn’t slip…although if it does you’re finished.

Indeed. We could all move to Torx or the square drive. Inferior screws should be outlawed and punishable by… well… something.

Flat head screws are rarely used in manufacturing anymore. They are usually seen when the consumer is expected to use the screw, and even then combination flathead/phillips screws are used for that.

The technical term is “screwed up the economy.”

Listen up, you primitive screw heads!

You’re complaining about slipping and praising the Phillips screw? The Phillips screw was invented to make automated assembly easier. The nice thing about it is that it is self-centering (that’s part of it’s design), but it has a flaw intentionally built into it. Because machines back then were fairly simple in design, automated assembly equipment wasn’t torque limited and would very easily over-tighten a screw. So the Phillips is designed to cam out when there is too much torque applied. This makes them a royal pain in the backside sometimes.

At least the Torx is self-centering and is also designed not to cam out (it’s designed to be used with fancier machines that are torque limiting, relying then on the machine instead of the screw design to prevent over-tightening).

Robertson often refused to license the screw (he made some bad business decisions and got into legal battles trying to retain the rights to his screws) and he basically screwed himself (heh) out of the U.S. market. You can sing their praises all you want, but the blame for why Robertson screws aren’t popular lies with Robertson himself.

And when is the last time you saw a slotted screw used anyway? I almost never see them unless their use is decorative on the outside of a case or something.

Slotted screws are still quite popular among woodworkers.

I’ve just had the displeasure of trying to install a Phillips-head screw (in this case, to secure a handle onto a rake). My drill stripped out 2 Phillips-heads in a row, forcing me to use vice-grips to remove the parially-set screws, before I finally grabbed a manual screwdriver and put the screw in properly.

So, I’m not feeling the love for Mr. Phillips right now.

Am I the only one who glanced at the thread title and wondered, “What connection is there between the Republican Party and inferior screw heads?”

i find the topic of screw heads and the GDP riveting. picking the wrong fastener could cause things to fall.

They are also quite common when a standard fastener won’t quite do the job, and something special needs to be made.

Guns are an obvious example. In some cases it is required to fit the available space, but usually it is because a screw the wrong length, or of inferior grade would cause a malfunction or a safety issue, so odd-size, or oddball pitch screws are used so that they have to be replaced with an identical item and not something from the local hardware store.

A plain slot is easy to make without special tooling, and faster and easier to acces than a hex head. Most of the other drive types require dedicated equipment to make.

Plain slots work pretty will IF you use a well made and proper fitting screwdriver. Unfortunately, many of the screwdrivers you can buy are not well made, and stay in service well after they are worn out. And that doesn’t count the butter knives and other items improvised to turn screws. One of the first lessons a gunsmith learns is not to use an ill fitting turnscrew, and a lesson in how to make or modify one to fit correctly soon follows.

At first thought I wouldn’t have considered that a major use of screws, but then considering the number of guns in this country and around the world it probably is. It’s interesting that the use of screws was largely limited to guns for a long time. Joinery was used for fine carpentry, and wrought iron nails for wood construction. Rivets and trenails were used in other applications. The next major use of screws after guns was concealed door hinges. These replaced the traditional strap hinges which were attached with double bent wrought iron nails, leading to the expression ‘dead as a doornail’.

Thanks for that bit about the reason for Phillips camming tendencies: I never knew that. I sometime fantasize about going back in time and having the first fasteners being set as Torx or square drive or some-such right from the start and never having to deal with any of this nonsense. But the bitch behind it all is that the manufacturing process has to match the current infrastructure. All they had the means to do at the start was to cut slots. Sigh. On we beat, boats against the stream…

My personal favored fastener is the socket head cap screw. Lovely to look at you can torque it in off-axis with a hex key or a hex key in a socket wrench. The drawback is that you need they are differently sized, of course.