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May 16, 2017

I admit it—I like farming projects to be straightforward and clear-cut. I like projects that can be completed smoothly and efficiently, which means that having the right tools to do the job is important. But even if you have all the right tools (and all the right accessories), your efficiency efforts can be defeated if the job requires too many tools. Illustrating this point is screw types.

One of my pet peeves is the lack of uniformity when it comes to the various types of screw heads. Each one requires a different screwdriver or drill bit to use, so working with too many different kinds of screw types can quickly become a nuisance. Here is a list of screw types that you might encounter.

drill screwdriver screw types
Photo by J. Keeler Johnson


A common screw type with a head shaped like a plus (+) sign. There are other similar types that go by different names and have slightly different designs.


Another common type featuring a head shaped like a minus (-) sign. Slot drill bits and screwdrivers can often be used with some types of Phillips-head screws.


A simple screw type driven by a square-shaped bit; it’s properly referred to as a Robertson. Some screws combine the Robertson and Phillips shapes into a screw that can be driven by either type of drill bit.


Officially known as the Torx screw, this screw type is shaped like a six-sided star.

Note: There are many other types of ccrew heads as well, but these are among the ones you’re most likely to encounter.

Why Less Is More

Problems arise when you’re trying to work on a project (usually a repair project, such as replacing fence parts) and discover that someone used more than one type of screw during the original construction. Even if the original used a single type of screw, it’s not uncommon for subsequent repairs to have introduced other types of screws (whatever was handiest).

This means you’ll need many different drill bits on hand to avoid encountering a screw type you can’t handle while you’re far out in a field somewhere. Not only is it inconvenient to carry so many drill bits, you’ll also be inconvenienced by a constant need to switch the bits back and forth.

So my advice is to choose one type of screw head and use those screws for all of your farming projects. Over time, you’ll appreciate the simplicity that comes from using a single screw type for everything—no matter what you’re working on, you’ll know what drill bit you need.

And one more thought: If you commit to using screws, try not to use nails in places where screws would work as well or better. That way you won’t find yourself throwing your carefully-sorted drill bits aside while searching for a claw hammer.

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