Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tech Tip Tuesday

Mounting hardware on boats is a big deal. You have a lot of important needs to fulfill that are sometimes at odds with each other. For example, you need to have fasteners that are corrosion resistant and it depends on whether you will be using them in fresh water, salt water or both. I will not get into the detail of it, but you need to be careful about hardware selection so as not to create electrical issues by mixing hardware inappropriately. Depending on the requirements, stainless steel, silicon bronze or brass may be appropriate. Be sure that the screws are both big enough and long enough for the job. Pick the driving head that you prefer - I like slotted as they can easily be recut if stripped with a piece of a hacksaw blade - try that with a Phillips bit.

A good drill/countersink bit makes the job easier. The tapered ones from Fullers and others are very nice and worth the money. They can easily be set up to drill the proper sized and depth of hole and offer replacement parts if they get damaged or dull. Matching tapered plug cutter sets are also available.

You now need to have the proper screwdriver. What? You've got two (Straight and Phillips) and that's just fine with you? Oh, no, no... There are different size and length drivers for a reason. The screws have different sizes. Use the right size and type for your screws. I do recommend hand-driving the screws with a hand driver or a bit brace as opposed to "power-driving" them with a drill. The drill gives you very little feedback and it's easy to strip the soft stainless, bronze or brass screws. Driving by hand may take a bit longer, but gives you a measure of control and the ability to align the screw heads. (We are being detail-oriented, aren't we?)

Before we actually drive the screws, it isn't a bad idea to use a standard steel screw of the same size as the stainless/bronze/brass screw we're ultimately going to drive to cut the threads ahead of time. This is particularly good if the wood is exceptionally hard. It's also a good idea to lubricate the screws. I've seen it done with many things including old bars of soap, but I prefer beeswax. Just a dab on the threads makes the screws easy to drive and if you get it on the wood, it's easy to remove with a little alcohol so as not to contaminate the wood with wax before finishing.

Happy driving!

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