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"We Glue and Screw Around Here": MIke Holmes

Spent the day doing some odd jobs around the place. Some maintenance. Infrastructure repairs. Well OK, fixing things. While I was putting up a roller blind for the East wall kitchen window I, once again, ran into one of the more puzzling and maddening aspects of basic fasteners: what good is a philips screw? Especially the combination ones that try and combine a philips with a slotted screw. What’s with that idea? They strip if you stare at them sideways. It takes two hands to drive them. As opposed to the Robertson square socketed screw. It works like a dream compared to any other type. It doesn’t strip, it can be used one handed even overhead and about the only place I wouldn’t use it would be if I were screwing something like a lid on a box that was going to be buried. Like an underground electrical box. The reason for that is that the square socket is hard to clean the dirt out of . The proper screw for that application is a standard slotted screw. The dirt would just slide out. An electrician named George Wadley taught me that over 30 years ago.

Actually the history behind the Robertson ( the best kept fastener secret outside of Canada) is fascinating. In the early 1900’s Robertson had invented a clearly superior screw, branched out to Europe, where his partners basically screwed him. Henry Ford tried them on his production line and saved hours of production time. He wanted to use the new screws but Robertson, feeling a little gun shy after his European shake down, refused the license. And the Robertson screw stayed in Canada, virtually unknown South of the border to this day. And why we get little packets of screws that come with the some assembly required items, that I throw away and replace with Robertsons just about every time.I do occasionally see Robertson screw knock-offs in American wood working magazines. Touted as something new. I guess the patent must have expired.

I am not sure what the take away lesson here is. Maybe that there are things I don’t know about that could save me a lot of effort. Or enrich my life. Like the old aphorism: “its not the things I know I don’t know that are the problem--it’s the things I don’t know I don’t know that will rock my world. Or screw me up..Or simply: I do have a loose screw, or two.


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